Talk about a cool job. Megan Amaral’s work is many a child’s dream: Master Model Builder at LegoLand Discovery Center Boston. Amaral, 30, a Sturbridge native with a degree in architecture, is the only female Master Model Builder in North America.
What exactly is Lego Master Model Builder? What does the job entail?
I get to design and build with LEGO bricks every day. I take care of the various models around our attraction, teach classes in our Master Builder Academy and share my passions with kids of all ages.
What was your path to becoming a Master Model Builder?
Before becoming the Master Model Builder, I was working at the Lego store at the Burlington Mall and at a small architecture firm in Somerville, where I found that a desk job was not for me. A coworker at the Lego store told me about a Leglo competition to be the Master Model Builder and thought I should go for it. I competed in Brickfactor at the Boston Public Library in 2014, and made it to the Top 10, but lost the competition. About a year later, LegoLand Discovery Center Boston hosted another Brickfactor competition to find a new builder and I competed again for the dream job. There were three timed rounds with a theme given to us right before we started and giant buckets of brick to work with. The final round was an hour long and the theme was to build your favorite character or cartoon. I built Bugs Bunny and I won!
Were you Lego crazy as a kid? Where did the love for bricks come from?
I built with Lego a lot as a kid and most of my bricks were given to me by my Aunt. I was always building houses and restaurants and cities which led my mom to suggest I look into architecture. I have always loved the fact that I would think of an idea for a building and could immediately bring it to life with Lego bricks to see if it worked.
What’s the best part of your job? What’s the most challenging?
The best part is getting to be a kid again and sharing my passion for Lego with all of the kids that come to the attraction. I get excited for the new sets that Lego comes out with and I get to design and create each day. The most challenging part of my job is probably designing the large builds.
What are some of the coolest Lego projects you’ve worked on?
This past year I built a scale model of the Wang Theater in Boston which is now on display at the theater. I was able to get plans of the building and really use my architecture background to make the model as accurate as possible. Another project I did last year was a life-size model of the Grinch. It was a challenge because the Grinch is a cartoon that structurally, would not work. I had to make him sitting on a pile of snow to make sure there was enough support for his body. A more recent project is a mural that I built of Assembly Row. It is 10-by-2 ½-feet and is hanging in the windows down the street. I had to create the picture first using pictures of the various buildings in the area. I then had to make it into a flat Lego picture and then build on top of it. It is a collection of as many different Lego bricks as I could find to give the mural texture.
Take us through the process of creating a giant Lego sculpture.
Each build I have done has been different so the process is always a bit different. In the past I had to make a 4-foot-tall Nutcracker for the Boston Ballet. This model needed an interior structure and a base so it had to be fully designed on the computer first. There is a lot of math involved to get the size just right to then build the interior structure out of other materials before building and gluing the Lego bricks around it using my computer design as a guide.
You’re the only female MMB in North America. Why do you think women/girls are underrepresented in this world? How can we change it?
I think that it is important to encourage girls to pursue anything they are interested in. With that encouragement, girls will have to confidence to excel in fields that might be male dominated.
What’s on your Lego bucket list?
I would love to one day visit the Lego House in Billund, Denmark, which is also the town where the Lego brick was invented. There are so many large and amazing models there are I would love to see them close up!
At “LEGO City: Report for Duty” children can build police badges and rescue helicopters, create their own police chase adventure movie, speed down a zipline for a helicopter rescue, and meet costumed LEGO City police officers and firefighters. The exhibit is open through July 7.