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.
Click to see the full video from LEGO
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.
Read our hands-on review of LEGO 10281 Bonsai Tree
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:
Check out the new Botanical Collection sets below.
Click to take a closer look
I’m old enough to remember when things were simpler, and LEGO Tensegrity builds were all the rage. This sculpture from Bendrig evokes the calm and peaceful state of a nearly forgotten age. Arch bricks and curved slopes create an organic trunk, and there’s just the right amount of foliage. I also like the simplicity of the two-tone base where a layer of loose 1×1 round plate makes for a nice zen-garden feel.
It’s nice just to take a break and ponder the natural levitation of this sculpture. Maybe one day more things will be in balance like this.
Vietnamese builder Khang Huynh is welcoming in the lunar new year with a beautiful LEGO bonsai apricot tree packed with new ideas. One of the best things about LEGO is that its elements can be repurposed nearly endlessly, limited only by your imagination. Here Khang has used several propeller pieces to sculpt the large, delicate petals of the yellow apricot blossoms that dot the tiny tree. Don’t stop looking there, though, take a close look for other wonderful reimaginings, such as ski poles, horns, and even a stud shooter.
The art of bonsai, or tray planting, much like LEGO building can be a very meditative process. Hours and hours can go into the finished product, and meticulous study and practice can lead to a true masterpiece of patience and careful work.
In this wonderfully detailed tree by Know Your Pieces that combines both, there are some small details worth pointing out. I love the use of tiny cherries as small berries under some of the leaves. The twisted brown whip wrapped around the middle is also a nice choice. And the bowl and stand work very well together to provide the perfect display. Altogether, it’s just how a beautiful bonsai should be.
André Pinto‘s build took me by surprise. I said to myself, “That’s a nice LEGO bonsai tree photographed on a nice piece of antique furniture.” Part of that is true; it is a nice LEGO bonsai tree. But part of it is false, too, because a closer look revealed that the table and the rug were also made entirely from LEGO. André says that there are 5,000 pieces in the build, but 85% of them are the limited selection that comes from the Pick-a-Brick walls in LEGO retail stores. The large amounts of somewhat odd pieces comes together for a stunning build.
The sand green telescopes form a lovely border around the edge of the table, and the copious yellow click hinges provide a surprisingly realistic rug texture beneath. The white flowers still attached to the sprue drape elegantly from the branches of the tree. The details that deceived me, however, are the reflective surface of the table with small petals on it, and the finely crafted legs, with cross supports, beneath it. What a clever use of bulk parts!