LEGO Botanical Collection 10311 Orchid – beauty comes in many shapes [Review]

Someone at LEGO headquarters must have been having an awesome day when they dreamed up the idea to start a line of sets that features fan-favorite plants. Absolutely brilliant in so many ways! Since its creation, the Botanical Collection has been an epic hit, and the latest wave are sure to be crowd-pleasers! Join us as we take a look at the first of two new additions: LEGO Botanical Collection 10311 Orchid. This lovely build stands at 15 inches tall and contains 608 pieces. It is currently available for online preorder at US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £49.99 and will be more widely available starting May 1st, just in time for Mother’s Day.

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.

Unboxing the parts and instructions

This set comes in a medium-sized, thumb-punch box. (Fear not, though! You do not have to ruin the box if you’re the type who saves them. A sharp tool like a knife can be carefully used to separate the glued flaps.) The front features the sleek Botanical Collection look, while the back shows a comparison with the real plant.

Inside there are four numbered bags and a pair of free-floating 32L Technic axles. It’s immediately noticeable that there’s an awful lot more color here than on the front of the box…

The instructions are about as thick as a light magazine. There’s some intro text about the set and flowers themselves. What’s most interesting, though, is there are small text blurbs throughout the instructions that provide a little nugget of interesting info. While they do occur throughout the booklet, they are fairly spaced-out. More would’ve been nice, but it’s awesome to have them at all!

The build

We kick off the build from the base, moving upward. Leave it to the LEGO designers to pack all sorts of color hidden inside the pot! The structure is quite interesting, with a pivoting core and uniquely patterned segments. The foundation involves new 8×8 plates that are only in one other set thus far.

All together, the whole thing is like the tumbler of a lock, and has me scheming up ways to use this technique. It’s so cool, in fact, that this isn’t the first time it’s made an appearance in a set. As mentioned in one of the blurbs (pictured above) the designer, Michael Psiaki, borrowed the design from the large tower of the Hogwarts Castle set. Spinning the core just enough and locking it all in place with beams allows for many more attachment points than a straight stack of core segments. In other words, it makes a smoother cylinder.

Now that we’ve had our fun with lots of color, it’s time to move on to the simple elegance and classiness of the fluted pot. There aren’t a ton of different parts in the set, but of the collection we get, there are large quantities. In addition, many are brand new color variations. This includes 2×4 double-slopes (roof caps) in sand blue (32). In general, the part itself hasn’t been in sets since 2014. Also, 1×2 half-pyramids in sand blue (32) are seen here for the first time since a similar part appeared once in 2004. The new red friction half-pin has been in a few new sets, but in limited quantity, versus the 32 we get here.

When connected to the core with the help of 2×2 pin plates, the result is lovely!

Next up is the stem and leaves. For these we get a plethora of elements in new and rare color variants. This includes dark bluish grey friction half pins, as well as dark green plant stems, 1×1 round tiles, and 4x4x4 2/3 windscreens. The right and left 10×3 wedges were last seen in 2009 in Indiana Jones “Flight on the Flying Wing”, and the large 8x6x2 windscreens were last seen in 2011 in the Atlantis “Angler Attack” set.

As previously mentioned, we begin with the stem and support sticks. Along with the stem, we add a couple of tendrils.

With a solid handful of additional Technic elements, the body of the plant comes together in a flash. The beautiful thing here is that you could almost just freestyle the shoots, without using the instructions. Like the real plant, the arrangement can be totally organic.

Onward to the flowers – arguably the most interesting part of the whole build! But first, let’s take a look at the new parts. Continuing with the same theme: lots of new color variations, and in large quantities! In white, we have forks (yes, the dining utensil), shields, and a printed hood for the small buds, which we’ll get back to in a second. We also have large-fig shoulder armor, which is not new in white, but hasn’t been around for several years. Also new are dark pink knob gears, bright pink Bionicle teeth, and magenta frogs. The last of which is an ode to the frogs in the Bonsai tree.

Now back to that “hood” element. If you were wondering, yes, it absolutely is a Demogorgon head from Stranger Things. There really can’t be any bigger swing than from terrifying, teeth-laden, demon thing, to a beautiful, delicate flower. In any case, what a clever use of the element!

Now to actually assemble the flowers, of which there are six, not counting the little guys. This is one of those moment where you think, wow, LEGO elements can do incredible things. Parts originally designed for a variety of other things come together to make something that looks like it was destined to be. For example, that frog makes a truly great blossom center (apparently “column” and “anther cap” in orchid-speak).

And this is likely the most interesting technique I have ever seen in an official LEGO model… A fork is passed through the handle of a shield tail-end first and connected to the back of the flower with a bar-holder clip. The neck of the fork is loose, but it’s actually a fairly sturdy connection. You could push/pull the fork so that the head is more firmly wedged in the shield handle, but it’s difficult to get your fingers around, and you risk damaging the fork. Highly fascinating parts usage!

Finally, we do the finishing touch of tossing in a whole bunch of “mulch” elements to cover the bottom. It seems odd to just toss it in, but it really does look like the real thing.

The completed model

Simply put, the finished orchid is beautiful and true to life. As the title of this review states, beauty comes in many shapes. In reference to this set, it’s the various shapes that compose it, as well as the hundreds of ways it can be arranged, that make it special.

As a side note, while the set has the classy feel of an adult exclusive, it doesn’t seem like something that select folks under 18+ couldn’t build. In fact, it’s a great way to learn a couple cool techniques, for experienced young and older builders alike.

Conclusions and recommendations

I admire orchids a lot – they are truly gorgeous and interesting plants. I wouldn’t say I’m an enthusiast by any means, but I have a couple of my own, so I decided to take a picture of them all together. And wow! The LEGO orchid fits right into the bunch! I’m a fan!

Now, if you (or a special someone) love plants but have a habit of killing them, then the Botanical Collection should be right up your alley. If you’re not a plant killer, but would like to mix things up, you may still enjoy having this in your collection. It costs a fair bit more than real orchids (my real ones cost around $14USD each), but it’s always in bloom! Also, it’s both fun and relaxing to build, and the best part is the ability to shape it however you like. At the end of the day, I’d say it’s worth it, especially as a gift.

Like what you see? Check out all of our other reviews from the Botanical Collection!

LEGO Botanical Collection 10311 Orchid is currently available for pre-order online for US $49.99 | CAN $69.99 | UK £49.99. It will be in-store beginning May 1st.

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.

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