Leaving LEGO Masters S2: We sit down with the sixth team to leave [Feature]

The seventh episode of LEGO Masters Season 2 aired on August 9th so we’re playing a little catch up today as your intrepid reporter has been out of town. A new episode means another winning build and unfortunately, another team elimination. After each episode, we’ll be meeting these teams as they continue on their LEGO journey with the show behind them.

We sat down for a talk with the sixth team to leave this season along with our friends from Brickset, BZPower and True North Bricks. We chatted about family, building for TV, the omnipresent clock and creating art with your partner.

If you haven’t seen this episode, you may want to turn back now! If you’ve seen it already, then you already know that the team sent home this episode was married couple, Maria and Phillip.

What is your LEGO story?

Philip: I built as a kid, as many AFOLs did. Then you hit that teen period where you’re like: “I find girls interesting”, or boys. So, I stopped for a bit. Fast forward a while, when Maria was pregnant with our firstborn, who is now 11. My parents brought my LEGO collection back to me. They didn’t sell it, they didn’t give it away, it was still all in its original bucket. I know it sounds really cheesy, but I opened up the bucket and I never closed it. I kept building and I found the Eurobricks forum. I was like: “Man, there are other people like me out there who like building with LEGO as an adult.” Then we discovered Brick World in our area. We’ve been attending every year since 2013. That was just a few years after I started getting back into it.

Maria: My first experience of actually trying to figure something out and build it was for our audition for season one. I was building a tree for the thing we made for the audition. So, at that time when we auditioned for season one, I wasn’t really building at all. Obviously, we didn’t get on season one, which is fine. In January, shortly after our audition, I started building on my own. I’ve really only been building on my own as an individual for about two years. Last year, we built a few different things together. But now I build stuff on my own because I love it and it’s fun. I also still really like sets.

Philip: One of the things that we love to do is build collaboratively. We mentioned Eurobricks earlier. Eurobricks is our third LEGO family, after the show cast members. They’re a great group of individuals with some fantastic ideas. LEGO building is typically a very individual hobby. You build something, you post photos or show them at a convention or something like that. But when you get the opportunity to build with other builders, you really push each other to build greater things. That to me has been the most enjoyable.

Were you surprised that you were the team to leave this week?

Maria: No, honestly. There’s obviously downtime during various parts of the filming, and I think even before our propeller had gone off early, we had looked at our build, and we looked at all the other builds and thought we were not looking real good. We had some elements that we really liked and we’re quite proud of, but it wasn’t to our normal standard with technical elements and details, and we knew it was lacking. So when they called their names, we weren’t at all surprised and based on our very sad performance of the propeller, we weren’t at all surprised that we were going home. We were pretty well prepared for it, actually. And we were really sad. Mostly to be leaving the set, the people, the judges, and Will and the whole experience behind. Because it was just amazing, like a fairytale adventure that we had. We were really proud of how far we had gone, because we met and exceeded our own personal expectations of how we would do, especially considering who else was in the competition. So, we were really proud of how we did and we felt good about going home where we did. It was great to see our kids again, and they were happy to see us, though they really enjoyed staying with their grandparents. Just overall it was such a positive experience.

Philip: Yeah, and we’re very much realists to where we realized that we had screwed up. I think that you have to accept that and it helps you kind of prepare for it as well. There are some fantastic builders on this show. To have to go home before them, I feel no shame with that fact because making it as far as we did was an accomplishment in and of itself. We’re really excited to see what is left in the next five episodes. There are legit some very talented people on the show.

One of your propeller blades fell off when the fan hit 20 miles per hour. If you could go back, what changes would you make to the design?

Maria: Actually it’s a pretty simple answer. One of the things that wasn’t specifically mentioned in the show was that the tower had to be a certain depth. When we built it, we built almost to that exact depth so our propeller blade couldn’t come out far from the tower. So when the blades hit the tower, that’s why the propeller snapped off. I think the easiest thing that we would do is that the tower didn’t need to be nearly as big as it was.

Philip: We were focused on the tower itself being blown over versus the strength of the propeller. We would shrink the size of the tower and strengthen the propeller blade, hands down. By the time we realized our mistake it was too late.

What was your favorite challenge on the show?

Philip: I think for me, my favorite challenge was the make and shake challenge. We went into that with no preconceived notion on how to properly build a tower that would be strong enough. The joy that you see with us on the show making it to 10 is completely legitimate because we did not expect it to do that well. Now we had some ideas of where the break point would be, between the first two feet and the top two feet. We thought if we threw ball joints in here, acting like sail rigging on a ship, maybe we could make it past some of the other teams who wouldn’t think about that. It worked out fantastic. I love the build. I love the vines, I love the blue tower, and I love the fact that we made it to 10 which was completely unexpected, and just the sheer joy of making it that far.

Maria: My favorite build was the hanging brick challenge, and part of the reason I liked it so much is because it was strictly just building something beautiful with cool details. For that story we worked in the sea turtle and the lighthouse – there’s an island in Michigan, called Mackinac Island, in Lake Huron. According to a legend the island is a turtle and there’s lighthouses on it. It was a fun story and I loved everything about it.

You were at risk in episode one, and you had a string of fantastic builds in the following episodes. What happened to kick you into high gear?

Philip: One thing that really kicked us into gear was, I think allowed us to go further than the show than some other teams was we realized we were building MOCs that we would build at home or for a show. We realized really quickly on that you have to build for TV, and if you’re not building for TV, then you’re going to go home. We started focusing on how can we make things bigger, how can we make things brighter. How can we have stuff work that’s a requirement in a challenge. For example the movement requirement on Episode one we did not do a good job with. We’ll admit that. So, the first thing we would do is say “Alright, how are we gonna make sure that we meet these requirements?” and then from there, how do we make it look good? I think that was definitely a lesson learned. After that first episode, we really were like, “Look, we’re not gonna let this get us down if we go home, and we’re the first to go home, so be it.” But we’re really going to push our hardest and try to learn from our mistakes, which I think we did okay with and allowed us to continue on.

What are some of the details in your builds that didn’t make it on camera that we should know about?

Philip: We are MOC builders, and one thing we learned pretty early on, actually after the first episode, is that a lot of those details aren’t going to get seen on TV when they’re tiny. There were just small little details that we would put in each one of our builds – super micro details, the way of expressing something – we realized that were not going to necessarily show up well. There’s a lot of stuff with the sheep that we probably could have skipped out on, things we could have made an effort to emphasize a little bit more, but I think a lot of those things that you won’t see. For example the hat challenge. We actually did an ombre effect similar to if you look at the sun in the center. There’s the sun there and then as the clouds and like the wings go out from that hat, there’s actually an edge like a silver lining on the actual clouds themselves, both on the brick built section and then actually on the spheres. That was to imitate clouds that would change colors from a bright yellow working its way out to a purple on the edge, and that same effect is actually in the hat as well. That was something that you don’t really necessarily pick up on. We did learn a distance you can see that’s there but your brain doesn’t necessarily process it until you really get up close to look at it.

Maria: Another good example of that was the coral under the turtle. It did just sort of read as red, or orange, but when you look at it up close, there was purple, there was green, orange, red, pink. We used a lot of silly things like legs, bananas, apples, just like goofy pieces, cogs and that sort of thing, to make the coral really fun and brightly colored. But unfortunately, you couldn’t see it on camera.

What was the hardest part of building for the show?

Maria: Philip would have to remind me to eat. We got breaks for lunch and that sort of thing. but beyond that if we needed to take a quick break to eat or something, that was on the clock. And so we would just have our heads down, we’d be building building building, and I would get to the point where I was shaky and basically not functioning before I would go, “Oh, I should probably eat something.” So that for me was probably the hardest part, making sure to keep my brain functioning and staying present in the challenge. I had to make sure to take care of myself and not just put the bricks together,

Philip: For me it was always the looming clock. I’m sure you get that answer from a lot of people but you’ll be working on a task, and you kind of set aside in your mind roughly what needs to be done and when. And then you look at the clock and three hours are gone and you’re not even like a third of the way through your build. You’re like, “Oh my gosh, where did the time go?”, and “How are we going to, get things done in a faster way. We need to speed it up. Do we need to cut certain things that may or may not show on TV?”.

Maria: You were really good at time management after episode one,

Philip: Episode One, we learned a lot about time management. One thing they don’t show on TV, too, is teams sitting down and then figuring out a time schedule and trying to stick to that time schedule. At the end we always work in a buffer typically. Towards the last couple challenges we did kind of run out of steam a little bit. In the one of the episodes you can see the struggle a bit – we barely finished our car in time. And we obviously realized too late about the issue with the fan. Some people are better at managing time, and the last couple episodes were really challenging.

Maria: One other thing and this is sort of obvious but coming up with a creative idea under pressure. With a schedule you have this much time to come up with your idea and get all the pieces and put together a picture. So having an idea in the back of your head of just different things you can build that you already know how to build or that you would like to build that could really translate to anything is really helpful.

Are there any moments on the show that weren’t captured on camera that you’ll always remember?

Maria: There was one point, I think it was episode three, because we were just rapidly throwing pieces together on that tower and I was like, ‘Oh, my back hurts.’ So Philip comes around, he starts rubbing my back and this camera man comes running from across the side to try to catch it on camera, and afterwards he was like, “Yes!” Of course it didn’t make it on the show.

Philip: The cameraman literally stopped, and he whispered, “Thank you.”

Maria: That was the kind of stuff that we would do to help each other out throughout the show like he would make sure I was eating and I would make sure he was stretching his back.

Philip: We would joke all the time too and having all these inside jokes between the two of us was so much fun. One of the things that we shared is that we have a love for Arrested Development, which obviously Will Arnett was on, and his character, Gob, was one of our favorites. So Maria has this way with her personality, where she’s able to get people that like, do and say stuff that’s unexpected. So, all the really famous or iconic lines that Will’s character had from Arrested Development, she would get him to repeat it, and it was really hilarious and obviously you can’t use it on TV because they’re lines from another show, but just having that – we’ll share that with the two of us. Will Arnett seems so outside of the normal what we experience on a day-to-day basis, that if we had not attempted to do that we would have missed out on that opportunity and kicked ourselves forever. It’s just one of these things where being on the show is so surreal and such a fantastic opportunity that you just have to be crazy and fun and do all the things so that you will not have regrets. That was one of the major ones – those interactions with Will.

What was it like interacting with Brickmasters Amy and Jamie?

Philip: It was interesting because the relationship to the Brickmasters and the contestants is definitely a unique one. I don’t know if I’ll be able to express this or not, but they are judges on the show, and it’s their job to judge. So there’s actually interactions where you’re joking around and having conversations with them, but a lot of it is you telling them what you’re doing, and then they give you suggestions on how to respond. So there’s not necessarily a lot of banter that goes back and forth. It’s one of those things where like after the show’s done and having those interactions with them now that they’re no longer judging I think have been a lot more joyful..

Maria: It’s just different than when we’re interacting with Will. We would talk about anything and everything was ridiculous and hilarious.

Philip: Will would come around to the teams and he’d be (said in Will Arnett voice) “Man! Amy and Jamie, they’re just so judgy, they’re always judgy. I’m just here to have fun.”

Maria: The interactions with the judges were different and also because the time that we were filming being that there was COVID, outside of our interactions with them at the table we literally saw them, not at all. It was amazing to interact with them to get their insight, their compliments and their feedback. So that was really cool,

Philip: There’s one thing that is not shown on the show, but there was one time when Jamie came over on the turtle build. Jamie said to Maria, “You’ve been playful with the bricks.” That made Maria’s day because that was one of his biggest compliments on what we’d seen the show before. To get that from Jamie who is a legendary builder, both as an AFOL and as a set designer and a team lead is just like,….

Maria: Yeah, that was the best moment.

Tell us what being on LEGO Masters has meant for your family.

Philip: So for us in being the only married couple on this season, there were two the last season, it was a completely different experience for us versus like siblings or friends or whatever. We talked about this after, if just one of us had gone through the experience, it would not be as enjoyable for the other individual. If it had been just Maria, for example, and she wouldn’t be able to share this whole thing after the fact, all the craziness surrounding the show and not being able to celebrate that with you. That was one of the aspects that we’d looked at, outside of the fact that we just had so much fun with the two of us, and we’ve been married for 16 years now. To have this life experience is just a pleasure that’s very hard to explain. One thing that’s not covered on the show at all either is that Maria had just gone through thyroid cancer the previous June. So having gone through surgery and having gone through the radioactive treatment, it was one of these things that we decided that we’re just not going to say no to opportunities that come up because life is so extremely precious.

Maria: There’s so much that you experience on the show that you can’t really explain to somebody in words. Then there’s the inside jokes and the friendships that you make, so being able to experience that together was really special, and it’s been really fun sharing it with our kids as well. They think it’s kind of funny that we’re on TV and they like to make fun of us when people recognize us.

Philip: Being part of the community together and having attended so many like Brickworlds together, it’s just much more fun now going forward knowing that we’re going to have these experiences together and to be able to talk about it. Again, not having an exclusion of one or the other. A couple of the teams might have partners that aren’t into LEGO, they probably don’t care, or maybe they’re like, ‘whatever,’ but for us this is a lifestyle.

What advice do you have for future contestants on the show?

Philip: When you’re building at home, building MOCs and stuff, you can take all the time in the world. We’re very accustomed to doing that at home. We will rework things multiple times. The number one skill to start with is you have to be able to build under pressure, as fast as possible. Build a repertoire of things ahead of time, know how to work with the Powered-Up system, know how to work with Technic, and know how to build things in large scale. The last one, which I think is probably the most important, is building for TV. It is totally different from building for your home or a convention. Those are the biggest takeaways that I don’t think we necessarily did ahead of time.

Maria: Not all those things, some of them (laughs).

Philip: Right, and we like building big things. I mean, we’ve built some big stuff in the past. It’s just not for these types of challenges.

Maria: Building for TV is much different than when you’re at home, and you take pictures at the exact angles you want and then share them with people to look at on their own time. Here it’s just flashing really quick on TV. I’m going to call out a specific team that did this really well: Michelle and Natalie were excellent with that particular skill of making things look really good for TV. If you look at their paint cans, their cake. They had these big, colourful elements that may not have had the teeny, tiny details, but they had the big, instantly recognizable details, and they were just laid out really well. They are a really good example to follow in terms of building big and building for TV. The one other thing I would say, and this is something I think Mark and Steven did really well, is having this catalogue of things you know how to build really well. Like in our fan build, I built a couple of trees I had built a dozen times before. So, it was something I could just really quickly put together and it looked really good. It was something I’ve done so many times before that it was really quick and easy to do.

Philip: I think those are going to be your strongest teams always – the ones that have the pre-existing things they’ve built before that they can recall from memory and build instantly instead of having to experiment. You don’t have time to experiment. There are challenges where you’re going to do stuff that you have not done before. If you have that skill set of just knowing how to build things like characters, buildings, vehicles, and that kind of stuff ahead of time, then when you are presented with something like a fan, you can spend your time figuring out how to make that work instead of having to figure out the rest of the build.

What did you want to get out of the show?

Philip: The one thing we ever really wanted to get out of the show was just to get more involvement with the community, like we’re pretty well set in our lives. We’re one of the older couples on the show so just being a part of this amazing group of individuals has been fantastic. It’s opened up opportunities, again to interact with everybody and get to know all of you and get to know everybody else that’s been out there and that’s just been spectacular.

Images courtesy of FOX

LEGO Masters airs in the US on Wednesdays at 8pm. Stay tuned to The Brothers Brick for more interviews with the remaining teams.