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

The eleventh episode of LEGO Masters Season 2 has aired. 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. This week the four remaining teams were tasked with building a castle that extended off of a vertical wall with only 10 studs total to build from.

We sat down for a talk with the ninth team to leave this season along with our friends from Brickset, BZPower and True North Bricks. We chatted about build inspirations, building with kids and the importance of bringing new builders into the hobby.

If you haven’t seen last week’s episode, you may want to turn back now! If you’ve seen this week’s episode, then you already know that DIY moms Natalie and Michelle went home this week.

What made you want to apply for the show?

Michelle: I’m a LEGO superfan and I’ve been building with my kids for a while. I just love LEGO and all of my siblings and my family can tell you that. So when I saw it come up on Instagram I applied for season one. I was like, ‘oh my goodness, I need to apply for this because this would be the experience of a lifetime.’ Then I reapplied with Natalie for season two.

Natalie: Michelle and I have been friends for about five years and we’ve done a bunch of DIY projects together – we both love to just build stuff. LEGO has been a new thing for us to build together, even though Michelle has been doing this for a lot longer than me, we’ve like built stuff with lumber and furniture and room remodels and that type of thing. When she called me and said, “Hey, do you want to apply for LEGO Masters with me?” I was like, “Why not? We’ll never get in, but that would be cool, why not?” Then, a few months later, she tells me, “Oh my gosh, you’re not gonna believe this – they want us to talk with them about it!” I was super surprised. I’ve loved LEGO since I was a kid and I build with my kids, but this was a whole new way for me to dive into it.

Where do you draw inspiration for your builds?

Michelle: Usually my kids, that’s where I draw from. That’s who I have always built with – before the show, they would just tell me stuff that they wanted to see built, and that’s what I would do. When we were on the show, I felt like we drew a lot of inspiration from our kids.

Natalie: I’d say trying to tap into a story instead of just making a scene. Is it something that’s telling a story, because we as humans always connect with stories. People forever ago sat around campfires and would tell stories, so even with LEGO, when you’re building stuff you have to ask, “is there a story there?’ Even if it’s a fun, silly character, is there some way that you’re identifying with it?” I thought that was a really fun part of the challenge.

If there was a build you could have spent more time on, which would it be?

Michelle: The last one. Maybe we could have done the telescope and actually had it do what we wanted it to do, maybe we wouldn’t be sitting here today. One of the things when you look back, you’re wondering “Oh, what if we would have tried this,” or “What if we would have tried that.”. Most of the other challenges I think we’d have changed up a few things. But the last one for sure, that’s the one that I could have used more time. But overall I was really happy with all of this stuff that we put out so

Natalie: Yeah I would say this last challenge too. I think it’s definitely easier after you’ve had some time removed from it. Under that clock pressure you’re kind of just crunching and you’re relying on what you know. There is no time for experimenting and you have to allot for some of those things that you know are going to go wrong. Watching the episode and seeing like the brick tips for the first time – we don’t hear when they’re filming those, even though we’re in the same space. You can’t hear very far. So sometimes when they were filming those brick tips I would just go get a tray of bricks so that I could get close to them and hope I would hear one helpful bit of information, I’m still just excited that we made it this far, that we met all of these amazing people, we really pushed ourselves, we tried some new things, and we took some risks. I’m really proud of us for doing that.

Were there details in the castle that weren’t caught on camera?

Michelle: We had a few different areas like the box on the ground. In the moving box there was a picture frame in there and then lots of packing peanuts. I think you can maybe tell what those were. But I thought that was a super fun detail.

Natalie: I kind of like the tape on there too, like the packing tape, just out of the clear parts. That was fun. And there was a remote in there, because kids are always playing with remotes and turning them into lightsabers and stuff.

Michelle: On the one that was open to the front, there was a crown, and some balls in there.

Natalie: We also had a rainbow that we were going to add to the top, and at the last second Michelle stepped back and said “it’s too much, take it down.” So we had to strip it down in the last few seconds. The moving box sign where it says up and it has the arrow was a fun little detail.

Michelle: Yeah, we were actually going to try to do the words “moving” or something. Will came over and asked if we were going to add the arrow and we thought that was perfect. It’s super recognizable so that’s what we did. We added the arrow, and then there are also some books between the turrets. Because kids are always just grabbing random things to make their fortresses. And the markers made it back from our fan episode.

You won the Hats Incredible challenge. Are there any details on that build that didn’t make it on the show?

Michelle: I think what I was especially proud of is how quickly we decided on the design. It’s so funny because everybody’s mind is so different. For me I thought everyone was going for certain parts so I told Natalie, “Everyone’s going to be going for this this this this and this part, so we got to get over there, we got to make sure we have like enough parts to make our creation happen.” It’s funny because nobody used anything that I thought they would. I feel that was the one challenge that we had our idea the earliest. we had stuff out on the table really quickly. So for our very first check in, we had lots of stuff out for Brickmaster Amy and Jamie to look over. I felt we were in the best position on that particular challenge, which was extra fun. As far as anything that was missed, maybe the back of the hat. I wish they would have shown the back of the hat, because it had a white, feather going down the back and I thought that was pretty nice.

Natalie: That was definitely like the most fun challenge probably because it was easiest. Immediately we were both seeing some of the same stuff. We were both on the same page right away and just ran with it. Sometimes whenever you have creatives, you’re thinking one thing and then you have to explain it so that somebody else can see what’s in your head. Sometimes that’s a hard thing to do especially when you’re on a clock and being timed.

Michelle: And that challenge was amazing with all the backstage stuff.

Natalie: I loved that one particularly just because of when all of the contestants were backstage. We were in it together, even though we’re being judged with our respective team. There was definitely this camaraderie aspect backstage. We could all be louder and be talking versus like a traditional judging when you’re very quiet, it’s like in class when someone’s presenting a book report. This one was way more like, “Oh my gosh, did you see that detail? Look how amazing that is.” There was definitely a buzz and an energy about that one that was so so fun.

How did your families react to you being on LEGO Masters?

Michelle: My family doesn’t even refer to Tuesday as Tuesday anymore. It’s LEGO Masters day. They are just so excited. They were of course disappointed this week that our LEGO Masters journey had come to an end. Through the whole thing they were honest about our versus other people’s. I would ask them what was your favorite. It was fun because we watched Season One as a family and so we talked about the builds from Season One and then we did it again with Season Two. Sometimes they would think that ours was the best and that’s okay. My daughter always thought ours was the best but my boys, sometimes they leaned toward others. It was fun and I think they still can’t believe it. I still can’t believe it! I just can’t believe we went there, we did this amazing thing and now we’re back and now it’s almost over. It’s crazy how fast it happened.

Natalie: Similarly, my youngest was especially honest. She’s five and so this week she was like, “Oh, Mom. Oh, you’re going home. Tonight’s your night, tonight you’re going home.” Like, thanks, kid. But my older daughters, they’re 13 and 14, and they think it’s so cool we did this. They were a little bit more even keeled about it, but my youngest was brutally honest. She got very attached to a lot of the teams. There were many tears shed from her when there were eliminations. She just cried her little heart out when Bryan and Lauren went home.

Your builds have been described as being well suited for television. How do you do that?

Michelle: I think that was probably more of a happy accident. It might be because of watching the show. My family and I watched season one seven times through just because we liked it so much. And of course it’s a pandemic, so what else are you going to do? We watched LEGO Masters, but my everyday actual building before this show – I was used to building out of tubs. You know those big moving tubs, that’s where all of my LEGO parts and pieces were and I share them with my children. One of the really incredible things about being on the show is the unlimited supply of brick, so I knew going into it that I wanted to do bigger than I’ve ever done before. I guess I didn’t really think about that like the whole made for TV thing. I just knew that the possibilities are endless like if we run out of something somebody’s going to bring some more in and I’ve never had that before. I’ve never been able to grab big supplies of bricks. That was just the excitement of having everything readily available and then just seeing what we could do. I really like stuff that looks not like LEGO, it’s more eye-catching. Working on other projects that I’ve done before, everything’s been sort of big and oversized and so maybe I was just bringing a little bit of that to the competition.

Natalie: I think you see that in Michelle’s interior design stuff. She’s always backing up and saying “Okay, what’s the first impression?” I think we both did that a lot with our LEGO builds. For the majority of the stuff that we built, we’d say “Okay, what’s it looking like, let me step back for a minute.” Thinking what’s that first impression? Is it readable? Is it noticeable? Can you know what it is without explaining it? I do a lot of video producing. I knew, they’re only going to have like three seconds of time for this whole thing, like a wide angle and two close ups. We don’t know which two close ups they’re going for but we know that wide shot’s happening, so we want to be sure it’s going to be noticeable right away. So that’s why I’m backing up going like, “Okay, what’s the first impression or where does your eye go first, like in an interior design.” I couldn’t help but think that way a little bit. I think if we had unlimited time or more time, we’d start with those big things and then go down to making these small details perfect. So a lot of times, we had to start with big easily recognizable stuff and then depending on time, that determines just how much detail we could add in there. I think it was kind of sort of an accident but also how we naturally go about some of our projects. What’s the first impression going to be because you only got one of those.

You mentioned that you both spent a lot of time watching season one of LEGO Masters. Did that help or hinder your preparations for season two?

Michelle: I would say it helped. Just to watch it and see the scale of things. It helps to get excited and get my kids excited as well. Then, whenever they would build certain things, zooming in you could say: “Oh, okay, that’s how they did that and that.” Trying to figure out what their technique was for different things helped. Most of the time, we watched it just for fun. But there were times that it was: “Let me zoom in on this, screenshot it, and see how they did that.” I’ve never built something on such a large scale before. I was excited to try, but it was like: “We’ll see what happens.”

Natalie: I thought it was definitely helpful. Especially when we’re working on stuff, to have something to reference. Like: “What if we built this one like they built the carrot last season?” We both knew what we were talking about – Tyler and Amy’s carrot. I think it gave us helpful vocabulary for different builds to reference as we were spitballing ideas, and different ways to try and make the builds perform. I think it was for sure helpful.

Which team did you bond with the most during the season?

Michelle: Bryan and Lauren.

Natalie: Right, so they were our bandmates. When we would travel back and forth to the studio a lot. We all just ended up talking a bunch and connecting really fast. We had a lot of similar interests and liked a lot of the same things, so we ended up getting pretty close pretty fast. But everybody was really great. No matter who you were partnered up with or sitting next to, everybody was so friendly.

Do you plan on using your participation in LEGO Masters to get more women to build?

Michelle: You know like going into it I never even really thought about that, having that influence on people outside of my own family. We both have daughters – they’re like four months apart – I know that my girls were super excited about me being in LEGO Masters, along with my boys. Since this has happened, we’ve done a couple of meet and greets. Meeting all of these families, with all of these kids, especially the girls, and then hearing the parents say how much we’ve inspired them, that really touches my heart. So I would love to be able to do that. I just have to figure out how to do it. It’s really a neat thing to get messages or see people in person and hear them say that their daughter was just really inspired by me. I didn’t actually think about that going into the show but it’s been such a special thing.

Natalie: I thought about it from the perspective of us inspiring people. As much as I knew from experience from seeing my five year old watching season one, she was like, “She (Amy) works at LEGO, maybe I can work at LEGO!” and I told her that you can do anything you want. There is something really powerful and important about representation and seeing somebody that you identify with. I was genuinely surprised when I got similar messages like Michelle that people were saying, My daughters love you guys and they’re pulling their LEGO bricks back out. That was really cool and kind of surprising. I don’t know that I really thought about that going into it either, but it’s really a fun, happy surprise for both of those.

Michelle: I tell my little girl that you can do anything that you want to do, if it’s something that you love. I didn’t realize my love of LEGO until five years ago. I tell my kids you’re never too old or too young to discover a passion and then just do it and see where it will take you. Look where it took us, it’s kind of incredible.

Natalie: I’ve been really excited from some of the messages that I get. There was a message that I got today on Instagram from somebody that said, “Hey, I’m a woman and it was really cool seeing you guys on the show. I forgot my love of the bricks and seeing you guys building stuff inspired me to pull my bricks back out.” I responded “That’s awesome, I hope you build something super creative and tag us in it.” I think it’s super cool to have been part of this and I hope to see the LEGO community embrace a lot of the female builders.

Michelle: I actually didn’t know many women builders before we got on the show. I didn’t know any women who built with LEGO. So I was asking myself, “I wonder if there are other women out there that like it, or is it just me?”.

What building techniques did you learn or improve upon during the show, and what building wisdom did you pass on to the other builders?

Michelle: For the most part whenever we talked with other builders, they loved the markers from our fan build. They really love our ability to take the bricks and make it look like an object that you would see in real life. They loved the curlers on our puppet. And then the packing peanuts– I remember Wayne came over and he’s like, “Oh my gosh, those are packing peanuts, that’s so cool.” I think what I learned from the other builders, I don’t even know that I can put it into words. I just remember looking around the room sometimes at all these cool things. I just stored it into my brain. I do remember, I was telling Lauren this, they made a crown for their Princess Pup puppet. Coming around to our castle build, Amy and Jamie had come over and they said that they would really like to see some of the things that maybe kids would play with if they’re actually playing castle in your build. So I thought of a crown, and remembered their crown. I didn’t do as good of a job of it; it was one of those like last minute things. So I pulled from that a little bit from memory.

Natalie: I was really impressed. I didn’t really know what to expect going into the competition. I just thought it was so cool that when we got there, people were really open to sharing their techniques. For example, Jen brought a Technic book, and I asked, “hey can I check that out” and she told me which pages to check out. Talking with Moto, he had a little gift for everybody, he had built these cute little robots that were gonna be terrorizing but also the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. I thought they were so fun. They unfolded like accordions. He offered to show me how to build them. Everybody was just very open. I didn’t really expect that going into this competition; I expected the people to be really kind of hush hush with their secret trade or technique. But instead it was just a really cool learning group and everybody was very open, or even helpful. It was really cool that people were apt to share and help others learn.

A lot of the challenges were about breaking builds. How did you adapt to that?

Michelle: Whenever you build something you never want it to get destroyed. I’m a little bit sentimental; I like to keep all of my stuff together. I think the hardest part was, for example, I don’t know pyrotechnics so I’m challenged to figure out where to put the charges to explode the way you want. Then 60 mile an hour winds, that was just challenging. I mean I’ve been in 60 mile an hour winds but I’ve never had my LEGO in 60 mile an hour winds. So just trying to figure all that out on the fly was challenging. It was definitely much more destructive than last season. I didn’t expect it to be so destructive.

Natalie: It was definitely nerve wracking because, I mean there’s no way you can test out exploding our build before you load your builds. Even with our large cake that we built, we’ve never done that. So we took some of our woodworking techniques for when we built furniture pieces and applied it to LEGO. We were just kind of pulling from random experiences that we’ve had that aren’t LEGO to see if it hopefully applied. It was definitely nerve wracking because not only are you trying to create an impressive build, you’re now trying to create a performance build. So yeah, we were definitely on our toes for most of the challenges for sure.

If you could go back to your pre-LEGO® Masters self, what advice would you give?

Natalie: Bring on the coffee! [Laughs]

Michelle: Learn motion, learn to work with Technic, that’s what I would say.

Natalie: Learn Technic, and all the coffee.

Michelle: I don’t do coffee, so… [laughs]

Natalie: I did so much coffee. Those four-hour nights just got me.

If you could have designed your ideal challenge for the show, what would that look like?

Michelle: Building something that looked like furniture. That would be my ideal challenge because it would be something that Natalie and I were both familiar with. We all know castles, but whenever you are going up against somebody who has won awards, it’s a bit intimidating. I’ve actually never built a castle before. We do have a couple of sets, but my boys mostly built those and I just look at them. I think they’re beautiful, but I’ve actually never built one. So, my ideal challenge would be some kind of moving, working furniture thing.

Natalie: We had also spitballed an idea that we hadn’t had a challenge that it would work for yet. It was a quilt and a sewing machine but put together with Mixels pieces so there was a lot of movement. We had also talked about a dresser that was in the middle of being restored. We were trying to tuck away some ideas in case there was anything that fit. We didn’t have the opportunity to use those for anything. But definitely, if there was something that was along the lines of building a piece of furniture that you could put in your house, that has to be functional, that would have been right up our alley.
What do you hope the viewing audience will say about your team now that it’s all said and done?

Michelle: I just hope that they see our love for creating and that we can create something out of nothing, really. That’s always been our thing that we’ve done together for so long. So I hope that they see our love for creating things.

What’s next for you? Natalie, are you going to take Will’s job, as that was a running theme through the season?

Natalie: That’s funny. I’ve had so many people jokingly ask me that. I’ll keep my phone on in case anybody wants to give me a call for something. But it was just fun to just joke around and hang out. Will was super fun and chill to interact with. I wasn’t really quite sure what to expect there but he was super fun and funny and just like really nice and relatable. So were Amy and Jamie. I came away thinking those were just great, fun people even though we were intimidated going in. We had so much helpful feedback. It was just really fun to be part of especially since this was something I never thought that I would be part of. I do a lot of other creative things by vocation and LEGO wasn’t ever anything that I’ve been commissioned to build or do. So getting to explore a new creative outlet was so fun and I’m just really thankful that Michelle brought me on this journey.

Michelle: It was so much fun. Everybody that we met along the way, everybody that was in front of the camera, behind the camera, it was just a really incredible experience. Going into it,, like I had no idea what to expect. I only know what I saw on TV from last season. I applied for season one and I didn’t get on and then reapplied for season two, and was shocked that we made it. I’m so thankful for it. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I’m glad we got to do it.

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.