October 27, 2004
Legoland Master Builder SessionFor my birthday a few years ago, my wife bought me an Ambassador Membership to Legoland in California. One of the perks of this is that you get a yearly two-hour session with one of the Master Builders there. Typically you build some model; last year (the first time I went) we built a Miniland-scale minifigure, this year they promised to teach is how to build the oh-so-difficult sphere. They give you about 20 sessions to choose from, and I scheduled mine for last Saturday.
I was one of the few adults there -- I realize now that the scam would have been to buy the Ambassador Membership (which lasts a lifetime) for my son, and then I could have gone down with him as my chaperone. There was, however, a couple of guys from L.A. who in fact had been at my session last year also.
First one of the Master Builders (it was Aaron Sneary, one of the three new Master Builders hired after a nationwide search) talked about what he had been working on, which was mostly the new Florida section in Miniland (actually it's really only two things, Daytona Speedway and the Kennedy Space Center). He also talked about the new "Art of Lego" installation they did. They used various techniques to map the art into different Lego colors (did you know that Lego made almost 100 colors now? I didn't). For something like Claude Monet's San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk, they use software called Mosaic Maker to take a scan and map it to different-colored 1x1 plates, the smallest Lego piece made. The result is incredibly painstaking to assemble but looks remarkable; impressionism maps onto Lego really well. For Lichtenstein's Girl in the Mirror, they scanned it, converted it to very basic colors, printed out the result, fixed up off colors, and then conformed it to Lego pieces (while searching for an image of this, I found a reference to someone who had Lego-ified this painting on their own, but the link is broken).
Then they gave us the plans for a small sphere and a tray of bricks. Once we were done with that, we were told to do something creative with the sphere. Since I had been given red bricks, by chance, I turned mine into Elmo, complete with a hat.
They didn't really get into the mechanics of how they create those nice 4-way-symmetric spheres, but it was still interesting to hang out with the MBs for a bit and talk about what life is like there. Aaron agreed that the job has its boring moments when you are putting together repetitive parts of a model (for example he spent 1 1/2 months building the external fuel tank for the space shuttle model, which is mostly a 7-foot tall cylinder where each layer of bricks is just like the last one). But overall he was very happy. And of course he gets to play with all the Lego bricks he wants. Although they usually get their bricks sent by ship, which takes months, so they have to plan ahead. Plus they cannot usually request bricks in a certain color unless they are already made in that color. Actually one of his current projects is to look at all the interesting Lego pieces that have come out in new sets and decides which ones they should order in bulk.
Posted by AdamBa at October 27, 2004 03:37 PM
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The Lichtenstein link has moved to:
Posted by: Paul Wakeford at October 28, 2004 01:46 AM
You may be interested in this fun Flash movie showing how they make Legos: http://popandco.com/archive/moab/.
Posted by: The Braidy Tester at October 28, 2004 08:52 AM