With the competition over, Brick Fanatics talks to each of the LEGO MASTERS finalists – champions Nate and Steve discuss their experience in the contest
Eight pairs of builders were selected to compete in the LEGO MASTERS series, which each week was further whittled down until just a few remained. Friends and AFOLs Nate and Steve had to pass seven build challenges to go all the way to the finish and be crowned LEGO MASTERS. Their final model will have pride of place in the new LEGO House that is opening in Billund, Denmark.
Nate and Steve took the time to talk about their experience on the series with Brick Fanatics.
Has it sunk in yet that you won the competition?
Steve: As we have had to keep it a secret until the show went out on Channel 4, it hasn’t rally sunk in! It’s really exciting to think that we won the whole competition, we were worried that our original application would not be accepted, and now we have won. Wow.
Nate: It certainly hasn’t sunk in yet for me. A friend really put it into perspective for me; it’s amazing to think we are at the top of our game, with the hobby that we love. It will probably sink in when we are at LEGO shows with all the visitors being more interested in what we have to say about LEGO MASTERS rather than our current builds.
What is the key to finding a partner you can build in harmony with?
Nate: I first met Steve a couple of years ago at Brick Live, we got along straight away, and quickly became great friends. Steve and myself build in slightly different ways and look at things in slightly different ways – I think that is key when finding a partner. It’s no use having two people with the exact strengths and weaknesses as you can’t help each other out when the going gets tough. Steve is more of a planner, and I tend to ‘wing it’ – together we seem to have found the perfect balance of the two.
Steve: Nate has been a good friend for a couple of years and we have made a couple of collaborative LEGO builds before, so he was a natural choice. Through the competition our friendship has continued to grow. We complement each other with our skills with and seem to work together really well as a team.
How did building against the clock differ to your usual building experience?
Steve: It was at times quite stressful and very hard. Normally I take a lot of time over a build, doing a couple of hours a day and letting the creative process happen. To work under timed conditions was very hard at first and certainly made us work up a sweat. Over the competition we got more used to it.
Nate: Building in the competition was completely different to building at home. Building at home is a relaxing, calm affair – nothing like that in the build room. I think I found it easier to build under the time constraints as I find I work well under pressure. Plus we had such a vast choice of elements, it was brilliant.
How did your prior building experience help equip you for the contest?
Steve: Having experience of a variety of building techniques certainly helped, as we could think back to other MOCs we’ve made in the past and use similar methods.
Nate: I found that building both MOCs and sets helped. Sets help you learn the basics, as well as some new techniques. But really, just sitting at home with your bricks and trying to make 3D shapes really helped when it came to some of the bigger builds.
Did you consciously choose to use different techniques and styles for each challenge?
Steve: We very carefully listened to the design briefs and what criteria the judges would be judging. We also took the judges’ feedback on board each round and actively tried to respond to it in the subsequent builds. Matthew gave us very useful feedback each round, although getting criticism from the Vice President of Design at the LEGO Group about blocky-ness, our colour choices or technique was gutting – we always tried to turn it into positives in the next round.
Nate: I don’t think it was really a conscious choice. Like Steve said, everything we did was based on the brief at the time and the feedback from the previous round. I don’t think we really aimed to use different techniques each time, we just tried our best to stick to the brief and do the best job we could.
What was the most surprising thing about participating in LEGO MASTERS?
Nate: The most surprising aspect for me was the unplanned builds, they were like nothing I was expecting. They totally knocked me for six each time. The most challenging part was probably saying goodbye to contestants each round, we got on so well and we really became like a LEGO family.
Steve: The number of friends we made was awesome and the way all the competitors got on together was lovely. The most challenging moment was the final surprise build where we had to interpret the children’s extremely imaginative stories.
Was there ever a moment that you were concerned you would not complete a project?
Steve: The fairground build went right to the wire, but in every round we used 100% of the time available, never finishing early.
Nate: I don’t think we would have been doing ourselves justice if we didn’t use all of our building time. There were a few parts during our final build where I got way behind where I wanted to be, with a few breakages along the way.
What is the aspect of your masterpiece that gives you the most pride?
Steve: The story behind our masterpiece is close to my heart as it reflects our personal story of embracing our inner child. For me I have had to battle with anxiety over the past 10 years, and to achieve such a build which really shows how I use LEGO as a creative outlet for my emotions was close to my heart.
Nate: There are just so many parts of the final build that give me pride. The story sums up everything that we wanted to get across to the public. The life-size humans were a mammoth task, each one done in a fraction of the time it takes the professionals. The truly amazing typewriter, by Steve. The teddy bear, that I made without any planning or sketches. So much of our masterpiece gives me pride, it’s too difficult to put my finger on just one thing.
What do you hope your masterpiece will communicate to people who see it?
Steve: Don’t be afraid to let your hair down and have fun, be creative and lose your inhibitions.
Nate: It does what it says on the tin – ‘embrace your inner child’. Do what makes you happy!
How do you feel, knowing that your creation will be displayed in the LEGO House?
Nate: Truly amazing. I was lucky enough to visit LEGO House on a preview tour, and it blew me away. To think our work will be going in there is just out of this world.
Steve: Absolutely fantastic, it really is beyond my wildest dreams. I can’t wait to see it in place over in Billund, it will be a very proud moment.
Your final comment Steve, encouraging people to throw away the instructions, seemed to hit the nail on the head about what this show can communicate to a wide audience. Do you both hope to inspire people by your example?
Steve: Yes definitely, we hope to inspire people to go and buy some LEGO or dig it out of the loft and get creative, you never know what you can do unless you try.
Nate: It would just be the icing on the cake to think that we might inspire ore people to get building. There’s such a great feeling from thinking that you might encourage more people to have a go at your hobby or just to find a new creative outlet.
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.