Platz 1/12 Bonsai (1)

KIT #: BON-1
PRICE: 1500 yen SRP
DECALS: None required
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken

Bonsai (盆栽?, "tray planting"   is a Japanese art form using trees grown in containers. Similar practices exist in other cultures, including the Chinese tradition of penjing from which the art originated, and the miniature living landscapes of Vietnamese hn non bộ. The Japanese tradition dates back over a thousand years. "Bonsai" is a Japanese pronunciation of the earlier Chinese term penzai. The word bonsai is often used in English as an umbrella term for all miniature trees in containers or pots.

The purposes of bonsai are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower). By contrast with other plant cultivation practices, bonsai is not intended for production of food or for medicine. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container.

There is a great deal more to it than the introduction above so I suggest reading the reference for more information.  


I am constantly amazed that what gets kitted in Japan. Add this one to the list. I would have never dreamed that a bonsai would be done, but here is the first one. The kit comes for the most part, in a styrofoam tray. This tray includes the branches of the tree along with the foliage and the immediate base. There is another section into which the immediate base fits as well as a pastic stand, but that is attached to the side of the tray and not visible in this photo. A section of wood is also included, the purpose of which is not made clear, but perhaps it is a painting guide.

Though the pieces fit together to make the model, there are no painting instructions and this really needs to be painted to look nice. The website link for the product has a how-to video and much of the time is used in doing washes. The plastic is apparently pliable as well as it shows sections being bent slightly to get it all into shape.

Since it is 1/12 scale, it fits in well with many other items, including figures that are made in this scale. I am not sure how big a hit it will be in the US, but certainly in places that have an appreciation for the art it should do well.


Well, I simply cannot pass up the opportunity to build something this quirky so here we go.

First step is to actually study the instructions. Not a lot of parts on this one and what one has to do is prepaint all the various bits. Sure, you can assemble it without painting, but paint helps. For this one I decided to brush paint everything. A lot more relaxing. For the most part I used Vallejo Acrylics.

One of the branch sections is a much lighter color than the rest so for that I used a shade called khaki, which has a bit of a greenish tint. This was carefully applied to not only the one branch, but also to the 'earth' into which this all fits. The others were painted using track primer. This latter was later dry brushed with the khaki and I also used some leather in there to add additional color. The pot was painted using Tamiya's gloss black while the table on which it rests was painted with saddle brown.

The plastic on this is quite pliable as things go and one will need to do some creative bending to get things to look right. The pieces interlock with each other quite nicely, making for a pleasant build. Note that it is a good ideal to clampp the two sections that attach to each other to ensure they will properly fit into the slot in the ground.

Overall, without painting, one could have this done in about ten minutes. Since I had to wait for paint to dry, it took me about two days.

An interesting kit to say the least and something that may well appeal to new modelers, especially women who might not otherwise get involved in building war craft or cars.  I should also mention that the finished model, on the base is about 3" long.

BTW, some of these photos were taken in direct light and others in reflecting light. I think you can tell which is which and which you prefer.


February 2017


My thanks to Platz Model for the preview kit. You can get yours today at this link.

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