Farewell to a Legend: Mourning the passing of Nate “nnenn” Nielson

Over the last couple of months, Keith has brought us joy every Sunday with his interviews. Today, the burden of responsibility falls on Keith’s shoulders to bring us tragic news…

nnennIt is my unpleasant duty to report the passing of our friend and fellow builder Nate “nnenn” Nielson. Nate’s death was the result of an automobile accident earlier this month. A resident of Tekoa, Washington, Nate was a father, an artist, and a professor specializing in graphic design. Nate is survived by his beloved wife and two sons ages 3 and 8.
It is important to Nate’s family that he is remembered by our community, one that he took great joy in participating in. Above all they want Nate to be remembered as a devoted husband and father, and for us to know that his interest in the brick was inseparable from his love for his boys. Nate was notorious for his brevity, and when I was searching through his models, interviews, and comments for inspiration, this quote jumped off the screen:

“Ha! Spring break a week ago. Rainy day today. No friends. Two boys.”

Nate’s other great passion was teaching the principles of design and graphic art, something that should seem obvious to our community. It was Nate’s goal to encourage others and to push people to their creative potential. In our small corner of the universe, I think it is safe to say: mission accomplished, Nate.

LEGO Neo-Classic Space nnenn starfighterI didn’t know Nate very well, certainly not as well as I would have liked. We did however share a love of the brick, 70’s sci-fi and being a father. I always imagined I’d run into nnenn at a convention…that he’d slip out of the crowd on public-day looking like a dead ringer for Christopher Walken. In this fantasy he would walk up to my model on display and say something like:

“Guess what Goldman?! I’ve got a fever, and the only prescription… is more cowbell”.

I’ve always been a fan of Nate’s models, even when I initially disliked him in a superficial way for his heretical tendencies with my sacred bricks. In time I grew to respect him for his uncompromising stance and commitment to form over purist devotion. It was my distinct pleasure to interview nnenn last month, and in the process we exchanged some fun emails; I only wish I’d asked better questions.

You know a builder is big-time when he not only gets an entire scale named after him, but an element as well. Nnenn’s consistent level of quality and production since his debut in late 2006 is nothing short of extraordinary. I can say without exaggeration that Nate influenced a generation of builders, and even an old man or two like me. Nate had 1347 contacts on Flickr, 1347 students for a guy who loved to teach. I think time will prove that he taught us well.

For those of you missed it, James Wadsworth of LAML Radio conducted an audio interview with Nate last summer. Tom over at Masoko Tanga also has a wonderful interview with Nate on his site.

Missing Man Vic Viper Formation – BrickWorld & BrickCon

LEGO Vic Viper by nnennI’m organizing a fly-in style community build for the Brickworld 2010 fan convention in Chicago, and potentially at BrickCon 2010 in Seattle. Anyone who is interested in celebrating the life and models of nnenn is invited to bring or mail a small space-fighter in his iconic Vic Viper style to the convention. The vipers will be arranged in the traditional “missing man formation” common to air forces around the world.

Nate drew inspiration from his father who served the US as an F-16 fighter pilot, making the fly-in seem even more appropriate. So if you’d like to participate in the formation, contact me at Legomankeith AT aol DOT com for further details.


It only seems fitting to close this tribute to a legend with a word or two from some familiar voices in the community. The Brothers Brick and I invite all of you to add your thoughts to this memorial guestbook. There is no rhyme or reason to these first 20 fans; they are simply friends that I reached out to, to help make sense of Nate’s untimely passing. The one exception is Peter L. Morris, who contacted me after speaking directly with Nate’s widow and graciously invited me to participate in this tribute. Pete was closer to Nate than most of us, and his insights into Nate as a friend have been invaluable as we prepared this tribute.

Rest in peace nnenn, you’ll be missed.

Read the guestbook and leave your own comments after the jump:

Peter L. Morris

My first real encounter with nnenn was on his Brickshelf account. I was checking it almost every night, and a small fighter appeared with this caption:

“QrT-74. Upallik standard law enforcement. Ironically, very popular among pirates. Nod to the starfighters of peterlmorris, one of the better colorist on brickshelf.”

I laughed because I don’t know what I’m doing when it comes to color, as I have a form of color blindness, so I took it as a great compliment, especially from a guy like him who burst onto the scene seemingly with no incubation period and a massive collection of impressive MOCs.

The bricks to him were a means to an end. Like an itch that is impossible to satisfy, he saw things that needed to be shared, and made them come alive. We are all impoverished with his loss, but not just for the lack of MOCs. He desired, perhaps naively, a community that shared more than it quibbled, and listened more than it spoke. I miss him and will continue to miss him.

Good bye, Nate. You can’t be forgotten.

Rodney Bistline

I am certainly a ‘nnenn fanboy’ when it comes to Nate’s Lego creations and I know I’m not alone in viewing him as an all-time favorite builder. But I was also impressed by the way he generally presented himself in our online community. Despite his respectable secrecy in some regards, he seemed like someone who wore his heart on his sleeve and wore it well. He continually gave back by sharing his expertise, being active in the ongoing social life of the community, and by presenting us all with a seemingly endless supply of amazing creations. For me, many a tedious or tense day was momentarily brightened by setting eyes on a new nnenn masterpiece. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family. I hope they know how much he inspired so many of us. Of all the “people I’ve never met” in the Legoverse, he’s one of the few I could consider a friend and really hoped to meet one day. Very saddened to hear of his passing.

Ley Ward

A farewell to a man I barely knew. In our online community of LEGO enthusiasts, there are several whom I have met in person and several whom I would like to meet. Nnenn was of the latter category. I was quite excited by the possibility of his attendance at BrickCon this past year as I had hoped to meet him and perhaps shoot the breeze about music or whatever. Sadly that never happened.

Despite the paradox (having never known his name, let alone seen his face), he put a very human face on the non-purist side of our hobby. Rather than a youngster with sharpie in hand or clay at the ready … he was a truly talented artist (who made it clear he was not happy with that label and had a solid professional interest in that very subject) who caused many of us to question our own purism and aspirations to art.

Perhaps the best way I could honour his passing is by cutting an element and including a non-LEGO piece in a creation, not to change my own approach, but to never forget his challenge to all of us.

He was truly talented and prolific, often mind-bendingly so. He will be truly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.

Andrew Lee

The passing of the prolific and talented nnenn is a profound loss for both myself and the Lego community. Nate single handedly pushed and challenged the limits of our hobby and what can be done with the brick. A man shrouded in mystery, Nate was both a gentleman and a scholar. He will be missed but his work will live on.

Nannan Zhang

Nnenn was an inspiration for the community. We knew him not only as a brilliant builder but also as an innovator who is unafraid to push the limits of creativity and even the medium itself. The countless space creations displaying his unique style could easily populate an entire idea book. I once asked him when he would stop building spaceships, and he told me he would keep going until he has exhausted every possible configuration. I didn’t think it was possible, but neither did he.

Mark Neumann

I’m reflecting on the builder known to me as nnenn. Realizing that I really never knew him, yet feeling like I just lost a friend. I have a sense of sorrow, knowing that our community has been robbed of one of the best builders our hobby has had the fortune of knowing. We’re a curious group, us fans of Lego. There really are not that many of us, and the loss of one affects us all. Nate was part of the collective creativity that makes our universe, and when one of those stars in the collective suddenly goes dark, the entire landscape is darker because of it. But then we find ourselves looking, searching really, and while we may never find that same star we find other light. Lots of light, more than perhaps we’ve never seen before. I find myself thankful that I have this group to surround myself with and feel its brightness. We are the sum of all we travel with, directly or indirectly; influenced in great and insignificant ways. It is in this spirit that I celebrate my brother. Namaste’ nnenn.

Jon Palmer

I never hung out with nnenn. I never shared a beer with him in a bar packed with other LEGO nerds or traded driving shifts with him on a cross-country road trip to a LEGO convention. I never traded emails or IMs with him. I didn’t know his name…But his coming and going has effected me nonetheless. A quick punch in the face; something to shake me up and give me pause.

The man himself never wasted his time on too many words or unnecessary discourse. His economy of language was legendary. And like all great LEGO builders his creations spoke for him. Good on nnenn.

The other night I talked to someone who talked to someone who had just talked to nnenn’s wife. The builder had died in a car wreck. A man I had never met in any conventional way is now gone and I’ve been staring off into space randomly in the middle of the day ever since.

nnenn’s entrance onto the LEGO building scene in 2006 coincided with my gradual exit. The very first time I heard about him, it was from a space builder telling me that there was this new guy who uses “clone” LEGO parts along with his real LEGO pieces. He was using whatever bit of plastic or sticker or modified part he wanted. His obvious skill, matched with the perceived subversion of our building values caused quite a stir initially. Although I’m a part purist myself I never gave much thought to this controversy…and I like some good subversion. Let’s hear it for chaos and new blood. Regardless, nnenn soon shrugged off his reputation as some sort of a rabble-rouser and quickly became a LEGO building god. His output was staggering.

nnenn’s understanding of color theory was perfect. Adventurous. His appreciation of clean lines and a well thought out design was apparent. nnenn built a great LEGO spaceship. He built hundreds of them.

nnenn humbly disregarded his creations as art. They were simply craft or toy. Something that was just for fun. Something that just wooshed through space and went pew-pew and blew up aliens.

But indulge me for a moment and consider nnenn’s creations as more than just LEGO models. More than just pop-culture creations. Consider these colorful objects as communication. And let’s say the single greatest thing you or I can do while we are here is communicate to one another. Assume the method of this communication is entirely irrelevant. That this message is delivered in the form of a song or a book or a painting or even a small LEGO creation is unimportant. What is important is that you speak to the world. Make your vision clear. The thing you alone see or hear in your head. Show it to us. To your friends, to strangers and to your sons.

It can therefore be concluded that stoic, quiet and anonymous nnenn in fact shouted at the LEGO community and the world for 4 amazing years. Shouted the images and colors and ideas in his head at all of us.

Thank you, nnenn. Thank you for never ever shutting up. You are greatly missed.

Nathan Proudlove

The first time we really got a glimpse into nnenn’s life was the August 2008 interview on LAML radio. I was immediately endeared to him upon discovering that he, like myself, was a stay at home dad. He related stories of building with his young sons that resonated with me and my own experience building for and with my son. Most in the Lego community will remember nnenn as the mysterious, rebellious, anonymous, larger than life entity whose presence could not be ignored and will not be forgotten now that he’s gone, but the void created by his absence from our midst is nothing compared to that he left at home with his wife and kids. My thoughts and prayers are with them during this tragic time.

Tyler Clites

I like to think of nnenn as the infamous “sasquatch” or “bigfoot” of the online Lego community. Nobody new what he looked like, his image was a blur as a result of his secretive nature and his “footprint” on the Lego community was enormous. When I first became aware of the enigma that was nnenn, I despised him. I saw him as a cheater without the creativity or ability to use Lego parts in the way they were designed. It didn’t take long for me to realize how wrong I was. In his use of non-Lego parts, he was more creative than any purist builder. He opened his mind to the possibilities of brick-built art, while the rest of us remain in our box of Lego without even looking at the possibilities beyond. I know that I speak of nnenn exclusively in terms of his achievements and art, but I’m confident that he placed a little of himself into each of his MOCs. Loosing an artist such as nnenn is like losing an artist like van Gogh or Michelangelo. Their death is a great loss, but they will live on through their art. My prayers go out to nnenn’s family and anyone who had the privileged of personally knowing such a great artist.

Pete Reid

Nnenn and I collaborated a while back. He was a pleasure to work with online, and a good friend. I always planned to meet him some day, and we were going to drink beer and he’d tell me stuff about spaceships and art and it would have been amazing.

His legacy will never die.

Soren Roberts

I didn’t know Nnenn very well — we had one or two email conversations, we dropped comments on one another’s latest models. It feels a little strange to be eulogizing someone I never met and didn’t really know.

I don’t believe in an afterlife. I’m sure my saying that offends a lot of people. But I’m not going to say something about going to a better place or things happening for a reason. People die for good reasons, and bad reasons, and no real reason at all. I’m sad that his death was one of the last kind.

I’ll remember Nnenn as a guy who always had something interesting to say. He had a sense of perspective, which is pretty rare in this hobby. He irritated the hell out of the people who needed it. He built good models. He gave great feedback. I’m glad I knew him, however little.

Tim Gould

The internet makes for strange varieties of acquaintance. I find myself today writing a eulogy for someone whose name I only found out one hour ago. At first I thought I didn’t really know nnenn and didn’t know what to write but that’s not really true. I feel I’ve chatted, debated, discussed and interacted with him enough to write something.

Three things stand out for me about my acquaintance with nnenn: he was willing to stand by his convictions, he was happy to argue and debate and he adored his family, especially his young boys. I’ll focus on these.

I really admired his willingness to build his models using techniques and ideas that the community in general considered ‘wrong’. I felt it showed a strong sense of character and I respected him for that. It’s a trait I wish was more common.

Likewise I enjoyed arguing, debating and generally playing out ideas in an adversarial manner with nnenn. He was an engaging person whose thoughts were always well constructed. I thoroughly enjoyed these
interactions and will very much miss them.

Finally it was obvious to anyone just how much nnenn loved the company of his children. Any discussion of his models would invariably end up with him writing comments about ‘his boys’. The older the boys got the more his models seemed to reflect what they liked rather than stuff explicitly for himself. To have such a loving father ripped away is something I wish on noone.

Honestly the news that nnenn had died came as a great shock to me and has left me greatly saddened. I did not know his name but I will very much miss him. I wish his widow and especially his boys all the condolences I can. I hope that nnenn’s online presence persists long enough for his boys to get to know nnenn retrospectively in the way I was priveleged to know him up until now.

PS. I was reminded of this sadly prescient comment when I first heard the news. I know that for me nnenn will be remembered far, far more positively than that.

Shadow Viking (Peter)

I guess the first thing to come to mind is about LEGO… well, it’s all about LEGO; that’s how I knew him. So more accurate would be what he did without LEGO. I think that’s the best testament I can give. From my limited interaction he seemed kind and polite, and I always appreciated his comments. I guess this is a little sappy so I’ll end here. And as cliché as it is, rest in peace.

Leigh Holcombe

As a fellow INTP and part-time agoraphobe, I can understand his reluctance to suffer the slings and arrows of fame and criticism. But he kept building and innovating and sharing in spite of it all. His creativity and persistence will be sorely missed.

Brian Kescenovitz

“Yep…another winner from nnenn. Amazing form? Check. Brilliant color usage? Check. Razor sharp design that is somehow immaculately clean and supremely detailed at the same time? Of course…it’s just nnenn, and he always does that. It’s just nnenn…God help me, if this isn’t occasionally the thought that crossed my mind when one of his works of art appeared in my contact photostream on flickr. And I know I’m not the only one. What a colossal injustice, born of the fact that nnenn was simply so good, so often, for so long. And like so many things, only now when we are deprived of them, do we (or at least I) come to fully appreciate them. Completely irreplaceable in the LEGO community, nnenn’s body of work will continue to amaze, influence, and inspire builders for years to come.

My most heartfelt condolences to nnenn’s widow and two sons. I can’t begin to imagine your loss, but perhaps a fleeting moment of peace might be provided by realizing how much nnenn meant to this community, and how badly he will be missed. Even if some of us are only just now realizing that fact…

Carter Baldwin

Nnenn kept his personal profile online low, generally preferring to let his creations speak for him. Those creations changed the way that the community builds and challenged the way the community thinks about mixing types of brick. He was prolifically inventive, and his almost weekly builds across the past three years have always been a source of inspiration and envy for me. A few weeks ago, out of the blue, he emailed me an edited picture of one of my ships with his classic background and engine flare, after I had posted the difficulties I’d been having with photoshop. That was just how he was — always helpful and always surprising.

Lenny Hoffman

Nate, or nnenn as he was known to us, was always a controversial genius. He built like no one else before, combining color and form in wild and creative ways. He built more quickly, with a high rate of success. Often, he’d post a mind boggling new creation every day for a month in a row, an unprecedent (except when he’d do it again and again) achievement.

He was controversial in his ideas about how to build and in how to commune together. Many people attacked him, mostly unfairly. But all of that controversy will fade away with time. What will remain is how his passion, his creativity, and his willingness to challenge us and himself. We will all remember Nate, in our discussions and in our building, because he did so much so well.

I didn’t always see eye to eye with, and we had our disagreement. But Nate showed me that our community, the we, are our best when we build. When we create. And there is no one who could build as freely as he could.

I’ll miss you, Nate.

James Wadsworth

I’ve never been the greatest interviewer, but when I spoke with nnenn he was more than willing to answer all my questions with honesty and sincerity. It wasn’t long into the interview that nnenn brought up his two boys and his obvious affection towards them. It seemed to come across that nnenn’s building wasn’t a regular hobby to escape from life, but instead to enjoy it to the utmost with his family. That is what I’ll always respect him for.

Dave Shaddix

I must immediately confess that I didn’t have the privilege of getting to know Nate very well.  Nate was an intelligent and well spoken man, but he kept his personal life personal (a trait that is all too uncommon today), so what I best know of Nate or ‘Nnenn’ is his work with LEGO modeling. 
I regarded Nate as a pillar in the community; he constantly challenged us to push our abilities and limits, to try new things and to approach each challenge with a new and often interesting perspective.  His style was instantly recognizable and demanded closer inspection due to his innovative usage and technique.  When he left criticism, his voice was steady, reasonable and constructive; the community will feel his silence.

Tragically, that silence will be heard the loudest by those who love him the most, his wife, his children, family and friends.  I mentioned that I didn’t know Nate very well, but as a man in my mid-30’s with two young children of my own, this hits exceptionally close to home.  My children re-introduced me to LEGO a few short years ago and it quickly became a bond between us.  We share much of our time together building and discussing our common hobby but upon reflection, I realize that I should share much more of my time with them.  Today, my heart and prayers go out for Nate and his family.  Godspeed.

Shannon Sproule

Nnenn’s passing is a massive loss to the international Lego community, he was an inspiration to both old and young with his skillful technique, superb presentation, help on colour theory and downright passion for building. Also his customisation of Lego bricks and creative use of stickers was, to me, a reminder to be loyal only to my imagination. I still can’t believe he’s gone; he helped me immensely improving my mocs, I will miss him greatly. Thoughts go to his family.

308 comments on “Farewell to a Legend: Mourning the passing of Nate “nnenn” Nielson

  1. Mark (Brickplumber) Borlase

    What more is there to say that everyone else has not already said, but here a little something. I know when I got a comment from Nnenn and other respected builders that it meant it was a worthy build. I will miss the creations he would have built, but he will live on everytime I check out his previous masterpieces. RIP Nate and all my best to his family, he will be missed.

  2. ThePeej

    I’ve heard it said; the good die young… It’s a shame that such clichéd phrases are so often proven accurate…

    To me, Nnenn was glaringly obviously EXCELLENT at three things: Building with Lego, being a Father, and inspiring other designers/creatives by sharing his techniques and philosophy’s openly.

    In these respects he has inspired me to no end. That I may one day witness a glimpse of his prolific creative output is a lofty purist passion of mine. He turned pass time into grand inspiration. Not only in the QUALITY of his designs, and the CONSTANT pleasant surprise I felt when looking at his models, but the presenTATION of it all. He not only had AMAZING skills at building & shooting his models, but he SHARED them with everyone. Invited others to participate. Broke down & revealed his techniques to fuel the success of others. Shared his love for his craft, his work, his family, his legacy.

    I’ve also heard said; that the best teacher, is someone who loves what they are doing, in front of you. Nnenn loved to build, and loved his family.

    For this he will always have my utmost respect and adoration. And through his work I will forever be motivated to do the same.

    I pray that we may maintain his Flickr & Brickshelf accounts at all costs, as inspiration for future builders, and hopefully his Children.

    And that we may all find an increased drive to follow through with building legacies as testament to our creative spirits, both in Lego form and otherwise.

    I may only hope I have the strength to leave behind as many positively inspired pupils as he has.

    Always happy to engage. Happy to share. Happy to be doing what he enjoyed in the company of those he loved.

    My only direct message from him, came in the form of a very politely worded request for me to sensor a rather vulgar reaction I’d had to one of his DELIGHTFUL Vic Viper Builds:

    “Hey, thanks for your last comment but my (young) boys sometimes read them. I don’t feel like explaining your reference… if you know what I mean. Mind cleaning that on up?
    I’d appreciate it,

    Mind Cleaning it Up?! I was honored to be educated and elevated by you at every point of connection, but this one especially. Thank you for being a true gentleman.

    You live forever as a light for us all to walk towards.

    My 1.5 year old Nephew and I built a tower of Lego today in your honor.

    I humbly thank you.

  3. John

    One of the best lost to us way too soon.

    “The candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long.”

  4. The Creator

    Nnenn was such a great builder. Now, he is probably out there somewhere, building Lego like he never had before. Goodbye Nnenn, you will be greatly missed. ;(

  5. Gad Mishori

    I’m mostly an AFOL from afar. I follow the work of the community, and take joy in viewing great creations. To me, nnenn’s work seemed so unique, it was hard to believe it’s Lego. It was always very organic, imaginative, beautiful. And his constant stream of new creations made them an integral part of my weekly visits to the Brothers Brick.
    I was shocked by the terrible news, and surprised that I should feel so saddened by the tragic passing of a man I knew only through his Lego creations. It’s painful to realize no new nnenn’s creations are ever coming again.
    My deepest condolences to his loved ones.

  6. tpcowan

    I never had the privelege of knowing Nnenn personally, but I always looked forward to viewing his creations. He has left an indelible mark on the lego community, and I can only imagine the impact that he had in the lives of the people who knew and loved him. My deepest condolences to his family. I have no doubt that his insatiable desire to share and push the creative envelope will continue to inspire people. Farewell, Nnenn. You will be greatly missed in so many lives.

  7. Eleanor Weisman

    My husband and I are Art Educators and as academics have been following the on-line LEGO community. We were always most impressed with Nnenn’s MOCs, his use of color, and most importantly, his ability to motivate dialogue and critique. Several conversations between Nnenn and builders of all ages have been very inspirational to us as models of how true educators can guide others to reach their potential. His work and his spirit of dialogue will be greatly missed.

  8. John (chibifozz) Frank

    I am new to the site and have only been browsing it for the last year or so, therefore I’m not very familiar with the artists that the Mod’s put up. Although, after seeing how many pics have been posted in the last week as a tribute to Nate, I didn’t realize how many of the pieces that I was very impressed with and ispired by were by him. The Lego community and, from the other posts I’ve read from people who knew him, humanity as a whole has lost out on an awesome individual. My heart and prayers are with the Nielson family during their time of mourning.

    R.I.P Nate Nielson

  9. Brickapolis

    I created a Flickr account towards the end of summer a couple of years back. Within a couple of days I had found nnenn’s work and added him as a contact. I never regretted it.

    It seems that every week he would put out an amazing spaceship that would leave me lost for words. I would always find some inspiration in the way he put parts together, the way he photographed his MOCs, the way he commented on discussion boards in the many groups he was active in, and his amazing endless creativity.

    I never knew his name. I never met him face to face. Yet I feel like I knew him as well as any friend.

    I know I will miss him. I know we all will. I am amazed by how the whole online community has come together to remember a very special members passing; it’s amazing how MANY people can be touched through the power of the internet.

    I hope to see nnenn live on through the renaming of a certain part in his honor, the creation of memorial t-shirts, engraved bricks, and tributes at conventions. It’d be a shame to let such a profound soul be forgotten.

    Nnenn, you will be missed. Rest in peace.

  10. spinner11

    I never knew him but I LOVED what he made. He was like a god of Lego that knew what others would like and dislike. His spacecrafts, cars, and cool scenes will be remembered in our hearts. R.I.L. ( rest in Lego ).

  11. Jarek 'Jerac' Ksiazczyk

    I just… don’t know proper words. I tried writing a proper eulogy since I knew about nnenn’s unfortunate accident, yet anything I wrote was stupid, pathetic or just didn’t truly reflect my feelings.

    I will mourn his passing in silence.

  12. Teleri

    I didn’t know him at all, I never spoke to him, I never even know how to, but i have always admireed him, he was alway one of the best out there, and by far one of my fav builders out there, he had a phenominal skill with lego and I’m sure he was just as good without a brick in hand, and that people loved him, I am proud to admire him, but wish I could have known him more, even just spoken to him.

    I’m know for a fack that he will be remebered long after his time,


  13. Christopher Morrison

    I had never heard of Nate “nnenn” Nielson until I started reading the articles here on The Brothers Brick. I would like to extend my condolences to his family.

    I saw a few of his LEGO models here and I was hooked. I took the time to look at his entire collection on Flickr. Nate was an extremely talented builder, and his models stuck a chord with me. I appreciate the subtle details without going overboard.

    I sincerely hope his designs will remain available to the LEGO community as a tribute and an inspiration.

  14. CrispyF

    I really hope that any comment I leave doesn’t seem in any way offhand or trite. I only knew of nenn through this site, but when a man designs something, no matter how small, it will contain a tiny facet of himself in some way. His designs speak volumes.

    My thoughts to his family.

  15. spinner11

    Dear reader-
    My other commet was not the way I realy feel. I reach out to the kids because I can not evan think about if I lost my Lego obsessed uncle. Any way I can not hink of any proper words to say so be strong and keep him in your heart and Lego. R.I.P.


  16. spinner11

    I began getting teary eyed when I read this. My friend asked “Why do I care he wan not a friend of yours?” I replied with ” I didn’t lose a friend We all lost a great brother.” He still dose not understands that when your a Lego builder other builders are family. We ALL will miss you.
    your lego building family.

  17. Jonathan David Page

    To date, I’ve been a lurker. I don’t build very often, but I greatly enjoy looking at the models that the more active members have built. The best of these was nnenn – he consistently produced models which blew my mind. Hearing of the death of nnenn was like hearing that some famous public figure had died – it just didn’t seem possible.

    The loss to the community is devastating, as many before me have stated and shown, and the loss to his family is still greater. I will be praying for them.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is: R.I.P. Nate Nielson – I never knew you or even had the privilege of interacting with you, but your passing saddens me, and I shall miss the pleasure of seeing new nnenn models.

  18. Andrew Saada

    Nate, your attention to detail and craftsmanship are amazing and esteemed and undoubtedly will continue to influence the community at large. Your sons had one of the coolest dads around and I know they knew it. My prayers for your wife, children and friends at this time.

    Andrew Saada

  19. Joshua Stricker

    As a person, I knew very little about nnenn, but as a builder, every one knew who he was. Whenever I had a bad day, I would look at his MOCs, and smile, because THIS one guy, this fantastic builder, was dong what he loved. He inspires me, and he will truly be missed.

    Rest In Peace, Nate

  20. Chris Pitt

    Nnenn was the whole reason I decided to pull out my lego and return from my dark ages. The first time that I saw his work really opened an entire new world to me of what could be accomplished with lego. It is truly hard to grasp the situation. I know that I will never be even close to the same level of expertise as nnenn, but he will continue to inspire me to challenge myself and to strive to do the best that I can. There is no doubt that a legend will be dearly missed.

    My condolences

  21. PandaRanger99

    I only ever saw his vic viper, but I still cried when I read this. I never talked to him or met him but I will miss him.

  22. Fergus Barker

    I have only just gotten into the online lego community but I can see that Nate was certainly a talented builder and will be missed by the whole community

  23. Matthew Maulfair

    Though never meeting Nnenn in person, or even to this day not knowing how to actually pronounce his screen name, and even though I never had him listed as a contact, I have always been inspired by his work.

    Nnenn wasone of those builders that I never listed as a contact but went to his photostream once or twice a week to see what he had built lately. I have never been a space builder, or even dabbled in that genre, let alone even glance at the “LEGO Space” groups or its varients on flickr. But Nnenn was the one builder that I actually paid attention to.

    And we can only imagine where he is now. He could be building with the angels, or soaring through the unexplored realms of space in a Vic Viper.

    Rest in peace, you will be missed.

  24. Ryan Vice

    This is a message from the community at http://www.theleakylounge.co.cc, We didn’t know you too well, but were truly inspired by your creations. What a sad way to end your life, you still remain a part of us today and continue to live on in our hearts, we all miss you.

    Ryan Vice and theleakylounge teenage fans of lego community

  25. Jeremy Vylon

    Your creations are truly amazing, and so were you. This is a very sad way to end a life that still had years left. You weren’t just an ordinary builder, you were more than that. Your family must be going through such a tough time. Rest in peace,


    Please email a photo of your favourite creation created by Nnenn and a message for him or his family to [email protected]
    all accepted messages will be posted to theleakylounge website.

  26. Blake


    I had seen his creations, looked at them in aw. Unfortunatly, never told him how good they were. Nate, mate-they are all great!

    I have lost aquitences through accidents and know how painful it is for familys.

    Farewell and my heartfelt condolences to his family


  27. Bill Bulloch

    I could never say that I knew the enigmatic NNENN, but his design work was a true inspiration and source of encouragement for me as an artist and designer. Just when I thought i’d see everything that could be achieved with LEGO, a scan of his blog would completely bake my noodle all over again.

    A colourful incandescence has gone from my day, cant begin to imagine the void his passing will have left at home.


  28. Craig Thomson

    I am very saddened by the news, he is a great loss to the lego community. I personally will miss his comments and designs. He will always remain a massive influence in my interest in Lego.
    Nenn: Lego’s most prolific builders.

  29. M'Kyuun

    I knew Nnenn only by the volume and complexity of his creations. An aspiring builder, I looked often to his creations for solutions, and usually just found myself doing more browsing through creation after creation than actual research. His brilliance and talent were exceedingly manifest, and I greatly lament the passing of a man I never knew. However impressive the creations, however, the impression that lingered with me was his devotion to his boys, of which his captions often spoke, and it spoke volumes.
    My sincerest condolences to Nate’s wife and sons for their loss; may you find strength in each other.

  30. Elliot Claveau

    I stopped building some years ago but I wanted to keep a link with this community. I kept only 2 bookmarks : TBB and nnenn’s photostream. I checked everyday and it was always a part of the week I enjoyed alot when he had a new creations. I’ll miss him for sure.

  31. Chad K.

    Just recently, I have just seen a few pieces of his work, and I was surprised at how smart he was with bricks and building, but when I heard his passing, i was shocked. Even though I didn’t know him, I will miss seeing his new creations. You will be missed greatly, Nnenn.

  32. William Q. Attwood

    Nnenn made wonderful builds, and I will be looking at them in awe for years to come. He was an inspiring man. Love and light to his family and friends.

  33. legomaniacman

    I can’t believe I never heard of his great work till now, and just knowing there will be no more is heart breaking enough. I love his star fighters, gives me inspiration to make my own and will be in memory when I build some

  34. Mark Kupietz

    I spoke with Nate a few times, but didn’t really know him. I had a great respect for him as an artist; more than any builder I know.

    I admired him for his individuality in the Lego community which I’m sure carried through in the rest of his life.

    I pray the Lord will comfort his wife and two sons.

  35. Christopher Bellerose

    My heart goes out to his friends but especially his family. I build with my daughter every morning and often in the evenings. She’s still very young and doesn’t know much more about LEGO than it’s a lot of fun. Daddy builds blue and gray spaceships and uses the boring old space men, in a year or so, she’ll be able to understand why. In a few years, she’ll be able to understand why those pieces and shapes are so important to me… Seeing his work really got me back into building. He will continue to be a great inspiration for a long time. I hope to see more on his work and hear his name on The Brothers Brick for years to come. And yes, I’ll admit to my kids how I was confused that Nnenn and Nannan were two different people entirely. (thanks for the correction guys)

  36. Mihcael Rutherford

    His work was very influential, very controversial, and it will continue to serve as a standard against which many Lego builders judge their own efforts.

    I offer my condolences to Nate’s wife and sons for their loss.

  37. JD Luse

    I have a feeling the emptiness in our Lego community will be felt for as long as everyone who was inspired by him continues to build. He was one who was hardly felt as a peer, but more as a master. A master whose works will continue to inspire even after his passing.

    My prayers go out to Nate’s family and to all those who were touched by his life.

  38. Crimso Giger

    There’s already 293 comments on this very sad information, so I won’t be original. The community has lost a legendary builder… I didn’t knew nnenn since a very long time, to be honest – But every time I saw one of his MOCs I was deeply amazed. I love his unorthodox approach of Lego, his art of presentation, his skills and his sense of colors. He had also made something really cool with the NoVVember Vic Vipers challenge. He was a great designer and artist. RIP nnenn, hope you’ll in a Lego paradise now. Condolences to your family…

  39. Glen

    I was building yesterday, and I came across an elastic holder. Only I didn’t call it an elastic holder anymore. To me, it is now a “nnenn brick”. I set it on my shelf, so that everytime I go to build, I will build in his memory.


  40. Chris L

    I didn’t know Nnenn personally. But followed his work for quite a while since I first stumbled across it I think on Brickshelf originally.
    This is certainly a tragedy, for his family, and for us in the Lego community.
    He was an inspiration to a lot of people, and will continue to be so.

  41. Oliver Beasley

    I’ve only been on here as a viewer and not a maker, but it’s truly shocking for any community when a truly spectacular contributor is lost. I have few words for I barely knew him, but I mourn the loss as much as anyone.

  42. Paul B. Hartzog

    I am greatly saddened to hear of this tragedy.

    I did not know Nate well, hardly at all in fact, but am deeply indebted to him for provoking the entire Lego Space community into a deep, meaningful, contentious, furor of activity around pushing the limits of building styles and attitudes.

    We all learned a lot from his work and his presence. He will be sorely missed.


    -Paul B. Hartzog

  43. Imagine Rigney

    Both my mom and I have been clicking through all the amazing builds Nate posted and feel awed all over again by his ability. What a sad, sad thing for his boys to lose such a great dad. Probably one of the coolest dads ever….really.

  44. Steve Roe

    For years I was amazed at Nnenn’s artistic talent and obvious passion for the craft of LEGO building. I hope the afterlife met him with an ample supply of colorful bricks.

    To his wife and children, I trust you can take some solace in the fact that his creative vitality touched so many lives in such a wonderful, edificating and positive way.

    May he live on through his influence in all LEGO builders, and in those to come who will no doubt wonder at his legacy.

Comments are closed.