Season one of LEGO® Masters is quickly coming to a close. In episode nine, the Star Wars challenge, no team was eliminated. Consequently, three teams remain in the running for the title of LEGO® Masters and $100,000. True North Bricks, The Brothers Brick, Brickset, and BZPower caught up with all three of the remaining teams in the lead up to the finale. Up first, the Tyler and Amy interview!
Congratulations on welcoming a new LEGO Master in the near future! Is the baby going to have a LEGO themed nursery?
Amy: Good question! Nursery wise, we’re in a small renting situation where we don’t have a room for the nursery, but the baby will be surrounded by LEGO from his earliest days as Tyler’s LEGO room will be the nursery at first. We’re planning on setting up the crib there at night once the baby is ready for that. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to move to a larger location that will give us a little more flexibility with that.
What inspired you to participate in LEGO Masters together?
Amy: [laughs] Just a little outside influence, I guess, to even think of the idea of going on as a couple. Originally, casting had been reaching out to Tyler and he was looking around for a possible teammate–friends, others. But he was also considering not wanting to be away from his wife for seven weeks. So ultimately he told them, “Nah, I don’t think I can be away for that long.” So that’s when casting suggested, “Well, what if you came up with your wife and bring her on the show?” And that was the best of both worlds, the best thing he’d ever heard of. We were having dinner one night when he told me about this idea, and I was like, “Ha, ha, ha. Funny joke.” [laughs] Tyler’s like, “No, seriously.” So, just due to the casting encouragement for us to apply together, we went ahead and did that. I definitely didn’t think we’d make it that far, but here we are!
Tyler: I guess you could say one of our major love-languages, for both of us, is that we love spending time together. We love doing everything together, pretty much. Especially creative endeavors. This seemed like a really fun opportunity for us. Especially at this stage in life. Going into this we didn’t have kids that needed out attention so we had the time and the opportunity with our jobs to do this. It seemed like a really good fit for us at this specific time.
What has been your reaction to watching yourselves on TV? What have your friends and family’s reactions been?
Amy: It really feels like a reward to see ourselves on the show as it’s being aired. We put so many hours of hard work into all of our builds. To see that portrayal coming out and having other people get to see it and share our creativity with them is just thrilling. At the same time, it does seem a little disappointing sometimes because we did put hours and hours into each build. With each episode only being an hour long, there’s a lot that gets missed, whether just in the building process or interactions with other contestants, interview moments, or details of the builds. But overall, we love every moment of watching the show.
On the show, it seemed you both maintained very positive attitudes. How did you stay so supportive or did you have any heated discussions behind the scenes?
Amy: We were quite amazed ourselves that we were able to avoid conflict just because of the pressure, the time limit and everything we were facing. But by God’s grace we were able to stay calm, and we were able to stay on the same page with each other. One thing we did realize throughout the competition is how we truly complement each other with our skills. That was definitely something we had going for us as a team. Some of the other teams had to work through their team dynamics a little bit more to get on the same page. Coming into the show as a married couple—we’re still newlyweds so we’re still learning new things about ourselves–we were just surprised and thankful that our strengths really suited each other and helped us avoid conflict.
Are you both as affectionate in real life as you are depicted on the show or were you egged on by the producers at all?
Amy: Easily, we are every bit as affectionate in person if not more so. To my siblings’ chagrin, they call us the affectionate couple in our family that irks them out a little bit sometimes. [laughs] But we’d like to think we’re at an appropriate level for a newly married couple.
Which of your own creations from the show are you most proud of and why?
Tyler: One of my favorite build of ours was “The Sacrifice” from the Space Smash in episode two. I loved the way that piece looked as a whole. It had a very iconic and unique look. I just loved the idea of that challenge and how the build came out in the end.
Amy: There are a lot to choose from! But I think I would agree with Tyler on this one with the “The Sacrifice” build. Visually, the shapes we used and the design just really came together in a pretty stunning format. I really loved working on that build with Tyler and figuring out all the different technical elements. And we felt very strongly about the emotional story we had behind it.
What were your feelings as you watched your build plummet and explode?
Tyler: I’m not overly attached to anything that I build. I build something, and once it’s served its purpose–either photographs or otherwise–I usually take it apart, and Amy sorts it.
Amy: This is true.
Tyler: So, knowing that the purpose of this was that ultimate explosion as it hit the floor, I felt very satisfied. There’s something very satisfying when you build something like that with an end goal in mind, and when that end goal actually comes to fruition, it’s really exciting.
Amy: I would say I feel the same way. Most importantly to me is that we got a good record of the build–good photographs, videos. Of course, this is LEGO Masters, so we’ve got all of that. So, seeing it plummet, like Tyler said, it was designed for this, it served its purpose.
What were some of your favorite builds that you saw from your competitors?
Tyler: One of the builds that stood out to me within that first episode was when Christian and Aaron, built that Ferris wheel. A Ferris wheel is something that we had considered building before we landed on our egg drop idea. So it was really exciting to see somebody do a Ferris wheel and do it far better than I could have done. So that was one of my favorites.
Amy: One of my favorites was the Storybook challenge from Sam and Jessica. Throughout the challenges, we found that we have some similar creative inspiration and wacky ideas like they do. We loved seeing their characters come together like their raccoon in the trash can and their candy corn legs. We just couldn’t stop giggling over that.
Some teams built similar creations like the babies or the rat/raccoon you mentioned. Was there any tension between teams as you saw similar builds across the workroom?
Amy: There was no animosity at all. We’re good friends with Sam and Jessica. We want to succeed, but we also want them to succeed. It’s best when we have different ideas and different builds. When we found out one part of our build was similar, we wanted to make sure that both of us could stand out for our own unique work. And they were very gracious as we were further along in our build than they were to be able to switch and go with another idea they had.
What building techniques did you learn from other teams?
Amy: I’m inexperienced and everything, but one thing starting out I did not realize was that such a big part of building was minifigures. There’s poses, there’s stories you tell with them. So, from that very first challenge, the theme park, I learned a lot from pretty much all the other teams about how they used minifigures so expressively and creatively, telling little stories within the builds. I was more under the impression that minifigures cluttered up things. But seeing how the other teams did stuff, that was really inspiring. And I think we definitely learned from that to incorporate them better later on in challenges.
In the Good vs. Evil challenge, you had to partner with another team. What was it like to work with a team you were also competing with?
Amy: The show overall had a very friendly dynamic and really a lot of camaraderie between all the teams. Even though we’re in a competition, we’re able to strike that balance. So we loved getting teamed up with Aaron and Christian. We thought it was just so fun. There wasn’t really too much of a conflict with that–we’ve been able to find a balance of being competitive. We love seeing what other people are building and really cheering them on.
What was the most difficult aspect of the challenges aside from the time limit?
Tyler: I would say that one of the most difficult things was in the planning process not being able to have access to any sort of reference material and having to create ideas completely out of thin air. I work well having inspiration from source material or other artwork and things like that. So not having that was quite a challenge.
Amy: Idea creation at the beginning of the build was always a challenge because you want to make sure that it fits the challenge and is something you’re going to be able to accomplish in that time limit. In my opinion, the idea itself is like half of the build. Sometimes it seems like the idea might be pretty easy, but to get just the right one that’s really going to do well for the challenge can be difficult sometimes.
Were there any fun moments during filming that happened off-camera that didn’t make it to an episode?
Amy: My fondest memory was when I told Tyler during a filmed interview that we were going to have a baby! It didn’t make in an episode–instead they showed us telling Will Arnett on camera when Tyler already knew. I found out just a couple weeks into filming, and I actually told the producers that I was pregnant before I told Tyler! Because I was hoping maybe we could get his reaction on film and be able to share it with our baby one day. They were all for that idea. I was able to surprise him in an interview. We had our little sig-figs plus a little baby minifigure and it was a really special moment. Tyler got very emotional.
Tyler: My reaction was one of the strangest emotions that I’ve ever felt. It was a mixture of wanting to cry and laugh at the same time. Not crying because I was disappointed of course but a joyful cry as well as just wanting to laugh uncontrollably at the same time. It was a very weird emotion!
What was it like interacting with Will Arnett and the guest stars? Any favorite moments?
Tyler: Will Arnett was great to have on set. He’s a hilarious guy, and there’s so much more to those little snippets that you see of him coming around and talking to us as we’re building. There’s so much stress and pressure as we’re building that it’s a nice break when he comes around and kind of gives you a few minutes to just kind of pause, take a break and just laugh at his funny, silly jokes, bad humor and bad puns–which are things that I absolutely love. I really enjoyed interacting with him and just getting a little break to laugh.
Amy: When guest star Terry Crews just busted through the wall, it was quite a shocking experience. The producers had actually told me of an upcoming surprise ahead of time, since being pregnant they didn’t want me to get overly shocked–but I was still quite a bit shocked as Terry Crews burst through the wall! I think you could tell from a couple of my facial expressions that I was not expecting that. He was so personable. He really had an excitement about LEGO.
You had first pick in the Star Wars challenge. Why did you choose the Battle of Hoth? Were there any other Star Wars moments you would have liked to pick that weren’t options?
Tyler: For our choice of the Battle of Hoth, we wanted to show a little more variety in the types of things that we can build. A lot of the things that we built over the course of the season so far have been very cute, very colorful things. So naturally, I think we both gravitated to the Battle of Endor with the cute little Ewoks and a colorful forest. There’s a lot of opportunity there. But at the same time, we wanted to challenge ourselves and show the Brick Masters that we could do something a little different than what we usually do. So we picked something that was a bit colder and a bit more colorless. In the end, I think they still wanted a little more color, but we’re really pleased with our choice of picking Hoth.
What would you have done differently in any of the challenges?
Tyler: [long pause] Probably one of our weakest builds throughout the show was the “Tri-scaper” for the Mega City build. That was just a challenging one for us to really get excited about. I just don’t find large skyscrapers all that exciting, so it was a little difficult for us to get excited about this. I really wish we could have found an even more exciting way to make that build something that we were both super passionate and excited about so we could have been really happy with the end result. Not that we weren’t happy with what we built, but I think it could have been a lot better. So that’s one build that I at least would have liked to improve upon or maybe change a few things.
Amy: And to add on to that, we added our three-headed monster that we had to throw together pretty quickly. We had other things we were trying to polish at the same time. In the end I feel like we weren’t completely happy with that, especially with the addition at the end.
What would have been the perfect challenge to suit each of your abilities if you could have designed it?
Tyler: I don’t know that I could have designed a better challenge than the Storybook challenge. I feel like that challenge suited both of us so well. I think Amy said that was her favorite challenge just because she loves working with kids. Even a few weeks ago we were doing challenges with our nieces and nephews, and it was just so fun working with kids and seeing their creativity with LEGO. So, I think the challenge of combining kids and LEGO all together to create these fantastic stories and the characters that we love to build–we love building these larger than life or exaggerated cartoon characters–so being able to do that combined with the funny and hilarious kids’ stories was, I think, the perfect challenge.
Amy: I agree with that. The thing I love most about Tyler’s builds is his character builds and the expression he brings into LEGO. I look up a lot of builds in the LEGO world and find they maybe lack a little bit of humor and playfulness and, really, emotional expression. So, whenever I see characters with LEGO that have that, it is just really fun and exciting to me.
You mentioned that you had not built together as a team before the show. Do you build together now?
Tyler: Amy’s introduction into LEGO was primarily just her coming into the LEGO room, spending time with me as we listen to music and she would help me sort. I think after the intensity of LEGO Masters, she still favors the relaxation of sorting instead of building
Amy: [laughs] I’ve been recovering from the show over the past couple of months, but I look forward to getting back into it in the coming days, especially with baby on the way. I love that it’s going to be a family activity. A few weeks ago, we were with our nieces and nephews and I had a blast doing some LEGO challenges with them.
What were some of the core skills and techniques in your LEGO boot camp that Amy learned before coming on the show? Could you share any online?
Tyler: The main things we worked on in preparing Amy to be on the show as a serious competitor was mostly planning. We walked through how we would go about approaching the different challenges and builds. How we would generate ideas of what we’re going to create? How we are going to select the best idea of those to build? How are we going to divide the building process up into manageable sections that we can each be working on at the same time? We wanted to be able to plan out every little detail of the build in advance so that we knew exactly what was happening. We even had time markers of when we wanted certain things to be completed by in order to get it done in the time we had for any given challenge.
Amy: As far as other builders interested in Tyler’s building classes and techniques, stay tuned because there could be some exciting developments with that in the future.
What advice would you offer to any contestants in future seasons of LEGO Masters?
Tyler: The advice that we would give would be to make sure that you plan enough in advance. Take as much time as you need to plan out whatever you’re going to build for a given challenge. And don’t let the clock scare you into building something too quickly. The trouble there, if you’ve started building too quickly, is that you can waste time building something that you ultimately have to take apart or change. And that’s just going to waste your time. So the advice we have is to make sure that you plan everything out in advance well.
Amy: And for each challenge to really listen to what the Brick Masters are looking for. It’s easy to go with the first thing that pops into your head, but with any idea, you have to analyze, take apart and think, “Okay, what’s the challenge? What’s the goal? What’s going to be the best way to highlight our strengths and accomplish what the Brick Masters are looking for here?”
What’s your biggest takeaway from being on LEGO Masters?
Tyler: Going into the show, we both knew that we worked together as a team pretty well. We both have different strengths and we both complement each other very well. Going into this we knew that we could succeed at getting things done and working together. But doing that while surrounded by cameras, lights, other contestants, a clock that is ticking away, and the possibility of you being eliminated and going home–all these different pressures–I didn’t know the impact the show was going to have on our teamwork. I was pleasantly surprised that we work super well together. There were never any arguments. There were certainly times of more stress or less stress, but never did we get mad at each other or angry. We were both a united team the entire time, and it was just a wonderful takeaway to know that even under the stresses of a TV show, or even the stresses of life, we can work together as a team and we can succeed.
Amy: I’d agree with that also, just seeing how we came together for very large challenges. For me it was really encouraging, a big confidence boost, going into something that I have very little experience with. My question was, “Am I going to be able to do this? Am I going to be able to help out my husband?” Because I definitely didn’t want to let him down. But I was thrilled that I did have something to offer to the team and that I was actually contributing in a very large way from challenge to challenge–that I had an eye for LEGO, that I knew what looks good, that I could figure things out very quickly. That was just a thrill for me that I wasn’t holding back my husband, but that I was able to contribute and we came together to be a really strong team that could contend.
You’ve created and posted a series of microscale versions of each build you created for the show. Which build was the hardest to reduce down and recreate?
Tyler: The hardest one so far has been the Storybook challenge. Recreating that carrot was very challenging just proportionally. The proportions of the carrot were a bit difficult to capture the exact same look on a smaller scale. I spent a while trying to come up with just the right look.
Are you planning on attending any future LEGO conventions if things clear up with COVID-19?
Tyler: Yeah, if Brickworld Chicago still happens. I think there is a relatively large gathering of the contestants from the show that are going to be there. Amy is going to be about ready to pop with a baby around that time, so she will likely not be there. But I am planning on being there.
Where we can follow your future LEGO creations online?
Tyler: I’ll answer because Amy doesn’t have any anything to contribute to this. [laughs] You can find me as LEGOhaulic on Flickr, Tyler Clites – Brick Artist on Facebook, and @tylerbuilds on Instagram as well as on my personal website which is TylerClites.com.
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