Last month, more than 200 LEGO fans and connoisseurs vied for their dream job as master model builder at the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Vaughn Mills.
Toronto's Graeme Dymond won the job, and he'll soon be leaving his job as a learning consultant at TD Bank Group to play with LEGO full-time.
Dymond spoke with Yahoo! Canada News about his love of LEGO and what helped him score the job of his dreams.
You have been offered every little girl and boy's dream job. What was your first LEGO memory?
I've been playing with LEGO and blocks as far back as I can remember because I have an older brother and we would play with LEGO together. I got my first set, I was about 6 — the first set that was actually mine, as opposed to just playing LEGO with my brother — and I would say that that's my first distinctive LEGO memory, when I received my own personal first LEGO set.
How did you hear about the opportunity to apply to be a master builder? Most of us didn't even know such a job existed.
I didn't even know it was a job either! I follow LEGO pretty closely in the media, but I didn't actually see the posting or anything for the job. But some friends of mine saw it online, some others saw it in the paper. And immediately my phone, email, Facebook, everyone who knew me was trying to reach out to me telling me that I should try out for this and give it a shot. My wife as well, and she was very supportive.
I just went in looking to have fun and play LEGO for a weekend, though. I didn't have any expectation of walking away as the winner.
[ Related photo gallery: Toronto master builder auditions ]
Did you prepare for the competition in any way?
No, I didn't really. I do have a good amount of LEGO in my home. It was my birthday the other week and I did receive some LEGO because it's kind of tradition that I get LEGO at my birthday anyway. But no, no more than I would regularly just be playing with LEGO on my own. I didn't do any special practice or any special preparations for it.
What was your winning creation?
In the final round, we were given a theme: what best defines us, or what are we passionate about? And we had to build it out of LEGO. So I know the first thing I thought about was, "Well, I'm really passionate about LEGO, but I can't just build a giant LEGO brick."
I actually built a profile of my head, modelled after the traditional LEGO head. And if you look inside my LEGO head — it was all hollowed out — you can see my passions, or items that represent my passions. There was a stage with red curtains pulled to the side that represented my love of drama and theatre and art; a heart representing my relationships with my family and my friends and all the people I care about; there was a knight and a dragon because I've always loved fantasy and adventure. King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and stuff like that has always been a big passion of mine. And a blackboard, because I trained as a teacher as well. I love teaching and I love working with people to develop ideas.
And ultimately, all of these ideas were actually spilling outside of my [LEGO] head. I wanted to represent that there's no limit to what you can do with LEGO. There's an unlimited amount of possibilities and anything that you can imagine can be built out of LEGO.
Did the judges indicate what set you or your models apart from your competitors?
I didn't want to build a stand-alone structure or anything. I always like to have a bit of a story or narrative that goes with what I build. So for that last round, I had a bit of a story that went with every item and they were all linked together in a clear way, being inside my head, sort of a shell.
All of the other builds were also themed. In the first round, our theme was animals. And opposed to building an animal, I built each of the animals that are on the back of a Canadian coin. So I had the caribou, the beaver, the loon and the polar bear. And since they're all on coins and money, as opposed to just standing there, they were actually lined up to go use the bank machine. Then I thought, "Well, why do they need money? Well, maybe they're going to go on a trip on the Bluenose." So I built a tiny little boat in the background that looked like it was off in the distance and they were getting ready to go on a trip somewhere.
I'm just always trying to tell a story, and I like the fact that LEGO can express ideas as well.
Can you describe your new position? What is a "master builder"?
Yeah, the LEGO master model builder. I'll be working at the new LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for Toronto that's located in Vaughn Mills. It's a really cool indoor attraction. We'll have lots of different rides and we'll have a Miniland and lots of different places where you can play with LEGO bricks. There will be a LEGO shop there as well. There'll be classes that I'll be teaching as well to help kids become super LEGO builders as well.
A lot of what I'll be doing is working with the classes and teaching kids how to play with LEGO and just playing LEGO with kids and LEGO fans. And that's mostly what my job will be, as well as designing or helping with some of the special exhibits that might be coming or designing models for the attraction as well.
[ Related: Watch the amazing history of LEGO on YouTube ]
When does it start?
It's opening this spring.
So this is full-time, instead of your current job as a corporate trainer?
That's right. Once things start moving, I'll be transitioning into this role and playing with LEGO full-time.
Yeah. Exactly. "Wow." I'm just so thrilled. I can't believe how blessed and fortunate I am to have this opportunity. I mean, it's really, for me, a dream job and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Are you at all concerned that once LEGO becomes your full-time job that it will lose its fun?
You know, I was thinking about that. But I think it goes back to the fact that there are so many possibilities with LEGO that with even just six LEGO bricks — you know, those standard, regular-sized LEGO bricks — there's almost a billion different ways you can put those together. So, for me, I don't know if I will get bored or tired of it or if it will become too much like work, because there's just so much you can do with LEGO. I don't see how I could get frustrated with it in any way.