Creating a miniature version of a tree is the fundamental goal of the art of bonsai achieved through the meticulous and contemplative process of nurturing a tree or a shrub. In this LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 review, I will show you how this display set reflects the values of growing bonsai plants.
The care, patience, skill, and dedication required to practice this delicate art, are also necessary to build this beautiful display model. The set’s contents are reflected in its title since ‘BON’ means a dish or a modified vessel in Japanese while ‘SAI’ means a tree or a growing plant.
That’s what you can expect to find in the LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 set, a stylish pot and a miniature tree with leaves and blossoms. Please read our LEGO Gingerbread House review if you’d like to learn more about this Creator Expert set.
Bottom Line Up Front
In my opinion, the Bonsai Tree 10281 is an affordable set for anyone who loves gardening or enjoys building LEGO sets. The only downside is that the set doesn’t have a lot of accessories that would enrich the display model.
The Nitty-Gritty of the LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 Set
LEGO launched the Botanical Collection on January 1, 2021, by releasing the LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 and Flower Bouquet 10280 sets. The toymaker added the Bird of Paradise 10289 set to the collection eight months later.
So far, these three models are the only sets published in the Botanical Collection, but according to rumors, LEGO should extend this collection in 2022. Also, there’s no indication that LEGO plans to retire any of the sets from the Botanical Collection before the end of 2023.
The Bonsai Tree set has 878 pieces, and it’s one of the smallest sets in the Creator Expert theme that features more than twenty sets with 1,000 pieces or more. Like most models from this theme, the Bonsai set is designed for LEGO fans over 18.
Our guide to the most expensive LEGO sets can help you discover what high-end LEGO sets have to offer.
Packaging and Building Instructions
This set comes in a standard cardboard box decorated with the images of the display model it contains. The box isn’t sturdy, and it can get crushed easily in delivery. In fact, the damaged packaging is the most common complaint LEGO fans have about this set.
The box’s front side features a picture of the assembled bonsai tree model, with the set’s title above the image and recommended age, piece count, and LEGO set ID numbers below it.
The box’s underside features three images depicting the model’s schematic view with dimensions, an alternative cherry blossom build, and the model next to the ‘wooden stand.’ The instruction leaflet features brief information about Nick Vás, the set’s designer, and the art of cultivating bonsai trees.
The building instructions are illustrated, and they take you from one step of the assembly process to another. Check our guide to the best LEGO display shelves to discover the best ways to exhibit LEGO sets you build.
An Overview of the Set’s Pieces
The instruction booklet also informs the builder that the set contains plant pieces made of plant-based plastic. Green and white leaves are unique for this set, while 2×2 brown macaroni pieces featured in the tree trunk are included in just one active LEGO set released within the Disney theme.
The set also features rare frog elements, Nick Vas’ signature detail, hidden in cherry blossom pieces that allow you to alternate between two different builds of the bonsai tree model.
Round 1×1 tiles that double as pebbles are available in four colors, and their function is purely decorative as their role is to fill the pot.
A pair of flexible brown harness pieces or wines are also unique for this set, while different types of wedges, root, and elbow elements appear for the first time in red and brown tones. Read our guide to critical LEGO pieces for more information about the most common parts in LEGO sets.
The Construction Process
The pieces of the Bonsai Tree 10281 set are arranged in six bags. I don’t recommend emptying the contents of all bags into the same tray at the beginning of the construction because you might struggle to find the pieces you need later in the process.
Simply following the instructions and moving from one bag to another is much easier, as you won’t have to search for tiny pieces. The construction takes place from the bottom up, so the first segment of the display model you’ll construct is the pot.
This rectangular element is made of mostly black pieces and has rubber feet pieces that improve its stability. A white 4×4 turntable part dominates the element’s central section, and its role is to provide a secure connection between the tree and pot elements.
Once you’ve assembled the pieces from the first bag, you can open the second bag that contains the parts you’ll need to build the tree trunk. Although completing this step of the assembly process doesn’t take long, connecting some pieces can be challenging.
After you’re done building the tree trunk, you should attach it to the pot element using the 4×4 turntable piece. The set contains around a hundred 1×1 round tile elements in four colors, these pieces fill the bonsai pot, and you don’t have to attach them to this element.
The alternate tree crown pieces are packed in two different bags so that you can decide if you want to go for the standard or cherry blossom build. The standard tree crown contains nine sub-assemblies that attach to the branches, and each sub-assembly contains flowers and other details.
The alternate cherry blossom build is almost identical to the green foliage because it contains nine sub-builds composed of decorative pink frog and flower elements. The final stage of the assembly process is also the easiest because it involves constructing a rectangular wooden stand for the bonsai tree.
Please browse through our guide to the best LEGO ideas that might inspire you to start a new DIY LEGO project.
A Look at the Finished Bonsai Tree Model
Building the LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 set won’t take more than two hours. The finished model is 7.5 inches wide, 8.5 inches long, and 7 inches tall. It’s a perfect decorative element for a coffee table or shelf, but removing dust from it can be tricky due to a high number of tiny elements.
Switching between two alternative looks is straightforward because the tree branches have the Technic Pin element that allows you to detach one sub-assembly and replace it with another.
The instruction leaflet also contains suggestions for alternative bonsai tree builds, but the set doesn’t have the pieces you’ll need to construct these ideas. The biggest downside of the LEGO Bonsai set is its fragility since the model might collapse a few times during the assembly process.
The model remains relatively stable after you put it together, but it can still fall apart if it isn’t handled carefully. Please browse through our guide to the best LEGO storage ideas if you’re searching for the most efficient way to organize the LEGO pieces in your collection.
Compatibility with Other LEGO Creator Expert Sets
As I already pointed out, LEGO released only three sets within the Botanic Collection. These sets are compatible, and you can combine them to create a small exhibition of floral-themed LEGO display models.
They’re not similar to other Creator Expert sets since most models from this theme are inspired by vintage vehicles, architecture, movies, and TV shows. Other LEGO themes contain sets with floral elements, but very few models are inspired by flowers or horticulture. Finding a LEGO set you can combine with the Bonsai Tree model can be challenging.
However, you can use elements from this set to build DIY LEGO floral arrangements or make it a part of a LEGO forest, city, or island diorama. Please read our guide to the best LEGO Pirate sets to learn more about pirate-themed models.
Price and Value
The Bonsai Tree 10281 is priced at approximately $50, although online retailers and LEGO-certified stores often offer it at a discounted price. This is one of the most affordable Creator Expert models since most sets from this theme cost more than $100.
LEGO doesn’t plan to withdraw the Bonsai Tree 10281 set from the market in the foreseeable future, which means that its value is going to remain the same within the next few years.
All sets published within the Botanical Collection are collectible, and their value will increase after they’re discontinued, so buying this set at its current price is an excellent investment. Please go through our guide to the best LEGO sets under $50 to discover sets with prices similar to the Bonsai Tree 10281.
Pros and Cons of the LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 Set
- A fun and easy construction process
- It contains several unique pieces
- A beautiful display model
- An affordable price
- This set has almost a hundred frog-shaped pieces
- Builders can switch between two bonsai tree looks
- The assembled model is just seven inches high
- The display model is fragile
- This set is overwhelming for young LEGO fans
The Best Alternatives to the LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 Set
LEGO hasn’t produced a lot of flower-themed sets in its long history, so finding the alternative to the Bonsai Tree 10281 set outside of the Botanical Collection is challenging. At the moment, the company offers a handful of simple sets inspired by sunflowers, tulips, or roses, but these sets have less than 200 pieces.
They’re also inexpensive, so buying several models can be a good substitute for the Bonsai Tree 10281 set. I’ve shortlisted some of the best alternatives to this set, so let’s take a closer look at their features.
Bird of Paradise 10289
LEGO published the Bird of Paradise 10289 set in August 2021, eight months after adding the Botanical Collection to its product lineup. The set has 1173 pieces, which makes it the collection’s biggest set up to date.
It’s twice as expensive as the Bonsai Tree 10281 set, so you should consider other options if it doesn’t fit your budget. The model of the Bird of Paradise has adjustable and repositionable leaves and flowers. Stems have varying lengths allowing you to position the leaves at different heights.
The black flowerpot element is filled with 1×1 tile pieces that allow you to cover the lower part of the plant.
Flower Bouquet 10280
Bonsai Tree 10281 and Flower Bouquet 10280 sets were released at the same time, but after more than a year on the market, the Bonsai Tree model seems to be a more popular option. Both models have the same price, even though the Flower Bouquet set has the lower piece count.
Roses, asters, daisies, or poppies are among the flowers featured in the set, and you can adjust the length of their stems. Also, their petals and leaves are adjustable, but keep in mind that this set doesn’t contain the pieces you need to build a flower pot or a vase.
Roses 40460 and Tulips 40461
Buying several smaller LEGO sets like Tulips 40461 and Roses 40460 might be a great idea if you want to design a LEGO flower bouquet on your own. In addition, these sets are not hard to assemble because they have less than 150 pieces.
You’ll get two roses and three tulips if you purchase this combination of LEGO sets and spend less than $50 on both models. The maximum length of stems in each set varies from nine to ten inches, but you can also opt to shorten stems if they’re too long for the bouquet you’re building.
Frequently asked questions about LEGO Bonsai Tree 10281 set
Question: Does the Bonsai Tree 10281 Contain Gardening Accessories?
Answer: Bonsai scissors, pruners, and other tools used for the upkeep of bonsai trees are not included in this set.
Question: What is the Wooden Stand in the Bonsai Set For?
Answer: The wooden stand is modeled after the daiza aesthetic elements utilized to elevate the bonsai plant and give it dignity.
Question: How to Construct Alternative Bonsai Build Included in the Set’s Leaflet?
Answer: You must identify the pieces used in each build and then try to purchase them on the manufacturer’s website.
Question: Is the Bonsai Tree 10281 the only set Nick Vás Designed for LEGO?
Answer: Nick Vás has been a LEGO set designer since 2014, and he has designed more than seventy models published in Ninjago, Monkie Kid, Creator Expert, and other themes.
You don’t have to be an experienced LEGO builder to assemble the Bonsai Tree 20281 set. In fact, it shouldn’t take you more than two hours to construct all set’s elements, even if you have never built a LEGO set before.
The assembly process, although simple, is rewarding, and in the end, you’ll get a captivating decorative model you can place on a bookcase or a coffee table. I think that this set is an excellent option for adults who don’t have a lot of set-building experience that can help them prepare for more complex LEGO projects.
Was this LEGO Bonsai Tree 20281 set review useful? Let me know in the comments or continue reading our guide to the best LEGO Ninjago sets if you’d like to learn more about the Minifigures inspired by characters from this animated series.