In the wake of Russia’s invasion last year, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy launched United24 as the official platform for fundraising efforts to support Ukraine. With a holistic approach, the charity provides funds across medical aid, reconstruction, de-mining, defense, and more, with a variety of projects and global ambassadors, including actors like Mark Hamill and astronaut Scott Kelly. Today, United24 launched a new initiative with custom kits designed by talented LEGO builders from around the world — Maksym Mityakin from Ukraine, Artur Samkov from Poland, and Yevgen Tonyev from the United States. By donating $24 (USD) on the United24 website, you’re entered in a raffle to win one of a very limited number of custom LEGO kits, with the resulting funds from this initiative going to rebuild housing in Ukraine destroyed or damaged by Russian military action during the war.
The first wave of custom LEGO kits includes three iconic landmarks from all across the country — the Mother Ukraine statue in Kyiv (above, designed by Maksym), the Swallow’s Nest castle in Crimea (by Artur, below), and the Old Water Tower in Mariupol (by Yevgen).
The Old Water Tower in Mariupol (below) — a landmark damaged during the Siege of Mariupol in 2022 — was originally posted by Yevgen as a LEGO Ideas project last year, but the project page was subsequently taken down. The cancelled LEGO Ideas project was incredibly popular in Ukraine, so this represents the only opportunity to get this custom LEGO design.
A second wave of custom LEGO kits is scheduled for next year, though they are in the early stages of planning. I’d personally love to hear from our readers in Ukraine and all over the world about what Ukrainian landmarks they’d like to see recreated in LEGO. It’s important to note that this is an official fundraising effort from the Ukrainian government’s United24 initiative, but it is not sponsored or endorsed by the LEGO Group.
Here’s the full press release from United24, with a full gallery of images at the end of this article:
Mother Ukraine, Old Water Tower and Swallow’s Nest: UNITED24 and LEGO Creators Promote Ukrainian Architecture
#LEGOwithUKRAINE presents three sets in 5 copies each. They aren’t for sale but can be won by donating $24 or more. All funds raised will be directed towards the Rebuild Ukraine program.
UNITED24 also announced an open call for LEGO creators worldwide to join them in creating sets dedicated to famous Ukrainian architectural landmarks, and helping in the restoration of Ukraine.
“Millions of people from across the world help Ukraine every day: donate funds, support refugees, fight Russian propaganda on social media. The vast majority of them have never been to Ukraine. The #LEGOwithUKRAINE project provides an opportunity to learn more about our country and its diversity. Even if from a distance. We thank the community of LEGO creators, who supported this idea, and call on talented people from all over the world to create LEGO versions of Ukrainian landmarks. We plan to release the next batch of sets in the spring of 2024 already,” said the UNITED24 Platform Coordinator, Yaroslava Gres.
The first phase of the project introduces works by three talented creators — Maksym Mityakin from Ukraine, Artur Samkov from Poland, and Yevgen Tonyev from the US. They’ve created LEGO versions of Kyiv’s Mother Ukraine statue, Crimea’s Swallow’s Nest castle, and Mariupol’s Old Water Tower, respectively.
“At first, creating LEGO sets was my hobby. Now, I have my own design studio. LEGO is about creating, bringing your fantasy into the real world. I once built a model of Kyiv Independence Square with over 55,000 bricks. LEGO is also about communities and bringing people together. Together with people who were temporarily relocated from the eastern regions of Ukraine, we recreated a large-size Mariupol coat of arms. We enjoyed working together. We used almost 115,000 bricks to build it. I am excited to join the UNITED24 initiative and to build the Mother Ukraine statue. I believe the Mother Ukraine statue is one of Kyiv’s most prominent landmarks. I’m sure many Ukrainians and foreigners will instantly recognize it! Thank you to all the donors for their help in rebuilding my country,” Maksym Mityakin, Co-Founder and Administrator of the UkrBricks community, recognized by LEGO.
“My introduction to LEGO started in 1998, when I received the first set as a present. I have done many things throughout my life, but nothing has been as interesting and permanent to me as creating my own LEGO models and dioramas. I chose the Swallow’s Nest for the project with UNITED24, because it reminds me of Crimea, evoking pleasant memories of family vacations on the peninsula. This represents a longing for our Ukrainian Crimea. The UNITED24 initiative is an incredible chance to help with something other than donations, to be part of an important mission to rebuild the country, and also to occasionally remind people that the temporarily occupied territories will be liberated,” Artur Samkov, Co-Author of the historical and architectural project MiniMisto, specializing in the demonstration and promotion of Ukrainian architecture through LEGO.
“The LEGO Mariupol Water Tower isn’t just a toy. This is a connection to history. Founded in 1910, this tower is a witness of the city’s transformation. While making this model, I faced many technical and emotional challenges. Showing the tower’s tiny architectural details with limited blocks was tough. Each brick brought back memories, like the sound of children playing near its walls, both happy and sad times of the city’s life. I tried to show every detail with respect for history, keeping in mind the fact that this tower is a symbol of home for many. I hope that everyone holding this set will feel Mariupol’s courage and endurance,” Yevgen Tonyev, Product Designer for a healthcare startup.
Find out more about the initiative via this link: https://u24.gov.ua/legowithukraine
The #LEGOwithUKRAINE initiative is not sponsored or promoted by LEGO. All models are created from original LEGO pieces by individuals not affiliated with the LEGO company.
About UNITED24. UNITED24 was launched by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy as the main platform for collecting charitable donations in support of Ukraine. Over $490 million has been raised through donations from over 110 countries during a year and a half of operation of the UNITED24 fundraising platform. UNITED24 ambassadors include singer and actress Barbra Streisand, actors Liev Schreiber, Mark Hamill, Katheryn Winnick, Ivanna Sakhno, Misha Collins, and Mark Strong, music band Imagine Dragon, Balenciaga art director Demna, film director Michel Hazanavicius, astronaut Scott Kelly, British adventurer Bear Grylls, historian Timothy Snyder, businessman Richard Branson, country singer Brad Paisley, philosopher and economist Francis Fukuyama, chef José Andrés, Nobel laureates Paul Nurse, Edvard Moser, and May-Britt Moser, as well as famous Ukrainian athletes, Andriy Shevchenko, Elina Svitolina, Oleksandr Usyk and Oleksandr Zinchenko.