A few years back, when Lego rolled out their “Monster Fighters” theme, Polish building block brand Cobi (also sold in the U.K. and other markets under the “Character Building” name) attempted to capitalize on it by rolling out their own “Monsters vs. Zombies” line. Cobi isn’t well known in the United States due to a lack of distribution, but I was fortunate to find this set in a local hobby store that was going out of business a couple of months ago. Will it wind up being more trick than treat?
Here’s the central build of the set: the “burial chamber.” It’s a rather plain crypt, with the exception of the giant flames out in front (note that the box shows the tree on fire, for some odd reason). I’m not entirely sure, but I believe the curved blue bricks are supposed to represent a window. With the “liftgate” raised, we can see some sort of lava-like fiery hazard. The back door on the crypt swings open quite freely. The tree next to the crypt probably could use a few more strands of hanging moss. Parts quality is shockingly good! While not at the same level as Lego, they’re at least on par with Star Diamond and Mega Bloks.
Baron Samedi is the Loa (a sort of demigod) of death and fertility in the voodou folk religion. He is frequently portrayed as wearing a black tailcoat and top hat. Baron Samedi has a white skull-like face or a literal skull for a face. He has a fondness for rum and tobacco. He is also the Loa of resurrection and is invoked to heal believers close to death. He is a gatekeeper between the mortal world and the afterlife.
His connection to the afterlife is why most people associate Samedi with zombies. However, the fact is that Samedi is responsible for the decomposition of buried corpses. In other words, he actually prevents corpses from rising from the dead as zombies.
The Cobi rendition of Baron Samedi has the hallmark tailcoat, but he is sadly without a top hat. Also, he’s been given a scythe instead of his rum or cigars. The paint on his face is a bit sloppy, but the print on his torso is okay.
Both Lego and Cobi minifigures share the same level of articulation. Where they diverge is the vast disparity between the “realistic” detail of the head and cartoonish proportions of the Cobi minifigure. It’s honestly a little confusing. Is Cobi going for scary or cute?
I’m also having a hard time figuring out where Baron Samedi falls in the “Monsters vs. Zombies” world. I mean, he’s technically not a zombie. He’s not a classic monster, either. He’s a voodou demigod revered by his followers. Is he supposed to be a villain? A hero? Which side are kids supposed to identify with, for that matter?
The motorcycle included in this set is pretty cool! It sort of reminds me of a small café racer. The tires are actually rubber! I don’t know what motorcycles have to do with Baron Samedi, but I’m happy that it came with the set nonetheless.
The Cobi website lists the retail price of this set as a sinister 6.66€ (or a little over USD$7 at the time of this writing)! If we take shipping costs into consideration, the set probably becomes a bit pricier than that of Lego. While parts quality is refreshingly above average, the set design is rather lackluster. With my only local source for Cobi now closed for business, there’s a good chance that this will be the only Cobi set I’ll ever purchase. I only picked up this set because it happened to be greatly discounted from the shop’s original asking price. It’s a brick oddity that I don’t mind having in my collection.