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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Pirates : Red Beard Runner

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 6289 - Red Beard Runner

Rating: 2 Stars
Pros: Ship's design is interesting enough. If you can find it for a good price and you don't yet have a large pirate ship, pick it up.
Cons: Model is not as fun as earlier pirate ships. Battle damage sections are not very stable and constantly require fixing.
Contents: 691 pieces including 7 mini-figs, 1 monkey, 1 parrot, and 1 shark
Price: $89.99 - Discontinued
Reviewed: 29-Nov-1996
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

6289 Ryan Rothschild was a man who had it all with a beautiful wife and a wealthy position as admired captain in the new colonies' fleet. That world ended for him when a simple twist of fate found him on the right end of a smoking flintlock but on the wrong side of an angry mob for shooting the governor that was sleeping in Ryan's own bed. After months in a dank and filthy prison, Ryan was freed by a group of escaping prisoners that eventually assisted him in overpowering the local port troops and the band of convicts ultimately stole Ryan's ship at dock. Now the man has changed his name to Black Ryan and rechristened his ship the Crimson Afterlife, changing his ways to pillaging merchant ships and robbing others of their worldly possessions.
Pity the poor soul that crosses paths with a man that was already feared as a goodly naval captain, but now takes to his new lifestyle with indescribable zeal.

As an entry in Lego's league of larger ships, the Red Beard Runner is somewhat smaller (using only two center sections between fore and aft specialty pieces) and does not have as filled-out a design as those other ships, but close inspection of the model does show some redeeming features and I confess it was fun to assemble.
The Red Beard Runner is a two-masted ship whose most distinctive feature is the rear end of the ship that looks like a skull. I didn't even notice this in any of the set pictures and wouldn't have seen it at all if I hadn't happened to see the set advertised on television. The craft does maintain a unique design throughout, in comparison to earlier large pirate ships. It is also worth it to note here that the lower aft section has hinged side walls (like the Skull's Eye Schooner) which allow one to open the walls for easy play access.
There are a total of seven minifigs with this model, two of which are unique to the set. These are two pirates with bare chests except for an open sleeveless vest which shows off their anchor tattoo (so that's where the ship's anchor went). There are also new black bandanna elements for the pirates' heads (this is the first time I have seen these in a color other than blue or red). Other unique elements in the set include the cloth jolly roger banner with a red border (I see this will be used again in 1997 models) and a white smooth-top half-arch brick. This half-arch differs from the classic castle arch brick in that it is rounded across the top rather than having studded "steps". I don't mention the new sails here, because each pirate ship has its own unique sail design anyway.
There are a few complaints I have with this model. The first is with regard to the cannons. Other pirate ships have the cannons placed on 4x4 rotating disk elements, on some ships these disks are allowed to slide back and forth, with others the disks are stationary. With the Red Beard Runner, the cannons sit in their bases alone and slide back and forth in 2-stud-wide grooves, but to turn the cannons around, the cannon must be physically lifted out of the groove and turned around to face out the other side of the ship. Rotating disks weren't used with the Caribbean Clipper either, but those cannons' bases were placed on tiny wheels and made for a more authentic look while the lack of wheels AND disks here merely gives the look of a company that is getting awfully cheap.
Another problem with this ship, is that the "battle damage" features (ship's wheel platform that pops off and the forward mast that falls to the side) are nifty for playing in a battle, but even with regular use, these sections of the ship are VERY unstable and one has to keep standing the forward mast back up, or securing the aft upper platform with an extra brick or flat. One more small complaint is that there is no ship's anchor included with the set (no fair counting the anchor tattoos).
I mainly picked up the Red Beard Runner because I'm a fanatic for pirate ships. I can't totally rave about it and tell you to pick one up, but if you can find it on sale for at least 25% off, I would say it is worth the money.

94 readers have rated this set as 3.59 out of 5 stars.
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