Another year, another season of LEGO Masters USA, Season 4 introduces new challenges, new contestants and even bigger stakes! Spoiler alert: this year’s grand prize includes all the goodies from before – the title of LEGO Masters USA, US$100,000 in prize money and now something better than ever: the privilege of having their winning build turned into a real LEGO set!
To help with covering this season, and with episode recaps and exit interviews, I’ve enlisted the help of Miller Keys, who you might remember as a contestant from LEGO Masters Australia Season 1!
For those outside the US, if you want to watch LEGO Masters on FOX, you can stream it on FOX, and use a VPN to access the episodes. I personally use NordVPN, which works reasonably well. [affiliate link]
To kickstart the season, we got to know some of the wonderful people competing in this season, so if you want to learn more about the contestants, you can check out our previous post.
Special thanks to LEGO and FOX for facilitating these interviews.
The first episode of LEGO Masters USA Season 4 is titled Brick Lake, where constestants had ten hours of building emote control boats to float (or sink) around an actual pool of water. Unlike LEGO Masters Australia, there were no warm-up challenges for these teams, and so even this early in the season everyone was fighting for their place in the competition.
The brief for this build was to create something that represented each team’s personality, so there were some really amazing builds with a lot of story to tell.
A bit of behind-the-scenes information I found out later which makes the show different from Australia’s version was that they were also asked to build something specifically for a “hero shot”.
While this might just be a TV secret, it is actually quite a fascinating tool that builders can use in their own creations at home, and definitely something that aspiring contestants should start practicing now.
Some of the highlights were Allyson and Melanie’s ‘Musicianship’, a ukulele-themed party boat with an awesome octopus using ‘Studs Not On Top’ techniques. They even brought out a real ukulele and sang to Will in the episode!
Sam and Neena also made a fantastic model called the ‘Teapot Trawler’ with a wide display of interesting angles, colours and submodels. My favourite was the teapot pouring into a cup with a big droplet splashing out.
Brad and Mike had a tough time in this challenge, spending the majority of their time trying to settle on an idea, rather than getting stuck into their model. They ended up recreating the place they fell in love, titled the ‘Bear Shack’ but with a contentious ‘BS’ brick built into the front!
It was also a shaky first challenge for grandmothers Karen and Amie, who built a giant shoe. While it was an exciting build, when it touched the water it immediately capsized! Could this be their ticket home?
Unfortunately, the inability to settle on an idea was the undoing of Mike and Brad, who were the first team to be eliminated in the season. I got to talk to them after the episode to get a bit more insight into the challenge and their time on the show.
“We pivoted a total of three times,” said Brad about their build. They spoke a lot about what didn’t make the cut, and one thing that stood out to me was that they mentioned that they “had just three hours for what [they] completed”. In other words, seven of their ten hours were spent without any direction or build!
It means a lot more after I spoke to them before the show aired about coming up with ideas. Mike said “Perfection is the enemy of good,” which at the time resonated with me a lot, but now I realise it came from a very difficult experience on the show.
Unfortunately, another thing that most likely got them into the wrong mindset was their preparation for the competition.
As part of their LEGO ‘boot camp’ for the show, they went back and watched many of the previous seasons to see what the challenges were, what the judges liked and how successful teams built. However, they would pause the episode after the brief was first told, and brainstorm their own ideas for 24 hours before continuing the episode, which may have gotten them into the wrong mindset about taking too long to ideate.
However, aside from these challenges, there were also some inspiring things that the team said they experienced, such as getting support and advice not only from the judges, but having a really serious and kind conversation with Will, and even the other teams.
In fact, ten minutes before the challenge was over, they didn’t have any minifigures on the boat so their competitors even came over and helped them build and put their minifigures down! It really demonstrates that while it can be stressful on camera, LEGO Masters really can be such a positive and caring environment.
When asked about their future, the couple said they were really keen to keep building, with Mike taking his first steps into the LEGO world and looking forward to building for a convention, though they said they would most likely build in parallel rather than collaboratively.
According to Brad, he has also since learned to let go of his perfectionism and even opened himself up to other people adding to his build. Hopefully, we get to see some amazing work from them both soon.
This episode was an absolute splash and it was great to see such amazing builds from all the teams so early in the season. If this is what they come up with in the first episode, it seems that this season’s builds are going to be of very high quality!
Look out for the LEGO Masters USA Episode 2 recap in the coming days. We’re playing catchup now, but should be in sync with the live airing dates in no time!
Special thanks to Miller Keys, LEGO Masters Australia Season 1 alumni for helping with this episode recap and for speaking to Mike and Brad following their exit on the show!
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