It has been almost seven years since the last line was released but diehard fans of Bionicle do their part to keep the Great Spirit alive. For this inspiring model, builder Patrick Biggs looked back twenty-one years to when this new line helped bring life to the struggling LEGO Group. Originally a convention trophy concept, this model resembles an incense burner with smoke rising through the Toa of Fire’s resting mask. The wistful, rising smoke soon branches out into a delicate, birch-like bonsai tree with bright, lush foliage. A pink frog hangs out on the lowest branch both as a nod to the 10281 Bonsai Tree (which came with over a hundred of them) and to the fandom’s obsession with LEGO frogs (thanks to the influence of LEGO designer Nick Vás). The delicate trunk of this towering tree magically spirals upward towards the sky, becoming denser and branching outward just as LEGO continues to grow and thrive.
Bonsais have been a hit this year thanks to the introduction of the Botanical Collection 10281 Bonsai Tree. Builder Ashton Douglas took some time to design his own version as a gift. Two bonsai sets and some extra elements came together to create a delightful custom model for Ashton’s friend to display. Though the base and pot are elements from the Bonsai set, rock work, trunk, and interesting foliage make this a beautifully unique build. There’s a wistfulness to the build with the way the pink frog seems to be staring at the lamp hanging from the branches.
In my experience, bonsai trees are kind of fragile. But this sturdy specimen from Louis of Nutwood isn’t phased by harsh weather. With a snowy covering on the autumn-hued leaves, this tiny tree is ready for a long winter’s nap. I really like the evocative colors, the twisting trunk, and the tiny lantern on the edge of the pot.
This bonsai started life as part of a larger build, Louis’ Toro Nagashi Temple. It’s a great example of how removing a section of a larger creation can completely transform how its seen; in the temple scene this is “just” a full-sized tree. But recontextualize it and suddenly you’ve got a desk-sized botanical that could go head-to-head with LEGO’s own 10281 Bonsai Tree. Check out our bonsai tag for even more pint-sized greatness!
Sometimes smaller is better, building with a limited selection of parts can lead to creative outcomes, like this simple but beautiful bonsai tree by Louis of Nutwood built around the curved animal part. The planter sits on a wooden tray just like the official LEGO Bonsai tree set, albeit using a mere fraction of the brown tiles.
We’ve been seeing a lot of unique LEGO bonsai creations since the introduction of the official LEGO Botanical Collection 10281 Bonsai Tree set, thanks no doubt to the awesome variations displayed in the back of that set’s instruction manual. But this one by Zane Houston still stands apart from the crowd, as it’s not really even a tree. It’s a weeping stone gargoyle* with spouting wings that form the leafy branches of a bonsai tree. The gargoyle’s body is made of a fascinating hodge-podge of plates–mostly wedge plates–that give it a unique, knobbly, rough-hewn look. My favorite part, however, is the basalt base upon which it stands. Now I want to add basalt bases to all my creations.
*technically, gargoyles have drain spouts, or else it’s simply a grotesque–but that’s for architecture. The dictionary is oddly silent on how they’re defined for bonsai.
It’s not usually our thing to feature LEGO works in progress. But when ZiO Chao posted a sprig of plum blossom, we featured it. Who could blame us, really? The subject was expertly crafted and photographed with utmost care. The sprig alone was rather breathtaking, actually. So you can imagine our thrill to learn the sprig was a mere teaser for this entire Bonsai plum tree. The builder tells us that the plum blossom is one of the most beloved flowers in China and has been frequently depicted in Chinese art and poetry for centuries. They can bloom in the winter and have therefore come to symbolize perseverance and hope, as well as beauty and purity. In my opinion, the official Botanical Collection has been the best new idea LEGO has come up with in a while. They have been the inspiration for so many beautiful creations such as this.
Nature has been manipulated by human hands for centuries. While certainly nature always finds a way, seemingly so do we humans. Simon Liu’s LEGO bonsai model which was entered into Brickset’s bonsai contest, inspires the philosophical mind to produce musings on the relationship between humankind and nature.
Simon’s model is visually striking and compositionally different from most bonsais I have seen so far. Instead of the tree growing out of the typical rectangular pot, this plant is growing out of the palm of a grey hand fashioned out of a number of small elements including 2×2 tiles, diamond shields, and ingots. The bonsai itself is shaped by a number of wiry black elements most notably the whip and twig pieces. The flowers featured on this build are rendered by baby minifigure heads – an unusual but effective choice. This handy bonsai rests on a sea of 1×2 trans-clear blue bricks, which was a nice touch. For whatever reason this model reminds me of the film WALL-E, with the robot’s little hand carrying the plant – the key to our planet.
LEGO is doubling down on focussing on the Adult market with a video just under 2 minutes featuring six strangers out on their first date. The setting in this typical session of mixed emotions ranging from being tensed up and full of anxiety are also those moments of silence, but with one difference – a LEGO set placed between the two individuals meeting for the first time.
There have been a lot of builds inspired by LEGO’s 10281 Bonsai Tree lately, and this is one of the best. Take a close look at this bonsai tree, and you’ll see it looking right back at you. LEGO designer Jme Wheeler has come up with a great build and a quality pun with Boneseye. A mix of eyeball-printed 1×1 round tiles and Technic balls look almost natural in the olive-green foliage, while the twisting white bark of the tree is also full of interesting parts. I spotted life preserver rings, robot arms, and even some candlestick elements. Oh yeah, and even a bone or two.
While bonsai builds are all the rage right now, they’ve been a staple of creative builds for years. Just take a tour though our bonsai tag and see for yourself. There are even some creepy ones, like this chain-based creation from 2018.
The release of LEGO’s new botanical line which includes the beloved Bonsai Tree has inspired many lush and succulent spin offs, Marius Hermann’s brick-built sakura bonsai being a great example of the trend. Technically when I refer to “the trend”, I am actually referencing a competition currently being held by Brickset encouraging the building of bonsai plants.
Hermann’s blossom bonsai makes use of some very interesting LEGO elements for a tree build, the trunk includes clipped triangular signs, various blade, tail, and vine elements, rock elements, and even the minifigure snowshoe element all in a brown color scheme. These pieces combined perfectly recreate the undulating trunk of a bonsai tree. The blossoms also utilize a cornucopia of different 1×1 elements including white crowns and flowers as well as tiles, ice cream swirls, cherries, and flower pieces in light to bright pink. Some greenery is also included, this is accomplished using the Joker Collectible Minifigure hairpiece in light green. The potted portion of the model is brick-built using plates, tiles, and bricks in black on top of a brown base fashioned in the same way. Overall Hermann’s model is very detailed, more so than the set released by LEGO, additionally it seems to be larger. So far I have enjoyed seeing these competition entries and look forward to more models to come.
LEGO has a bit of an unwarranted reputation among the general public as a medium that doesn’t lend itself easily to organic shapes. Hobbyist LEGO builders have been disabusing others of this misperception for many years by sharing LEGO builds inspired by the natural world. LEGO’s in-house designers are certainly capable of creating official LEGO sets full of flora and fauna, as LEGO designer Nicolas Vás proves with the new 10281 Bonsai Tree from the new Botanical Collection. The set includes 878 pieces and will be available on January 1st, 2021 (US $49.99 | CAN $TBD | UK £44.99).
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.
Thanks to Polish retailer Bonito, we get a first look at LEGO’s new Botanical Collection featuring Bonsai Tree and a Flower Bouquet. The two releases take the same dark thematic box art sytle intended to target adult LEGO fans.
Don’t miss the other new sets for 2021:
- LEGO Art Mosaics 31201 Harry Potter Hogwarts & 31202 Disney’s Mickey Mouse
- LEGO Botanical Collection Bonsai Tree and Flower Bouquet
- LEGO City 2021
- LEGO Creator 2021
- LEGO Dots 2021
- LEGO Friends 2021
- LEGO Harry Potter 2021
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2021
- LEGO Ninjago 2021
- LEGO Technic 2021
- LEGO Technic 42123 McLaren Senna GTR
- LEGO Star Wars 2021
- LEGO Star Wars The Mandalorian 75299 Trouble on Tatooine
- LEGO Super Mario 2021
Check out the new Botanical Collection sets below.