Eldorado Fortress is the long-lost gold you’ve been looking for
by Lukas Mack
With hundreds of Lego sets hitting the shelves each year and release cycles constantly hyping the next new thing, it can certainly feel overwhelming as a Lego-lover sometimes. I know I’ve missed out on a few sets here and there while swept up in my own enthusiasm or drowning in the depths of an empty wallet. The 2509 piece Eldorado Fortress is one of those sets that could have so easily just sailed by. Luckily I was able to snag this bounty so I can tell tales of its treasures to you lively lot. Ah, that is to say, give it a thorough review.
Eldorado’s mid-year release in 2023 came and went without the attention it deserved in my humble opinion. Being based on the classic 1989 (6276) set of the same name, it’s an easy one to chalk up as a simple remake or nostalgia cash grab. The reality is that this set offers far, far more for your $329.99RRP than it might seem at first glance. In short, the Eldorado Fortress is an engaging build that displays well from any angle or in any configuration (more on that later). Though it’s an absolute charmer to look at, I’d actually describe it more faithfully as a ‘playset for adults’. The interactions, the stories and the layout – there’s so much fun and flexibility here.
With eight minifigures; six imperials and two pirates, you have plenty to work with to create the perfect salty scene. Two have dual faces and the hair-hat combo pieces are very much appreciated. Have soldiers man the cannons and don’t let those scurvy pirates escape with the sloop! (is that what the little pirate ship is called ye folk of the sea??) Oh, and there’s a crab, parrot and monkey to fill out your crew. Not too shabby.
Despite the decent minifig selection, I admit I still had my reservations leading into the build. How would Lego approach the whole giant raised baseplate issue? To my relief, Lego did justice to the original while spicing things up. That base area has been built up to include a whole treasure trove of secrets and surprises. Rarely was I ever bored with pebble-placing or repetitious rockwork. The build is organised to maintain interest and any monotony is broken up with the next curio to discover. Good stuff. Speaking of things breaking up though, one thing the original ’89 set could never do given the constraints of its massive baseplate, is become a modular mix-and-match masterwork.
And here, here is where the true gold lies. With the simple snap-on and snap-off of a couple 1×1 clip pieces, the Fortress can be pulled apart into five separate modules. Have them arranged into one single 70cm long display or have a couple smaller island outposts. It’s your choice. I really can’t make up my mind which is my favourite layout but I’m leaning towards the longer setup. Its MOC/mod potential is as obvious as it is enticing. The space is perfect to throw in a 16×32 baseplate or equivalent and extend the scene with your very own module! To be fair, it does look a little empty without that something extra but I see it as more of an opportunity than a shortcoming. Now have a larger pirate ship like the Creator 3-in-1 (31109) dock alongside and you might just have the best pirates display money can buy out of the box.
It’s really difficult to find a downside with the Icons Eldorado Fortress. I’d argue it would be more popular were it not a Lego store exclusive and the big brick Co. surely missed a beat retiring the wonderful Pirates of Barracuda Bay (21322) in late 2021. What a pairing that would’ve made! Even the instructions of this set mention Barracuda Bay but sadly that set hung around for just a year and a half. On the flipside, we do get a bonus medium-sized ship and a couple scallywag pirates thrown in. Eldorado really is the complete package. Its display options, MOC/mod potential and creative reimagining of a childhood classic is something to be applauded. This is the gold standard.
Words by Lukas Mack
Photos by Lukas Mack
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This set was provided free of charge by The LEGO Group. Opinions expressed in the review are those of the reviewer.
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