Every day the team at The Brothers Brick showcases the best models put together by the global community of creative LEGO builders. However, amongst the thousands of talented builders around the world, there are always a few whose work offers inspiration to the rest of us — displaying mastery of technique and creativity across a variety of building styles.
The Brothers Brick is delighted to name Eli Willsea as our LEGO Builder of the Year 2020.
Click to see a selection of Eli’s models from 2020
At first glance, this idyllic riverside scene may seem simple, but the more you look, the more amazing details you can see. Eli Willsea makes some great choices to create a landscape filled with interesting part usage. Starting with the trees, made with fishing poles and steer horns. The frothy waterfall uses croissants, and I love the upside-down leaf fronds stuck into the underside of bricks for the vegetation around the edge of the water. The combination of curved and angled slopes for the rockwork is also quite lovely.
If you’ve been seeing a lot of yellow LEGO creations around here lately, that’s because Eli Willsea has been engaged in a competition with Jonas Kramm to see who can put the yellow 9V train track switch to use best. This striking microscale castle is one of my favorites from Eli, in part because everything in the picture is brick-built, except the blue sky. There’s some great forced perspective among the tiny jagged mountains in the distance, the castle in the middle, and the cave in the foreground, but the best detail for me is the parapet over the castle gate, which is made with yellow lever bases attached to the bottom of an upside-down 1×4 plate.
It takes a certain sort of madness to take something like a 9V Train track switch element and turn it into something organic like a bunch of sunflowers. But that’s just what Eli Willsea has done. Somehow. I mean, sure, you could start with 40 or so of those train switches. Add some 1×1 round brick in light green. A couple of round plates in brown. But then you have to get really creative: Check out that perfume bottle. Who even knew those 1×1 pyramid slopes came in transparent-clear? They form the perfect texture, making the full image for Eau du Soleil seem like an advertisement in a high-end fashion magazine. It’s just…*chef’s kiss*
This creation is just one of Eli’s entries in the Iron Builder competition. Check our archives for more from the contest.
2020 being the first year in a long time without a licensed LEGO video game is a disappointing moment for fans. It is yet another faction of business affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to GameRant. While there is still hope for the tentative release of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga in 2021, this might be a good time for The LEGO Group to develop pinball game sets. Sure, this screams old school. But TLG already notched success when they captured the nostalgia for Super Mario and the Nintendo Entertainment System. Let’s also not forget the brick-built retro games, plus 2016’s Ideas Maze (21305). Just one look at the Chicken-Pen-Ball machine, made by Eli Willsea, has us stuck on tilt.
Eli’s fifth creation in the Iron Builder competition used the Track Switch 9V in yellow 19 times. He continues to outdo himself going up against Jonas Kramm, another gifted builder. Eli’s use of the Track Switch 9V balances function and form. They serve as the flippers, the flowers (dandelions?) in front of the barn, the handle on the ball shooter, and even the cabinet’s feet. It’s an egg-citing creation that takes our cheap chicken puns to the next level in this demo video. Check it out.
Eli Willsea must not be afraid of spiders, because there is a really big one made of LEGO in one of his latest creations. The creation itself, as well as the spider, features a lot of yellow 9V Track Switches, and a few deserve a special mention. I am particulary fond of their use for the spiral stairs as well as the clock pendulum. But the 9v Track Switch isn’t the only cleverly used brick in this creation. The bagpiper’s hat gets used as a pillow in the chair, and the bookcase consists of a lot of bookbinding. It also appears that a judge or two is missing his gavel. Can you spot them?
If you take a stroll through my post history, you’ll see that two things I love are Star Wars and microscale. So Eli Willsea hits out of the park, in my book, combining the two for his Theed Hanger. Zeroing in on N-1 Starfighter, you’ll see that nifty parts usage abounds.
Whether it’s the blades as the front fuselage, the paint cans, the switch track throw, and minifigure hands as engines, or the simple silver cupcake icing swirl as an astromech droid, this ship is ready to leave the hanger. A hanger, which contrasting the minute detail of the fighter, stays true to the large and blockyness of Theed. But as simple as the structure might appear, it is also rife with neat ways of using pieces, such as the old school wheels as the top and bottom of the columns.
Take a drive through any East Coast city in America, small or large, and you’ll find brownstone townhouses, their facades almost like familiar faces. Eli Willsea incorporates this sense of familiarity into his intricate brick-built brownstone doorway.
The building façade’s construction is cleverly composed of grey 1×1 jumpers with dark orange 1×1 and 1×2 tiles – this construction approach achieves a brick and mortar aesthetic. The door itself is comprised of mostly yellow tiling with some silver matte pieces to render the doorknob, mail slot, and door knocker. Willsea uses various white elements, including hinge pieces, 1×1 scroll bricks, cylinders, 1×2 slopes, and claw pieces to render a moderately decorated trim. Perhaps the most ornate part of this build is the lunette – the half-moon shaped window above the door, which is mostly composed of yellow 9V track switches – a pretty unusual element, along with some yellow tiles of various shapes and a minifigure head. I appreciate Willsea throwing in some urban foliage, including some vines climbing up the façade along with a few other LEGO plant elements sparsely populating the ground. This build, although simple in the subject, certainly gets my mind out of the suburbs and back into the city.
Let’s see. I should start this off with something topical, right? Hrm. Well, for a change how about I try something topographical instead? Something like this amazing map from Eli Willsea, perhaps. Sure, it’s not particularly practical if you want to fold it up and take it with you; some of the pieces are just sitting on the surface of the build. But who cares about that. Look at those mountains, trees, and tents made from 1×1 triangle tile! The little bridge made from a curved slope! The “North” indicator made from rods and tile. Oh yeah, and let’s not overlook that compass and map calipers. They make use of a really unusual part: The 9V Track Switch.
As that control switch is the seed part in the latest round of Iron Builder, I think it’s a safe bet we’ll see a lot more from this part in the future. Personally, I’m looking forward to whatever Eli builds next.
Sophie welcomes you to her LEGO study where you can not only find all sorts of books but also all sorts of parts being used in a very unusual and inspiring manner. Eli Willsea uses all kinds of bricks, plates, and tiles in dark grey to add texture to the castle walls. At first I was drawn to the creation because of it’s brilliant use of book covers and windows for the staircase. Both parts have a very distinctive purpose but are used for something completely different in a really creative way.
It took me a little while to notice that the book covers and windows weren’t the only parts used in a very original manner. The bookcase was made by using a boat. Adding some small bricks and bars made it blend in so nicely with the rest of the creation that you would almost not notice it at all.
With Hollywood shut down and most movie theaters closed worldwide due to COVID-19, new entertainment has been a little harder to come by lately. I’m not sure our current global pandemic was the inspiration behind Eli Willsea‘s scene, but we find the protagonist (played here by the Lucas minifig from the LEGO Stranger Things set) fishing for DVDs from what is apparently the very last Redbox to have survived an apocalypse that turned the water a toxic green.
Eli’s build features a slew of wonderful details, such as the rebar or conduits sticking out of the elevated roadway and electrical bits on the power pole built from pieces like a rollerskate (the new universal greeble piece). Eli makes good use of printed pieces on the Redbox machine, including old-school LEGO Space 1×1 button panels and window panes from the TARDIS in the LEGO Ideas Doctor Who set.
A haunted forest, a ruined castle, an underground cavern — a lost world awaits. Eli Willsea‘s LEGO scene is a masterclass in microscale, creating a sense of epic scale and mystery with a tight colour palette and a small footprint. The forest ruins were a treat to begin with, but the vast underground chamber beneath the structure is where the excitement lies. We’ve got everything an adventurous explorer expects, from arching masonry and rickety wooden stairs, to perilous drops over deep dark water. My favourite detail is the section of the castle, poking from the water beneath the hole its collapse created — lovely stuff. I’ve obviously played too much Tomb Raider in my time — my immediate thought was that a jump to the hanging chain would surely activate some ancient mechanism to drain the water allowing access to a hidden chamber.