REVIEW – I’m a lifelong fan of building bricks, whether they’re from the big-name company or the rapidly growing selection of other brick companies out there. I’ve definitely noticed a quality difference between some companies, ranging from “almost-identical to the well-known brand” to “I’m throwing out this whole set before I’m even halfway done because the pieces are terrible and either don’t grip together well or are so tight that fixing mistakes results in permanent hand damage or requires power tools. I’ve never tried any of Jmbricklayer’s sets yet, so I was intriqued to see where they’d fall on the spectrum. Add in the included LED lights for a glowing pirate ship design, and I was eager to volunteer.
What is it?
The Jmbricklayer Glowing Pirate Ship model is identified on Jmbricklayer’s site (and on the packaging) as “The Flying Dutchman”, #40001. It features 1100+ pieces including 9 LED lights with a USB-A connection for power. The set ships in a box with the pieces sorted into sections for easier building (this is an important detail, as I’ve received some sets from other companies completely unsorted and in bags or other strange containers).
What’s in the box?
In the box for the Jmbricklayer Glowing Pirate Ship model is the instruction manual, LED lighting kit, and the 1100+ bricks sorted into 4 sections (multiple bags per section).
Design and features
The Jmbricklayer Glowing Pirate Ship model is a departure from the classic “pirate ship” models I built growing up (and in more recent years as well). It has a ghostly and overgrown theme with seaweed, jagged edges, and wear-and-tear built into the look of the ship and its sails. Rows of green cannons (these are not play-firing cannons, but simply round pieces) bristle out of each side, while a faux giant fanged mouth gives the front of the ship an aggressive and intimidating look.
The aft section of the ship in particular has a lot of fun detail, like a pair of lanterns with translucent green flames, and the captain’s suite is complete with balcony railings as well as a movable rudder below it.
The stern sports the green-fanged mouth with a pair of forward-facing cannons. Notice the rigging line that runs from the tip of the stern to the masts above, I thought this was a neat touch.
Speaking of masts and rigging, the sails are actually better than any other ship-themed set I’ve built to date (including those from the not-to-be-named well-known brick company). Often, sails are folded and compressed inside the packaging, resulting in seams that you can never seem to get out. With the Jmbricklayer Glowing Pirate Ship model, they were all flat, resulting in very nice looking sails, especially when combined with the fun squid/pirate printing on the sails. They all sport rips and tears to add to the ghostly apparition theme of the ship.
The LED lighting kit consists of nine green LED lights on wires. These connect to a multi-port circuitboard, and a USB-A cord provides power. There’s no battery option here, and no on/off switch – it’s on if it’s plugged into power. Once installed, it has about ~8″ of wire coming out the back of the ship to the USB plug, so you need a power source pretty close to the ship (standard 5V USB-A). I have a AA battery powered pack from another set I previously built, and this works great as well, so you could pick something like that up separately if you’d like.
The instructions were easy to follow, and the printing is good quality, only my aging eyes were an impediment to building. Dark and light grey were easily discernable (a common problem with lower quality sets), and I didn’t have any issues with unclear piece placement or missing instruction steps. I had to backtrack a few times, but this is normal for me – I often build too fast and miss something important in my haste, regardless of set/brand.
My only two complaints with the build process would be that the lower decks are pretty bland and repetitive (in some cases putting as many as 40 identical pieces spaced out along the length of the ship), and the middle deck isn’t well supported from beneath: in later steps putting pressure on pieces to fix them in place felt like it was going to pop the whole ship apart, I had to be a bit careful. I would have liked to see some more stable support in the lower decks so that upper decks have a better foundation to build on.
What I did appreciate a lot was the clear instructions on how to install and route the LEDs and their wires. Without this, it would have required guesswork, and probably a fair bit of backtracking to correctly get those wires out of the back. I’ve never built a set with LEDs included, only retrofits where I had to partially deconstruct to install LEDs, so this was a nice change of pace.
Only one of the LEDs refused to stay in place (the single one in the lowest deck, held by a single-peg circle piece – sorry if I’m using incorrect terminology, brick nerds). This one LED I had to super-glue into place, otherwise that small piece holding it kept popping off. Here’s a timelapse video of the entire build:
What I like
- Brick quality is good, leans towards the tight/snug end of the spectrum which is much better than the too-loose end.
- Pretty good cost-per-brick at time of review
- I liked the exterior details and overall design, especially the integrated LED lights.
What I’d change
- Lower deck “foundation” is a bit unsteady to build the upper decks on top of in places
- Longer USB power cable, and a cheap battery pack option would be nice
The Jmbricklayer Glowing Pirate Ship model was a fun brick set to build, and I’m loving the finished piece! Now I need to find a space in my crowded office that’s also near enough to a USB outlet to display it (or order another AA to USB box). If you enjoy ships/pirates/ghosts, or are looking for someone else who does, this might just be the perfect set for you/them!