Last year the LEGO® Creator Expert branding was retired in favour of a uniform design of black boxes and sub-brand collections. This change also introduced the first 18+ sets, which were clearly aimed at the adult builder community. But this change has had a far greater impact but vastly expanding the scope at what a LEGO set can be. They no longer had to cater for an expanded age range, they don’t have to include play features and simple build techniques. The 18+ range has opened up a world of possibilities for the LEGO bricks and nothing encapsulates that more than the new Botanical Collection. This currently features two sets, a buildable bouquet of flowers and a Japanese Bonsai Tree. As soon as these were revealed I was instantly drawn to the Bonsai as I’ve been fascinated with Japanese culture for many years. But how is it to build and does it result in a unique LEGO display piece? Here are my thoughts on the LEGO Botanical Collection Bonsai Tree.
The art of bonsai has captured the imaginations of tree lovers for centuries. Now you can celebrate this ancient art with the LEGO® Bonsai Tree model building kit. Enjoy a sense of calm as you carefully shape the bonsai tree model with either green leaves or pink cherry blossoms. When you’re ready for a change, it’s easy to swap the colored crowns to create a totally new look. Take a closer look at the pink blooms – do you see the tiny frogs that make up each blossom flower?
A beautiful display piece
The LEGO Bonsai Tree model comes with a rectangular pot and a slatted wood-effect LEGO stand, creating a pretty display piece to take pride of place in any home or office. Whether it’s a birthday gift for a loved one or a treat for you, this set is sure to capture the imagination with its beauty. Part of the LEGO Botanical Collection for adults, it includes leaf elements made from a plant-based plastic, produced using sustainably sourced sugarcane.
- Set Name: Bonsai Tree
- Set Number: 10281
- Pieces: 878
- RRP: £44.99/$49.99/49.99€
- Measurements: Measures over 7 in. (18 cm) high, 8.5 in. (21 cm) long and 7.5 in. (20 cm) wide
- Availability: LEGO.com & all good LEGO retailers
Bonsai is the ancient tradition of tray planting small scale trees. Although it originates from China, Bonsai has become closely associated with Japanese culture. Their cultivation is an art form, making them the perfect subject to inspire a LEGO set. The LEGO Bonsai is the exact same scale as a real Bonsai tree, with current LEGO elements perfectly suited for the build. This is split into four distinct sections, a ‘wooden’ platform, the familiar-looking planting tray, the stump of the Bonsai and its foliage.
The shallow tray, in which Bonsai are planted, is an important aspect of the Bonsai tradition. For the LEGO version, it’s just as important as it acts as the anchor point for the Bonsai tree. Although the base of the tree isn’t overtly visible, it’s all hidden by a mass of loose 1×1 round tiles in a trio of colours. The tray is mainly created from black elements, with four tyres used as the feet of the tray. These not only look great, but the rubbery material they are made from also gives it a little grip.
The tree itself is nicely curved and uses various elements to capture the ancient-looking textured bark, including an exposed twisted root. But the main feature of the Bonsai is its leafy canopy. Crafting this is where creativity is key, with pruning to shape the leaves being an important part of owning a Bonsai. A practice which is partly true for the LEGO version. There two versions of the foliage which can be added to the tree. Once the main part of the build is complete you can choose to add either the more traditional green-tipped branches or a Sakura-inspired Cherry Blossom version. The green leaves use a mix of classic green leaf elements and smaller tri-leaf pieces. Some of these are also made plant-based plastics.
Simply popping off the tips of each branch, allows you to add the blossom leaves. These use white leaf elements along with small pink flowers and masses of pink frogs. There is no reason why pink frogs needed to be used, but they look amazing against the white leaves and darker pink flowers. Plus the set features over a 100 of them.
The final aspect of the build is a display plinth, upon which the Bonsai pot sits. This is slightly larger than the planter tray and created from reddish-brown elements to give it a wooden look. Both this and the pot use the angler nature of LEGO elements to capture a traditional feel of the build.
The instruction booklet also offers a gallery of inspirational alternatives to the build. With other coloured leaves and elements used to create different style Bonsai Trees. Another neat feature of the instructions are little facts dotted on various pages, these offer details about elements and their past uses.
The set does an incredible job of recreating the plant which has inspired it. The build really looks just like a real Bonsai Tree. From the tray planter, wood-like plinth and textured bark of the tree, all these aspects of the set combine to create a truly unique LEGO display piece. It’s the perfect set to encapsulate the concept of the ‘Adults Welcome’ message. There is nothing stopping younger builder from constructing the set, but it certainly best suited towards AFOLs or those who wish to escape for a few moments. It’s a genuinely a delightful little set, I like that there is an option to switch the leaves, as well as being the base to unleash your creativity. I hope this and the Flower Bouquet set will lead to further releases, not only in the Botanical Collection but sets which offer something different and unique for builders to enjoy.