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I am looking at buying one of the pirate ship sets, such as 6285-1: Black Seas Barracuda, however, I am concerned the parts in the set are too specialized, and could not be easily adapted to make custom creations. The three main parts are: the pieces of the ship's hull, the masts, and the sails. Are there any uses for these parts outside of making other pirate ships?

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    I have a mast and rigging from 6270: Forbidden Island, I haven't really found them to be all that useful otherwise. Of course, that could just be my lack of imagination... ;) – Dave DeLong Feb 27 '12 at 0:58
  • Is the entire black part of the mast, except for the round base of the crow's nest, just one piece? – Village Feb 27 '12 at 13:44
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    If you don't know what the parts inside look like, keep in mind you can check an inventory of the set. – Joubarc Feb 27 '12 at 14:27
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(promoting this from comment to answer, since it now has pictures)

In my experience, they're not that useful. I have a mast and rigging from 6270: Forbidden Island, and more rigging from 6261: Raft Raiders. The mast from 6261 is more useful (and has been in 20 sets) because it also has the two finger hinges, which make it a bit more versatile than the two mast pieces of 6270 (first part [8 sets], second part [3 sets]). The mast platform is quite reusable, given its generic shape.

All the pieces apart look like this:

enter image description here

And you can combine the small rigging and mast platform to make a rudimentary TIE Fighter:

rudimentary tie fighter

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    Nice work on the TIE fighter - it proves that imagination is the only real limit – Joubarc Feb 28 '12 at 5:34
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ALL parts can be used for something other than the original theme.

Here's an example of a use for the boat hull by Flickr user 2 Much Caffeine:

There's also a rather humorous saying that goes: "All parts are space parts". It's equally applicable to any other theme.

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