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Want to become a Lego Master? Ask the experts: It won't be easy

Tracy Brown, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Whether following the instructions for an extremely detailed model of "Star Wars'" Millennium Falcon or assembling a freeform rainbow pirate ship, all Lego builds start by snapping together two interlocking plastic bricks.

The basic mechanics are simple, but the boundless creative possibilities have made the versatile toy popular among generations of kids. And more than 60 years since the brand's debut, Lego has become an entertainment mainstay, spawning movies, video games and theme parks.

Now, a new level of brick-building is in the spotlight thanks to Fox's competition series "Lego Masters," which debuted earlier this month.

Hosted by Lego Batman voice actor Will Arnett, the show features 10 two-person teams competing in weekly challenges that whittle the contestants down until one team remains.

It's a familiar formula for viewers who have followed other creative competition shows: The last team standing wins a trophy and a $100,000 prize. Not so familiar? The title that comes with winning: Lego Master.

"We have three key criteria that we're really judging the teams on throughout every challenge," said Amy Corbett, a senior design manager at the Lego Group who has worked on the Lego Friends and Lego Disney lines. Corbett is one of two experts judges on the series, known as "Brickmasters."

 

Challenges may emphasize certain criteria -- creativity, technical ability and storytelling -- over others, but each confronts the contestants with a distinct task.

"For each of the episodes, we're asking them to do some very specific thing," said Brickmaster Jamie Berard, who oversees the Creator Expert and Lego Architecture lines at Lego. "So it seems on the surface to be straightforward on the things that we can judge. But in reality it's actually quite complicated, because there's so many different ways of solving the challenge."

The contestants -- who range in age from 23 to 65 -- include artists, engineering teachers, a game developer and a piano teacher. Their approaches to and experiences with Lego are as varied as their jobs. But they all want the title Lego Master.

"A Lego Master is somebody who can use the Lego system in multiple ways to tell stories, create emotion and amaze people with Lego bricks," said Sam Hatmaker, a contestant and the L.A.-based artist who designed a viral "Golden Girls"-inspired build.

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