Twenty-six-year-old LEGO Master Model Builder, Ian Coffey, was in Portland for the Old Port Festival in early June, sharing his incredible building talents with the masses. MP had the opportunity to chat with Ian, learn how he became a LEGO Master Model Builder, and what it’s like to work at the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston.
MP: When did you first start building with LEGOs?
IC: I started at 3-years old. My older brother played with LEGOs, and I wanted to be just like him. To this day, there’s a very large LEGO city in the basement of my childhood home.
MP: How did you become a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC: My Dad’s friend saw an ad in the paper for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, announcing a competition for the chance to become a LEGO Master Model Builder. I didn’t do anything about it then. When a close friend of mine found out, she signed me up anyway. I’m so glad she did!
MP: What was the competition like?
IC: There were over 100 contestants, and the build-off lasted two days. We could only use certain sizes and shapes for our creations. One of the first challenges was to create a character from a favorite story. I built Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. After that, we had to build something from a favorite vacation. I designed the Olympic ski jump from Lake Placid, New York.
MP: And the final challenge?
IC: We had to create a LEGO scene that meant something to us personally. I made a “painted picture” of my Chocolate Lab at the park.
MP: What did you do before becoming a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC: I worked under the secretary of the New York State Senate for nearly every single senator. My days were very long.
MP: What’s a typical day at the Boston LEGOLAND® Discovery Center like?
IC: I build in my office, which is all glass. I call it my fishbowl [laughs] because visitors come and watch me while I work. I also teach school groups fun little facts about LEGOs. And at the LEGO Master Model Builder Academy, we’re designing dragons, which are really cool.
MP: My family has been to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in New York and LEGOLAND® in Florida. What’s the Boston Center like?
IC: The mini land features a miniature Boston—you’ll see Fenway Park (my personal favorite) and the Zakim Bridge. The Boston mini land is the biggest of any LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in the world.
MP: What do you do when you’re not working with LEGOs?
IC: I always like to keep busy. In the past, I landscaped a 12-acre estate, and I built a pretty elaborate tree house with a shingled roof in my backyard. It even has cable!
MP: Besides coming to the Old Port Festival earlier this month, what’s your connection to Maine?
IC: I’ve been coming to Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk since I was 6-weeks old. When I visit, I love to build sandcastles on the beach and hang out with my dog. People say I should enter a sandcastle competition, but I like building on my own. Usually some kids will come by and offer ideas. It’s perfect—I’m really a kid at heart.