After a two week hiatus, LEGO® Masters is back this week. However, before we get there, True North Bricks caught up with Susan and Jen for an interview following their elimination in the Demolition Derby episode. Along with fellow LEGO® fan media outlets Brickset, Brothers Brick, and BZ Power, we learned about the duo’s time on the show. Additionally, Susan and Jen had some tips to share for aspiring contestants, as well as a bit of their own LEGO® stories. Be sure to check back later this week for a rundown of Tuesday’s (August 10) episode.
Until next time,
This week was a two-part challenge. How did that compare to the other challenges?
Susan: I had no idea that we were going to be thrown a memory challenge, let alone a solid Technic challenge.
Jen: I hadn’t built a giant Technic car before. Some of those panels were new and interesting, but I think our time management for that one was actually really well done. We were on it, we were rolling. Trying to do a race car from Lamborghini with such beautiful lines from memory, that was really tough, but it was fun. It was a fun challenge.
Susan: It wasn’t too stressful.
Jen: Because it wasn’t an elimination challenge, I think the stress was off a little bit. So, we kind of let loose and had a little more fun. There was probably a little bit more banter than what showed on the final edit.
You’ve been solidly in the middle of the pack until this week. Were you surprised this was your week to leave?
Susan: It took me by surprise. I thought we were middle of the pack. I did not think we would be in the bottom two, but I wouldn’t wish this on any of the other contestants.
Jen: It was definitely a gut punch. Caleb and Jacob’s build was just so phenomenal and so fun with all the little details. They didn’t even highlight all the little funny details that they had. They had a cage hanging in the back on top of the wrecking ball that had a tiny little rabbit. It was weird things like that that were just hilarious. Those guys are amazing with the details. So, when they got called up first, I knew that whoever got called up next was out – that they were going home. When they said our names, I was just like, “Really? This sucks.” As soon as Jamie called our names, I knew we were going home, but I wasn’t expecting it. I thought that we’d held out and we were okay for this episode.
Susan: We did some damage in that in that episode, though.
Jen: We really did. We wrecked some cars in there.
It was clear at the end of the episode, saying goodbye was very emotional. Especially for your fellow contestants. Were there any particular moments that weren’t caught on camera that you’ll always remember?
Jen: There were really too many. A lot of it wasn’t shown. But when any of the contestants left, we spent a lot of time that wasn’t on camera hugging and crying before they walked off the set.
Susan: With every single elimination we had to spend at least 10 minutes saying our goodbyes with a group hug. We weren’t there when Caleb said his little bit, so this was our first time seeing that. It made me cry. Everybody was crying when we left, I was sobbing. When I left, I was not ready to go home. It was very touching. That’s probably the most cherished thing that I’ll take from this whole experience, the relationships that we built with the other cast members.
What approach did you take with the challenges?
Susan: We usually split things up and assign different things. Jen usually did more of the Technic part for the build, and I did more detail. Jen, what do you think?
Jen: I came into the competition with a time issue. I will set a timer on my phone at home or listen to music and use the music or the soundtrack as my timer to know how much time has passed. When I am building, I completely lose track of all the time. So being on the show and being under the time constraints of that challenge time clock, we knew was going to be an issue right from the beginning. We decided right after episode one, when we almost got eliminated, that Susan has to keep me on time. I get these moments where I get super focused, but I will also get these clarity moments where I know exactly what’s needed to achieve the goal. That’s how I came up with the core for the Make and Shake challenge. For this challenge, the RC chassis that we were building on had Technic lift arms screwed on to it. But if you were building with bricks, they didn’t match up in the middle. They were just slightly off – just a tiny bit outside of System. So, I created a Technic framework with tension integrities – tensegrity – that met in the middle, where I used Technic plates with the holes lined up. I rammed a Technic axle down that so our car was fastened to our chassis. It was not coming off. I knew that if we could battle everybody to pieces that we would be the last one standing. That was the plan. We built these little threshers to go on the front and the back that would break off pretty easily, exposing the corners. I had planned to use the metal corners of the RC chassis to just obliterate and chip away at everybody’s LEGO®. That was the plan, but it didn’t quite work out. Time management was a weakness, but also a strength. I needed Susan to balance all that out and keep me on task, that was her job.
What was your favourite challenge?
Susan: I would have to say the Hero Shot, for sure.
Jen: That was my favorite too. Looks wise, I definitely loved the spider for the Hero Shot and I loved Susan’s bookcases. That looked fantastic with her stained-glass window. The high point of the season for me was the Make and Shake challenge. After our building test, Jamie picked up a piece of my core of the building. He said, “I’ve never seen this technique before.” That to me was the ultimate compliment. What I can create when put under the time constraints of this show? Being on set, having unlimited bricks, I created something that a LEGO® designer had never seen before. The only part that made the final edit was when Jamie kept part of my core. You can see him standing up front with Will and Amy while he’s still got a piece of our building in his hand. That was a highlight for me for this season, but I loved each one of our builds. Each one taught us something significant and important. It was just as fun, if not more fun, to see everyone else’s builds. I wish they would have given us museum gawking time where we could just walk around on set and look at everybody else’s builds. That was something I really, really wanted more of.
What details from your builds didn’t get shown on camera?
Jen: In the Hero Shot build, it was really hard to see the details in the bookcase on camera. It was obviously built for weakness, which was different for me. The books were just floating in there so that they could come out when it exploded. That really wasn’t seen well enough, but it was one of my favorite parts of that build. Those bookcases were amazing. Susan built in little bottles of potions. There were details all over those bookcases that were just amazing.
Was there any particular building strength that you weren’t able to demonstrate on the show?
Jen: Dude, no. it was all in from the very beginning. We were learning as we were going and improving with every episode. We were all in.
Susan: I think if I had more of a chance to do something with landscaping, I would have liked to do that. But that’s about it. They threw everything at us, and we took it in stride.
What was your favourite element in that entire brick wall?
Susan: There are so many. One thing that we used so many of were the Mixels ball joints.
Jen: Before I did the show, and we were asked this question, I would have said any SNOT brick. Anything that would help me build sideways was my favorite. But after the Make and Shake challenge, I’ve switched my favorite element. Now it’s the one by two Technic brick with the axle hole in it. It’s literally the strongest piece, and it’s a bridge piece between Technic and standard LEGO system parts. I’ve been using a lot of that piece lately.
What was it like on set with Will, Amy, and Jamie?
Susan: They were always so helpful. Not a lot of that made it onto the show. There were a lot of little times when they gave us some advice, or they would give us tips and tricks.
Susan: Hints, I guess. That really helped in our builds. They’re very informal and casual, but their knowledge is so expansive. It was really helpful to have them tell us: “maybe don’t go that far,” or “maybe cut something back.” They were great.
Jen: I fan-girled big time when they walked up to my table every time. It was so much fun to be there and share the same creative space with Brickmaster Jamie and Brickmaster Amy. Then when Will would come up to the table, he’s just so funny and quick on his feet. He’s hilarious and it was really fun to have those interactions. You didn’t want them to end but at the same time…
Susan: You had things to do!
Jen: I can’t talk and build at the same time. I was either doing an interview or I was building. I couldn’t do both, sadly.
Jen’s life-sized Wonder Woman was featured on the show. What were your most epic builds prior to being on the show and did they influence your builds?
Susan: Most of what I was building beforehand was cities and trains. I would build these grand train curves with hills, mountains, bridges, and anything I could come up with. I would usually alternate them about once a year and change the build up. It’s hard to pick, but I had one tunnel train build that was just my favorite. It was epic, sprawling across three tables.
Jen: My favorite build before this was my life size Wonder Woman. I built it just to see if I could. That’s the same reason I went on LEGO® Masters, just to see what I could do. Wonder Woman was a fun build for me and took about three months to finish. It was a challenge, and it was fun. It looks great and I’ve had fun taking her out places and showing her off and sharing her at Comic Con and that sort of thing. It was really cool that it got to be on the show. When you’re building something that big, you have to figure out how to stabilize it. I built it in three parts that break apart. That was something that helped us on the show, making things modular and putting things together. With Wonder Woman, I used metal threaded bar with two plates, above the legs to pinch it together and make it stronger using tension. That was something that was key in some of our builds, including the Make and Shake challenge. We definitely brought all of it to the show. All of our experiences, not only building but moms’ communication, everything. We were fully all in. It was a lot of fun.
Did you ever go through a Dark Age?
Susan: The whole first 35 years of my life were Dark Ages. I never played with LEGO® as a child. When I had my own children, that’s when I started.
Jen: She’s made up for lost time.
Susan: I do have a number of bricks.
Jen: I got LEGO® sets when I was younger. I got my first one when I was six. I’ve always played with them. I never had dark ages where I thought it wasn’t cool. I always kept them. I always loved them. But they had a timeout, while I was being a parent, adulting. I pulled them out as soon as my kids were old enough to play, just because it was one of my favorite toys when I was younger.
Did your cool mom index go up by being on LEGO® Masters?
Susan: I definitely think so. My daughter’s friends would watch it. Especially when my daughter was featured in the One Floating Brick episode – you got to see her on national television. She thought that was pretty cool.
Jen: I would answer your question with a resounding yes, definitely. It’s kind of fun when your kids think that you’re awesome, especially when they’re teenagers. Teenagers don’t generally think their moms are awesome. Being on the show was just so much fun. It’s a toy brick that everybody can relate with. We’re doing amazing adult things with these kids’ toys. It’s really bridging both worlds and it’s a lot of fun for everybody watching.
What next for you in your LEGO® building world?
Jen: Conventions are the next big thing, definitely. We’re both still building, hanging out together, and doing all kinds of fun stuff. This is just the beginning.
Susan: Yes, we can’t wait to see our fellow contestants at the some of the conventions.
If you could go back then to your pre-LEGO® Masters self and give yourself some advice, what would that be?
Susan: That’s a good question. I would tell myself to practice Technic, which I knew and I did, but I was building Technic sets. The advice I would have given myself is build off the sets. I hadn’t made that step – I hadn’t come off the instructions and said, “If I want something to move like this and figure that out, how do I do that?”. That was a missing piece that I wish I had before I was on the show.
Jen: I would say skip some of the details and build bigger.
Susan: Good advice, very good advice.
What life lesson did you take away from LEGO® Masters?
Jen: I build faster.
Susan: I build bigger.
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