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Lego Maniacs' Guide: Reviews: Pirates : Imperial Guards : Imperial Trading Post

[Purchase Lego at Amazon.com] 6277 - Imperial Trading Post

Rating: 5 Stars
Pros: Lots of bricks to keep you busy
Cons: A bit expensive (but worth it)
Contents: 596 pieces including 9 mini-figs
Price: Discontinued
Reviewed: 31-Jul-1996
Reviewed by: Joseph Gonzalez

6277 M.C. Gazpacho has his hands full (as newly appointed superintendent) trying to maintain some semblance of order at the Havana Point Trading Post. His tenure has seen many unfortunate mishaps such as the time thirty-six barrels of pasta were spilled into the bay by angry Italian immigrants (some sailors still call M.C. "Spaghetti Man"), or the time the dozy captain of the Valdez sailed into dock and kept right on sailing into the old watchtower. (If they'd only known he was carrying a shipload of black powder, someone would have tried to stop him before he even reached the docking area).
Now the dock is rebuilt, the king has finally agreed to send a small detachment of imperial guards as protection for the trading post, and life can finally get back to normal. Never mind those rumors that Armada troops are planning a coup back home, the fact that most of the Imperial Guards seem to do nothing but drink all day, or the possibility that the ship just coming into moor has the name Valdez II scrawled on its bow.

This set is an incredible masterpiece and at forty dollars less than a large pirate ship (when it was available along with the Black Seas Barracuda). I found it just as enjoyable if not more so because of the variety of bricks and possibilities. With almost 600 pieces, we're given a solid base structure and another flat base plate for an extended dock including a tower. There are even two boats to get the customer trade rolling.
Starting with the dock extension, we have a simple but satisfying component. The dock runs along three edges of a regular large blue plate in a horseshoe shape. The pier runway is dotted with a few mooring pegs, a bench, a cannon at one end of the horseshoe (which may or may not be strategic, but is definitely gonna be one easy target in an attack because it is out in the open), and the small 3-tiered building at the other end of the dock. This pier is sustained above ground/water level by mostly 1x6 2-brick high arch bricks. I really like the subtle style these arch pieces give the dock as opposed to simple 1x6 bricks that could have been used. I'd also like to say here that using the yellow bricks in contrast to white walls (some of them lending a stucco look by allowing red bricks to show through here and there) was a very nice touch.
The dock building, again, is a simple structure with a first level containing a double door entry way and a ladder leading up to the next level. The second level has an interior and exterior room both containing 2-brick high black lattice pieces (giving it kind of a balcony sense of style). A ladder then leads to the third level which is basically a lookout platform with another 2-high wall (this also includes yellow lattice pieces but they are only one brick high).
Moving into the primary section, the base plate is the now common 6-brick high plate with a ramp and sunken mid section (I believe first used in El Dorado Fortress, but now common with one-plate castle sets). In early steps of assembly, most of the sunken section is covered with smaller flat grey plates, leaving an 8x8 hole where an equal-sized flat is placed (this flat looks like a trap door with diagonally crossing bars). The sunken recess is where all cargo (or prisoners) can be stored. The facing side of the plate (I'll call it "east", with the ramp on the south) connects to the dock extension by a ramp that lowers from the main plate running board to the dock extension runway. The ramp is lowered to the dock extension and spans a space of ten pegs between running boards which space I assume is to allow very small ships to pass through when the ramp is raised.
From the walkway, a few steps run up to the first level of the housing. At this point of the base (between the ramp and steps) a three level building has been set. The third level is the base for a swiveling crane (for loading from ship to the sunken cargo hold and vice versa) which doesn't leave room for much else on the top of the building, while the first and second level seem to serve as small living quarters.
The north side has a low 2-brick high wall that runs along the edge and a defense cannon to watch out for that side of the island. The west side has another building (about 1+ levels) with a peaked red roof (sloping east and west), with the west side of the roof having two 4x4 doors that swing open to view storage space in the "attic" portion of this structure (kind of a neat idea). There's a fair amount of space in this area for maybe four small barrels or a couple of sitting minifigs. On the top of this roof there is a stationary, hinged arm (comprising a few flat pieces and a string that attaches to the base). This acts as makeshift crane (swinging cargo from ships into the building itself or into the attic storage area). I guess Lego didn't want to overdo it by giving us two cranes with one set.
The southwest corner is another 2-high walled guard area with yet another cannon.
Of the two ships included with the set, one is just a rowboat with a small sail. The other ship is a larger than small (almost 30 studs long from stem to stern and it's gotta be at least 100 or 120 pieces) one-mast three-sail ship which is a nice little set within itself.
Unique pieces to the set would include the two-high yellow arches (you probably have a few of these in black or grey if you have castle sets), the 8x8 flat which looks like a grate or a trap door with bars, the main sail for the larger ship, and the base plate.
The set includes nine minifigs: four imperials (three sentries and a commander), and five sea-going (though not necessarily pirate) types.
There are barrels and treasure chests all over the place which also give the set an "active commerce" feel.
I had a blast putting this set together! The number and variation of blocks make it almost as great as getting a bucket although there are not any wheels. Doubting that Lego will do a similar set for a long time, it's a (discontinued) set worth keeping an eye out for.

94 readers have rated this set as 4.685 out of 5 stars.
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