I’m pretty excited. Legoland Discovery Centre Melbourne opens its doors to the public tomorrow (18 April 2017) and I can’t wait to pull a proper review together when I get to go, but before that, I’d love to share an interview I did with Dave Holder, Master Model Builder of the Discovery Centre.
Dave emerged triumphant against 13 other contestants at Brickfactor, a real-life two-day build challenge hosted by Legoland Discovery Centre Melbourne to find its Master Model Builder.
He’s probably got one of the most enviable jobs among the LEGO community. Operating from his very own Creative Workshop tucked inside the Legoland Discovery Centre, the Master Model Builder has a hybrid role of not only coming up with ingenious designs and models for the Discovery Centre, but also helping children and visitors learn through play.
This is actually pretty old interview, as I spoke to him right after winning Brick Factor (never got round to publishing because I am a tragic procrastinator) but given that Legoland Discovery Centre Melbourne opens tomorrow, I figured that it would be a great time to share this so that you get a bit of insight into the centre’s Master Model Builder!
Dave is an outstanding guy and top bloke and I think that he’s very, very qualified for the job. He obviously loves his LEGO, and is a talented builder but he’s also very sociable and and all-round stand-up guy.
If you visit the Legoland Discovery Centre Melbourne, be sure to pop by the Creative Workshop and say hi!
I hope you enjoy the interview!
How did it feel when you discovered that you had won the Brick Factor competition to become Master Model Builder at Legoland Discovery Centre Melbourne?
It was pretty surreal. During Brick Factor, I was very certain that I was going to be knocked out at every round. In my mind, I kept telling myself that whatever round I was on was as far as I would go till I eventually made the finals, and here I am now!
What was the Brick Factor competition like? Was there any particular experiences or memories that you’ll keep with you?
I think for the competition, it was a bit of a blur throughout it. It didn’t feel like a competition where you usually feel like you’re competing with other people. It just felt like you had to do your best.
The highlights for me was seeing other people’s models and designs and seeing what they were making. The brick selection was incredibly limited. For example, the only bricks in green were 1 x 8 and 2 x 8 plates and in yellow, there were only 2 x 4 bricks, 2 x 6 plates and 1 x 3 plates.
Each colour only had two or three bricks, so it was very impressive to see the different things that people were creating given the limitations. The fan interactions and the kids that gave us a hand were also a major highlight for me.
Were you able to bond and form any friendships with the other contestants?
It was difficult with the first 78 contestants it was a bit difficult as it was very intense then. You didn’t really know who was competing and you could chat to as many people as you could but it was pretty overwhelming to start with because of the amount of people there.
It got much easier when it got to the Top 14 because we were all able to hang out in a group and that’s when the connections were really made. It was when you could really spend the time getting to know people, finally remembering their names and learning abit about them.
Everyone in the Top 14 100% deserved to be there. They all offered something different. Different building styles, favourite themes, previous work experience and backgrounds.
Apart from the seemingly unlimited amount of LEGO that you’ll gain access to, what aspect of the job are you most looking forward to?
I think it’ll be very exciting because this is the first job of its kind in Australia and it’ll be very interesting to see people’s perception of LEGO change. I’m really looking forward to seeing how adults who take their kids to the centre react – some of them might be a bit apprehensive about the Discovery Centre, that it’s just another way to sell LEGO to kids but it’ll be great to see if the experience changes their mind once they see how their kids interact with LEGO.
So what’s your LEGO story? Have you always been a fan or did you have a Dark Age?
I’m 29, and my Dark Ages was similar to most people, it hit around when I ended primary school. It wasn’t till I was almost 22 (7 years ago) that I only got back into LEGO. It kinda happened by accident, I had a $10 Target voucher that was about to expire. I was wondering through trying to figure out what I could buy for 10 dollars when I stumbled upon the LEGO Minifigure Blind Bags which were 3 for $10.
I got the 3 minifigures and discovered that they were part of a set which I thought was pretty cool. I thought to myself that “Wow, they’re really doing some crazy stuff with LEGO these days. That’s pretty interesting”.
I then returned to Target in the next few days to see if I could get some different ones and I ended up getting all of them except for one. it then all spiralled from there. I started looking into LEGO a lot more and all of a sudden, the sets that I walked past become more interesting to me. So yeah, it started from those 3 minifigures that flicked the switch.
Do you remember what those 3 minifigures were?
I believe it was the Vampire, the Highway Patrol Cop and the Disco Dude. I had to get them all after that. It felt weird only having the Second Series, so I went on eBay to buy the Series 1. Now I’ve got nearly every one of them that has come out.
It opened me up to being interested in other LEGO sets. The UCS R2-D2 was released and that was way too cool to not buy. I’m a Star Wars fan as well. I only had minifigures until that stage.
I then bought the Millennium Falcon shortly after that. Then I figured that you can’t have the Millennium Falcon without an X-Wing so I bought that one too. Then all of a sudden I had a whole fleet of Star Wars ships.
Then I saw some Hobbit sets come out and thought they were pretty cool so I had to get them. It kept on going and going and going since then.
Do you stick to a specific theme like Star Wars or do you just buy a bit of everything?
The theme that I actually have the most of is actually Technic. There was the MK2 Crane on sale for 40% off and I saw the set in the flesh and I went wow, that is too big and awesome to not buy. So I thought I’d give it a crack and it then pushed me towards the Technic theme.
It was very interesting to work with all the mechanical elements and I feel like there’s a lot of finesse when you build with it. I also feel like it pushes your brain more than the System sets so Technic is my main theme that I collect amongst all the other bits and pieces.
Do you think you have a specific building style? How would you describe your building style?
I like to spend quite a bit of time relaxing. I like watching a movie while I build. I find that I don’t usually get a lot of spare time, so I usually incorporate LEGO when I zone out. I usually put either a movie or some music.
I usually don’t have anything too focussed in my mind but I just let my mind wander. I think some other people usually get very focussed when they’re building their MOCs (My Own Creations) whereas I’m a bit more casual. I sometimes only do it for an hour or two as I don’t have a lot of free time available. I usually don’t have enough time to MOC to a level which I would be satisfied, but I guess that’s all going to change with this Master Model Builder job.
Thanks for reading!