This is Stijn Oom, a 14-year-old kid from the Netherlands. Stijn started to play with Lego right after he learned to poop in the toilet (literally). Now, he is a Lego genius. He builds the best Lego tanks I've ever seen. The accuracy and precision is uncanny. His sense of design, the way he captures the details are impressive. This is his story and his creations.
"I'm Stijn and I'm 14 years old, I live in Holland. I am quite fond of WWII and I love LEGO," he tells me in an email interview.
His beginnings were not different from any other kid: "I think most people still remember the first time they got a Lego or Duplo model.The first time for me, was when I did Doo-Dooon the toilet for the first time by myself. My parents bought me the yellow excavator from the Bob the Builder sets. I loved it. From that point I started to collect Duplo. Almost every Christmas, ‘Santa' got me a Duplo set."
When he turned five, he started to build with actual Lego. For that birthday, he got one of the old Creator sets. But, more surprisingly, at that early age he also began making Lego Technic sets. These are made for 14-year-old kids and older. Technic is quite complex -- too complex for a five-year-old. But he did it. Clearly, he was born for this.
But his path wasn't all that different from other kids back then. "I got interested in Lego Star Wars, which started when I bought myself the X-Wing," he says. Stijn kept collecting these, but then something changed: he discovered that he could make a lot more things than just following the instructions for branded sets. That's when he found out about World War II:
About a year-and-a-half ago, I looked around on Google because I wanted to build a tank. I wanted to build one because I wanted to get the treads Lego produced. So, i looked around, and found some WW2 tanks on Flickr.
He was hooked. He loved the aesthetics. He loved the complex vehicles, the scenes. It was a new and amazing world for him.
This is when he learned advanced building techniques: "When i discovered Flickr, I found out that there was a HUGE Lego community going on! Reactions on builds, comments, favourites! It was the perfect system for every young builder." Flickr is used by Lego fans to share their creations. They like it especially because of its image annotation abilities, which allow them to highlight details and comment on them.
He joined the website, started to post his creations and got some response from the community. "I learned new techniques from other builders," he says. They taught him new techniques and he "became better and better".
Quickly, he learned it all. One year later, he's one of the most accomplished builders in the world, respected by his peers and well known among fans of World War II builders.
Stijn does all of it by himself, even taking the great photos on his own, which are crucial to present his creations: "I photograph myself with my mothers camera. It's a Sony cam and works absolutely superb! I use a black paper as background most of the times and edit the pictures with picmonkey."
Well kid, you are doing an awesome job. Here's hoping you get hired by Lego soon!
For more of Stijn's creations, check out his Flickr page.