For fifteen years The Brothers Brick has been highlighting the finest LEGO creations, and while 2020 hasn’t been the year any of us might have expected, it has still seen the global community of builders put together some amazing models. To celebrate ongoing creativity during a challenging period, The Brothers Brick team has taken a look back over the last 12 months and pulled together our selection of the best LEGO creations of 2020 for our fifth annual LEGO Creation of the Year award.
Take a look at the fantastic models we’ve shortlisted, and stay tuned for the announcement of our LEGO Creation of the Year 2020 on New Year’s Eve!
We begin with the elements essential to any LEGO creation — a big pile of bricks. At first glance, this looks like a random assortment of regular pieces, but take a closer look and you’ll see each part is a well-formed LEGO model of its own. This stunning exercise in upscaling by Inthert is a masterclass in sculpting, perfectly capturing the iconic shapes and proportions of our favourite construction toy. Extra points for the tongue-in-cheek inclusion of a broken Reddish Brown plate — if you know, you know.
Talking of great sculpting, check out the posing of this fabulous Jazz Band by LEGO 7 (winner of TBB’s LEGO Builder of the Year 2018). This excellent ensemble of musicians effortlessly captures the style and energy of a supercool jazz quartet, with smart parts use and clever techniques for the instruments, coupled with expressive posing of the characters.
We met some more cool LEGO musicians in Timofey Tkachev‘s depiction of the meeting of Iggy Pop and Tom Waits over coffee in a Californian diner — a brilliant recreation of a scene from a black & white short film by Jim Jarmusch. The shaping of the two icon’s faces might grab the initial attention, but beyond the excellent character studies there’s a lot to like in this scene that’s 100 percent brick-built. The “table furniture” is really well done, from the coffee pot and cups, through to the recognisable branding on the open cigarette pack. This model is pretty much the coolest thing we’ve ever seen. Except for the smoking, obviously. That’s not cool at all. Hey kids — don’t smoke.
If you don’t dig a blast of Californian counterculture, maybe you’ll dig this instead? Maciej Szymański brought us a massive, detailed, and fully-functioning Technic Excavator — and in Dark Turquoise (AKA Teal) no less! This absolute beast of a remote-controlled model could drive, rotate its cab, and stretch its arm out for over a metre or raise it up 75cm above the ground. Often this type of Technic functionality comes at the price of external aesthetics, but the cab and bodywork of this beauty show fabulous attention to detail. A year-and-a-half in the making, the 1:13-scale digger packed in no fewer than 10 LEGO motors and featured custom pneumatic cylinders designed by Maciej himself. And if you’re wondering about the driver, it turns out 1:13 makes this vehicle a perfect fit for a LEGO Scala doll from the 1990s!
What might you need an excavator for? Digging a massive great hole of course! Our next shortlisted model features a huge hole on an epic scale, achieved through the magic of microscale building. Eli Willsea‘s LEGO scene managed to create a whole world of adventure in a tight footprint. The ruined castle hides the entrance to an enormous flooded cavern, evoking a desire to explore and a lust for lost treasure, redolent of Tomb Raider and Uncharted. This is a wonderful model, pulling off the great conjuring trick of good microscale — playing with textured bricks and intricate detail to make the creation look much bigger than it really is.
When it comes to lost treasures, Egypt has provided more than its fair share of wonders, and Koen Zwanenburg gave us a LEGO take on one of the most famous. This brick-built version of Tutankhamen’s mask is frankly astonishing — a collection of 16,000 bricks standing 54cm tall. The shaping of this massive model is breathtaking, using an impressive collection of parts from Bionicle, Hero Factory, and Technic, as well as traditional System bricks. On top of all that, the sheer number and variety of the Pearl Gold parts employed here probably make this version as valuable as the real thing!
There aren’t many LEGO builds which would make a 16,000-brick funerary mask look small, but the next couple of models in our shortlist do just that. First up, a fantasy cityscape employing around 100k bricks! A collaboration between Grant Davis, Eli Willsea, and Micah Biedeman, this amazing scene was the product of three weeks’ effort. The combination of retro-futuristic design, intricate detail, and clever forced perspective, delivers a jolt of fantasy on a truly epic scale. The trio’s creative process was documented in a behind-the-scenes video, which gives a small glimpse of the effort and skills which went into this build.
From a fantasy cityscape to a real one — an entire city-state depicted in bricks. Rocco Buttliere is the undisputed master of architectural microscale, and this year saw him turn his attention to building the entirety of the Vatican City. Everything from the real-world location was recreated in LEGO — St Peter’s Basilica and its famous square, the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican’s gardens, and even the city’s local supermarket! Each building is a wonderful collection of clever parts choice and obsessive attention to detail — 800 hours in the design and building, this was a wholly impressive recreation of the Holy City.
The glory of the Vatican was built upon offering devotees a glimpse of Heaven. Conversely, the next model on our shortlist, does the exact opposite — providing a horrifying close-up look at one of the fearsome denizens of Hell. Andrew Steele‘s Fire Gorgon is a formidable creature, stretching no less than 1.4m from snout to tail (that’s nearly 5 feet!) Massive fangs accompany an intimidating stare, and an assemblage of dinosaur tails, robot arms, and curved bricks convey an effective reptilian skin. Best of all, this monster is a fire-breather — an effect created by internal lighting shining through the translucent orange and yellow pieces used for the throat. A triumph of imagination and LEGO engineering, it’s no surprise to hear this absolute beast of a model took Andrew over a year to put together.
From an enormous LEGO monster to a teeny tiny one. A Nazgûl’s Fell Beast flaps its leathery wings over this microscale The Return of the King diorama that’s the final part of a trio of The Lord of the Rings builds by Simon Hundsbichler. The siege of Minas Tirith has never looked cuter, with a host of miniscule Orcs, Trolls, and Harad oliphaunts menacing the perfectly built White Tower. Across the ruins of Osgiliath, we reach the desolation of Mordor and a menacing Barad-dûr. And then finally, the peace and melancholy of the parting at the Grey Havens. We’ve seen a lot of Tolkien-inspired microscale building over the years, but Simon’s work set a whole new standard.
Occasionally a model appears which breaks out of the usual LEGO building genres and prompts us to look anew at our hobby. That’s the case with Elemental Lego‘s topographical portrait of Mount Rainier in Washington State. A striking collection of colours and shapes, this model somehow rises beyond its source data to become something of an abstract art piece. It might not possess the scale or complexity of some the other models featured in this list, but it caught our eye as something beautiful and new. Never have the features of the real world looked so otherworldly.
And talking of out-of-this-world experiences, it’s time to round up our look at the best of 2020 with a trip into space. Nick Trotta‘s starfighter — the ‘Heavenly Strike’ — provides a jaw-dropping ride into the outer reaches of the galaxy. You’ll come for the sleek sharp lines and the bold colour blocking, but you’ll stay for the unusual parts use and intricate interlocking of bricks. The building techniques employed to get the shapes and angles on this baby are simply astonishing. At TBB we see a lot of LEGO spaceships and it takes something truly special to stand out from the fleet of excellent models. This stunning craft raced to the front of the pack in 2020.
We hope you agree this is an impressive selection of LEGO models, all deserving of being shortlisted as the best of the year. Look out for the announcement of our LEGO Creation of the Year 2020 on New Year’s Eve!