How much do Lego master Builders make ? Lego Master Builder spills the bricks on the dream job

How much do lego master builders make ? WINTER HAVEN, Fla. – Every kid, at one time, had their hands in a pile of LEGO bricks. But just because you get older doesn’t mean you have to stop building.

For an elite group of master model builders, the childhood love of LEGO has turned into a grown-up way to pay the bills.

“I always kept a little box of LEGO with me at all times,” said Luke Phillips, looking back to his childhood years. “Anywhere I went, LEGO was sold everywhere.”

Years later, you could definitely say master model builder Luke Phillips is living the dream.

“The cool thing is, whatever I like, I get to make it out of LEGO,” said Phillips.

Phillips became a master model builder five years ago. LEGOLAND Florida hired him in 2011 when the park opened. He’s on the team that designs and builds what you see throughout the park, from holiday displays to the cityscapes of Miniland.

“Every minilander, every building, every car, everything is all hand-built,” Phillips said.

He showed FOX 13 the Painted Ladies of California in the display of San Francisco.

“We had a team of I believe about 20 different builders working separately on different houses,” Phillips said.

Smaller homes can take a couple of weeks to complete. Skyscrapers can take months.

Miniland is representative of three years of ideas, construction and creativity. It includes more than 35 million LEGO pieces. Because of the harsh Florida sun, it is constantly being repaired and refurbished.

So what does it take to be a master?

First and foremost, you need a true love of LEGO.

“There’s no Master Model Builder degree so you can’t just go to school for it,” Phillips said.

We asked the same question over at the Merlin Magic Making hub in Lake Wales, where dozens of workers design and build displays for LEGO facilities around the world.

“A lot of parents ask me, ‘My kid wants to do this when they grow up. What advice can you give them?'” said Master Model Designer Jason Miller.

His response: “STEM.”

That’s an education in science, technology, engineering, and math. Also crucial is a passion for history, social studies, and accuracy.

“I get really research-heavy so when I go to do something,” Phillips said, “I’ve got to research everything I can about it to find out if I’m doing it right.”

“People are immediately going to recognize and know what is or isn’t authentic,” Miller said.

But does it pay to play with LEGO? Job postings tout a “competitive salary and benefits package,” not to mention free entry to all Merlin attractions, but the best perks are priceless.

“One of the best perks about the job is definitely saying, ‘Yeah, I build LEGO models for a living,'” said Master Model Builder AJ Deguzman.

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How do you get in? Some rise through the ranks.

“I actually joined the park as construction for the team,” Phillips said.

“I worked for the LEGO company as a store display designer,” Miller said.

“Working together with other people to make really cool art,” Phillips said, “by the end of the day, you see you have a finished model or just really good progress and that’s really satisfying.”

If you’d like to learn at the hands of the masters, LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers Master Model Builder sessions, available with hotel stays. You can also get a tour of the model shop during a VIP Experience Tour.

how much do lego master builders make

‘Privileged position’

But if you’re not put off by a challenge – the rewards are truly biblical.

The winner’s office will be a custom-built studio next to Legoland Discovery Centre’s Creative Workshop, where they will construct structure attractions, curate exhibitions and mentor kids and families in the creation of their own model masterpieces.

On top of this there is quite a bit of money on offer. The equivalent role in the US was paid at $37,500 back in 2011 (roughly £27,000), although a company spokesman said this could vary based on experience.

Amy Langham, General Manager at Legoland Discovery Centre, said: “The Master Model Builder role is such a privileged position to hold and the number of applications that we have received has come as no surprise.

“Given this role hankers creativity and excitement, giving someone the opportunity to win the job from a series of live challenges couldn’t be more fitting!”

Lego Master Builder Spills The Bricks On The Dream Job

The long queues pictured on Grafton Street in the days after Lego opened its first Irish store prove that there’s still widespread affection for the product, so much so that the Danish store is planning to open a second store in Blanchardstown in October.

Over the water in Britain, Lego has a long-established presence between its 18 UK stores, the Legoland Windsor resort outside London, and two Legoland Discovery Centres in Manchester and Birmingham.

The latter of which is where Lego master builder Michelle Thompson is based, and next month she will judge the ‘Brickfactor’ competition to identify two assistant master model builders to work alongside her.

Thompson herself is a former winner of Brickfactor, having been made aware of the competition by former colleagues at her former job in HR. She had grown up building Lego sets and competing in Lego challenges with her older siblings, and they built up a large collection that they would argue over.

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Thompson was also a good drawer, and she completed a degree in illustration before moving into customer service after university. Although she stopped playing with Lego, her desk at work became known as “the Lego desk” as she had covered her computer with Lego minifigures such as mermaids, princesses and Harry Potter characters.

The long queues pictured on Grafton Street in the days after Lego opened its first Irish store prove that there’s still widespread affection for the product, so much so that the Danish store is planning to open a second store in Blanchardstown in October.

Over the water in Britain, Lego has a long-established presence between its 18 UK stores, the Legoland Windsor resort outside London, and two Legoland Discovery Centres in Manchester and Birmingham.

The latter of which is where Lego master builder Michelle Thompson is based, and next month she will judge the ‘Brickfactor’ competition to identify two assistant master model builders to work alongside her.

Thompson herself is a former winner of Brickfactor, having been made aware of the competition by former colleagues at her former job in HR. She had grown up building Lego sets and competing in Lego challenges with her older siblings, and they built up a large collection that they would argue over.

Thompson was also a good drawer, and she completed a degree in illustration before moving into customer service after university. Although she stopped playing with Lego, her desk at work became known as “the Lego desk” as she had covered her computer with Lego minifigures such as mermaids, princesses and Harry Potter characters.

how much do lego master builders make

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“They’d be like, ‘Oh, if you’ve got a maternity form, just put it on the desk over there. You’ll know which one; it’s the Lego desk.’ I didn’t realise that that’s how some people actually knew me,” she says.

Thompson said that eight workmates alerted her to Brickfactor before she considered entering. Contestants don’t know what pieces they will be given and have to work with whatever they are presented with in a set amount of time. Ultimately, Thompson won her edition of the contest with her Lego replicas of the Birmingham Bullring shopping centre bull statue and musical notes.

“Obviously, I hadn’t built with Lego in years, so the night before [Brickfactor] I built a small boxset. And then I thought I don’t actually know what pieces are going to be available, so this could be completely null and void, but I’ll just see what happens on the day, so I just boxed it back up and left it to fate,” she says.

“I built the Bullring bull because they say they wanted you to build something that was a Birmingham icon, and they wanted you to build something that was personal to you, so then I built musical notes.”

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All the Lego master model builders are self-taught – there’s no formal qualification for building Lego – but Thompsons believes they are all creative and tend to be people who grew up being enthusiastic about Lego or professionals from specialist backgrounds such as engineering.

“I don’t think Lego ever leaves you,” she says. “I think when you build it as a child, if you’ve got sort of creative imagination and you can visualise things in a 3D way, that really helps, and that means that you continue to build when you’re older.”

Thompson starts a typical day by cleaning Discovery Centre Birmingham’s massive Miniland display, which requires a hoover and specialist brushes, before moving on to sorting and restocking Lego pieces and then into the workshop to design and build models.

Thompson designed and built a model of Birmingham’s Primark/Penneys store for Minland, which is made from 3,000 bricks and required her to make several visits to the store to inspect the layout, take pictures and make drawings so she could scale it down and convert it into Lego.

The winners of the Brickfactor will be hired as assistant master model builders and will also help create Lego showpieces, including special occasion builds for Halloween, Christmas and other holidays. The job listing calls for broadly creative individuals with a hobbyist mentality and a strong passion for Lego.

The salary is £21,500 per year, plus free tickets to all parent company’s Merlin Entertainments attractions (Alton Towers, Thorpe Park, etc), a 25% discount in its shops and restaurants, 40% off Lego online, and 55% off cinema tickets.

At present, there are no plans for any Discovery Centres or master model builders in Dublin, but Thompson says Lego are “always looking for more places” and encouraged any would-be master model builders to email Lego or Merlin with their ideas.

Hobbyists David and Breda Farrell haven’t been stopped by the lack of official positions for master model builders in Ireland though, having completed impressive Lego replicas of Dublin’s Convention Centre, Heuston Station, Arnott’s, and, most recently, the National Library of Ireland.

Applications for the position of assistant master model builder should be submitted here before 27 August. Candidates will then be asked to submit a video of themselves completing a building challenge, before showcasing their skills in the Brickfactor competition at Legoland Discovery Centre Birmingham on Sunday 10 September.

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