LEGO Botanical Collection 10289 Bird of Paradise: April showers bring May flowers [Review]

Let’s start things out right with a few floral puns, shall we? LEGO has been branching out into new themes lately. Introduced in late 2020, the Botanical Collection has already taken root with amazing sets like the 10280 Flower Bouquet and the 10281 Bonsai Tree. It was a pretty safe bet that we’d see more growth in this area, and now we know what it is! The 1173 piece 10289 Botanical Collection: Bird Of Paradise will  retail for US $99.99 | CAN $139.99 | UK £89.99 starting June 1 in Europe and the rest of the world, and August 1 in the Americas. I know you’re just budding with excitement, so let’s take a closer look!

The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

The box and contents

Before we get to the review, let’s take a quick educational detour. If, like me, you’d heard the term “Bird of Paradise” but didn’t associate it with a plant, here’s a link to an overview of the genus strelitzia, which are more commonly known for their resemblance to the avian Bird of Paradise. Alternately, you can skip all that learnin’ and just recognize that this set is focused on a pretty swanky looking flower and keep reading.

Like the other botanical sets, the Bird Of Paradise comes in Adult Collector style packaging. The minimalist text and black background gives this quite a bit of shelf-appeal. Fitting, as this is a set that is meant for display as opposed to play. The 18+ suggested age range still seems like a poor choice, though, as once again the complexity of the set does very little to justify it. The Botanical Collection logo has a small Bird of Paradise graphic added to it, mirroring the tree and flower graphics in the Bonsai and bouquet sets. It’s interesting to note that, unlike the bouquet set, we get a brick-built container to hold the plant. This feels like a very smart addition, addressing one of that previous set’s few weak points.

The back of the box has a close up of the flowers, and a small inset on the upper right giving the height (46cm / 18 inches) of the set.  Along the bottom are four more images, the first two showing a good comparison between a real Bird of Paradise flower and the brick-built version. The next shot shows how the stems are built from Technic pins and connectors, reinforcing that this is indeed a LEGO model. The final shot shows the set out in the real world.

Inside the thumb-punch box are 10 numbered parts bags, and an 80 page instruction booklet that also ships in a bag. This set’s construction is quick (and repetitive) enough that the instructions didn’t require the pages that would justify a perfect-bound manual, so it’s nice that LEGO took the effort to protect the somewhat flimsy booklet.

That said, there was a small quality issue with our review copy’s instructions. The dark background has some evident printing flaws, somewhat distracting from the “adult quality” feeling when you start to build. The interview with set designer Chris McVeigh is also very much on the lighter/fluff side of things. It does have this amusing pull quote, though: “Chris is particularly proud of the model’s repositionable flowers and the fact that the model sways just like a real plant when placed in a light breeze.” We’ll come back to that quote a bit later in this review.

Although the first couple of pages of the instructions have a black background, happily that design changes when you get to the actual building steps. LEGO had announced that they were moving away from the black backgrounds seen in previous Adult Collector sets, and I think this “hybrid” approach works pretty well. Also interesting is that LEGO has filled some dead space in the margins with little factoids about the model and Bird of Paradise plant. I noticed them about half way through the build, and had to go back and see what I missed. Seems you can’t escape that learnin’ even if you try.

The parts

This set doesn’t contain any new molds, but it does have a wealth of useful and interesting parts, many in rare and exclusive colors. Purple epees and bar connectors are exclusive to this set. The tan 2/3rd height ribbed bricks are new for 2021, but do appear in a couple of other sets.

In medium nougat we get some rare centered brackets, and new half-circle tiles.

In the foliage department, we get a number of recolors for Technic elements. Dark green is a new color for the Technic panels. The click-hinge vanes and the sand green connectors are also exclusive to this set. We’ve seen the dark  green connectors before in other Botanical sets, but they remain rare.

This set also comes with a pile of golden-chrome ring elements. (Eight “official” ones in the parts list, and my review copy also had two spares.) As the instructions call out, this is the highest number of “golden rings” in any LEGO set. Seems like a missed opportunity for the new Shang-Chi “Legend of the 10 rings” sets to one-up this total, but strangely the largest released set only has five rings.

The build

The build starts off with the pot. It’s an eight-sided design, making use of hinged bricks and wedge plates to create a sturdy foundation. Those gold rings are used up quickly, serving as spacers for some Technic bracing. Yes, strangely, there are no gold rings visible in the final build–they’re all hidden inside. I have to think those parts were a deliberate treat for custom builders directly from the set designer.

The stacked design continues up the height of the pot, with the second set of ring-bearing braces being capped off with some brown tile. The final assembly contains the Technic connection points that will anchor the stems.

Once the core of the pot is assembled, it’s time to start putting on the casing. The eight panels are made with a wealth of curved black slopes. Inverted slopes on four of them (in the third picture below) ensure there’s not a gap between the sides. There’s also a nice decorative element of a line of 1×4 medium nougat plate set between the half-circle tiles we highlighted earlier. I do regret that they didn’t decide to incorporate even more gold rings as accents here. Maybe it looked too gaudy in testing.

The leaves for the Bird of Paradise all share the same construction. It’s a bit of a slog putting them all together, but it’s a price I’m willing to pay for all those dark green panels.

If you don’t put the leaves on quite yet, you get a nice “B-Model” that accurately represents what most plants look like if you fail to care for them. Attaching them, you get a nice “C-Model” of a plain greenery.

The stars of the show, obviously, are the flowers. You get three of them, all with identical construction.  The choice of colors is spot on, and that new purple fencing sword is a fun after-market part. You can vary the look a little thanks to the hinges that attach the petals, but I think having at least one other slightly different build would have been a nice upgrade.

The final step is combining the 300 1×1 round plates (200 medium nougat, 100 brown) used for the dirt. The instructions say to dump them into a bag and shake, a pretty unusual step for most LEGO sets. Fun, though. Less fun was trying to pour the combined plate into the top of the pot. I’m kinda clumsy, and they went everywhere.

The finished model

The assembled model is a pretty striking bit of LEGO statuary. The black pot looks very upscale, the stems and leaves have pleasing “real world” colorations, and the flowers just look fantastic. There is very much a “front” to this build, though, as the flowers have tall dark green leaves behind them to ensure they stand out while on display.

The inside of the pot wasn’t neglected, and the 1×1 round “dirt” adds a humorous level of “exposed studs” to the look. There are  plenty to cover the Technic connections and other exposed foundations in the top of the pot.

The matching build on the flowers isn’t particularly obvious, as I thought it would be. The rotating stems and possible angles from the click hinges allow them to be seen from different angles.

And now, the moment you didn’t know you were waiting for. Remember this quote? “Chris is particularly proud of the model’s repositionable flowers and the fact that the model sways just like a real plant when placed in a light breeze.”  Well, I didn’t have a decent breeze, but I did try and see how “swooshable” the set is. The verdict? It does indeed move pretty much like you’d expect a plant to. The heavy weight of the Technic panels on the elongated stems allows for a very natural sway.

I was also chuffed that the styling on the pot completely matched the décor in my home. Happy coincidences for the win.

Set next to the Flower Bouquet set (boosted with additional Roses and Tulips) it makes for a pretty nice unified display.

Conclusion and recommendation

There’s a lot to like about this set, be you a botanist or a more “mainstream” LEGO collector. To start off with, the finished set looks great. The inclusion of a brick-built pot makes this set more “ready to display” than the Flower Bouquet set, and the realism of the Birds of Paradise really shines. From a parts perspective there are definite pros in the new dark and sand green Technic panels and connectors, the wealth of gold rings, and the high quantities of useful sloped bricks. The building experience is quick, but the repetitive nature cuts into the fun somewhat. As a display piece, we shouldn’t be concerned with play features, but the “moves in the breeze” concept almost qualifies as one. At $100 US, the price seems pretty reasonable. For that you get 1173 pieces, many of which are new and hard to find colors. (The part count is a little inflated by the 300 1×1 round plate “dirt” and a wealth of Technic pins, though.) All in all, I’m comfortable recommending this set to the adult collector market, as well as those looking for cool LEGO pieces to bulk up their supplies. Yes, this set really grew on me.  (Sorry.)

10289 Botanical Collection: Bird Of Paradise will be available June 1 in Europe and the rest of the world, and August 1 in the Americas from the LEGO Shop Online for US $99.99 | CAN $139.99 | UK £89.99. It may also be available via third-party sellers on Amazon and eBay.

The LEGO Group sent The Brothers Brick an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.

4 comments on “LEGO Botanical Collection 10289 Bird of Paradise: April showers bring May flowers [Review]

  1. veyniac

    The Shang-Chi sets actually do use chromed rings, despite them looking like pearl gold in the renders.

  2. Zane

    It’s not a vase but a pot, since these are not cut flowers like the bouquet set but a potted plant.

  3. Chris Doyle Post author

    @zane – You’re right. I fixed the text in the article, since that was going to really bug me now that the error was pointed out. Thank you for the catch!

Comments are closed.