COBI Bricks Vs LEGO: Understanding the Difference

The Warbricks Team learned about COBI Bricks during spring of 2019,  as we were scrolling through Amazon and saw COBI’s military style Lego sets and of course we had to check them out.  We quickly learned that there were a wide variety of COBI sets such as COBI tanks, ships and aircraft.  But were they good quality?  The reviews were good, so we tried out a COBI Stewart M5 Light Tank (now discontinued) to test the COBI Bricks vs LEGO quality.

The COBI Stewart tank set was priced affordably and we were so impressed that we decided to use the COBI toy brand as a homeschool project/business to teach our children life skills.

So, are COBI Blocks as good as LEGOs? The short answer is YES! Although there are some differences between COBI and LEGO and we will go into more detail below.

First a Little Background About LEGO:

LEGO plastic construction blocks are probably the most iconic toy that has ever been made, not to mention stepped on!  As we all know, LEGO Toys have brought so much joy, and pain, that every living person and owner of these blocks in the world has probably had memories of them.

LEGO began making interlocking toy bricks in 1949 and as recently as July of 2015, became recognized as the worlds most powerful brand. You can learn more about LEGO History here at Wikipedia.

LEGO makes all kinds of sets but notably, LEGO has never offered Military style legos, and that is where COBI Military sets come in….

About COBI Bricks:

Cobi S.A was founded in 1987, in Warsaw, Poland (part of the European Union) and started out making board games and puzzles.  In 1992, Cobi established a production line of plastic construction blocks.  In the same year, a mould factory was opened under the name “Colbert”.

Today, Cobi is the biggest manufacture of construction blocks in Central and Eastern Europe, with sales offices in Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and a sales network in over 60 countries worldwide.

Cobi manufactures their building blocks entirely in house in Mielec, Poland.  Sets typically start with an idea which then transforms into moulds, production and then sales. Thanks to their in house design and manufacturing process, Cobi is able to offer their customers high quality products made of select EU originated materials that are certified by EU laboratories.  Additionally, rigid quality and security controls result in short production and delivery lead times. You can read our more detailed article about COBI Toys here .

So, What are the differences between COBI and LEGO?

The first thing you notice when you un-box a COBI block set is the large number of parts.  COBI brick sets utilize a more “layered” approach to building the sets.  A good example would be the COBI Leopard 2A4 Tanks Set, which doesn’t have a large number of internal cavities and while the hatches open, there isn’t a detailed interior or even enough room to place the included figure all the way inside. Some exceptions to this appear to be some of the new COBI Vietnam Sets like the COBI M113 APC Set which has a troop compartment.

This layered approach is reflective in the detailed COBI Brick instructions.  The COBI instructions are very detailed and, quite frankly, like LEGO, can be unforgiving of mistakes.  Why unforgiving?  Well, as the sets feature layers upon layers of bricks, you can easily misplace one of them if you are not paying attention.  Frustrating but understanding due to the realistic nature of the COBI brick sets.

COBI Vs. LEGO Realism:

COBI tanks, aircraft and ships all appear very realistic and are broken down by vehicle type and in some instances era.  A good example would be the COBI Sopwith Camel F1 Set which is a highly detailed but playable COBI WWI Biplane and is one of the most iconic aircraft of WWI.  In contrast, LEGO tends to focus less on realism and more on playability and are organized based of categories like LEGO City, Pirates, Space and the individual licensed brands such as LEGO Star Wars (more on that later.)  LEGO doesn’t build modern military sets and while they do offer LEGO Historical sets they are not military styled.

Additional differences between LEGO and COBI are the included mini-figs.  Here the difference between COBI and LEGO become a little more apparent as COBI’s mini figures are fairly distinct with more 3D features, especially in the face, and less …….legoy…..if that’s even a word.  While the Warbricks Team likes the COBI figures and appreciates that COBI didn’t knock off LEGO Minifigs, some of us still tend to like the traditional LEGO figures better.  Luckily for us and for you, COBI Bricks are fully compatible with LEGO minifigs so it won’t really matter!

Another thing regarding COBI minifigs.  As part of this article, we reached out to some COBI brick fans on Reddit (more specifically the r/cobiblocks/ group) and asked them what they thought the main differences between LEGO and COBI blocks were.  One of the items mentioned regarding mini-figs were the COBI hands possibly breaking more easily than the LEGO versions.  What experience have you had? Sound off in the comments below!

Some basic COBI vs. LEGO Differences:

  • COBI brick sets almost all feature pad printed markings so no more stickers!
  • COBI features realistic historically accurate sets that are great for teaching history
  • Unlike LEGO, COBI might not have Minecraft but they do have World of Tanks WOT and World of Ships WOT licensing
  • COBI parts are slightly more shiny and they have more slanted pieces
  • COBI parts fit a little more snuggly which can be great for stability and annoying for taking apart. No more kragl.

Any other major difference we’ve missed? Comment below.

Similarities between COBI and LEGO Sets:

COBI brick parts are compatible with LEGO including the many unique parts which COBi makes.  The biggest similarity you will notice between the two brick brands is the fact that COBI bricks work and feel the same as LEGO bricks.  The quality of the European made COBI bricks is on par, if not better, (sometimes they feel like they fit tighter) then the European made LEGO sets.

Unlike cheap LEGO knock offs from China, COBI bricks fit in with your existing lego bin parts but, one thing we have noticed among the Warbricks Team of product testers, (David 11, Daniel 10,  and Emilie 8), is that none of the COBI brick parts really end up in the LEGO bin…………  Why is that? Well, for the last year or so, all the COBI sets have pretty much stayed together.  Odd…..and not very Legoy (there is that word again).  At first we considered the fact that maybe the Warbricks Team was maturing!  But no, they still make inappropriate noises, leave clothes on the bathroom floor and take their LEGO sets apart and rebuild them.  No, its probably because the COBI tanks and airplanes are just so cool that they want to keep them together!

To wrap up the similarities, COBI and LEGO both have licensed brands with LEGO obviously having Minecraft and Star Wars.  COBI on the other hand has its own arrangements with Boeing, The Smithsonian and Top Gun Maverick Movie.  Both COBI and LEGO have quality bagged parts and great packaging and both are made from certified EU parts.

Takeaways:

What can we takeaway from this write up on COBI bricks Vs LEGOs? Well, first of all we want our customers to understand that COBI bricks are not some cheesy Chinese knock off block kit that is going to pollute your Lego bin. Quite the opposite, you will find that the numerous unique COBI brick parts will help your creativity!

Why should you buy COBI sets instead of LEGO? Well, the best and most common reason would be if you want to build Lego style military or very detailed historical brick sets.  Additionally, COBI bricks are more affordable than LEGO :).

What does the Warbricks Team think?

  • David (11),  says he likes LEGO sets when he is in the mood to build Minecraft and Star Wars themed sets.  David appreciates anything Minecraft or Star Wars as they foster his imagination and he loves to display them.  For David, COBI sets are also super playable both indoors and outdoors as well as being great for display. David believes the downsides to COBI sets are that some, not all,  sets are more “breaky” than others and that LEGO sets can be more stable but not as realistic. Finally, David believes, like some advanced LEGO sets, COBI can be for adults as well.
  • Daniel (10),  prefers COBI over LEGO when he wants to build military brick tanks or a highly realistic and detailed brick sets.  He is especially passionate about COBI ships and submarines. When he wants Star Wars or Minecraft themed brick sets he goes for LEGOs. COBI sets require more patience to build and are more challenging to accomplish.
  • Emilie (8) is currently a big fan of LEGO Mandalorian sets and likes them due to the mini figs (female Mandalorians).  She loves COBI sets as well and appreciates their detail that isn’t usually offered by LEGO.  Emilie loves the COBI Maultier ambulance Set, as she wants to be a nurse when she grows up:-) She likes the COBI aircraft and tanks and thinks COBI does a great job on them!

In conclusion, it isn’t a matter of choosing between COBI or LEGO, it’s more of an issue of what you desire in a modern, brick construction toy! We hope this was informative and as always, feel free to post a constructive comment below!

The Warbricks Team

Warbricks.com is a homeschool business project designed to teach our children life skills (about us page.) We are slowly adding COBI brick sets on our store and we would love to fulfill special requests! Use the contact us page to see what we can do for you!