If it was tricky enough to put together a shortlist of the best LEGO creations of 2020, but narrowing it down to a single “best model” proved even harder. Every model on the shortlist was excellent, and there was much debate amongst the team. However, after a great deal of discussion, The Brothers Brick is delighted to announce Koen Zwanenburg‘s Tutankhamun Mask as our LEGO Creation of the Year 2020.
Dutch LEGO builder Koen Zwanenburg takes us back to 2002 (well, 1993, really) with this ice cool Mini Ice Planet 2002 diorama. All the great sets from the pivotal early nineties theme is represented here. We have the Blizzard Baron Ice-Sat V, the Deep Freeze Defender and finally Ice Station Odyssey. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any cooler, the whole shebang is built into a cohesive diorama reminiscant of the theme’s box art. It’s cooler than being cool and ice cold indeed! Here’s all the other times we were smitten by all things Ice Planet 2002.
When it comes to LEGO space nostalgia, old Classic Space gets the lion’s share of the love. Now, I’m not saying that Benny and his gang don’t deserve the hype, but I was not even born yet by the time the visor made its debut. And the visored spacepersons had some awesome themes, like Blacktron (I and II), Space Police (I, II, and III, even), and the ever-iconic Ice Planet 2002; occasionally these guys get some love from the community, but not like the Classic Spacers do. But then LEGO started some new visorless themes in the mid-late 1990s, like Insectoids and UFOs. When was the last time you saw a custom creation from one of those themes? Well, Koen Zwanenburg is here to supply that lack, with this superb re-imagining of one of my all-time favorite sets, 6915 Warp Wing Fighter, making the crossover we all imagined when seeing it in 1997: an X-wing fighter from Star Wars.
This ship has it where it counts, from the giant curved hull panels to the transparent neon-greenish yellow canopy and accessories. More tiles and curved slopes give it an updated look, but it is still immediately recognizable as the old ship I loved so much, ever since finding it under the tree one Christmas morning.
Love Koen’s work? So do we here at The Brothers Brick, so check out our archives.
Halloween has barely passed, but holiday themed everything has already arrived in the shops near me. Perhaps the season’s greetings has also prematurely arrived in other spheres as well, such as the LEGO blogosphere! Koen Zwanenburg’s render of a gingerbread LEGO Star Wars dogfight is case in point!
The X-wing starfighter pictured, much like last year’s LEGO employee gift is sweet, but instead of being candy inspired it is the X-wing imagined in the form of gingerbread. The color scheme consists of browns with whites, greys, and some splashes of gum drop and candy cane colors. The TIE fighter on the other hand is a strict snowflake icing and cookie design — no extra sweets for the dark side. Overall, this is a pretty sweet render, and it certainly makes me feel that holiday sense of cheer.
Sure, you might recognize this build by Koen Zwanenburg as a mini version of the Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland Paris. But if you imprinted on The LEGO Movie like I did, this looks like Unikitty bought and redecorated Cinderella’s castle. And that’s not a bad thing. (Well, maybe for Cinderella.) Built on a 32 x 32 baseplate, Koen has crammed an enormous amount of detail and creativity into a compact footprint. There are little rewards all over for taking a close look, like spotting a Gungan shield as decoration, or recognizing bunches of golden ski poles as turret toppers.
There are even more building Easter eggs on rear of the castle. Can you spot the hot dogs and unprinted minifigure heads?
Sealife is a popular subject for LEGO builders, from the official set designers to fans around the world, which considering the Earth’s surface is 71% water, is no big surprise. This wonderful model of a dolphin by Koen Zwanenburg, leaping out of the water is a great blend of simplicity and beauty, with its gently curving form and some great parts usage, like that Bionicle part for the snout and blowhole, and a number of new water-based minifig power elements used for the splashing effect at the base. I think my favorite part is the hollow studded bracket used for the eye.
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.