With the competition over, Brick Fanatics talks to each of the LEGO MASTERS finalists – runners-up Nicolas and Kobe round out our interviews about the competitive TV brick off
Getting to the final of LEGO MASTERS required being one of the top three teams of eight, after passing the highly competitive audition round. As father and son, Nicolas and Kobe were the final family left in the competition, with Kobe the only child builder to make the grand final. Their masterpiece build, depicting a world of kabouters, will be displayed in the LEGO House for all visitors to see.
Nicolas and Kobe took some time away from the bricks to talk about the LEGO MASTERS experience with Brick Fanatics.
You guys achieved the final of LEGO MASTERS – how did that feel? Did you expect to make it all the way to the finish?
Nicolas: When we originally applied to enter the competition, we kept telling ourselves that many people were likely to apply. In fact, 1,500 teams applied, and thus the chance of making the competition was very slim. At the auditions we were still a little unsure, but towards the end of the auditions we felt we had a good chance to get into the show and possibly beyond. After the first round with the medieval chair and feast, I had an inkling that we might reach the final. It was fantastic to be a finalist.
Kobe: It was absolutely amazing to make it to the final because there were so many other very strong teams we were up against. But we made it! I always hoped we could get into the final but obviously, you never know.
How does it differ, building together in a high pressured environment like that to when you build at home together?
Kobe: When you build at home it’s an entirely different environment compared to the build room where there is limited time, a lot of pressure and you don’t have your own bricks. At home we have time, our own brick collection and there is room for errors and experimenting.
Nicolas: Yes, the way the bricks were laid out in the build room made it very tricky. In the build room the bricks were organised in such a way to make them look pretty on camera, which meant that they weren’t always organised in the most logical manner.
How did your prior building experience help equip you for the contest?
Nicolas: Having a good knowledge of different bricks and their uses, along with different building techniques was extremely useful. Also, having participated in unplanned speed builds in our LUG, the Brickish Association, was very helpful. Nevertheless, the contest was very different than anything we have ever done so it would have been hard to be prepared.
Kobe: Being able to improvise and change direction quickly did help with the unplanned builds.
You constantly impressed the judges by successfully building large models in a short time frame – what is your secret to adding so many bricks so quickly?
Nicolas: On the occasions where we built large structures such as the airplane, the orang-utan and the landscaping, we consciously limited ourselves to basic 2x System bricks. That allowed us to build large structures very fast. Limiting oneself to basic bricks does mean that some detail is lost, but we made up for that in size.
Kobe: We know a couple of techniques that allow the building of large and stable structures with a manageable amount of bricks. Making sure you have a strong, supporting framework is key.
What were you happiest with about your final masterpiece build?
Nicolas: I thought the house, the school and the watermill looked stunning. I was very happy with those. They were packed with detail, most of which weren’t actually shown.
Kobe: I was very happy with the house in general. It was an impressive structure with an impressive amount of detail.
What was the most surprising or challenging thing about participating in LEGO MASTERS?
Nicolas: Many AFOLs have displayed their work, and that has its own challenges. But what made building during LEGO MASTERS so different was the constant pressure. From the beginning, the bar was set very high, mostly by the contestants themselves. The time pressure made it hard also. In fact, when I look back at the program I am amazed at the amount of building we managed to do in the short amount of time. In the last couple of weeks, I have been trying to recreate the fairground ride, and my progress has been incredible slow in comparison.
Kobe: I was surprised with how much we achieved in the unplanned builds. To improvise and build at that pace was quite incredible.
How did you come up with the concept for your masterpiece build?
Nicolas: Tales about kabouters (or gnomes) are something we grew up with in Belgium, and so that was a conscious decision. In the United Kingdom kabouters have been reduced to a garden ornament, so we felt it would be good to bring this particular folkore into the build. Kabouters are believed to be prevalent throughout northern Europe, including Scandinavia, and so we did make a conscious effort to give our model a Scandinavian feel by using mainly earthy colours (e.g. tan and reddish brown), simple ‘wooden’ furniture, and northern patterns such as the Scandinavian snowflake.
Was there ever a moment that you were concerned you would not complete your masterpiece?
Nicolas: We had about 10 days to complete the master build. We carefully planned and prototyped some aspects of the build, but the bulk of it had only been planned quite roughly, as we neither had the time nor the resources to work out every detail. The landscaping turned out to be our biggest headache, as it took a lot longer than anticipated. In the end, we did manage to complete the build to a standard that we were happy with, but we did have to make some concessions by dropping certain elements from the final build.
Kobe: I worried quite often but usually my dad managed to keep up the good spirits.
How do you feel about knowing that your creation will be displayed in the LEGO House?
Nicolas: Originally, we were told that the master build would only be displayed for 24 hours in the Design Museum. It would have been a shame not to give it a second life at a different venue. I am very happy that people will have a chance to admire both builds. We had so many little details in our build, most weren’t shown on TV, so they are waiting to be discovered. So it is great that it will be displayed again, but to actually have the model in the LEGO House is absolutely amazing. I am so thrilled and slightly nervous to be exhibiting in Billund. I hope the AFOL community will receive it well.
Kobe: This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I am very excited about!!
What do you hope that you will have communicated to people, by achieving so much as a father and son?
Kobe: I think is a great that I got to do this with my dad. We had great fun, even though it was a bit difficult at times.
Nicolas: To enter this competition together with Kobe was very important to me. It was through Kobe that I left my dark ages, and we so often build together. So, it may sense for us to enter together. In terms of audience, this program is catering for such diverse viewers, including children, adult viewers, and the AFOL community. Amusingly, Kobe and I have now become the heroes of the young boys in our village. For the wider non-AFOL community I hope we have managed to communicate that LEGO is an amazing tool that can be used as a toy for children, but also as a creative medium for adults. So hopefully this will get more children and adults off their screens and into the bricks, to play and build together. Close your eyes and let your imagination go wild. Now get out those bricks and build.
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.