Lego racist? Colonialist? Euro-centric? Have I given you that impression so far? SIDDOWN.
Welcome to Lego 250’s first peek at the tomb-looting shenanigans of Pharoah’s Quest. The Elgin Marbles ain’t got nothin’ on these babies……
Quick quiz. Is breaking into the monuments of other cultures and spiriting their treasures back to your own home country and/or the estates of rich capitalists a) wrong, b) just the way history works, or c) a suitable subject matter for a child’s toy?
Answer key. I am a) English-born, so you know, you’re welcome, b) totally torn on the repatriation argument, in an age where digital collections are easy and it shoudn’t be that hard for countries to just freaking talk to each other, and c) boggled to the point of grudging admiration that Lego not only put together a theme where tomb robbers are presented as the heroes, they doubled-down by making the dead native culture still alive into the bargain.
Pharoah’s Quest conforms to the standard Lego adventure theme trope: there’s a civilisation out there that has something our not-white-but-yellow skinned heroes want, and so they head out to grab it, pitting their Western electric-powered technomight against the weirdly-shaped natives who are the implicit bad guys by virtue of, you know, trying to defend what’s theirs to begin with and, you know, not looking like us.
The theme lasted for one series a decade back. It contained four decent-sized sets, a couple of teensy tiny ones, and a handful of polybags. I have three of the four good ones, of which 7325 Cursed Cobra statue is the smallest, coming in at 200 pieces and a pair of minifigs.
Rampant colonialism never looked so good.
Time to be honest. The three sets I have from this theme are some of my favourites out of all of the 280-odd I own. They look fantastic. They’re genuinely beautiful to display. They’re cleverly constructed, and are chock-full of tricky techniques, hidden delights, and tonnes of playability.
7325 Cursed Cobra consists of two component builds. The major build also comes in two sections: a small cartouche-laden column, and the hooded snake that towers above it. Much like the recently-reviewed Ninjago Fire Fang set, the snake is constructed in several sections. However, unlike its later brethren, the build doesn’t feel quite as repetitive, mostly because it isn’t anywhere near as large. Facial features are printed onto a single slope, rather than being brick built. The blue/gold/sand colour theme is gorgeous, as is the plastic sheet that comprises the snake’s hood.
A beautiful colour scheme and gorgeous cartouche stickers really lift the look of the set.
The snake itself detaches from the tower, adding to the playability. Unfortunately, it also adds to the set’s biggest weakness. The snake itself is top-heavy, and is attached to the column by virtue of sticking a round clutch hole onto a cross-shaped technic pin. It’s a loose connection, and not at all secure. Get the balance wrong with the lower half of the snake, and you’ll have go after go at getting the Damn. Thing. To. Just. Sit. Will you?
It can get mildly irritating…. (ahem).
That cross-shaped head into that round hole. You know, Lego actually make round-headed technic pins that would solve that problem without thought, but noooooooo…..
The Sibling Build is, for once, just as significant as the main build. It’s a chunky 4-wheel drive containing the tomb-robbing equipment and the tomb-robber himself, who I’m sure has a name but who we’ll just call Cocky McSideburns for reasons that will become obvious once you see him. Like most Lego vehicles it conforms to a simple template, but it at least has some size and playability to help stop arguments about equality of play time.
Cocky McSideburns and The Cockmo…. Sideburnmobile.
Problematic colonialism aside, 7325 Cursed Cobra is a gorgeous set with a high level of playability. A delight to display, with gorgeous colours, and just one weakness deep within the build that is easily corrected if you have a spare technic pin of the right shape, it’s a set that sits right towards the front of my favourites.
And it’s not even anywhere near the best in its theme…
It does look gorgeous, though, dunnit?
One of the better attempts to beautify tomb-robbing and cultural genocide in, you know, a kid’s toy……
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