Interview: Learning from the LEGO Masters USA Season 3 contestants

LEGO Masters contestants are serious LEGO enthusiasts with a lot more backstory than fits on the FOX TV show. Let’s learn more about them — and their love of the LEGO brick.

The interviews are organized by team, with a brief biography of each team followed by selected Q&A with the contestants who wanted to participate in these interviews.

Emily & Liam Mohajeri Norris – Mother & Son

Liam is a talented young builder with diverse interests and his mom, Emily, is a knowledgeable builder with practical skills from coaching First LEGO League for many years. They combine their skills to create some of the most ambitious creations on the show. They are the first Mother/Son team to compete on the show.

News Coverage about Emily & Liam:

Emily Mohajeri Norris

I have discussed what it means to be an AFOL with many of the LEGO Masters contestants, including Emily. In my previous article about BrickCon 2022 where I met Emily, she expressed some doubt that she was in fact an AFOL even though she coached First LEGO League for many years. We decided to revisit this topic in the future, and instead talk about ways to make the LEGO community more welcoming.

Brick Architect: How would you like to see the LEGO community evolve to make people like yourself feel welcomed earlier in their LEGO journey?

Emily: It would be great if AFOLs in every AFOL space not only looked at how that space serves its long established members but also how it can be more welcoming and inclusive of new people. If that happened more, then we might see more initiatives that create a more welcoming environment for AFOLs. I see this in some AFOL spaces I’ve entered recently and it does make a difference. Similarly, I think it’s beneficial to look at how any passion or shared love can be a springboard for broader community engagement and service, especially reaching segments of the community that may not have as easy access to LEGO. I’d love to see more AFOLs get out in the community in creative, service-oriented ways.

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Emily: Before LM, I had balanced experience building sets and MOCs. Being on the show has me excited and carving out more time to build both more sets and MOCs, using new techniques.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Emily: My favorite builds that are usually on display in our home are the personal ones that Liam and his brothers made for me as gifts for Mother’s Day, etc. and also the Baha’i House of Worship in Chicago that Liam made when he was 13. It was a hard shape to figure out, but he persevered and then invited me to add the terraces and garden to it this past year, which we took to Brickworld Chicago. I am also very proud of my Wonder Woman poseable character, which I built using a technique Liam developed and shared with his brothers and me this summer.

'Wonder Woman', by Emily Mojaheri Norris.

‘Wonder Woman’, by Emily Mojaheri Norris.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Emily: We are gradually moving on the spectrum from the early days of all the LEGO pieces in a sheet that we drop in a bin to now having all the LEGO sorted into various bins and trays that are more specialized than before, but still user-friendly for the younger teen and tween brothers. We primarily use IKEA Trofast bins, some with small inserts from Target, for two main ways to sort our LEGO pieces: 1) very specialized by piece type, with multiple colors in each smaller bin and 2) with a few Trofast bins for each color split into three categories: bricks, flats, and special. Within each bin or tray we also have smaller bins for specialized pieces by color.

Their collection is sorted into IKEA Trofast drawers, with smaller cups in some of the drawers for further sorting.

Their collection is sorted into IKEA Trofast drawers, with smaller cups in some of the drawers for further sorting.

Brick Architect: Can you tell me more about how coaching First LEGO League helped you prepare for being on LEGO Masters?

Emily: First LEGO League (FLL) gave me the experience of guiding a team of LEGO-loving kids to develop their abilities as a team to achieve specific LEGO-robotics goals (missions in the FLL robot game) within a limited amount of time. That time crunch is real in the FLL world and was a taste of things to come on LEGO Masters.

Emily coached First LEGO League (FLL) for several years. (Photo: Fox)

Emily coached First LEGO League (FLL) for several years. (Photo: Fox)

You can follow Emily Mohajeri Norris at:

Liam Mohajeri Norris

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Liam: I would say I’m both a MOC builder and a set builder, since I love doing both. I definitely spend a lot more time building MOCs, but I have fun building sets and learning new techniques from them.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Liam: Okay, really hard to decide. For a long time we had the Spirit Lion MOC that I built in 2019 on display, which is probably my favorite original build ever, but since we moved we haven’t pulled it out yet. As far as sets, my all-time favorite is Ninjago City Gardens, and it’s in my background not only for videos and interviews but also for online classes and I love how vibrant it looks!

Brick Architect: At BrickCon, We talked about your unique style of brick-built figures which utilize a sideways building method to achieve two small eyes in a small amount of space. Can you tell me more about the influences for and development of your style?

Liam: I have been building brick-built characters for a really long time. In 2017 I created renders of Tintin characters for a LEGO ideas project that I never launched and tried creating a LEGO Link figure at the time too.

'Tintin' by Liam Mojaheri Norris.

‘Tintin’ by Liam Mojaheri Norris.

However, it wasn’t until 2019 when I revisited the concept with physical building that I started to develop the techniques that I use now. I built a fantasy swordsman figure that was poseable like an action figure. While some things have stayed similar to that original model — like the feet — others have changed considerably since then, such as the addition of eyes to my new character’s faces.

Fantasy Figure (left) and 'Link' in Studio App (right) by Liam Mojaheri Norris.

Fantasy Figure (left) and ‘Link’ in Studio App (right) by Liam Mojaheri Norris.

A year later I took those techniques and created a build of Link from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. In 2021 I created a Michael Jordan build that literally expanded on the concept — it stands much larger than my other characters — but I tried creating the idea of a face.

Later that year I was inspired to create a figure of Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and wanted to use two white quarter round tiles as his smile. I built the head from there, and at first tried using an eye technique with bars through headlight bricks like on Tintin, but it just didn’t look right. I was using the round plate with bar as the dot for the eye, but I noticed that it actually looked better the other way around — using the sideways part. Doing so also creates stud connections going in multiple directions, vital to the creation of detailed hair.

Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender (left), and Black Panther (right), by Liam Mojaheri Norris.

Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender (left), and Black Panther (right), by Liam Mojaheri Norris.

This summer, after returning from LEGO Masters, I started making more characters, first giving Aang a body, then creating Black Panther and more, and this head technique has proven instrumental to creating characters at this scale with a unique, fun style.

You can follow Liam Mohajeri Norris at:

David & Emily Guedes – Siblings

A generous helping of Canadian pride (and sports jerseys) combine with a healthy dose of sibling bickering to create one of the most energetic performances on the show. David and Emily are talented LEGO builders from British Columbia, Canada, and I’m thrilled to see talented Canadian talent welcomed to the show this year.

News Coverage about David & Emily:

David Guedes

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

David: I’ve mainly been a MOC builder since about 1990. The biggest thing the show has changed is that it made me pick up or develop a few useful techniques due as a result of the constraints of the challenges.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

David: I have a pretty vast collection of rare minifigs or sets with old and expensive sets, but my favourite items are probably the trophies my MOCs have won at conventions. And while they do signify a personal accomplishment, I like them most of all because they’re unique creations that other AFOLs have build, that I get to keep in my collection.

David is especially proud of the brick-built trophies he earned at LEGO conventions for his work.

David is especially proud of the brick-built trophies he earned at LEGO conventions for his work.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

David: Sort by type! As much as possible, I try to sort elements by the individual element. For example, it’s a lot easier to find a red 1×2 plate in a bin or 1×2 plates than in a bin of red elements. I have a wall of drawers in my LEGO room, where all my sorted parts are quickly on hand. And then I have a few hundred gallons of unsorted bricks that will eventually make it onto my wall…

David has a huge wall of inexpensive plastic divider trays in a custom rack system.

David stores his collection in a huge wall of plastic divider trays in a custom rack system. (It’s an older photo but it checks out.)

David’s storage system relies on a custom rack to store hundreds of the (now retired) IKEA Antonius drawer inserts. The system was developed by Dave DeGobbi and is thusly referred to as the “DeGobbi System”.

Detail photo of the "DeGobbi System".

Detail photo of the “DeGobbi System”.

Brick Architect: You have built large MOCs at conventions for many years. I’m curious to hear how your experiences being on the show will change how you approach creating MOCs going forward?

David: I think being on the show has made me conscious of some things that I was already unconsciously doing. While I was already very conscious of my colour palette in MOCs, I never really thought about it in terms of Colour Theory. The same is true about the 10/3/1 rule, where you notice different things from 10, 3 and 1 foot away from a MOC. I think I was already kind of doing both of those things, but didn’t really think about them in a formal way.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

David: Before I had kids, “AFOL” was the first word I’d use to describe myself (now it’s #2 behind “Dad”). LEGO is a very very large part of my life. The definition you give is spot on for me. LEGO has been a part of my life since before I could form memories, and I have a very strong emotional connection to the brand, brick, and company. My best friends are LEGO fans. Most of my free time is consumed by LEGO related activities. LEGO is a pastime for, an occasional source of income, and huge part of my identity.

You can follow David Guedes at:

Emily Guedes

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Emily: I was/am definitely a set builder. Being on the show really inspired me and learning the things that I am capable of building has made me want to do a lot more MOCs for sure.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Emily: My favourite set is always changing. When I was 8, David gave me a Paradisa set that probably holds the most nostalgia for me. Lately I am really into plants, and the botanicals are really my favourite series right now, especially that orchid.

#10311 Orchid is one of Emily's favorite sets.

#10311 Orchid is one of Emily’s favorite sets.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Emily: My main organization is simple – I build the sets, and give it back to David; either the completed set, or sometimes just the extra pieces. I don’t really keep a lot of LEGO in my home if it’s not on display.

Brick Architect: In the most recent episode, your unfettered enthusiasm for dogs was on full display. Can you tell us a bit more about your love of dogs, and how building a model of something that you clearly love changed how you approached the build challenge? Have you built a LEGO model of a dog before?

Emily: No – Funny thing though, when we knew we were going to be on the show, we brainstormed builds that we had always wanted to do but never got around to it, and a life-sized MOC of MY dog was something that we both agreed would be super cool to do. I have a chihuahua almost exactly the same size and colouring as the dog that we built, only with short hair, so it was a very similar build, and part of why I was so excited about the entire challenge.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Emily: I would say that I identified as an AFOL after my first convention, BrickCan in 2016. The community is just too inclusive and welcoming, and once I learned the meaning of the term AFOL I was like oh, yes, that is definitely me. LEGO was a huge presence in our childhood, even thought Dave definitely was much more involved building with it than I was, it was a medium that we all used and learned with.

You can follow Emily Guedes at:

Christine “Tacos” Blandino & Michelle Contreras – Friends

It’s great to see two proud and talented Latinas on the show! Christine is from Dominican Republic and living in the Bronx, & Michelle is from Mexico and more recently South Carolina. They have vibrant on-screen personality, but also include a lot of bold colors in their builds – and their wardrobe.

In my first conversation with them (before the show aired), they expressed how important it was that they are shown on TV speaking Spanish. I was pleased to see that this dream came true in the first few minutes of the first episode.

Christine “Tacos” Blandino

Brick Architect: Can you tell us why you go by “Tacos” on the show?

Christine: All my friends and students call me Tacos. It first started when I used to teach at a small dance studio and there were so many Christine/Kristin/Crystal/Crista variations so I just told them to call me what I craved when I was pregnant,Tacos. When I go to a Zumba convention there’s about 10k instructors, but there’s only one Zumba with Tacos.

Brick Architect: You have an engineering background – can you tell us a bit more about your work?

Christine: During the pandemic I founded my LEGO Stem business: ‘Powered by Tacos LLC’. I teach engineering classes with LEGO. I basically go from school to school bringing my teaching kit all over New England from grades K-5.

Christine with portable LEGO storage for teaching STEM classes.

Christine with portable LEGO storage for teaching STEM classes.

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Christine: My first introduction to LEGO was through STEM kits, then sets followed. You can say I started MOCing over a year ago. After the show my MOCs are larger and [I] have begun designing digitally.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Christine: My favorite lego set has to be the typewriter or the tree house or the globe … Too difficult to choose haha. As for as MOCs I would have to say my Tacodile Supreme inspired by Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Tacodile Supreme, by Christine “Tacos” Blandino.

Tacodile Supreme, by Christine “Tacos” Blandino.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Christine: Yes and no. At first we all experience imposter syndrome, but this community and experience has allowed me to discover grace. I absolutely fell in love with the brick after my first official set, which I think was the LEGO IDEAS Birds set about 8 years ago.

After the show I feel like I have a stronger grasp on LEGO knowledge, but it doesn’t make me any less of an AFOL compared to other folks who have been building and collecting for 20+ years. Passion is passion.

Follow Christine “Tacos” Blandino at:

Learn more about ‘Powered by Tacos” at:

Local News Coverage:

Michelle Contreras

Brick Architect: You have a design background – can you tell us a bit more about your work?

Michelle: I’m an Industrial Designer. Back in Mexico I worked as a college teacher. I have always been drawn to design and building, so LEGO is a way of keep doing it and involving my kids in it.

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Michelle: I was both. I love building sets but LEGO is an expensive hobby, so I like to MOC so I can keep creating and building. … My MOCs have always been small and never intended to go larger, because … I dont feel you need to spend a lot of money to get the joy of building with LEGO.

After the show I don’t feel my way of looking at the hobby has changed, I’m very set in priorities and happy with the amount of LEGO I own. I [would] like to build a larger collection, but I’m not on a hurry … it will happen over time.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Michelle: I have one container with little drawers in which I have all the small pieces sorted by piece. Then dollar store bins where I store bricks [sorted] by piece — 2 by bricks, 1 by bricks, 2 by plates, 1 by plates, Larger plates.

I tried to make it more like the Brick Pit (especially cause it looks so beautiful with the clear containers), but is just a very expensive method.

La Chalupa, by Michelle Contreras.

‘La Chalupa’, by Michelle Contreras.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Michelle: I’m a 90’s kid and grew up with Nintendo, so every Nintendo set that LEGO has come up with is always gonna be my favorite — It’s like two things I love in one. So the [#71374 Nintendo Entertainment System] and [#71395 Super Mario 64 Question Mark Block] for me.

And my favorite MOCs are La Chalupa [based on Mexican game of chance similar to Bingo, but using cards] and my Luchador Mask [based on fresstyle wrestling in Latin America].

Luchador mask, by Michelle Contreras.

‘Luchador mask’, by Michelle Contreras.

Brick Architect: How does it feel to see yourselves on TV in the United States, speaking Spanish, and inspiring young Latinas that they too can be great LEGO builders?

Michelle: After the taping of the show I was feeling concerned about how much air time we would actually get if they edited [out] the Spanish … for me [it] was 90% of the time … usually I speak Spanish to Tacos and she understands. It was easier for me given the fact I was already in a environment where I had to focus on the building, so translating and speaking English is was hard for me.

When I saw that on the show they showed us speaking Spanish I just felt proud of being able to show on TV, in an american show, that we Spanish speaking people can also be a part of it and for little hispanic girls to see that is a possibility for them … it meant a lot to me that they didn’t cut out some of our Spanish speaking during the show.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

The LEGO Group describes “An AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) is someone with a strong emotional connection to the LEGO Brand, Brick, and Company that is often irrational and resistant to change.” Does that (potentially broader) definition of an AFOL change your answer?

Michelle: I did consider myself an AFOL and by that I mean being a Fan of the LEGO brand. But I don’t think the ‘irrational and resistant to change’ part goes with me, or at least the way I see myself. I consider myself a creative person, and maybe use LEGO in ways hardcore AFOLs dont, but for me that just takes away all the fun and purpose of it.

Follow Michelle Contreras at:

Local News Coverage:

Nick Della Mora & Stacey Roy – The Influencers

Nobody is more comfortable in front of the camera than Nick and Stacey, who do regular LEGO projects while livestreaming to fans around the world. Their creations have strong storytelling and bright colors. You can easily recognize them by their brick-built bowtie and hair bow.

Nick Della Mora

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Nick: I’ve been primarily a MOC builder for many many years, and would probably guess it started most earnestly back in 2007 when I discovered the LEGO community on Flickr. That certainly hasn’t changed since the show for me.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Nick: I have the first LEGO set I can ever recall receiving, my first LEGO Star Wars set, as well as some smaller MOCs that I was extremely proud of all on display together in my studio.

Nick displays his first LEGO Star Wars set alongside some of his favorite small MOCs.

Nick displays his first LEGO Star Wars set alongside some of his favorite small MOCs.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Nick: My LEGO collection’s organization has slowly evolved over the years, and become a fairly large mix of being sorted by part for smaller pieces and sorted by colour for basic, larger parts like plates, slopes, and bricks.

Since Nick is mostly a MOC builder, his Akro-mils and Sterilite drawers are clearly visible on set.

Since Nick is mostly a MOC builder, his Akro-mils and Sterilite drawers are clearly visible on set.

Brick Architect: As livestreamers, you have dedicated LEGO spaces within your home. Can you tell us more about your build space?

Nick: The primary goal for my build space visible on camera was to balance the amount of storage I had available with display space for MOCs and some of my favourite LEGO sets. Outside of that, I mostly have sets still in their box, or several sets from similar themes mixed together in bigger boxes, where I’ll often go diving for pieces if I can’t find them within my sorted pieces, using BrickLink to determine what sets I may find them in.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Nick: I’ve definitely considered myself an AFOL for quite some time (I was even lucky enough to avoid a “dark ages”!), and don’t feel that’s changed for me after the show

Brick Architect: Is there any local news coverage that you were especially excited by?

Nick: I had the opportunity to be on a local 24 hours news channel called CP24 that is extremely well known in Toronto, so it was cool getting to meet and build for some of the hosts I’ve watched on there for years. I also got to be on a Canadian talk show called the Social, it was very fun tackling a building challenge there too!

You can follow Nick Della Mora at:

Local News Coverage:

Stacey Roy

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Stacey: I’ve been a set builder for most of my building life, and when Nick reached out to me to audition for LEGO Masters, so began my crash course into MOC building!

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Stacey: Currently, my favorite set is probably my UCS Millenium Falcon or Boutique Hotel.. Or the Haunted House… or Central Perk- I don’t know! There are too many that I love!

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Stacey: By “organization,” do you mean how do I keep my LEGO on the floor? The answer is everywhere and stud-side-up! Haha I’m kidding, sort of, but because I predominantly build sets — and I keep them built, I don’t have a lot of extra bricks around to store. So, I just keep little tupperware containers for the excess pieces that come with each set. I’m sorry, Nick.

In my basement, I built a studio that could be adapted for a variety of shows.

Stacey Roy

Brick Architect: As livestreamers, you have dedicated LEGO spaces within your home. Can you tell us more about your build space?

Stacey: In my basement, I built a studio that could be adapted for a variety of shows. While it was primarily designed for cooking, I also use it for talking about film equipment, Nerdy Bartender Live episodes, and, of course, LEGO building! Behind me on the set, the “windows” are actually blue screens (or green screens) which I use to change up the background or display the top down camera. I also have a camera on an electric slider that I cut to for close ups. Off-camera, on one side, are various LEGO sets that I am in the process of building, the other side is the alcohol storage for Nerdy Bartender. My studio is pretty cool haha.

Stacey has an amazing custom set in her basement for livestreaming.

Stacey has an amazing custom set in her basement for livestreaming.

Brick Architect: Nick has a brick-built Bow Tie, and Stacey has a hair bow. How did you decide on these elements of your on-screen persona?

Stacey: Nick was kind of known for his LEGO bowtie at special events, and I thought a hairbow would be super cute, so he designed and made one for me.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Stacey: Before LEGO Masters, I wasn’t familiar with the term, but while spending so much time with all of the wonderful contestants, I got a crash course in all the LEGO lingo. I definitely see myself as an AFOL now; however, I wouldn’t call myself irrational or resistant to change… change makes us better! Growing is a part of life!

You can follow Stacey Roy at:


Liz Puleo & Erin Laundry – Massachusetts Moms

Liz and Erin met through Ladies’ LEGO Lounge, a popular online group that gives women a welcoming environment to share their love of LEGO and encourage one another to build more. Since Liz was unable to wear an actual Boston Red Sox jersey on the show, you will find them wearing custom “Boston” shirts in the style of a sports team. (“Go Sports team”).

Liz Puleo

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Liz: I was a set builder until roughly 18 months before the show – that’s when I joined a LUG and got told to make MOC’s. Since going on the show, I’ve built more MOCs, and seem to modify more sets.

There’s a sense of freedom that I’ve found since being on the show, as if I’ve been given permission to build more of what I want now.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Liz: My crude MOC vase. One, it was my first legit MOC; two, it holds the bouquet; and three, I’m afraid to move it so it will stay where it is as a reminder of where I started.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Liz: Once upon a time I met this guy, the Brick Architect, and he made these really awesome labels of all the parts. I printed them and had ambitions to have my collection meticulously sorted by part- and that momentum lasted all of three weeks.

Liz has a great build area with well-organized cabinets of parts.

Liz has a great build area with well-organized cabinets of parts.

Right now a handful of parts are labeled and sorted, then some others are sorted by part and color, and then I have quite a few “phucket” buckets that are things I’m never going to sort. Most of my collection is in a state of “large weird parts”, “Large bricks”, “Slopes”, “Plates” and various levels of micro sorts. All minifigure stuff is apart from the mass of bricks, but even there are different levels of sort within the accessories.

As with many collections, some of the parts are meticulously sorted by element (left) and many others wait to be sorted another day (right).

As with many collections, some of the parts are meticulously sorted by element (left) and many others wait to be sorted another day (right).

Editor’s Note: Liz really did use my LEGO Brick Labels and LEGO Storage Guide to sort her collection before meeting me through SortLug. (This is a direct quote without edits.)

Brick Architect: I know you have discussed at length in a BrickNerd article, but can you tell us about the spark that pushed you from a family building LEGO sets together during COVID to displaying an award-winning MOC at your first LEGO convention?

Liz: To be honest, It was the show itself – watching it with Jen and Susan season 2, it gave me the push of “why not me?” When NELUG said that I needed to display with them in Virginia I knew it was time. That was the turning point for sure.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Liz: 100% yes before the show. Everything I do is extreme, I got nerdier than some of the Bricknerds in a very quick time… That’s the ADHD of me – and it got hyper focused and engrossed with LEGO. After the show, even more so – traveling to all the conventions, meeting so many great people. There is still so much to learn and explore, and the world of LEGO is constantly changing.

You can follow Liz Puleo at:

Local News Coverage:

Erin Laundry

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Erin: In the year leading up to the show, I was pretty evenly split between building sets and MOCs. I started out as a set builder, but I started building MOCs in 2019. I approach sets differently since being on the show. I enjoy learning a new build technique from them, but then I try to figure out ways to incorporate those techniques into MOCs. I don’t feel the need to keep all of my sets built anymore. Half of them are sorted out for parts to use in MOCs later.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Erin: After we finished filming the show, the cast received an exclusive set of the “LM” logo in greyscale. That’s now my favorite piece in my collection. I had a custom acrylic case made for it and had it engraved with the season, my name, and the number (#449 out of 500). I also built the set using my own pieces so I could enjoy it without opening the original.

Erin had a custom engraved box made for her ultra-rare LEGO Masters contestant set.

Erin had a custom engraved box made for her ultra-rare LEGO Masters contestant set.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Erin: I feel like half of being a LEGO collector/ builder is constantly re-evaluating how you sort and store your LEGO.

My family’s LEGO Room is where we display our favorite sets, minifigures, and have a city table. My husband installed a slat wall along one wall to give us maximum flexibility to move around shelves for displaying our favorite sets. His CMF collection recently moved into flat glass display cases mounted to the wall. Seasonal sets are bagged and sorted in bins by theme. Loose bricks and pieces are sorted by type then color and stored in various containers from Sterilite shoe boxes to Akro Mils drawers to tackle boxes. Ideally, there would be a space for building in that room, but that never seems to be the case.

The Model Factory is in my basement. It’s my husband’s sorting project from the pandemic. He went through hundreds of pounds of loose bricks and sorted it down by type then color. It’s all sorted into shoe boxes and tackle boxes in a back corner of the basement. That’s where I go to build MOCs and sort through bulk lots.

The Brick Pit is a thing of beauty and organization, but I wouldn’t want to replicate it exactly. I’m more interested in the setup Tiago Catarino showed in a YouTube video earlier this year. Having a drawer system makes a lot of sense for saving time. I find myself constantly opening shoe boxes to get the parts I need and it’s very time consuming.

Brick Architect: Can you tell me how you evolved from LEGO fan to business owner?

Erin: My family began collecting LEGO 18 years ago. My role for many years was to find sales and deals to grow our collection. About 5 years ago, I had an idea to use our bulk LEGO to host brick-themed birthday parties. After initially hosting parties in people’s homes, I decided to open a small storefront in October 2019 in the town of Adams, MA. I was hosting parties, community events, and open play hours along with running a small retail store. That’s when I started building MOCs that I used as monthly take-home events. I was also building window displays and functional items for the store out of LEGO.

The business really resonated with the community and was doing well until March 2020 when people stopped having parties and socializing in person. I closed and moved everything into storage until people were ready to gather again. This is when my MOC building started to take off. I took a course in LEGO Robotics. I studied engineering concepts using LEGO. I tried things I had never done before and, thanks to my husband’s sorting project, I had access to parts to create whatever I wanted. I also spent 2 years reworking my business plan to ensure success when I reopen, which should be before the end of this year.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Erin: I saw myself as an AFOL before getting on the show but I considered myself an “AFOL on an island”. I only became aware that other people had LEGO Rooms about 6 years ago. The only other AFOLs I knew (prior to joining the Ladies LEGO Lounge) were some local people I met through a FB group I created, and my business. I am not a member of a LUG. I hadn’t been to a convention before, only LEGO KidsFest a few times when my kids were younger. In my post-LM life, I have been to my first con (BrickCon in Seattle) and I can’t wait to go to more.

You can follow Erin Laundry at:

Learn more about Bottomless Bricks at:

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Justin Sommer & Austin Willis – Doctors

These two pediatric doctors from Albuquerque brought their own youthful energy and elemets of their medical practice to the show. As Austin put it, being on the show “restored faith in their humanity [since everyone on the show] was so welcoming after working with COVID patients for so long”.

Justin Sommer

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Justin: Prior to being on the show, I was a 50/50 split between MOCs and sets. Being on the show has really changed me in that I find so much more joy in MOCs then ever before. The challenge of turning an idea into a build is just addicting.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Justin: I have two all time favorite sets: the 6973 Deep Freeze Defender and 6076 Dark Dragon’s Den. The trans orange screens and ability to join all the modules into one big ship made the Defender an amazing set. And Majisto and the green dragon with red wings are just iconic parts of LEGO lore. My other unique treasure is a Lego Batman trading card signed by Will Arnett.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Justin: I sort my collection by part type and then color. I use a variety of storage containers, but rely heavily on the Akro Mils plastic cabinets. I initially started with sorting by color, but learned the hard way that it takes much longer to find what you’re looking for. Stackable plastic shoebox containers are great for storing used sets!

Justin mostly uses drawers to sort his collection by part first, then color.

Justin mostly uses drawers to sort his collection by part first, then color.

If anything, the Brick Pit made me realize how much I like my personal storage system, in that everything is stored in a place that is logical to ME. I think there are too many variables to make a general recommendation for everyone, but I think with a large collection, sorting by part is the way to go.

Brick Architect: How did you decide to team up with Austin for the show?

Justin: After receiving a general email from LUG about the show, I called the casting producer. I went through the initial interview process, and the casting producers were very interested after seeing some of my builds. They asked if there was anyone who would make a great teammate on the show with me, and I thought of Austin immediately. I thought that two pediatricians on LEGO Masters would be awesome. I know he builds LEGO with his boys, and figured we would make a great team together; luckily, he agreed to join me, and the rest is history.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

The LEGO Group describes “An AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) is someone with a strong emotional connection to the LEGO Brand, Brick, and Company that is often irrational and resistant to change.” Does that (potentially broader) definition of an AFOL change your answer?

Justin: Yes, prior to the show, I knew I was an AFOL. However, I had no idea how deep that rabbit hole goes. Since filming the show, I’ve been more active in my LUG, attended my first LEGO convention, and have spent wayyy too much on Bricklink. The “potentially broader” definition describes me too well.

Brick Architect: Is there any local news coverage that you were especially excited by?

Justin: It was great to have a featured article in The Santa Fe New Mexican newspaper. I’m originally from Santa Fe, and seeing how excited and nervous my mom was to be interviewed about the show was really neat to see. My family and friends have been incredibly supportive of this whole experience, and their excitement for me has made me feel really lucky to have them all in my life.

You can follow Justin Sommer at:

Local News Coverage:

Austin Willis

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Austin: [I was] mainly a set builder, since being on the show I now really enjoy building sets with my kids, but personally am getting into building more MOC builds.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Austin: I’m slowly getting into this, with small children they always seem to end up in a big pile at the end of the day, but when I can, I sort LEGO bricks with storage units with multiple baskets that can accept the various pieces.

Austin showing the reality of trying to organize LEGO with kids.

Austin showing the goal and the reality of trying to organize LEGO with kids.

Brick Architect: Can you tell me a bit more about how LEGO helped you get through these difficult COVID years, and the decision to take a break from work to compete on the show?

Austin: Essentially, because the staff and other teams were so welcoming and encouraging of all our builds it helped restore a positive light and how people act towards each other. Covid was so isolating that I think people forgot we are all in this together. Furthermore, Lego helps me meditate after hard days at work and when I’m building with my children it’s helps remind me how to smile and laugh.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

The LEGO Group describes “An AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) is someone with a strong emotional connection to the LEGO Brand, Brick, and Company that is often irrational and resistant to change.” Does that (potentially broader) definition of an AFOL change your answer?

Austin: I had no idea what an AFOL was before so… but now! I very much see myself as one. As far as resistant to change and irrational? No that isn’t me… I welcome change…but I’m still an adult fan of LEGO.

You can follow Austin Willis at:

Brendan & Greg Tull – Brothers

Greg, who is active duty military, describes being on LEGO Masters as “very much like bootcamp. [it is all about] putting individual elements together to make greater than the whole.” His brother Brendan agreed that being on the show together was a “pretty intuitive decision”. Not as much sibling antics with these two — they work well together to create some impressively large models on the show.

Brendan Tull

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Brendan: I’ve done a little of both, although my MOCs are mostly digital. Being on the show hasn’t really changed it, but the camaraderie of the other cast members does inspire me to get more involved in the Lego community and make more of my MOC ideas actually happen.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Brendan: I designed a highly detailed scale model of a General Electric locomotive in BNSF colors, based on what I used to see pass by our back yard. [For that model,] I had few parts available in person, so I felt that a digital approach allowed me to really optimize the design, and then purchase the exact parts needed.

General Electric locomotive in BNSF colors, by Brendan Tull.

General Electric locomotive in BNSF colors, by Brendan Tull.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Brendan: Honestly, I don’t have a very large collection, and much of what I have is tied up in assembled models, so I don’t have much to “sort”.

Brick Architect: I understand you like to build digitally — what drew you to building digitally, and what platform do you use?

Brendan: I enjoy building digitally because there are unlimited parts available in any Lego color, which I feel allows your creativity and artistry to really run wild! I currently use BrickLink’s Studio app.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Brendan: I’ve considered myself a “semi-AFOL” (both before & after the show). While I have a strong affinity for the Lego system and consider LEGO design & assembly somewhat of a hobby, I’ve had little involvement with the community, and I don’t produce many MOCs or have a “typical” LEGO collection.

I think being a “semi-AFOL” lines up with the LEGO Group’s definition, as I have a strong connection to the brick, but not so much the brand or company.

You can follow Brendan Tull at:

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Greg Tull

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Greg: MOC builder; both then and now. In fact I barely build sets at all!

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Greg: There’s this tree that I made which is supposed to be getting blown sideways by a hurricane. It sits on my entry furniture display. Also I made this 3’ tall anatomically correct giraffe that I can never share on the web because it was a contract project. But that model is a real favorite!

'Tree in Hurricane', by Greg Tull

‘Tree in Hurricane’, by Greg Tull.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Greg: I sort by piece type and color. Both for larger parts, and type for smaller elements. I use the same system I had prior.

Greg sorts by both part type and color.

Greg sorts by both part type and color.

Brick Architect: I understand you are active duty military – thank you for your service! Can you tell me a bit more about your work, and how you fit LEGO into a life which has more travel than many LEGO builders experience?

Greg: I am a Boatswains Mate in the US Coast Guard. That means I am a boat operator, navigation specialist, and supervisor. We specialize in Search and Rescue and Law Enforcement. I have occasionally met other military Lego fans! It’s usually Lego sets, the Coast Guard ones were popular. I am transferring back to full-time brickfilm in April, however!

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Greg: I saw and see myself as a “low-key” AFOL; I don’t spend a ton of time in the community, though I’ve always appreciated it. I have a lot of clutch power to the brick and the system, less the company.

You can follow Greg Tull at:

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Stephen Joo & Stephen Cassley – Firefighters

Nobody is calmer under pressure than a firefighter – in the very first challenge the Stevens attach their model with just seconds to go, thanks to encouragement and a steady hand. They didn’t meet at the firehouse, though; these experienced builders met at their local LEGO store in Calgary, Alberta.

Stephen Joo

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Stephen Joo: Although I still buy a lot of sets, I only build a select few. The bull of my building in the last 10 years has been MOCs

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Stephen Joo: On a trip to Billund while attending the Skaerbaek Fan convention I passed by the famed home of the founder of LEGO. It’s classic Danish architecture with red toned bricks and stone Lions flanking the front door. At the time it was undergoing a facelift and a construction crew was replacing damaged and weathered bricks. I asked if I could take a fragmented chunk of brick from the discard pile and they said to go ahead. Seeing I was traveling internationally I opted for a smaller chunk but it’s a unique souvenir. I gifted a little piece to one of my best friends in the LEGO community (Miles aka Miffy)

Fragment of brick from Ole Kirk's House given to Stephen's friend Miles.

Fragment of brick from Ole Kirk’s House given to Stephen’s friend Miles.

I [also] have my set from my 2016 Inside Tour with my picture on the box, accompanied with the signatures of many designers and the minifigs of JVK and Kjeld.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Stephen Joo: I primarily sort by color and then within the color I sort by function (plate small, plate large, 1-wide brick, 2-wide brick, etc).

There are a number of elements I will combine all colors of though: SNOT elements, specific sizes of roof slopes, jumper plates, window and door parts, and Technic parts are an examples of pieces I mix regardless of color. Since the show I haven’t changed my system, but I sure wish I had as many parts as their BrickPit. With that sort of volume I would definitely adopt their system

Stephen Joo sorts common parts by color then function and specialized parts by type.

Stephen Joo sorts common parts by color then function and specialized parts by type.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

The LEGO Group describes “An AFOL (Adult Fan of LEGO) is someone with a strong emotional connection to the LEGO Brand, Brick, and Company that is often irrational and resistant to change.” Does that (potentially broader) definition of an AFOL change your answer?

Stephen Joo: I was definitely an AFOL before LEGO Masters. I’ve attended numerous conventions in North America and abroad. And I have been an active member in my local LUG for over a decade. As for what has changed since LM is that I plan to attend even more events and meet more fans in the community.

Irrational and resistant to change eh? My family might say that applies to me, but I’m loving the evolution of the toy since my youth so I think I’ve embraced the changes over the years. I’d definitely consider myself as brand-loyal. And LEGO has been a big part of my life since the late 70s so I’d say I have a deep connection to the product.

You can follow Stephen Joo at:

Stephen Cassley

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Stephen Cassley: I have always been a set builder. I actually haven’t built a MOC as an adult until we were in the casting process for the show.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Stephen Cassley: I mean, I love all my LEGO. I think the one that makes me smile most is the Batwing from the first run of Batman sets. It’s the one that brought me back into building after a friend of mine gifted it to me.

#7782 The Batwing: The Joker's Aerial Assault

#7782 The Batwing: The Joker’s Aerial Assault (Photo: The LEGO Group)

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Stephen Cassley: I mean, by definition I am an adult fan of LEGO, so I am an AFOL. But I wouldn’t say that I fit the mold of what most people think an AFOL should be. I am a casual set builder with interests in a lot of different areas including music, science, philosophy, politics, and culinary arts.

Teams are ShowPonies. You need a ‘Pony’ (the one with the building skill) and a ‘Show’ (the one that makes the noise). That’s not to say Shows can’t build or that Ponies can’t be entertaining, it just seems that most LM teams have one dominant Show and one dominant Pony.

Stephen Cassley

Brick Architect: You describe teams as ShowPonies, and are unashamed of your role as the ‘Show’. Can you tell us a bit more about some of the ways that you brought the energy both to your team, and to the cast as a whole?

Stephen Cassley: I take up a lot of space in a room which makes me hard to avoid. I’ve known from a young age that it was easier for me to embrace that and be on the bombastic side rather than try and shy away from it. I’ve played a lot of team sports in my day and it always energized me when someone would get the room amped up.

I applied that to the show by performing a “hype-up” every morning before shooting. It got the cast and crew in a mindset that it was time to get to work, have fun, and be up for whatever happens that day. I don’t know if it will ever make it to air, but I was proud of it and very appreciative that the cast took to it so well.

You can follow Stephen Cassley at:

Eddie Gooden & Asiza Sandoval – Sunshine Siblings

Growing up with busy parents, Eddie and Asiza had to entertain themselves; Eddie used his LEGO bricks to build cars and furniture for older sister Asiza’s Barbie dolls. The siblings from Spokane, Washington craft LEGO models with rich storytelling on the show.

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Brick Architect: You talk on the show about the special role that building toys (like LEGO) play in the lives of kids with busy working parents? Can you tell us more about your experiences, and ways The LEGO Group could help kids in similar situations even more?

Eddie: Growing up LEGO was the perfect toy for me. I have always been imagination driven and more popular toys from my childhood like G.I. Joe and other character figures just didn’t interest me. Lego was perfect because it allowed me to create the play world I wanted. Lego was much more affordable than lots of other toys as well so Mom and Dad also preferred to get Lego for me. It consumed almost all of my free time and kept me occupied and safe at home because outdoor play at many times just wasn’t an option.

I will say the affordability aspect of LEGO has changed dramatically, I wouldn’t consider LEGO to be overly affordable nowadays so unfortunately I don’t think kids can rely on LEGO to be what it was for us back in the day. The product is still as great as it always was but I feel like people are making less money these days and everything’s just getting more expensive, LEGO included.

Asiza: I think the draw of LEGO for us was the versatility of it. It was easy to incorporate brick into other realms of play. It gave us the ability to fend off the boredom that can come from being stuck inside and with having a limited amount of toys. I don’t think special sets are needed for kids, but I agree with Ed that the cost of LEGO today [makes it] unattainable for many low income families.

Eddie Gooden

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Eddie: I have always been more of a MOC builder. I like to purchase sets and build them but usually afterwards I’ll disassemble them for the parts to build my own creations. Being on the show hasn’t changed that one bit. I find myself post LEGO Masters even more inspired to build MOCs.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Eddie: My new favorite MOC is one I recently completed called “The blue eyed butterfly”. I’m very proud of this build. I took it to display at my first LEGO convention this year (BrickCon 2022 in Seattle) and it actually won an award. So now it has a permanent spot on a shelf in the lab.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Eddie: I typically keep LEGO bricks stored in stackable plastic drawers in a corner of my bedroom, I call it “the lab”, sorted by color. Smaller elements are kept in numerous different containers sorted by what they are for example I have a drawer of wheels and another for doors and windows etc… As of late I have been trying to sort into smaller categories because I’m beginning to run out of room. I’m just recently beginning to incorporate LEGO displays around the house.

Most of Eddie's LEGO Bricks are sorted into drawers by color.

Most of Eddie’s LEGO Bricks are sorted into drawers by color.

Brick Architect: You mentioned building LEGO furniture and cars for Asiza’s Barbie dolls. Do you remember any tough challenges you encountered in playing with LEGO and Barbie dolls together?

Eddie: Not at all. I have never considered anything about Lego to be challenging until Lego Masters. There were never any rules, parameters or time restrictions growing up with Lego so I was always able to come up with an idea and take my time and create whatever I wanted.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Eddie: I definitely considered myself an AFOL before and after Lego Masters. Now I’m an AFOL and a Lego Master lol. You could call me a Lego purist but I understand companies of any sort have to change and keep up with the times. As an AFOL it’s my job to go along for the ride and support the brand that has literally supported me for 35 years.

You can follow Eddie Gooden at:

Asiza Sandoval

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Asiza: Prior to the show, I would have considered myself a MOC builder in that I would normally go visit Ed and work on his project of the day/week. Post show I would say I am more of a set builder as I don’t have much free time as a working mom to build. Plus a set has to grab me storywise for me to want to build it.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Asiza: My favorite MOC is “Chompy the Monsta” because he was inspired by my son.

“Chompy the Monsta”, inspired by Asiza's Son.

‘Chompy the Monsta’, by Asiza Sandoval.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Asiza: I too use stackable drawers. My collection is not nearly as large as Ed’s but I am looking at more separation as my collection grows. The Brick Pit set up is #goals. I have a toddler so my LEGO is in my office. I love the fun pops of LEGO I have around me as I work.

Brick Architect: Have you been able to share your love of LEGO with your two-year-old son?

Asiza: We LOVE Duplo! My son is 2 and knows his numbers and letters thanks to the Duplo Alphabet Train and Numbers Truck! We are also partial to the Duplo farm sets. We own a couple now.

Asiza's son playing with a DUPLO train.

Asiza’s son playing with a DUPLO train.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Asiza: I did not consider myself an AFOL before LEGO Masters but I certainly do now. I have found the community to be encouraging and inspiring. I feel right at home.

You can follow Asiza Sandoval at:

Jon Alcontin & Xavier Viloria – Anime Friends

These two Filipino American LEGO artists first met in High School in New York. They joined forces to compete on the show, where they infuse Filipino foods and culture into impressive builds with their own unique style, often with an anime-inspired flair.

Brick Architect: The two threads that came through strongest in the show are your shared Filipino background and your love of Anime. I am curious to hear more about the community of LEGO builders with a connection to the Philippines – are there a lot of other builders you have met, and do you have a place (like a facebook group) where you connect with one another?

Xavier: To be honest, I haven’t been very active in the online LEGO community, or online in general. The most I’ve really done is share my MOCs on AFOLs of Facebook Group or groups on Flickr. I do follow a lot of LEGO builders on Instagram as well. I did get to meet a lot of builders at our former local LEGO Store in Queens Center before it closed, a lot of which were part of I LUG NY.

Jon: I’m in the same boat with Xavier! I do follow a lot of Mecha focused MOC builders on instagram, but I’m not associated with any particular group.

Jon Alcontin

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Jon: Honestly, I’m both! Everytime I would get a new set, I would challenge myself to create mecha MOCs only using pieces from that new set! That hasn’t changed for me since being on the show.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Jon: Speaking of LEGO Keychains, I’ve actually done the same in collecting a few while working together with Xavier. I do have a MOC I’m pretty proud of! It’s a mecha MOC that is inspired by Mayari, a lunar deity in Philippine mythology!

Mech inspired by Mayari (a lunar deity in Philippine mythology) by Jon Alcontin.

Mech inspired by Mayari (a lunar deity in Philippine mythology) by Jon Alcontin.

The building challenge I self-imposed was to use 80~90% of the pieces from two sets of a similar color palette: #43197 Disney The Ice Castle & #80032 Chang’e Moon Cake Factory. The remaining 10~20% used pieces I had on hand to create the structural frame for the mecha.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Jon: For context, living in a New York apartment while sharing it with a wife and dog does not allow a lot of room for LEGO! To keep things neat in the apartment, have an open closet that utilizes storage bins with tons of bead organizers layered on top of each other.

Brick Architect: I understand that you are a game designer (when you aren’t building LEGO). Can you tell us about some of the ways that LEGO influences your game design work, and visa-versa?

Jon: When I was growing up, LEGO was a huge sandbox of creativity for me to refine my design thinking & ideation process. As a kid, I had to make due with the limited pieces I had. This limitation challenged me to maximize the amount of “fun” I could have by re-using pieces in different ways, and creating MOCs that were unrelated to the original set.

In game development, sometimes you have limited development resources, and have to think of creative ways to repurpose features & content to keep the experience fresh for players. Refining this thought process allowed me to design more efficiently and think about how to get the most value for the player from my designs.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Jon: Yeah! I do see myself as an AFOL before going on the show. Before I entered the video game industry, my first real job was working at a LEGO store! Being surrounded by LEGO and helping others find the right gift for their loved one or for themselves was very fulfilling for me. I felt like I was living an AFOL dream during that time!

Jon Alcontin as a LEGO Minifigure.

Jon Alcontin as a LEGO Minifigure.

After going on the show, I plan to showcase more of my MOCs and connect with more mecha MOC creators!

You can follow Jon Alcontin at:

Xavier Viloria

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Xavier: I mostly build MOCs that are usually inspired by anime figures or contemporary art that I’ve seen. While I do like a lot of sets that have come out, especially the Botanical Series, I often buy sets just to cannibalize them for parts. The show hasn’t changed that habit haha.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Xavier: I do have a couple of MOCs that have personal significance to me. The first one is a bird that I built in middle school, which I consider to be the first true MOC that I’ve built. The second one is a mini grand piano that I built for a competition (that I didn’t win) for a LEGOLAND Discovery Center. And the final one is a MOC of a crying girl with the ribcage exposed filled with flowers and foliage; it was the first MOC that I feel really encapsulates all of my favorite personal influences into one piece.

'Beauties can die' by Xavier Viloria

‘Beauties can die’ by Xavier Viloria

Aside from those MOCs, I also have a pair of earrings that used LEGO Brick Keychains that I bought from the LEGO Store, which Jon and I used to work at, on last day before it closed. I actually wore them during the last challenge.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Xavier: Right now I have most of my pieces sorted out by color. For primary colors, I have large bins that are filled with basic bricks, and in them I have Ziploc bags filled with either plates or sloped bricks. I also bought bead organizers from an arts-and-crafts store that contain common elements, such as jumpers, tiles, and SNOT bricks. For secondary colors, they are currently grouped together in smaller bins. I have separate containers for specialty pieces like foliage elements, Technic elements, or trans-color elements. I do have larger bins of unsorted pieces that I’ve pulled just to tinker around with random ideas. Having access to the Brick Pit honestly makes me just want to buy more bricks haha. Although it does make me want to invest in clear drawers someday.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Xavier: My excitement to build with LEGO really started when I was 7-8 years old. I picked out a LEGO Divers set for my birthday, 6558 Shark Cage Cove, and was obsessed already. I immediately tried to build what was on the back of the box and didn’t even realize that it came with instructions. The catalog really got me excited to see how many different sets existed and how much imaginative stores could be told be the dioramas as scene they created in the photos. I really loved all the Castle themes when I was younger. The Ultimate LEGO Book from DK in 1999 really got me to realize that I could actually use LEGO bricks to build really large sculptures or detailed pieces beyond what individual sets had to offer. When I did get older and got through my dark ages, the internet and MOC community had really taken off, so I became more inspired from what people were able to build on their own. Seeing a lot of anime-inspired mocs and brick built figures made me want to reverse-engineer them and make my own. From that point, I wanted to build whenever I was inspired by anime or any piece of art in general to that I could recreate that same wonderment and amazement with my own work.

While I do consider myself as an AFOL, even before going on the show, I do find myself to be more of a LEGO builder at the end of the day. I’m not really obsessed with buying or collecting sets and minifigures, although there’s a lot of nostalgia with my childhood and excitement with learning about the company. LEGO just happens to be what I love. It has played a big part of my life since my childhood, and it has allowed be creative and express myself, much like any other art medium, and most of all connect with other people.

You can follow Xavier Viloria at:


Dominic Forte & Ethan Dungan – Tiktokers

The surprise addition to the LEGO Masters Season 3 cast were Dom and Ethan, two 18/19-year-old guys who are wildly popular on TikTok where they share their love of LEGO through live building challenges and discussing upcoming LEGO sets. They bring a fresh perspective and some much needed youthful confidence to the show.

Dominic Forte

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Dominic: I was mostly a set builder. Occasionally I build a moc here and there but it wasn’t until the show and it’s challenges that awoke this MOC builder inside of me.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Dominic: My favorite LEGO souvenir Has to be my 1999 Target store display Yoda which my community has deemed ‘swag Yoda’.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Dominic: Currently my LEGO organization is a mess. Half of it is by color and the other half is done by part … I hope to organize it a bit better. For the brick pit, as nice as it was having a bin for every piece … I’m all for condensing some parts to share bins [since] space being the biggest issue for any LEGO collector.

[I] throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks … don’t be afraid to experiment and make other content.

Dominic Forte

Brick Architect: What are the unique needs in creating content for TikTok; is there a “secret” to creating an audience on TikTok? Can you tell in advance which videos will get a strong response?

Dominic: To keep it short and simple [I simply] throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks … don’t be afraid to experiment and make other content. With enough time and research you can definitely get a formula down, but for the most part it’s funny video to pops off or some thing that has a wow factor.

Brick Architect: There were other young participants on the show, but can you tell us how it felt to be so young and on such a high-pressure stage?

Dominic: [It was] very overwhelming, but was did or best to not let the nerves get to us and just focus on building.

You can follow Dominic Forte at:

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Ethan Dungan

Brick Architect: Did you prefer to build sets or MOCs before being on the show?

Ethan: Prior to being on LEGO Masters, I was a MOC builder. I would get a LEGO set every now and then, but I am known to take parts off of them. I have been building MOCs for as long as I can remember. My specialties as a MOC builder are brick-built characters and realistic terrain.

After being on the show, not much has changed “LEGOwize.” I wake up, build LEGO, make TikToks about the LEGO, and carry on with my, I guess, “normal” life. Being on the show did change me personally. It was definitely an adventure of a lifetime. It was my first time away from my family and on my own. I went onto the show very overwhelmed and timid. I came back more confident with lifelong friends.

Brick Architect: What is your favorite LEGO Set, MOC or Souvenir?

Ethan: With LEGO, there are no limits with things that make me smile. Whether you are building a certain LEGO set\MOC from a movie you love, or who you are building it with. The LEGO MOC that I have that makes me smile the most is my LEGO robot “The Heart of the City,” because it always smiles back! My robot also includes my favorite LEGO color, which is dark turquoise.

"The Heart of the City" by Ethan Dungan.

‘The Heart of the City’ by Ethan Dungan.

Brick Architect: How do you organize/sort/store your LEGO Bricks?

Ethan: If you asked ten different LEGO fans on how they sorted their LEGO, you would get ten different answers. That’s the beautiful thing about the LEGO community.

The Brick Pit was sorted perfectly, but that is not how I sort in my LEGO room. My mind is a crazy place, and with sorting I have to match that craziness. I mostly sort by color, but with certain parts like SNOT bricks, hinges, ball joints, and parts that are usually on the inside of a build, I sort out in separate bins.

I like to tell people to be like a SNOT brick: support and lift others up, without expecting recognition!

Ethan Dungan

Brick Architect: What are the unique needs in creating content for TikTok; is there a “secret” to creating an audience on TikTok? Can you tell in advance which videos will get a strong response?

Ethan: One thing that I want people to know about is that TikTok is a platform for everyone. TikTok is like LEGO to some extent. It was made for kids, but adults are more than welcome to join the fun. TikTok is a platform for all ages, and I am starting to see more “older folk.” If you truly have a dream, don’t let your age take that away from you. My biggest advice for creating social media content is to show your personality, embrace what makes you unique, and find your style. That is where I have found my success with getting over 1 million followers on TikTok.

I can usually tell very early on whether a video will perform well. My top three secret factors for a successful video: is it entertaining, is there a wow factor, and does it create talk in the comments. If I am able to incorporate all of those three, it will most likely perform well. Successful videos are usually authentic and organic. Just be yourself and have fun!

Brick Architect: There were other young participants on the show, but can you tell us how it felt to be so young and on such a high-pressure stage?

Ethan: My parents are very supportive, and I talked with them regularly. I missed my family, but being away gave me confidence in knowing that I can survive on my own. I am a very active, energetic person, and the hardest part about being on the show was waiting in a separate hotel doing absolutely nothing while episodes 1, 2, and 3 were being filmed.

Brick Architect: Did you see yourself as an AFOL before being on the show, and how has that changed afterwards?

Ethan: I have been a FOL (Fan of LEGO) for as long as I can remember. I like to say that I was born with a brick in my hand. My brothers got me into LEGO very early on, and it has only grown from there. I started as a KFOL, grew up as a TFOL, and fulfilled my dream of being on LEGO Masters as an AFOL.

You can follow Ethan Dungan at:

Conclusion

I’m thrilled that 22 of the 26 contestants participated in this interview. I especially enjoyed learning more about how they organize their own LEGO collection, and their thought on how the Brick Pit is organized. Most of all, I enjoyed hearing a bit more about their love of the LEGO Brick, and their thoughts on what it means to be an AFOL, especially after participating in such a high visibility show.

In the interest of completeness, here are the two teams that did not participate in these interviews:

  • Drew & Miranda — Rural Idaho is where 22-year old Miranda and her younger brother Drew grew up. Despite their humble background, they are competing on the biggest stage to become LEGO Masters.
  • Kerry & Patrick — The unashamed older guys this season are Kerry and Patrick (67 and 75 years respectively), who proudly refer to themselves as “The Grandpappies”. These talented builders bring a depth of knowledge as experienced AFOLs to the competition, along with energetic personalities that bely their age.
I hope you enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at this year’s LEGO Masters contestants. Let us know what you found most interesting by leaving a comment below…
Photos in this article by each participant unless otherwise noted. Visit the About page for more info about our journalistic standards and affiliate programs.

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