Local fans of Fox TV’s Lego Masters competition show probably know that builders Tyler and Amy Clites have been demonstrating their creative flair and collaborative skills there for the past two months. The couple, who live in Myakka City, have weathered all sorts of on-air challenges, bringing them to the finale this coming Wednesday, April 15, at 9 p.m. as they attempt to gain the title of Lego Masters—along with the trophy and the $100,000 prize that comes with that distinction.
The shows were taped October through December, but we can’t tell you the final outcome. We did, however, talk to the couple about their Lego building approach and skills—and even gained a tip or two for those of you who may have more time at home on your hands than usual just now.
Tyler’s been building with Legos since he was 2 years old, turning especially serious as a teen; he now has a position of creative director with BuildBetterBricks.com, where he does product photography and works on instructions for those crafting their own Lego skills. But Amy says, “My husband definitely brought me into the Lego world” since they married a year and a half ago. (By the way, the two connected online through eHarmony before meeting in person on the bridge at Nathan Benderson Park for the first time; she’s from Lakewood Ranch and he’s from Brandon.) How do they work as a team?
“We are planners,” says Amy. “We love organization. We start bouncing ideas off each other; one might have the original spark. The idea is half the battle. Then we both break it down as to how we are going to build. On the show, you have a certain amount of time to create the challenge, so we also have to check in regularly on time to see where we stand.”
“It’s quite intense,” Tyler adds of the experience, “with a lot of cameras and lights and people asking you questions.” But, “We’re both able to focus under pressure,” says Amy.
Biggest challenge for the pair? “The megacity challenge,” says Tyler, “because we like things with personality and character, and it was hard for us to get passionate about buildings.” One of their favorites? “The storybook challenge,” Amy replies. “I was worn out by that time, but then we saw all the kids there [the show brings guests on during each episode). I work with kids in my piano studio at home, and that got my energy back up. That challenge gave us a lot of options for character designs.” Tyler also liked the “space smash” challenge, for which the couple created a green monster with tentacles. He was intrigued by the idea of “building something that ultimately would be destroyed,” he says.
Any suggestions for at-home builders? From Tyler: “Think outside the box and generate new ideas with the pieces that you have; use them in new ways. If you’re working as a pair or more, mash two words together like ‘scary’ and ‘food’…then imagine, what would scary food be?”
From Amy: “It can help creativity to put some limits on yourself. Maybe you set a two-hour time limit and decide to create something from ancient history”—for example, a pyramid or a Trojan horse.
And, in case you’re wondering if the stress of designing and building in competition under time constraints ever sparked any marital spats, the answer is a resounding no. “We were blessed to never have any arguments,” Tyler says. “We’re very like-minded and work well together.” Amy agrees. “We found how we complement each other’s strengths.” That’s a prescription not only for Legos but for married life.