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When Flynn DeMarco and Richard Board, contestants on “Lego Masters,” first arrived at the Southern California studio where the new Fox reality competition was filmed, they all but did an energetic happy dance.
Spread out before them were bins containing more than 3 million of the iconic Danish toy bricks — and in 200-plus vibrant shades. The walls were adorned with more than 5,000 mini figures and the work room was spacious enough to make all their Lego-building dreams come true.
“I was totally blown away,” DeMarco recalls. “I felt like Dorothy just landing in Oz.”
“I was in heaven,” Board adds. “And in complete awe.”
Partners from Oakland, DeMarco and Board are among the 10 two-person teams competing on “Lego Masters” (9 p.m. Feb. 5, Fox). Hosted by Will Arnett and based on a British hit, the series pits Lego enthusiasts against each other in highly ambitious brick-building challenges. The duos who ultimately impress the judges the most with their creations will claim a cash prize, the “ultimate Lego trophy” and the grand title of Lego Masters.
“It was a great experience,” Board says of the show, which finished production in December. “I love Lego as an art form. This was a chance to build amazing things with unlimited bricks, in a supportive environment, and around other people who share your passion for Lego.”
For DeMarco and Board, that passion was ignited five years ago when they began searching for a hobby they could enjoy together.
“We were looking for something to do other than sit on the couch and watch TV,” DeMarco says. “I picked up a Lego ‘X-Men’ set and we had a really great time putting it together.”
But they were just getting started. As a birthday gift for Board, DeMarco bought a 20-pound box of assorted Legos off Craigslist. It proved to be a bountiful haul.
“It was so much fun, because we didn’t have any idea what we were getting,” DeMarco says. “It was like a treasure hunt picking through that stuff.”
With backgrounds in theater, the East Bay couple channeled their creative energies into building complex and fantastical structures. Soon they began winning major prizes at Lego conventions and competitions.
At the 2018 Bricks by the Bay convention in Santa Clara, they wowed visitors with an eye-popping presentation called “Treasure of the Snake Queen.” Inspired by Disneyland-style rides, it was a multilevel fairy tale, with lights, music and several moving parts that had little Lego figures trekking through a spooky forest and battling a dragon. The display, which took four months to build, captured awards for Best in Show, People’s Choice and Best Storytelling.
And it’s projects like that one that attracted the notice of “Lego Masters” casting directors.
DeMarco and Flynn say it’s “easy to get lost” in their creations while often spending nine to 12 hours a day on their building. And their talents complement each other. Board, for example, is great at construction, while DeMarco is the storyteller concocting characters and whimsical narratives.
So what are the traits of a great Lego master?
“You need to have a good imagination and the ability to see individual Lego elements as pieces of a bigger picture,” DeMarco offers.
“And patience is a key,” Board adds. “Unlike the Lego theme park, where everything is glued together, you have to have the patience to build complex things that don’t fall apart. … It also helps to have a sense of humor. Legos are toys. It should be fun.”
Of course, DeMarco and Flynn aren’t permitted by Fox to talk about how the competition on “Lego Masters” played out. But they say viewers should expect to see plenty of enormous, wildly “epic” creations. As for their approach to the show, well, things got a little intense.
“We found ourselves getting more competitive over the course of the series,” Board says. “We were inspired by our fellow contestants and we wanted everyone to do well. But we wanted us to do even better.”
Contact Chuck Barney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/chuckbarney and Facebook.com/bayareanewsgroup.chuckbarney.