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My eldest son is Lego mad, he's also a bit of a Star Wars nut, so most of the Lego he owns are sets and ships from the films. But the first film he really took an interest in was Pirates of The Caribbean and he really loved the ships, namely the Black Pearl and the Flying Dutchman. His interest came after the first two films but before the third and fourth, as a result, toys from the films were either hard to get hold of or usually reduced. On a visit to Toys R Us we found this Flying Dutchman construction set from Mega Bloks and we paid about £25 for it which was a great bargain, I'm sure the rrp was closer to £50. The Flying Dutchman was introduced in the second film, Dead Man's Chest, it is captained by Davy Jones and his fellow grisly crew of ghost pirates.
At the time I hadn't realised that Mega Bloks made sets like this, being more familiar with the chunky, bright blocks that Oakley had as a small toddler. This set is aimed at children aged 6+ and the pieces are the same size as the Lego made for the same age range. Most pieces will fit onto Lego, but it does look different, made of different plastic and most of the pieces in this set are moulded to replica the Dutchman so will look odd when used with the smooth Lego lines. My son was only four when he received this, so way under the recommended age, but he has always been very good with constructing fiddly sets like this and following picture instructions, although age four he still needed a fair amount of help from his dad and I. The instructions included are in picture format, the book (A4 size) following the Pirates theme and generally looking much busier and jazzy than Lego ones. Personally, I don't think the instructions are quite as clear as Lego, probably to do with the amount of detail on the ship, and left us all scrutinising them and scratching our heads a few times. Apparently, there are approximately 200 pieces in the box, I'm afraid I've never counted them and due to the teeny size of some parts I can guarantee I never will! It took us at least an hour to build it first time around, I'm not sure that three of us doing it together was a help or a hindrance, but I do know that at the end my hubby and I were wishing we had added a bit of glue to the structure. The shape of the ship makes it very difficult to handle without some part or another falling off although it is usually quite easy to fix. The masts are quite annoying too as they are quite tall and fall off so frequently.
The detail is really very good for a childs toy and made up it's big and quite impressive. There are three canons which fire missiles, they spring out well but aren't strong enough to cause any pain or damage. The deck can be opened so you can play inside and there are four figures included: Will Turner, Bootstrap Bill, Davy Jones and of course, Captain Jack Sparrow. The attention to detail continues with the figures, Oakley especially liked Davy Jones with the tentacle beard. There are also little chests and gold and silver coins to add to play, but my favourite pieces are the torchlights decorated around the ship which add colour to the mottled grey hue and if anything make it look even more sinister!
Nearly five years on and I'm afraid this set doesn't get much use these days but it certainly was enjoyed for at least a couple of years. All plastic pieces are still in great condition and still fit together well, they haven't loosened or split. The only parts which don't look so great are the fabric sails, which are made of fairly flimsy material and made to look worn and ripped anyway. I'd like to put them in the wash but I'm worried they may fray too much. I expect some of the very small parts such as the coins may have been hoovered up, but it will not affect play and I'm hoping that my younger children will have as much enjoyment from it as Oakley did.
The good news is this is still available to buy new from Amazon. The bad news? It's selling for £816.75 plus £83.06 postage. (not to be confused with the Flying Dutchman 3, revised for the third film which is a steal at £315). Now I think it's good, but not that good! My advice is to wait until the new film comes out in 2014.
"This fully buildable playset has four new figures including a color-change Davy jones, Admiral Norrington, Bootstrap Bill and cursed crewman. Features glow-in-the dark details, two launching cannons, real fabric sails, opening deck panels and play access to the captain's cabin. 235 pieces. Measures 28"" long when built."