With the competition over, Brick Fanatics talks to each of the LEGO MASTERS finalists – James shares his thoughts on the experience that he and Jamil had during the series
LEGO MASTERS saw a mix of builders selected to take part, with some of the contestants clearly belonging to the AFOL label, and others who do not regularly exhibit at events. James and Jamil fell into the latter category, although as they demonstrated, their different experience with the brick allowed them to sail through five challenges and reach the final.
James generously spent some time talking to Brick Fanatics about the competitive building series on behalf of the talented duo, with Jamil unavailable.
How did it feel reaching the final round of LEGO MASTERS?
It was unbelievable. There was no way that Jamil and I ever expected to get so far in the competition. We applied on a whim and getting this far has been incredible. We were both simply gobsmacked to get to the final.
Do you spend a lot of your free time building creatively with LEGO?
I like to build creatively when I can but it’s not always easy to find the time alongside the Engineering degree. Jamil and I set up a LEGO building society at University to try and solve that problem and to encourage others to take some time away from their studies and take a break with LEGO.
How did the timed aspect of building affect your creative process?
Jamil and I are so used to building haphazardly that there is little that can surprise us. Building on a time limit, with limited pieces or in limited space are all things we have a lot of experience dealing with. We often run timed challenges during our LEGO society meetings so are well practiced at speedy building.
What is the secret to maintaining your calm exterior?
LEGO will never be a source of stress for us. It is our creative release from the stresses of our degree. Even when the pressure is on, it just adds another layer of fun to the challenge. It’s all so relaxed compared to our course that even the most ‘high pressured’ building is just not a patch on the stresses we faced every single day during our engineering degrees.
What was the most surprising thing about participating in LEGO MASTERS?
The most surprising thing about participating in LEGO MASTERS was finding out that we are actually a really good pair of builders. We have never had the opportunity to build with so many bricks before and finally getting the chance to experiment and let our imaginations run wild really surprised even us with what we could create if we put our minds to it.
You seemed to combine your engineering know-how with some very creative concepts. Which of your builds were you the most proud of?
Jamil and I really loved our steampunk inspired fairground ride. It was the biggest thing we have ever built and completely in a style that we both love. Our use of mechanisms to animate the model stunned even me with their complexity. All in all, we both looked on that build and thought to ourselves, ‘job well done!’
Were there any particularly memorable moments from your time on the show?
Working with Jamil is always filled with laughs – it’s one of the reasons we get on so well, even under high pressure. Every time Jamil suggested man handling our finished models I would always have to tell him off – something that became so common it ended up just being hilarious.
How do you think LEGO can help children to understand the concepts that might inspire them to become the engineers of the future?
LEGO helps to improve your ability to visualise objects in 3D – a critically important skill for an engineer. It is also just an excellent prototyping tool with which to play with new ideas – it is so useful for so many things. Technic in particular is an excellent way to introduce kids to engineering concepts in a fun way that is almost immediately rewarding.
LEGO MASTERS is over after four weeks of brick building action. You can relive the series with the Brick Fanatics coverage that has been published each week. Share your thoughts and impressions of the show in the comments below, on the Brick Fanatics Facebook page or @Brickfanatics on Twitter.
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Graham was the BrickFanatics.com Editor up until November 2020. He has plenty of experience working on LEGO related projects. He has contributed to various websites and publications on topics including niche hobbies, the toy industry and education.
Follw Graham on Twitter @grahamh100.