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10K CLUB INTERVIEW: Koen Zwanenburg, The Creator of TUTANKHAMUN

Let me introduce you to Koen Zwanenburg aka Swan Dutchman, the creator of TUTANKHAMUN, and our 10K Club member in focus for today! This model is a smaller version of his life-size Tutankhamun, which is also exhibited in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. 



  1. Who are you? 
    My name is Koen Zwanenburg.

  2. Where are you from?
    I live in the Netherlands.
  3. How old are you?
    I am 33 years old.
  4. What hobbies do you have?
    I have a lot of hobbies. I like to cook, sport, play the piano, and read about history. My biggest hobby is being busy with LEGO bricks. I especially like designing MOCs.
  5. Do you have a personal LEGO portfolio website that you can share with us?
    Search for ‘swandutchman’ to find my creations on Flickr, Facebook, and Instagram. My Flickr gallery shows all builds in large images:
  6. Have you created any LEGO MOCs (my own creations) that you’re particularly proud of? What is it, why are you proud it and do you have a photo of it?
    There are several MOCs I am proud of because some of them bring a story along with them. The gingerbread house for example got 10k supporters a couple of years ago and was later displayed in the LEGO House along with my Jewelled Egg Collection. The MOC I am most proud of however is the life-size version of the Mask of Tutankhamun which I consider my masterpiece. This massive build of about 16k parts was a big challenge to build, but also very enjoyable to create. It was fantastic to get so many positive reactions from across the globe when I put the first images on the internet. I had a busy time doing interviews and I was asked to put it on display in the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities. Which of course I did! I think it’s a huge honor to have my MOC standing amidst Egyptian historical artifacts. 

  7. How and when did your interest for LEGO products come about?
    I used to play with LEGO as a kid, especially with the Castle and Pirate themes. At the age of twelve, I lost interest until about a decade ago. At that time I had the idea of having a big ship on display on my bookcase. That’s when I found set 4195 Queen Anne’s Revenge. I was very impressed with the quality and detail and it did not take long to discover that the diversity of LEGO parts had grown a lot since I was a boy. Seeing MOCs from other builders on the internet made me realize pretty much anything can be built and this for me is what makes LEGO so exciting!
  8. What is LEGO for you? What does it mean for you? How does it fit in your life? E.g. build, display, meetups, play the games.. or 'just' watch the cartoons. 
    LEGO is a big part of my life! I very much enjoy designing and building my own creations. It’s both challenging and relaxing to do so. LEGO also gives me the opportunity to socialize with other LEGO fans on the internet and during meetings of Dutch LEGO User Group Lowlug. LEGO also brought me some great adventures such as my trip to the LEGO House in 2018 to display some MOCs in the Masterpiece Gallery.
  9. What is your favourite LEGO theme (current or past)? Why? And has any theme inspired your building style or preference in any particular way?
    There are so many cool themes it’s hard to pick one. But, being a Star Wars fan I would have to go with Star Wars. My own creations are mostly related to things I like which are movies, games, history, and Disney.
  10. What is your favourite official LEGO set? Why?
    That’s one of my favourite sets from my childhood, the Black Knight’s Castle! I have some fond memories of playing with that set.
  11. What is your favourite LEGO element? Why?
    That is the 1x2 plate. If no other parts would exist you would still come a long way with this part. I use it a lot!
  12. Is there a LEGO designer (official LEGO designer or fan designer) who you are inspired by and look up to? Who and why?
    Oh yes, several actually! LEGO designer Justin Ramsden for example. I really like the sets he worked on and I think his story as seen in the documentary ‘The Secret World of LEGO’ is very inspiring! As for fan designers I look up to Tyler Clites, the LEGO Masters winner in the USA. His work has been inspiring ever since I started making my own creations a decade ago. 
  13. Is there one or more particular LEGO related websites (not official LEGO websites) that you visit often and/or are inspired by?
    I visit ‘The Brothers Brick’ daily to see the latest cool MOCs by other AFOLs. 



  1. Where did your interest in this particular model come from?
    History has always been of interest to me, especially old civilizations. Building the Mask of Tutankhamun has been on my ‘want-to-build’ list for several years. It’s just a fascinating piece of ancient art!
  2. How long was the process of making the project did, and what did you have to research as well. What kind of prep, research and design phases did you go through to produce your creation?
    I believed designing a life-size version of Tutankhamun would be far too difficult and thus I started designing a smaller version. However, it turned out it is impossible to make the smaller version with the current selection of golden parts. I still wanted to build Tutankhamun so there was really only one option left: I just had to attempt building a life-size version. And that worked out! I got so much positive feedback and many requests if I would sell that MOC I just had to do something with it. The life-size version is simply too big to submit as a LEGO Ideas project, but I still had the half-finished smaller version saved digitally which does fit within the 3000 parts limit. I decided to finish the model and submit it to LEGO Ideas and see what comes of it. I think the timing couldn’t be better because in 2022 it will be exactly 100 years after Tutankhamun’s Tomb was found. And the new Grand Egyptian Museum will be exhibiting the complete Tutankhamun collection for the first time. It would be great to celebrate these events with a Tutankhamun set.

  3. What special challenges or frustrations did you face creating the model? What was the most difficult part to recreate? 
    Making the smaller model look like the real Mask of Tutankhamun was actually much harder to do compared to the life-size version. I believe the smaller version could benefit from a few decorated parts, but I didn’t know how to do that. It took a couple of months to figure that out and I was able to update the project with a new version that has decorated parts for the eyes, necklace, and hieroglyphs.
  4. If you could talk to yourself before you started on this project, what would you tell him/her? What do you know now that you wish you knew then?
    I would say nothing. I like how things evolve over time. It’s part of the creative process.
  5. How long did it take to complete the model? Did you finish it fairly quickly, or did it take a long time? And how did the build time compare to the time you spent promoting your Product Idea to reach 10,000 supporters?
    That’s really hard to tell. I basically started the project without knowing it would become a LEGO Ideas project, then put a half-finished MOC aside only to continue on the life-size version, went back again to finish the initial model, and finally revisited it a couple of months later to add decorated parts and make several small changes. Everything together is maybe a span of 10 months. It’s also hard to say how much time I spent on promoting the Product Idea. All I did was sharing the pictures on social media, but I am sure the life-size Tutankhamun and another very small Mini Tutankhamun helped in promoting the Idea. 

  6. How did it feel when you reached the magic 10,000 votes and how long did it take?
    It felt great! It’s a huge honor that 10,000 people would like your idea to become a set! And that in I think only 8 or 9 months? Fantastic!
  7. Approximately how many LEGO bricks did you use to create your model?
    About 730 parts, which is about the same as the current line of Star Wars helmets.
  8. What is your favourite building technique or part/section that you’ve incorporated into your Product Idea?
    That’s definitely the use of dinosaur tail ends to make the curves on the back of the Mask. I used a very similar technique on the life-size version and it was great fun to scale that down.
  9. If you built your model digitally, what software did you use to build and render your model?
    I used Bricklink’s Studio 2.0. 
  10. If you used custom stickers or prints for your design, how did you create them or where did you get them?
    I created a basic pattern for the necklace using photo editing software and ‘stamped’ that pattern on various parts which together make the necklace. The eyes, falcon symbol, and hieroglyphs are made by drawing digitally using pictures of the real Mask of Tutankhamun. I tried to capture the essence to make it work on this scale, but what you see is actually there on the real Mask. 



  1. Do you have any useful advice about creating a successful LEGO Ideas project?
    I don’t have any advice on how to create a successful product idea, but I do think it’s very important that the builder truly believes in his or her creation to stand a chance. It just shows! 
  2. What (if any) methods did you use to advertise and attract support to your Product Idea?
    Prior to the LEGO Ideas version, I already had the life-size version which I believe helped a lot getting attention for this LEGO Ideas project. That MOC was featured on multiple websites and I had a busy time doing interviews and even a live stream. As I mentioned before the life-size version is now on display in a Dutch museum. My contact at the museum and I thought it would be fun if we could inspire kids that visited the museum to build their very own Mini Tutankhamun with LEGO bricks they have at home. To that end, I made free-to-download building instructions to create a Mini version (which by the way is totally different from the product idea) with just basic bricks that appear in many sets. It turned out to be a very popular building activity while we had the lockdown in the Netherlands. Obviously, I took the opportunity to promote the LEGO Ideas project in the building instructions for the Mini version and I think it helped!
  3. What is your favourite LEGO Ideas Product Idea (besides your own of course)? Are there any Product Ideas you think have been overlooked?
    At the time of writing this, I just bought the set of Winnie the Pooh. I am so much looking forward to building that set! As for future sets, I am very much hoping that the Product Idea ‘LEGO® Minerals’ by ddf72 is going to make it. Having built an amethyst geode myself I very much appreciate how well various minerals are built with bricks. 
  4. What is it about the platform that attracts you? What tips would you give to anyone who is thinking about uploading an idea?
    I think it’s just fantastic that anyone who submits an idea actually has a chance of turning the idea into an actual set. Not only that, but I also like the contests! Joining contests is both challenging and inspiring. 
  5. Do you have plans to submit any other Product Ideas in the future? If yes, can you give us a hint what that might be?
    I don’t have any plans yet, but who knows?
  • 10k club
  • 10k club interview
  • 10k
  • product idea
  • tutankhamun
  • mask
  • egypt
  • pharaoh
  • ancient

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