LEGO Masters has aired its fifth episode last week where contestants built a mega city with a twist. The Brothers Brick had the opportunity to sit down with them and talk about their experience, the broader LEGO community, and if they ever went through a “dark age.”
In our interview, the team talks about which challenge they wished they could have done and how future teams can learn from failure. If you haven’t yet watched the episode, be warned that there will be spoilers!
If you’ve watched the episode, by now you’ll know we’re talking about the “The Unicorns” Krystle and Amie.
Before we get started, you both recently attended a LEGO fan convention in Portland, Bricks Cascade. Can you tell us about your experience meeting some of your fans face to face?
Krystle: I was in tears of joy. I had to grab Amie on the first day when the doors opened and we got bombarded. We weren’t even at the meet-up booth yet. I had no idea that the line to meet us was going to be as long as it was. Maybe six or seven little girls and boys showed us their own unicorns to support our team, we saw fairy wings and dinosaur stuff, and I started crying! I had to take a moment and walk away because I was honestly way overwhelmed and touched. It was beautiful.
Amie: It’s a very surreal experience. It’s humbling! Before we left, we met two kids who brought Krystle a flower and they brought me a pinecone because they said it reminded them of a dinosaur like me. We saw kids wearing dinosaur shirts with rainbows on the back like a unicorn dinosaur because I wore a dinosaur hoodie on one episode. It’s surreal that you can impact someone’s life in such a meaningful way.
Krystle: One of the coolest things for me was all the parents who told us that we helped spark their creativity once the show started airing a few weeks ago. They said they went out and got a few LEGO sets and built them together, which is super meaningful for Amie and I because we both grew up with our dads and our moms building with us as a way to bond with our families. To know that we were part of something that brings people together and maybe inspires a new generation of creativity, I don’t have words for that, it’s just unreal.
The last two episodes have both featured twists. How did you incorporate the twist in your creations, and what was it like having two twists in a row?
Amie: The mystery Western mashup – that was a really fun thing. It was completely different genres, it was a small scale. This twist for Episode Five, the one we went home on, we made something that we loved. And then they said, your building is under attack, and we thought, “Oh, but I love what I just made.” We were exhausted and asking ourselves, “What are we gonna do?” It’s interesting because for some teams the twist was their saving grace. They got more time. And it saved us the week before, no lie. When we got Western last week I was into it because I grew up with the Western sets, I know how to build a saloon, and I know how to decorate it. I was very excited about that twist.
Krystle: This week, I will say the robot that I made is the coolest thing that I made on the show. Period. But we were just so mentally exhausted. I would be giving Amie back-rubs and neck-rubs because it’s stressful when you work that much for that long under those conditions. It’s not like working at home. It’s a competition, and so much is on the line. You want to represent well for the women in America, the girls in America, your family, your hometown, your friends, you just feel a big weight on your shoulders. So when Aaron’s building fell down, a small part of me felt, “Yeah, we might actually get in the top two.”
Amie: Scale-wise, this was a massive build, it was really tall. You can see in some of the shots that we were cranking the table down and then having to stand up on stools to reach the top. It was physically a massive build. We were close to the Brick Pit in this episode, so that was nice as far as running around.
Krystle: I don’t know if it was shown on TV, but we actually dropped the robot. He shattered and took part of the building with him. So having to rebuild him was extremely heartbreaking because I knew that that took at least 45 minutes to an hour out of our build. Having to redo something, like when Boone broke the shark in episode 4, it’s so disheartening. As any LEGO fan builder knows, when you break something and you have time to fix it, it can be a beautiful learning lesson. The beautiful thing about LEGO is it’s never truly broken. But when you’re in this time crunch and you know you might be going home it’s a totally different feeling.
Amie: From my perspective, I really loved the cyberpunk world and the futuristic and the tech side of what our build brought. This is a build that we both really love and are proud of.
Krystle: Even if we didn’t have lime pieces.
Amie: And the magenta. That’s such a hard brick to build with. I think we only had maybe three different types of bricks in different shades of that color. So we had to be very creative and imaginative with how we were going to incorporate that color. We really needed that color to tie the buildings together. I think that Brick Master Jamie was very impressed with the end result. He complimented us on those buildings, and he said that they were some of the best buildings he had ever seen, especially the big skyscraper one. I was so flattered.
As a team, you started the city building challenge well. But, in the second half, it seemed like something started to go wrong. What happened?
Krystle: I don’t think anything actually went wrong with the build. I think that we were a little bummed because we were in a really solid place before the twist. We thought for the first time we might actually be in the top two. Now that will be a feeling that I will never know! [Laughs] I can imagine it feels pretty awesome. To know that everyone else had time for redemption really messed with our minds quite a bit. To be honest, I think that the cyberpunk city was by far the coolest build that we did. Of course, I like the other builds for different reasons, but I felt like we really poured ourselves into this one. It was a beautiful mash-up of Amie and my relationship. But, at that time in the competition, you’ve been building for many hours and are working on very little sleep. You’re up all night thinking about ways to build the next piece, you’re thinking of new techniques, you’re playing things back in your head.
Amie: Yeah, at some point it is such a long day and a long build. Before the twist, we pushed the table in place, and we were one of the few builds that didn’t have something fall or break. We were like, “Wow – we actually might have a chance.” It was like a sigh of relief. Then Will said, “It’s a good start.” No one else picked up on that when we were standing there. I think everyone was so drained. I was like, “Wait, that’s not how you END a conversation, by saying that’s a good start.” I think they showed that clip where I was like, “What?” It was exhausting.
If you could go back, would you do anything differently in that challenge?
Krystle: I would use my words better [laughs]. Believe it or not, I can tell a story. I’m actually a writer of a comic book. As an artist and a writer, I’m sad because I can tell a good story. But this showed the opposite. As far as the build goes, I think it was awesome.
Amie: We had this idea of technology taking over, and we had all of these cable wires coming down from the main robot. Then busting out of the museum was this technology motherboard. I spent a lot of time thinking about how we need a processor, we need RAM, we need all this computer technology. But, one thing that I have learned is to ask, “What message are you trying to get across?” In my mind, all of the components of something from a technical build make sense to me, but it doesn’t to everyone else. It’s hard because we really did like this build. We loved it. But, we don’t know the judges’ conversations, what they’re conveying, and what they’re deciding.
Krystle: Yeah, they were talking to other teams about not having enough in their buildings. We were the opposite, maybe we had too much.
Amie: But we always had bananas! Always.
Krystle: [Laughs] We had bananas in every single one of our builds through the entire season.
How did you feel during the judging portion of your last episode?
Krystle: I knew we were going home. If you watch the episode, you can see me crying. Because the Brick Masters started nitpicking things that didn’t really make sense to me. I just knew we were going to go home. So when they started asking questions, I couldn’t find words to answer them. I knew no matter what I said, with the questions they were asking, I knew our time was over. It was really disheartening, especially on a build they had complimented so much in the first half. It was definitely mentally challenging for us to go through that process in the last build.
On your last episode, Brick Master Amy got quite emotional announcing you were going home. What was your interaction with the judges like that led to that moment?
Amie: Brick Master Amy and her team are responsible for designing a lot of the Friends sets with lots of colors. She really shared our passion for color and fantasy and our enthusiasm that we would bring to the builds. She gave us phenomenal advice that Krystle and I are using in post-show life. She would ask us to think of whatever we were working on as a movie poster that has to sell a story. Does it show what you are trying to convey? That’s phenomenal advice to use in everyday aspects of life, not just storytelling. Plus she is such a gorgeous, beautiful individual. Jamie had to stand next to that incredibleness every day! We really look up to her.
Krystle: When you’re on set, especially at the beginning, there is a lot of pressure and stressful situations with building on time and watching the clock. When we both met Brick Master Amie, we geeked out. We both collect the Friends sets and I try to buy used bulk LEGO just to search for the pinks and purples. She helped mastermind these sets and we have a deep respect for her not only as a LEGO creator but as a human. We bonded, and I think that deep down she knew we had a lot more to show and that we weren’t ready to go home. We were finally managing our time well and I think if it were our first time in the bottom we wouldn’t have gone home. But because it was our third time, I think it was time for others to showcase their work as well. It was hard for all of us. The whole cast cried. Will cried. Jamie cried. We could hear everyone else crying behind us, I think because Amie and I really tried to bring the light and sunshine and the rainbows and glitter to the show, and they knew that the room was going to be a little duller and color-less from then on.
We’ve seen the tablets you sketch on during the show. Did you have any access to other reference materials or the Internet as well?
Amie: We didn’t have access to the Internet. Those were purely just for our sketches–which I can tell you, I draw a really good stick figure. The sketches helped. Communication is a big part so you’re not working in your own head. You have to communicate with your partner and that was something that Krystle and I were really talking about. And you get into conversations like, “Does a giraffe have ears? What are those things on its head?” And you’re just overthinking everything. It definitely puts you in a place where you realize what you’re capable of and how you’re trying to communicate across what you see in your head. And that’s the one nice thing about being able to at least get something out there to see. But no access to the Internet.
What would have been the perfect challenge for you two that would have drawn on both of your strengths?
Amie: I don’t think LEGO always has to be on the table. I’ll make costumes and pieces from LEGO and I’ve made outfits that have wearable LEGO EV3 Mindstorms wings on the back with sensors. I understand that wearable LEGO definitely would have been a very hard challenge to figure out. But I love the idea of using bricks for their unintended purpose. I think so many people think they’re just for the table but I’m already playing with some of the new DOTS sets because they have flexible bands now that can easily make things wearable. I love thinking outside of the build table.
Krystle: I think that if we had a wearable challenge, I am pretty sure that Amie and I would have been in the top two for sure. Amie and I met through the LEGO cosplay community which is very interesting. We had a mutual friend, Alan, who’s into LEGO and he sent me a picture of Amie with her wearables at Dragon Con. He knew that I had a huge collection of LEGO and that I was in the cosplay, and that’s literally how we met. I think that we both love the fairy tale aspect of LEGO and costuming. So, I think if we had had that challenge we would have just knocked it out of the park for sure.
It’s interesting because at Bricks Cascade we had a good amount of people bring their wearables to show us, which was amazing. Bricks Cascade even had a LEGO cosplay display table. It’s definitely something that I know for a fact that the LEGO community will be seeing a lot more of!
What has the reaction been like from your friends and family, seeing you on the show and watching along with you on your journey?
Amie: My dad said, “Oh yay, my LEGO college fund paid off!” I think in general, if you don’t have friends that build with LEGO they don’t really understand. They’re just like, “Okay, we get it – Amie and Krystle are on this weird show for these weird things that they like,” but not they are thinking, “Maybe they’re not so weird.” [laughs]
Krystle: Honestly, that’s the biggest takeaway for me.
Amie: Our dads are really tickled pink. They’re so proud of us. It’s probably one of the best feelings in the world–you’re making someone that you admire and you care about proud. You worked your butt off and you stay true to what you love and what you can do and what you can’t do. The discussion I’ve always had about failure is that failure is never really failure; it’s just this iteration of improving upon what you’re doing and what you’re working on. And I did have a talk with my dad about that. I was like, “this is different – we know the future!” We knew when we finished filming a few months ago that in three months, however many millions of people were going to watch us fail, and it was interesting to just talk about that.
Krystle: And it’s not a failure—we don’t see it like that. We see it as a really awesome stepping stone. I hope we didn’t disappoint the young girls. I know that I got a lot of messages from a ton of parents that said they had to rock their kids to sleep, and that hurt so deep. I did feel really bad for not getting further for them. But I am really happy because a lot of my family members have thought I was really weird for a really long time because of the sheer amount of bricks that I own and build with. But because of this show, my grandmother for the first time ever was super proud of my LEGO obsession and that meant so much to me. She was telling her friends that her granddaughter was on a LEGO show, and that’s just something that I never thought that I would hear. A lot of my family are super proud.
On the show, you talked about wanting to show that women build LEGO too. Can you talk about the reactions you’ve experienced from women seeing you and your builds on LEGO Masters?
Krystle: We’ve been super excited to be representatives for women out there. I’ve heard nothing but very positive things. We got to meet a lot of the women through the Women’s Brick Initiative at Bricks Cascade. The interactions were real quick, real brief, but we got to talk to the women a little bit throughout the convention. I knew that we were representing women on the show, but I did not realize at what scale.
Amie: It’s also very humbling. When we were at Bricks Cascade, we were walking out to meet this group of girls, and in my mind, I’m thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’m so nervous to meet everyone.” Then afterward they were saying, “Oh my gosh, we’re so nervous to meet you!” It’s this interesting feeling because all of them have seen us on TV so they feel like they know us. So it makes them nervous to meet us, but in my mind, I’m thinking, “I don’t know you, and you are all already part of this community. I feel I’m coming in just representing a small part.” So, it’s very humbling to see that.
How do you bridge that gap to make people feel comfortable enough to come into the LEGO community? Just start talking and showing your stuff–bring the diversity to the LEGO community. Not just building on a table, there are other things you can do like jewelry, and lighting (part of the WBI workshop).
Krystle: I was a closet builder, and if LEGO Masters had existed when I was in college I don’t think I would have ever had a Dark Age. I think that it (LEGO Masters) really shines a new light on LEGO, women in LEGO, and that women can build just as creatively as men. I think we’re going to see a really big change in LEGO in the U.S. after this. I’ve taken a lot of women our age to the LEGO store and they’re not just buying sets, but off the Pick-a-Brick wall too. It’s so cool to see. It’s fabulous to see them interacting with us and geeking out over bricks that before the show, only Amie and I geeked out over. I can’t wait to see in a year how many women come out as fantastic builders because of this.
Amie: Krystle and I set a new bar building for a 15-hour challenge in cosplay, running around the Brick Pit encased in fairy wings. I want to see someone raise the bar every year, and I want it to be someone who’s really bringing their personality.
What was your biggest takeaway from being on the LEGO Masters?
Krystle: The friendships we made on the show are going to last a lifetime. The cast talks every day and every night. We have a group text that is always there when you need it. It’s really a support system with 19 other LEGO fanatics that all went through the same experience, and we will always be there for each other.
Amie: For me, it is the general support of a community. For example, Krystle and I live 10 minutes from each other, and she has always been a LEGO friend. But when other people come over to my house and see my LEGO collection they ask, “How many kids do you have?” And I’m like, “None! These are mine.” So meeting other people in the community that love the same things you do is refreshing. We can geek out about small parts and how things are built. It’s a very surreal feeling.
Krystle: At Bricks Cascade, we got to geek out openly with other people about everything like salmon-colored bricks or LEGO Dots. Before the show, I was more of a closet builder and Amie was the one person I showed like my entire collection to. Now the rest of America knows and I feel comfortable and confident talking about LEGO and what it means to me.
What advice would you give to any future LEGO Masters contestants if there’s a season two?
Krystle: If you can dream it, you can build. Get your portfolio started today.
Amie: I guess being the first season, we had no expectations going into the show. It’s not something you can really prepare for. I would say prep and build. Learn a few techniques. I think good things come from taking apart LEGO sets that you already own to figure out how they’re built – their build techniques, how they’re put together, and how they’re structurally sound. Another thing I think you should do is share your work because there’s good feedback that comes from the community and something very positive can come from that.
Krystle: Sharing your work is a huge thing. Amie and I both teach in different aspects of life and we are hopefully funding a website called Special Beads, where you can go and showcase your creations and get feedback from the community. Go to LEGO conventions or exhibitions and learn by looking and talk to the people who have their MOCs on display. Really build from the heart – build for you – and if you like it, others will come because that’s just how LEGO is. Oh, and make sure you wear comfy shoes for when you run to the Brick Pit! [Laughs]
Did you ever go through a period where you stopped building with LEGO?
Krystle: The infamous “dark age?” I did. Amie, did you go through a dark age?
Amie: I never went through a dark age, as you call it. [Laughs] My mom homeschooled me and my brothers, and she used LEGO as part of our play and education, from engineering to history lessons. To me, that was just a normal part of everyday life. When I got older and I went to college, it ended up being my escape because it was something that was comforting to me. So, that was my relaxing therapy time if I was really stressed when I was at university, or as I got older it was a job, or when I moved away from home. It was a tinkering, building, therapeutic part of my life. Some people spend money on shoes, I spend it on LEGO. [Laughs]
Krystle: I definitely went through a dark age. I think that as I got older, I saw less and less of my friends playing with bricks, and I felt like I was definitely getting judged a little bit as I aged. When I went to college, I had a little time away from LEGO. I still had LEGO on display in my room, but I didn’t really build or buy sets for a while. Sadly, I missed a lot of the Elves sets which I’m really depressed about. Maybe six years ago, really soon after college, I started getting back into LEGO. I think my dark ages lasted maybe three or four years. Then I actually had a really big buying habit, and I was spending half my paycheck on LEGO! [Laughs] My family was really proud of me because I started to really get it under control about a year ago. Then Amie called about LEGO Masters [laughs]. So, I think I had two to four years of not purchasing new bricks.
What are your favorite LEGO sets?
Amie: I love the monster stuff but my favorite is Indiana Jones from Raiders of the Lost Ark. It had a sliding door and huge boulder rolling all the way to the idol. It is a smaller set, but really was the set that sparked my imagination seeing all those interactive pieces. Now I am really enjoying the Hidden Side sets. They remind me of Scooby-Doo. [Laughs]
Krystle: My favorite sets growing up were the Egyptian ones, Pirates and Islander sets. I think one of my favorite sets of all time is 5978 Secret of the Sphinx. It was the first set I got a new box for and still today, that baseplate is my favorite of all time. I built all kinds of stuff on that baseplate. I also spent summers growing up on Antigua so the Islanders sets reminded me of home with all the palm trees and plants and animals. For now, I love the Ideas sets. They feel so sophisticated and you can put them on your desk at work and not feel silly about it. The Ship in a Bottle is so gorgeous. Oh, and I missed the Elves sets so I’m trying to go back and hoard all of those!
Is there anything extra that you’d like to add?
Krystle: I use LEGO to teach adults with special needs. Each month, Amie and I put out the bat signal and we ask people to donate LEGO or time or anything that they would like to help with. I’ve done a ton of LEGO therapy sessions with my students. I even do LEGO therapy for myself. I just take a set and build it. It’s a nice way for me to unwind and relax. For me, being on a show meant so much to not just me, but for my students. They have all been rooting for me and Team Unicorns. I love that because of the show I have been able to get a lot more eyes on my students and get that awareness out. Not only for women but also for the educational purpose of LEGO, which is, I think, the coolest and most unique part about LEGO. I hope that the educational part of LEGO will explode and blossom and bloom because of LEGO Masters.
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Where can we follow you and your LEGO creations online?
Amie: I have a web page at AmieDD.com and all my social media is there as well as my GitHub. I have a few things on Rebrickable, and I have a few tutorials on incorporating tech and interactive elements into LEGO builds.
Krystle: I build LEGO on Twitch (twitch.tv/krystlestarrwars) Instagram and Twitter too under KrystleStarrWars.
Images courtesy of FOX, Krystle and Amie, and The Brothers Brick.
LEGO Masters airs in the US on Wednesdays after The Masked Singer on FOX. Stay tuned to The Brothers Brick for more interviews from the set, and check out these other LEGO Masters articles:
LEGO Masters Articles:
- Hosting LEGO Masters: Interview with actor and entertainer Will Arnett
- Judging LEGO Masters: Interview with LEGO designers Jamie Berard and Amy Corbett
- Making LEGO Masters: Interview with executive producer Anthony Dominici
- Building LEGO Masters: Interview with Brick Artist Nathan Sawaya
- Visiting LEGO Masters: Behind the scenes tour with Challenge Master Brent Benedetti
- Everything you want to know about LEGO Masters judges Amy Corbett and Jamie Berard
Contestant Exit Interviews:
Hey this was a great interview, I just watched this episode and my 6-yr-old daughter was devastated — every time we build now we have to pretend to be Amie and Krystle.There’s one question I wish you would ask in one of these interviews: how much of a factor was it that the challenges keep tracking the Australian show challenges so closely? Surely the contestants must have watched that series in preparation. If I was on the show, after the first couple of times when the challenges were identical, I would have spent a lot of time preparing for the specific challenges, including the twists. Like did some contestants preplan for having the “city under attack” twist? Obviously Amie and Krystle didn’t, unfortunately. But I would have thought the beanstalk in another build, for example, was motivated by the possibility of adding a giant at the top in the “under attack” phase (except their giant wasn’t very impressive so I doubt it was preplanned). Especially for the bridge building challenge in the next episode, some advance knowledge and preparation would make a huge difference. Could you ask the next team about this?