Back in January, I passed on buying the new botanicals sets in favor of waiting for Ninjago City Gardens. My decision greatly complicated acquiring the sets. Both the Bonsai Tree (10281) and the Flower Bouquet (10280) sold out quickly and remained out of stock every time I checked for them online. Even in store, it seemed I always missed them on shipment days. However, lady luck smiled on me recently. The LEGO® Store had both sets in stock. Consequently, today we finally take a look at the ultra popular Bonsai Tree.
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BONSAI TREE (10281) SUMMARY
- NAME: Bonsai Tree
- SET #: 10281
- THEME: Botanical Collection (Creator Expert, 18+)
- COST: $69.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 878
- MINIFIGURES: None
- RELEASE DATE: January 1, 2021
BONSAI TREE (10281) QUICK REVIEW
- VALUE: 78% (Excellent cost-per-brick, but for an 18+ set, you do not get much build time.)
- BUILD: 100% (Amazing design that is sturdy and aesthetically pleasing.)
- MINIFIGURES: N/A
- ENTERTAINMENT: 100% (I love this as a display piece and a tutorial on tree building.)
- OVERALL SCORE: 93%
BONSAI TREE (10281) REVIEW
The Bonsai Tree costs $69.99 in Canada. Additionally, you gain 878 pieces for the price. As such, the cost-per-brick works out to an even $0.08. That is a great value. Comparatively, my average cost-per-brick across all LEGO® themes is $0.138. Meanwhile, for only the Creator Expert line, my average is $0.099/brick. You get a lot of bricks for the price here. I rate that at 99%.
The Bonsai Tree provided me with 81 minutes of build time. I spent 68 minutes assembling the pink cherry blossom variant. Additionally, I switched the foliage for the alternate green leaves in a supplementary 13 minutes. Consequently, at full price, the cost-per-minute of build time is $0.86. Compared to LEGO® sets in general, that is close to average ($0.83/min). However, the Bonsai Tree fares worse in a direct comparison to other 18+ sets. My average cost-per-minute there is $0.551. As such, I rate the build time value at 56%. Taken with the cost-per-brick score, the Bonsai Tree earns an overall value rating of 78%.
The Bonsai Tree included two foliage variants. You assemble either a white and pink, cherry blossom-like canopy or a green one. I assembled both. However, I will display the pink variant. My wife likes that one enough to put the set on the fireplace mantle. For both versions, the base structure of the tree, the dish, and the stand are the same. I am pleased to note that changing the foliage on this tree is far easier than on the LEGO® Ideas Tree House. In this case, the foliage attaches onto pre-assembled branch segments. You simply pull off one branch segment to exchange it for another. You do not have to remove and attach each individual leaf piece.
The foliage of the Bonsai Tree (10281) easily changes.
Of the two variants, the green version is the easiest to build. It includes little embellishment. However, the lack of add-ons is not a bad thing. The set looks great with either foliage variant. The pink version takes longer to build because you attach 100 pink frogs to white leaf bricks. The frogs are a clever use of an existing pieces to represent something new. Incidentally, in this case, the frogs are meant as blossoms. Additionally, you add some bloomed flowers to the display.
I am always on the lookout for new tree designs. This tree is great. I recently built the Ninjago City Gardens and Medieval Blacksmith trees. Neither one impressed me. The Ninjago version did not look real enough. Meanwhile, the Blacksmith tree looks amazing, but falls apart at the slightest touch. The Bonsai Tree simultaneously looks good and features a sturdy design. You can easily employ this build in MOCs. However, the ground attachment and root structure require some work. They are not meant to be visible in this model. That is not a contentious issue for me though. “Pebbles” (lots of round 1×1 tiles) cover the base of the tree. Ultimately, this set looks amazing, and I have no complaints. I rate the Bonsai Tree build at 100%.
This set is purely a display piece. It is meant for AFOLs. Consequently, I will not rate it based on KFOL play value. From an adult perspective, you get an amazing set. Firstly, any set that my wife likes enough to display in the living room is worth 100%. This set appeals decoratively to adults outside the AFOL community. For hardcore fans, not only is the Bonsai Tree a great display piece, but it also comes with lots of extra foliage. Additionally, you learn a great new tree build to apply in custom creations. I rate the entertainment at 100%.
OVERALL SCORE: 93%
You cannot go wrong with a Bonsai Tree purchase. The overall value is satisfactory, bordering on good. It loses points in this review as an 18+ set that provides well below average build time. However, compared to LEGO® sets in general, it scores well. I do not consider the low build-time as a deterrent in this case. The display value and teachable techniques make up for that. Plus, you get two display variants. I am a fan of the Bonsai Tree, and I highly recommend it. What are your thoughts? Feel free to comment below or reach out on social media.
Until next time,
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