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The Best Builds From LEGO Masters Season 1

To the uninitiated, a TV show about a group of adults playing with LEGO sets might sound like a joke. It might seem like the Fox network scraping the bottom of the reality TV barrel. But, in actuality, a thriving community of Adult Fans of LEGO (AFOL) has been designing and constructing beautiful and creative LEGO art for decades. The "LEGO Masters" series that airs on Fox in the US is actually the third incarnation of the series, after similar shows in the UK and Australia, and the franchise is continuing to expand across Europe.

For its first season, which aired in 2020, the American "LEGO Masters" recruited some of the most celebrated builders in the AFOL community, including a number of semi-professional set designers and artists. In Season 1, 10 teams of two found their expertise put to the test in a series of elimination challenges, adjudicated by Brick Masters Jamie Berard and Amy Corbett, two of the minds behind the official LEGO sets found in stores today. And over the course of 10 episodes, these teams were whittled down until only one pair was awarded a $100,000 prize and the title of LEGO Masters. 

Along the way, the builders wowed the judges, the audience, and host Will Arnett with plastic marvels that showcased the versatility and charm of the beloved children's toy turned modern art medium. But which of their creations towered above the others? Well, read on for the best builds from "LEGO Masters" Season 1.

Spaceland (Episode 1, Aaron and Christian)

In the opening contest of "LEGO Masters," each of the tournament's 10 teams were given 15 hours to create one section of a minifig-scale LEGO theme park, which would then be reassembled into a single tableau for display. This was an opportunity for the competitors to announce themselves, to stand their work right next to their opponents' creations and see what they were up against. And performance in the "Dream Park Theme Park" challenge turned out to be an indicator of the shape of the season. With one notable exception, the teams that excelled in the first episode were the ones that dominated the tournament and, consequently, this list of the season's best builds. In addition to establishing themselves as the team to beat, the winner of the first round also received the Golden Brick, a token that would grant them immunity from elimination in a future round.

At first glance, brainy Aaron Newman and brawny Christian Cowgill seemed like a mismatched pair, but they immediately impressed everybody watching with their winning contribution to the theme park, "Spaceland." Built around the wreck of a crashed alien spacecraft, "Spaceland" met all the criteria that the judges would look for in builds throughout the season — creativity, technical proficiency, and storytelling. Its giant motorized Ferris wheel was the tallest working structure in the combined park, and the multiple minifig narratives planted throughout the build helped to make "Spaceland" the judges' favorite.

The Sacrifice (Episode 2, Tyler and Amy)

For a serious LEGO builder, the sound of plastic bricks crashing to the floor might be the stuff of nightmares. But in the season's second round, contestants were required to incorporate the destruction of their work into their builds. Each team's project would be dropped off the studio balcony, blown apart by explosives, or smashed open by a baseball bat swung by host Will Arnett. The method of their build's destruction was randomly selected in advance, and teams had to design their narratives around the instrument of their doom.

With 11 hours to work and the promise of an elimination at the end of the episode, the pressure was on to create a LEGO build that not only looked great when completed but also told a story when it was eventually destroyed. All of the competitors approached the challenge with creativity, but no one knocked it into the stratosphere quite like newlyweds Tyler and Amy Clites, who wowed us all with their appropriately titled entry – "The Sacrifice."

"The Sacrifice" was a brick-built sculpture of a giant space monster reaching its coiling tongue and tentacles up to grasp at the armored space warrior flying above. The warrior had his blaster trained on a (fake) explosive canister suspended between himself and the beast. When the sculpture was dropped from the balcony, the explosive appeared to fall into the monster's body as it collapsed on impact, giving the impression that the LEGO bomb caused its destruction rather than the real-life fall.

Mermaid (Episode 3, Sam and Jessica)

During the first two episodes of "LEGO Masters," the team of artists Sam Hatmaker and Jessica "RAGZY" Ewud seemed on the verge of total collapse. Sam and Jessica met via the online LEGO building community, but they lived on opposite coasts and were the only builders in the competition who had no pre-existing relationship as collaborators. Jessica was taken aback by Sam's resistance to teamwork during the first build, and when the pressure picked up during the second round, Sam blew up at his partner, going so far as to impugn her understanding of LEGO. Host Will Arnett had to step in to break up the conflict and, utilizing a strategy he usually reserves for his children, offer them an imaginary "reset" button to start their relationship over.

But this pantomime actually did the trick, as Sam and Jessica began to turn their work around in a big way starting with the very next build. This challenge required each team to select a sculpture of an object that appeared to have been cut in half and then build something imaginative to replace the missing side. Given half of a fire hydrant to work with, Sam and Jessica used their brick-sculpting skills to create a mermaid emerging from a burst of water. Flanked by smaller sea creatures made from a creative assortment of parts, "Mermaid" was eye-catching from every angle, earning them the runner-up position for this round.

Beneath the Surface (Episode 3, Aaron and Christian)

The "Cut in Half" challenge in Episode 3 resulted in a number of terrific builds, as each team attempted to construct an impressive LEGO sculpture to extend out of the side of a bisected object. Some teams had more intriguing objects to begin with than others, and Aaron and Christian arguably had the best prop to use as their base — an antique diving helmet.

The pair took the nautical theme to the limit, deciding to build an ocean surface extending out of the top of the diving bell and then to create an intricate underwater scene below. The centerpiece of the sculpture was a giant kraken that clung to the flat face of the sliced helmet, coiling one of its tentacles around it. Where the squid's body broke the surface of the water, it became an island covered in stones, grass, and trees, with a sailing ship beside the landmass for scale. Plus, there was a whole undersea ruin below, in a multi-level ocean floor complete with seaweed and foliage. The build also incorporated several motors to coil the kraken's tentacles, rock the sailing ship, and mobilize swimming schools of fish.

As impressive as "Beneath the Surface" was as a build, the judges felt that Aaron and Christian had already demonstrated these particular building skills in the previous episodes, and that they hadn't really taken this sculpting challenge in its intended spirit. Still, from our point of view, this LEGO build is absolutely squid-tacular.

The Clockwork Man (Episode 3, Richard and Flynn)

The winning entry in the "Cut in Half" challenge was "The Clockwork Man," a beautiful and imaginative moving sculpture from Richard Board and Flynn De Marco. Married for nine years at the time the season was filmed, Richard and Flynn presented a warm, united front together across the whole season, as Richard continually supported Flynn through bouts with anxiety and the stressful time restrictions of the competition. Their solidarity paid off in Episode 3's "Cut in Half" challenge, when they delivered their first and only round-winning build.

"The Clockwork Man" was built as an extension off of a wooden cuckoo clock affixed to a transparent plastic wall. It was a sculpture first, as the judges requested, but it also told a charming story through its minifig ornaments. (In the tale of "The Clockwork Man," a village assembled in the shadow of a giant clock builds a guardian for their beloved timepiece to ensure that it never stops ticking.) "The Clockwork Man" was both the most literal and most poetic interpretation of the source objects provided for the round and a worthy winner.

While Richard and Flynn would not land in the top two for any of their remaining episodes, they would survive for several more weeks and end up in fifth place for the overall season, one of only four teams to win an elimination challenge.

Shark Song (Episode 4, Mark and Boone)

In Episode 4, teams were given eight hours to create a storytelling LEGO build based on a randomly assigned movie genre, such as "thriller" or "fantasy." Best friends Boone Langston and Mark Cruickshank, also known as Portland's "Bearded Builders," were given the prompt of "monster," and they set out to make their mark on the competition with a dramatic diorama of a giant, mutated land shark terrorizing the beach community of Fishtoria. The shark — constructed with motorized Technic arms on a mostly brick-built body — consumed nearly all of Boone's time during the eight-hour building period, while Mark focused on completing the town that the shark was meant to menace.

When the time elapsed, the Fishtoria scene looked like it stood a fair chance of taking the always impressive Portland duo into the top two for the first time, but viewers weren't sure if the build had what it took to win. Fortunately for Mark and Boone, Phil Lord and Chris Miller (famed directors of "The LEGO Movie") arrived after the buzzer to add a twist to the proceedings. They'd be assigning each team a second genre and eight more hours to incorporate it into their build. Now, Mark and Boone would have to add a little romance to their monster movie, which they did by changing the shark's goal from wanton destruction to the rescue of his captured mate. This genre mash-up was by far the most successful in the competition and kicked off an impressive winning streak for the Bearded Builders.

Attack on Sustainable City (Episode 5, Aaron and Christian)

In the fifth episode of "LEGO Masters" Season 1, each team was given the chance to design a city block to contribute to a massive LEGO Mega City. Like in the first challenge of the show, all of the teams' builds would be lined up to become a greater whole, which made the competition for most spectacular landmark particularly fierce. 

Aaron and Christian, who won the "Dream Park Theme Park" contest but hadn't seen the podium since, decided to wow the judges with the tallest tower in the city. As a result, they designed the Eco Tower, a 14-story skyscraper at minifig scale, complete with a working elevator, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a slice-of-life story told behind each pane of "glass." But after 14 hours of work, disaster struck when the tower toppled to the floor on the way to the podium for judging, destroying its top four stories. Aaron was devastated, walking off the set in frustration. A pep talk from Christian brought him back to the judging area, where he received some good news: This was only part one of the challenge.

Before judgement, each team was given four additional hours to place their city block under siege by evil forces of their own choosing. This gave Aaron the time he needed to rebuild the broken section of the tower while Christian constructed a giant monster, Smogra, to menace the city. Their finished product, "Attack on Sustainable City," was marvelous, but some pretty stiff competition held it to second place.

Pop's Food Carts (Episode 5, Mark and Boone)

Mark and Boone entered the Mega City Block challenge with a clever concept. They wanted to create a tower of food carts stacked on top of each other. They imagined a character and a backstory for their structure, telling the saga of Pops, a chef whose food cart becomes so popular that it continues to expand upward over the course of 50 years. Construction on the tower began with a rare moment of tension between the Bearded Builders, when Boone criticized Mark's foundational brickwork for being gray and drab. Mark assumed that Boone would recognize this was a work in progress, and he felt that Boone's notes demonstrated a lack of trust in his creative contributions to their team. Rather than let their raw feelings fester, the two friends talked it out and were soon back into their usual rhythm.

When the initial 14-hour build window closed, host Will Arnett announced the twist of the episode requiring each city block to become the scene of some sort of attack or invasion. Mark and Boone quickly developed an organic way to advance the story of their tower into a comic action-adventure, unfolding a new chapter in which the food tower's hot dogs come to life and mutate into a variety of monsters. The judges were delighted by their story, their character building, and their use of color, and thus, "Pop's Food Carts" was award first place in the Mega City Block challenge.

The Two Unbreakable Bridges (Episode 6, Mark and Boone / Tyler and Amy)

The elimination challenge in Episode 6 was to build a bridge between two pillars that were six feet apart. The bridge that could support the most weight would be declared the winner. Mark and Boone won a time advantage in the episode's warm-up challenge, allotting them a full six hours to work while each of their opponents had to start at least five minutes later. They made use of this time — as well as Mark's experience as a real-life construction worker — to build a bridge that distributed its weight across four beams made from brick and Technic pieces. Meanwhile, Tyler and Amy, already starting 15 minutes behind and with four hours remaining, pivoted from using Technic pieces to locking bricks into place by lining their bridge's exterior faces with baseplates.

When judging began, Aaron and Christian's arch and truss bridge seemed to set the bar high when it successfully supported 445 pounds before breaking. This was more than the producers were expecting any of the bridges to hold, requiring the stage crew to bring out metal plates and sandbags to continue the competition. Soon, it became clear how much everyone involved had underestimated the endurance of a good LEGO bridge when Tyler and Amy's build held strong under 1,000 pounds of weight — the maximum the show could safely allow. When Mark and Boone's bridge also survived 1,000 pounds, the judges were forced to pick a winner based on aesthetic value, giving Mark and Boone their third consecutive victory.

Vegetable Monster (Episode 7, Tyler and Amy)

In Episode 7 of "LEGO Masters," things get started with host Will Arnett playing a variation of Mad Libs with a group of small children, allowing them to fill in the blanks in a fairy tale story. Here's what they came up with:

"Once upon a time in the land of KOO-KOO MAGIC, a BOOK CHICKEN and a HORSE THAT CAN DO GYMNASTICS went looking for some TOYS to eat. All of a sudden, a TAKER-WAKER, whose house is messy and filled with all the things she has taken away from the children, appeared and asked, 'Why are you eating all of my TOYS? Those are magical!'"

This is the tale that each team was tasked with interpreting via LEGO, and while Brick Masters Amy and Jamie still got the final word, it was also important to impress the young storytellers. After the teams had spent three and a half hours designing their own Taker-Wakers and book chickens, the children returned to add individual twists to each team. Tyler and Amy's storyteller, Caitlyn, demanded that the original scene come under attack from a giant carrot monster and a rain of evil broccoli. 

This played right to Tyler and Amy's strengths as character builders, resulting in their spectacular build that placed each of the story's characters on their own floating platform. The final result struck the perfect balance between chaos and narrative clarity that the story demanded, winning the approval of both the judges and their young charge.

The Good vs. Evil Tableau (Episode 8, Mark and Boone / Sam and Jessica)

The season's penultimate elimination challenge didn't just pit the remaining four teams against each other — it also required their cooperation. Each team was assigned a pair of minifigures and an alignment of either "good" or "evil." Teams that were assigned "good" had to create a secret superhero hideout based on one of their figures, with the other figure playing sidekick. "Evil" teams had the same mission, but their figures would play the roles of supervillain and henchman. Each "good" team was paired with an "evil" team so that their characters could do battle over a third, shared building platform.

This episode's winning build was Tyler and Amy's lair for their villainous Mummy Queen, but it was paired with the round's weakest entry, Aaron and Christian's bizarre bake sale display. Because their actual combined project was so uneven, we thought it more appropriate to highlight the other, more cohesive build that pitted Mark and Boone's Bear Costume Guy and Pizza Costume Guy against Sam and Jessica's Shower Guy and Gardener. These two teams worked better together from the very beginning, deciding to both build underground lairs that shared the same street level. There were several clear vignettes being represented across the build, as the heroes and villains fought alongside their robot and creature companions. It truly looked like one complete set telling a cohesive story, and that makes it the true champion of Episode 8, if only in our hearts.

Imperial Bunker on Endor (Episode 9, Mark and Boone)

"Star Wars" and LEGO bricks have gone together since 1999, so it's no surprise that an episode of "LEGO Masters" would feature a pair of challenges revolving around that franchise from a galaxy far, far away. First, the final three surviving teams were assigned to build a motorized droid with a personality befitting guest stars R2-D2, BB-8, and C-3PO (portrayed by understudy Threepio Chris Bartlett). The winner got the first pick out of 10 famous scenes from the "Star Wars" saga to recreate for the episode's main challenge. (No teams would be eliminated this week, but this was kept secret until the end of the episode.)

While they didn't win first pick, Mark and Boone seemed quite content with their choice to build the "Imperial Bunker on Endor" scene from "Return of the Jedi." Their representation of the classic outdoor battle hit all the highlights — there's Han Solo and Leia Organa holding their ground against an army of Stormtroopers in front of the bunker, Ewoks stealing speeder bikes and dropping rocks from primitive hang gliders, and of course, there's the imposing AT-ST "chicken walker" looming over the entire affair. Boone's attempt to build the walker at an imposing scale almost ended in disaster when its head fell off its neck and broke apart with only 17 minutes left on the clock, but he was able to put it back together before the buzzer and help his team to victory against some fierce competition.

The Peacock and the Monkey (Episode 10, Sam and Jessica)

In the tradition of fellow competition show "Top Chef," the first season of "LEGO Masters" concluded by allowing its three surviving teams the freedom to create anything they'd like, without any prompt or guidance from the judges. Each competitor would get 24 hours to build something that showed off their strengths and personalities in a final bid for the championship.

Of all the teams who survived to the end of the season, Sam Hatmaker and Jessica "RAGZY" Ewud had the most to prove. While they shared a common ambition of quitting their jobs to become full-time artists, they didn't have the same bond going into the competition as best friends Mark and Boone or newlyweds Tyler and Amy. Their friction early in the season threatened their prospects, and though they had resolved their differences by Episode 3 and created some truly excellent builds in the interim, Sam and Jessica arrived at the finale with no wins under their belt.

So, for their final build, Sam and Jessica elected to highlight their impressive skills with sculpture and color, creating a piece titled "The Peacock and the Monkey." The star of the build was a large brick-built peacock with plumage made from leaf elements and discs. And behind the peacock, a monkey had stolen one of its feathers and was in the process of sewing it into a top hat. This delightful sculpture took third place in the finale, surely a proud feather in both artists' caps.

Artopia (Episode 10, Mark and Boone)

For their open-ended final challenge on "LEGO Masters," Mark Cruickshank and Boone Langston created the awe-inspiring "Artopia," a giant building complex that represented the triumph of creativity over the despair of a harsh world. Set in a future dystopia, "Artopia" boasted a story on each level of its two buildings, depicting painters, musicians, and other artists restoring an abandoned block into a colorful new home while collaborating and enjoying each other's work. The creation of the complex itself was part of the narrative, as paint cannons blasted the exterior walls with color. Typical of a Mark and Boone build, there were motorized components, with walls that rotated to reveal more art when a certain color LEGO paintbrush was dropped into a sensor-equipped paint can.

Honestly, "Artopia" demonstrated everything that could ever be accomplished with a LEGO build. It told a story through both its architecture and the figures that populated its world. It included an interactive element that triggered motion, had a sense of humor, and promoted a theme of joyful creation. Needless to say, the judges were impressed by the sheer number of stories told within the build ... but not enough to award it the grand prize in the finale. This prompted some serious backlash from fans who felt that Mark and Boone clearly deserved to walk away champions.

Treasure of the Griffin (Episode 10, Tyler and Amy)

Tyler and Amy Clites dominated throughout the first season of "LEGO Masters," coming in either first or second in half of all contests. But in the penultimate episode's "Star Wars" scene challenge, they found themselves in third place out of three. Had there been an elimination that week, Tyler and Amy would have been sent home.

The Clites took this wake-up call seriously, entering the final episode with a determination to up their game and take home the $100,000 prize. For their capstone build, they created "Treasure of the Griffin," a medieval fantasy scene dominated by a battle atop a castle tower. And this was no ordinary fight. Instead, the scene depicted a brawl between a giant hungry lizard and a fierce griffin protecting its nest of babies. The griffin's wings were motorized, with its outer feathers built to arch protectively around its young and then to extend majestically when the wings were raised. Below, armies of good and evil minfigs collided in an enchanted forest populated by magical creatures, adding a grand sense of scale to the fantastical build.

Like their competitors, Tyler and Amy built towards their greatest strength — character modeling — as well as playing into their compelling personal narrative as newlyweds who learned during the production of the show that they were expecting their first child. The judges selected "Treasure of the Griffin" as the finale's best build, awarding Tyler and Amy the cash prize and the title of LEGO Masters, as well as a place of honor for their build at the new LEGOLAND New York Resort.