LEGO’s 2023 Lunar New Year collection seemingly has something for everyone this year, from minifigure-heavy offerings like 80111 Lunar New Year Parade, to traditional brick-built ornaments like 80110 Lunar New Year Display and with 40648 Money Tree, a pseudo-botanical set
40648 Money Tree is a small 336-piece model of a kumquat/tangerine/mini mandarin tree, which is another common sight around Chinese New Year.
For context, the Cantonese word for Mandarin is “kam”, which is also a homonym for “gold”, which is why these little shrubs are used as decorations, and Mandarins are also gifted to one another as symbols of prosperity – hence the set’s name “Money Tree”.
40648 Money Tree is now available on LEGO.com or your local LEGO Store, and as its priced quite accessibly, might be a good set to add to your to-buy list when the rest of the January 2023 releases become available!
- 40648 Money Tree [US] – US$24.99
- 40648 Money Tree [AUS] – AU$39.99
- 40648 Money Tree [UK] – £21.99
- 40648 Money Tree [EU] – €24.99
- 40648 Money Tree [CA] – CAD$34.99
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Special thanks to The LEGO Group for sending this early review set
40648 Money Tree Set Details
Name: Money Tree
Set Number: 40648
Price: $24.99 [US] | £21.99 GBP [UK] | AU$39.99 [AUS]
Exclusive to: N/A
Theme: Chinese New Year / LEGO Iconic
Release Date: 25 December 2022
So the set begins on a great note – there are no stickers in the set! All the decorations are printed, and in total, we get 10 Chinese coin tiles, and 14 red envelope 1×2 tiles for decorative elements.
The build was quite straight forward, with 4 numbered bags. You begin by building the red pot, and the Money Tree from the ground up, adding the leaves as you build upwards.
Here’s a look at the completed model. For a US$24.99 set, I was surprised by how substantially large the model looks. It’s about 16cm (6 inches) tall, which is almost the same height as the Bonsai Tree which is 18cm tall with the wooden stand.
At half the price, it’s actually really good value for its size and how it looks on display.
The pot is red, and utilises some really interesting techniques for the sides, with the curves narrowing towards the base. The colour red represents good fortune and prosperity, and is common across all Lunar New Year celebrations.
There are also 2 drum-lacquered gold ingots placed on the flat edge of the pot – I really like these, and their shaping is pretty accurate. The drum-lacquered gold adds that bit of dazzle to these ingots, which are also symbols of prosperity.
Here’s a look at the soil, which uses a combination of tiles and layered angled plates for some texture. It’s a really interesting technique, if a little unrealistic as Kumquat Trees are usually planted in darker soil, not sand, but in this case, it helps introduce some contrast between the soil and trunk.
One of the things that the Money Tree gets right is just how dense the foliage is, without it looking too overly busy. It matches the dense leaves of the kumquat tree, thanks to the generous helping of leaves that are layered subtly and closely to one another.
If there’s one thing that I think could be improved, it’d be to use darker leaves as the Kumquat Trees I’m used to seeing at Chinese New Year usually have darker waxy leaves, instead of the vibrant green used here.
You get about 20 orange pumpkins, which are used to represent kumquats/tangerines/mandarins. At this scale, they work reasonably well to create the intended effect, and I also like that each kumquat has a 3-leaf element attached to it for some further foliage variety.
Here’s a look at the printed coins, which represent ancient chinese coins, which have the signature square cutout in the middle. These coins are traditionally hung from the leaves of the tree, earning its nickname – the Money Tree.
Here’s a look at the red envelopes which are also typically hung from the branches and trees. During the Lunar New Year, it’s customary for married couples to give these red envelopes which contain money to unmarried individuals (typically kids) as a symbol and gesture of good luck and blessing.
These little the leaves, and together with the kumquats, and coins give the Money Tree plenty of visual bookmarks that draw your eyes to all the interesting elements.
Here’s a top-down view of the Money Tree! Despite it being so busy, I like how symmetrical it all is.
One of the downsides is the trunk, which isn’t really visible as its obscured by all the leaves, but despite the branches from each angle, looks a little too straight and unnatural.
It’s a minor visual annoyance, but towards the top of the money tree, you can see these bricks, and the edges of the technic axle which hold the blue technic beam in the tree’s core in place.
It’s slightly distracting, and I wish they could’ve obscured or hidden it with more leaves or foliage to make it look less distracting.
What I liked:
- All decorations are printed!
- Finished model is sizable
- Makes for a great Lunar New Year decorative piece
- Fits in nicely with other LEGO Botanical sets
- Useful Halloween parts pack
What I didn’t like:
- Trunk is too unnaturally straight
- Exposed axles
I really like 40648 Money Tree, and how well it fits into LEGO’s growing botanical collection, despite it not being an official “Botanical”. It blends Lunar New Year and LEGO Botanicals, all wrapped up in an attractive seasonal package, especially if you celebrate or observe Chinese New Year.
Despite it being a Money Tree, the most surprising thing about the set is its accessible price-point. At US$24.99 / AU$39.99, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck for a set that’s about the same size as the LEGO Bonsai Tree.
The dense foliage, and generous inclusion of plenty of printed coins, red envelopes and of course kumquat fruit make for a really visually appealing model.
Whether you celebrate Lunar New Year or not, if you’re a fan of LEGO Botanicals, I can thoroughly recommend ordering 40648 Money Tree, especially if you’re making an order on 1 January.
It’s rare for LEGO sets at this price point to look great on display, offer up a quick and fun build experience, and most important won’t break the bank. And hey according to tradition, having a LEGO Money Tree in your home should bless you with good fortune and prosperity, which we all need to afford all the new and exciting LEGO sets coming in 2023.
Rating and score: 4/5 ★★★★✰
Build  – Slightly repetitive leaves, but still fun and varied enough for a quick LEGO fix
Real Value  – Awesome value for its asking price, especially with so many printed elements
Innovation  – Takes the LEGO Botanicals formula and blends it with Lunar New Year
Coolness  – Easy to display and makes for a fun gift or decorative piece, especially if you celebrate Lunar New Year
Keepability  – Great to display for Lunar New Year, and alongside your other LEGO Botanicals
Thank you so much for reading this review of 40648 Money Tree, and I hope I managed to convince you to pick this one up if you’re ordering anything in the New Year!
What do you think of the LEGO Money Tree? Does this set appeal to you?
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