In keeping with the running theme of birthday LEGO, today's set from my distant past was a birthday present--my second LEGO birthday present, received in 1994, a year after my first LEGO birthday. By then, 6234 Renegade's Raft had been on the market for a few years, having been originally released in 1991.
Renegade's Raft was my fifth LEGO set, and my first Pirate set. Back when my LEGO collection consisted of a couple of Castle sets, a Freestyle set, a Fabuland set, and this guy, I remember the striped shirt, blue jacket, and snappy tricorn on this minifigure looking mighty sharp--and he had the finest weapons in the kingdom. He was also the first minifigure I owned that I was willing to call a bad guy--neither the Lions nor the Black Knights, nor even the ghost with King's Mountain Fortress seemed to quite qualify as "bad guys."
It would be another year before I'd get another Pirate set, and when I did, it is true that von Horde (so the fig with this set came to be named, though according to Brickipedia, he should properly be called First Mate Rummey) would be overshadowed in the earliest "classic" years of my Pirate-playing youth by other figs, he would eventually see dominance as the most clever and ruthless of the Pirates--in my fleet.
Almost as important as the fig, this set gave my first shark, and while I only had to wait a year for more Pirates, it would be close to five years before I would have another shark. In the meantime, my brother would get a few Aquashark sets as well as shark-possessing Divers sets, and this slightly beat-up old Pirate shark would have to be ruthless to remain leader of the shark clan. Indeed, I can still recognise which shark came with Renegade's Raft by the tooth marks or other scratches on its underbelly, though I suspect those came from a rambunctious child, rather than another LEGO shark. The shark was also quite cool for being able to "swallow" small pieces.
All told, Renegade's Raft isn't a particularly clever set, though it's a nice enough one. As with so many sets, it's chief lure for me is a heavy patina of nostalgia. Amusingly, if I think about it, this set included quite a few "firsts" for me. Besides the obvious and respectable firsts like "first Pirate," "first flintlock pistol," "first oars," "first Pirate flag," and "first shark," it also has some sillier ones, like "first 1x1 modified tile with clip," "first black 6x6 plate," "first yellow round 1x1 bricks," and "first jumper plate."
Not sure how I made it over a year without a jumper plate...