Now that LEGO has released a line of Super Mario sets, I’m sure we’re not far from a massive uptick in the number of Mario-related custom builds. Anticipating them is Koen Zwanenburg, who has designed a series of cuddly characters from the games. I’m a bad child of the ’80s and don’t know all of them, but I can recognize Mario and Luigi, as well as Peach, Bowser, and Yoshi. Aficionados can no doubt name them all at just a glance since Koen has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of each with just a few parts. I love the jumper plates for mustaches on the brothers, but my favorite detail is the plates with teeth as Bowser’s toes. But they’re all great. Or should I say super?
Despite a lifelong fascination with archaeology and ancient history — and even a trip through Sinai, Cairo, and Karnak at age 19 — I must admit that Egyptology has never been particularly interesting to me, obsessed as its public portrayal is with glittering treasures and kingship. Nevertheless, I’m reading the excellent The Rise and Fall of Ancient Egypt by Toby Wilkinson right now, in which I find the chaotic Intermediate periods especially fascinating. Koen Zwanenburg is also fascinated with ancient history, and has built this amazing life-sized version of the boy king Tutankhamun’s mask from 16,000 LEGO bricks.
Yes, ok, the stores have had their festive decorations up since the morning after Halloween, and you’re already sick to the back teeth of Christmas music. Still, if these little guys don’t melt your heart and bring some festive cheer to your soul, you’re dead inside. Koen Zwanenburg has put together a collection of LEGO Christmas characters to get us all in the mood for the holiday season. These models are an absolute delight — super-cute, and simple enough looking that they’re bound to inspire people to build their own versions. However, I’m sure this apparent simplicity is the result of painstaking hours spent on each model to get it just right — such elegance only arises from effort. I like all of these, but the Nutcracker Soldier is a standout — just look at that moustache! Perfect.
These are in the same style as Koen’s previous cute cuddly toy LEGO creations, and make for a wonderful festive addition to the collection.
The subject of an impressive official LEGO set, Disney’s Cinderella’s Castle has also proved itself a popular building with LEGO microscale modellers. However, few of the versions we’ve seen previously have captured the detail of the original as effectively as this beautiful creation by Koen Zwanenburg. The high walls rising out of the water are nicely shaped, with some ingenious parts use (check out the hammers as supporting buttresses beneath the crenellations). The soaring towers are lovingly depicted, with a level of texture and detail which makes the model seem much bigger than it really is. And who would have thought the underside of plates would so perfectly depict the tall windows built into the Mansard roof?
This is an extensive redesign of a model Koen built a couple of years ago. It’s a great example of a builder revisiting their work and improving on it in almost every aspect. This is excellent microscale LEGO building.
Despite his namesake, Scrooge McDuck is a cool and adventurous dude and one of my favorites from the 80s Duck Tales Adventures. It’s nice to see him come alive and reproduced beautifully in brick form. This build not only features the wealthy duck, but is also rich in Nice Parts Usages (NPUs). You’ve got to love how Koen Zwanenburg used the magnifying glasses for the pince-nez, and the bucket handles for his belt buckle. Most appropriately perhaps, parts of the treasure chest are made of gold ingot elements.
Disney’s Donald Duck recently celebrated his 85th birthday, and his companion Daisy is technically 82 (she was originally introduced in 1937 as Donna Duck). Koen Zwanenburg is just in time for the party with fantastic looking LEGO versions of the beloved pair. Thanks to a variety of curved and angled elements used, the sculpting of each character’s body looks spot-on. Their eyes are particularly expressive and well angled, especially Daisy’s partially closed eyelids. Meanwhile, Bionicle ball and socket joints used as legs look to be just the right size. Donald looks especially happy, with Daisy giving him a birthday kiss.
I’m not entirely sure how Easter is celebrated in other countries, but in the US it means the Easter Bunny is coming. This mysterious character, who secretly delivers and hides colorful eggs filled with candy, is the mascot of springtime. And while Easter is still a serious religious holiday for many people, it’s an excellent excuse to play and celebrate. Koen Zwanenburg’s rabbit (looking very much like the Nesquik bunny) is a fun tribute to the season! My favorite parts are the croissant eyebrows and cloud plate cheeks!
Koen says the eggs in the wheelbarrow are actually “easter eggs” of LEGO themes. Can you guess what they are?
There’s one thing I never get tired of in the world of Star Wars, and that’s seeing yet another custom LEGO X-Wing model. Each builder brings their own flavor to the table, including neat techniques. What seems easy usually isn’t. For example, builder Koen Zwanenburg experimented with four different iterations and modifications before ending up with the X-Wing seen here. For those unfamiliar with Koen’s work, he’s quite a versatile builder with everything from the cuteness overload of his classic rubber duck to the elegant grandeur of his Minas Tirith from the Lord of the Rings!
I grew up in central Oregon, USA, the “thunderegg” capitol of the world. As a kid, an ultimate prize in treasure hunting was finding baseball-sized rocks that reveal beautiful crystals when broken in half. Unfortunately, giant Amethyst geodes aren’t found in Oregon. They’re not found in the Netherlands either, but that didn’t stop Koen Zwanenburg from building this exquisite replica from LEGO.
Standing almost two feet tall and containing over 7300 perfectly placed pieces, this must have been a real feat! That’s especially considering trans-purple parts are hard to come by. The unique building technique combined with those lovely curves makes for a work of art!
The Grinch isn’t the only strange green creature you’ll meet this festive season, Koen Zwanenburg would have us believe that Father Christmas is in fact a Jedi master, Yoda no less! Bizarrely it makes perfect sense — clearly, it would take a high-level Force user to achieve Santa’s intergalactic delivery schedule. There is also a sly nod to the commercial success of the Star Wars franchise: in a clever reversal of roles, Yoda carries a LEGO minifigure Luke on his back, ready to fill someone’s Christmas stocking.
If you like Keon’s model, he’s provided LDD instructions for you to make your very own Santa Yoda.
In Greek mythology, Medusa is a slithering monster with a stone-cold gaze. The tables have now turned for the Greek gorgon, with Koen Zwanenburg having transformed her into a static LEGO BrickHeadz character. Though often portrayed as a hideous monster, Koen’s version is adorable. The sculpting of the body is particularly nice, with the tail from Jabba the Hutt being used to great effect. Her hair is comprised of several snake head elements, which look practically made for the character. It would be great to see other mythological creatures receive a BrickHeadz treatment this nice!