DISCOVER Magazine #6

Building bricks. Meeting a LEGO shipbuilder

Published in category: Heritage & Culture
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Lego_designer_Edwin_Korstanje
Edwin Korstanje
Independent Professional LEGO® Builder

Edwin Korstanje is a professional Lego builder specialising in ships.

I do build other things like trucks and houses, but ships are where my passion is.

Working for a wide range of clients in the maritime sector, he uses his wealth of experience with the tens of thousands of different types of Lego bricks to build truly custom-made creations. As well as one-of-a-kind detailed scale models, Edwin’s work also consists of construction sets, complete with building instructions. “In total, this works out to be about 3,500 ships,” he says proudly.

MOC…

Every ship that Edwin builds is a MOC. “In Lego terms, this means ‘My Own Creation’ – building something without instructions. Literally everything is possible; this includes remote-controlled moving systems like winches, anchors and propellers. And every year Lego brings new types of brick out, which lets me upgrade and improve models. It’s actually very addictive.”

A lot of his work involves building models of ships that are still under construction at the shipyard. “I need good drawings of the vessel, preferably with computer renderings of what the completed ship will look like, including the underwater lines of the hull.”

…and SNOT

According to Edwin, the hull is often the most challenging part of a model. “It is so difficult because there are no straight lines involved,” he says. The solution is to build using a special technique that is unique to Lego. “It’s called Studs Not On Top – otherwise known as SNOT – which works because working with Lego bricks sideways is totally different to building upwards. You can make many more shapes and forms, but it does take a lot of calculation work.”

“In this respect, building with Lego is very much like playing chess. For example, I plan moves 20 or 30 steps ahead – you need to know exactly where you want to build.”

New challenges constantly arise too: “Many new tugs have double drum winches on the bow which, in reality, move independently from each other. The first models that I built with a double drum couldn’t do this because they only had one axle. Now, I have figured out how to build them so that both drums move separately.”

New ideas

When working with such detailed elements, the scale of the model influences the level of precision that can be attained. “Larger models are easier to build. You can include many more details and things become more realistic, especially the hull.

“Smaller models are often much more difficult, and that is a nice challenge, but you can still accomplish amazing things.” Edwin’s micromodel construction set of a Damen-built Ropax Ferry, with just 89 pieces, is a good example of this.

By getting the most out of Lego’s construction system, Edwin admits that his clients challenge him with every model he makes. “By coming up with new ideas, I challenge them too,” he smiles. “An open engine room, for instance. Being able to see the big 16 cylinder engines and generators is a very nice touch.”

So many possibilities

It was through a shared client that Edwin first came into contact with Damen. “I had built a large model of a Stan Tug 4011 for one of Damen’s clients. After that, they asked me to be involved on some more projects. This started with a ASD Tug 3212 construction set and a one-off model of an Offshore Supply Vessel.

“I have also built a Damen Cutter Suction Dredger 500 construction set, which is available on their webshop. Just like the real vessel, this model is also modularly constructed. In fact, construction sets like this show the direct similarities between Damen and Lego. With their DTC service [Damen Technical Cooperation], they can deliver designs, materials, engineering, and building instructions of ships to any shipyard in the world.”

And in the meantime, he has built numerous vessel types for Damen’s clients. “Shoalbusters, Superyachts, ASD Tugs 2810, 3212, 3312 and 2913. I haven’t built a Multi Cat yet though. That is one I would like to work on because it’s a nice vessel with lots of equipment on deck.”

Edwin’s favourite Damen vessel? “Good old fashioned Stan Tugs are my favourite – rugged towing vessels. There are so many possibilities and so many nice details to include.”

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