Like most dads I know, I am the type of father that enjoys getting down on the floor with my son to construct simple and complex structures (depending on amount of time and patience level) using blocks, tiles, train-tracks and Lego bricks.
My son, as well as Matt’s boys, are methodical about the way they build their Lego towers, cities, and models. My son looks at the box or the instruction sheet, points to the picture, and always chooses to build exactly what is provided. He uses skill, concentration, and tons of imaginative play once our structure is created, but rarely does he just pick up Lego bricks and design his own creation.
Recently, we attended the Dad 2.0 Summit, an awesome weekend spent with hundreds of dad bloggers and some well-known family brands. Fortunately, Lego was one of the brand partners at the event, and we had the unique opportunity to spend some time with Chris Steininger – a Lego Master Builder. We found Chris to be a great guy, and his job as well as his master-builder stories to be fascinating. Chris’ passion and genuine love of his job reminded us of Tom Hanks from Big – an adult who gets to play with toys all of the time.
Below is our brief interview with Chris:
How did you become a Lego Master Builder?
C.S.: Becoming a Lego Master Builder was for me, was a bit different it stems from my love of building with Lego as a child. My father and I would play a lot together when he got home from work and he found it was something he enjoyed also. In the end my father talked to a friend who worked at Lego and he was able to get my dad an interview in the model shop where he eventually got the job as a model gluer. He rose through the ranks to become a Lego master builder this was great for me because it meant I got a lot more Lego. My father was able to get me into the model shop during vacations from high school and that’s where I was able to build a solid base of Master Builder skills. After high school I went to work as a carpenter/furniture builder and did this for a few years before being called back to help out building models in the model shop. I have been full time at Lego for 5 years now and 3 of them as a master builder.
Describe how an idea like building a Lightning McQueen Car out of Lego bricks goes from an idea to the completed life-size model?
C.S.: When we build large Lego models we first start with a 3D modeling computer program called Maya to design the model from there we bring it into our program Brick Builder, this turns the model into Lego bricks from their we can build the physical model it shows us a layer by layer view kind of like a CT scan. Models like Lightning McQueen (below) take 1800 hrs to build and uses around 350,000 bricks and weighs 3 tons.
What has been your most positive experience playing & engaging with Lego?
C.S.:The most positive experience with Lego for me is when I participate in Lego events (i.e. Lego Kidfest) and see the joy and pride of creation when the kids build their own models
My son likes to follow the exact step by step directions when building. What can parents like me do to nudge him a little to do more exploratory & free play?
C.S.: So if you have a child that is more into instruction booklet building then BuildTogether.com is the perfect resource for you. It gives you fun and creative alternative building activities that YOU can do with your child.
One final interview note: We were amused to learn that when building a large Lego model, Chris explained that applying glue to EVERY Lego brick was more time consuming than the actual brick building process.