An Interview with LEGO Master Model Builder Ian Coffey

Twenty-six-year-old LEGO Master Model Builder, Ian Coffey, was in Portland for the Old Port Festival in early June, sharing his incredible building talents with the masses. MP had the opportunity to chat with Ian, learn how he became a LEGO Master Model Builder, and what it’s like to work at the new LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in Boston.

Ian in Portland during Old Port Fest.

Ian in Portland during Old Port Fest.

MP: When did you first start building with LEGOs?
IC: I started at 3-years old. My older brother played with LEGOs, and I wanted to be just like him. To this day, there’s a very large LEGO city in the basement of my childhood home.

MP: How did you become a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC: My Dad’s friend saw an ad in the paper for LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, announcing a competition for the chance to become a LEGO Master Model Builder. I didn’t do anything about it then. When a close friend of mine found out, she signed me up anyway. I’m so glad she did!

Ian at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium during Old Port fest.

Ian at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium during Old Port Fest.

MP: What was the competition like?
IC: There were over 100 contestants, and the build-off lasted two days. We could only use certain sizes and shapes for our creations. One of the first challenges was to create a character from a favorite story. I built Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. After that, we had to build something from a favorite vacation. I designed the Olympic ski jump from Lake Placid, New York.

MP: And the final challenge?
IC: We had to create a LEGO scene that meant something to us personally.  I made a “painted picture” of my Chocolate Lab at the park.

MP: What did you do before becoming a LEGO Master Model Builder?
IC:  I worked under the secretary of the New York State Senate for nearly every single senator. My days were very long.

MP: What’s a typical day at the Boston LEGOLAND® Discovery Center like?
IC: I build in my office, which is all glass. I call it my fishbowl [laughs] because visitors come and watch me while I work. I also teach school groups fun little facts about LEGOs. And at the LEGO Master Model Builder Academy, we’re designing dragons, which are really cool.


MP: My family has been to the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in New York and LEGOLAND® in Florida. What’s the Boston Center like?
IC: The mini land features a miniature Boston—you’ll see Fenway Park (my personal favorite) and the Zakim Bridge. The Boston mini land is the biggest of any LEGOLAND® Discovery Center in the world.

Fenway Park -  made entirely of LEGOs.

Fenway Park – made entirely of LEGOs.

MP: What do you do when you’re not working with LEGOs?
IC: I always like to keep busy. In the past, I landscaped a 12-acre estate, and I built a pretty elaborate tree house with a shingled roof in my backyard. It even has cable!

MP: Besides coming to the Old Port Festival earlier this month, what’s your connection to Maine?
IC: I’ve been coming to Mother’s Beach in Kennebunk since I was 6-weeks old. When I visit, I love to build sandcastles on the beach and hang out with my dog. People say I should enter a sandcastle competition, but I like building on my own. Usually some kids will come by and offer ideas. It’s perfect—I’m really a kid at heart.

Thanks so much to Ian for taking the time to chat! FMI on the LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Boston, visit their website or Facebook page.

Comments 61

  1. Love this! I have a teen that still loves building. This would be his dream job! Can’t wait to share this with him to show what’s possible 🙂

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  2. That sounds like a great experience! I didn’t realize there was a LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Boston!

  3. Would love to bring my 6 year old and one of his buddies! Sounds awesome! Looks fun for us big kids too!! 😉

  4. What a great giveaway.The kids would love this (my 2 boys are building with legos in the background right now). Interesting interview too. What a cool job.

  5. Ohmygosh! I had no idea there was a LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Boston! This would make for a wonderful field trip for my family, and count as a homeschool day for my son 😀

  6. We went last week; the Fenway park pinball is the BEST! Would of course love to go again 🙂

  7. Thanks for the chance… my mini builders would love this! Enjoy the gorgeous weather!!

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  8. My son would be so excited to visit the Lego Discovery Center – and it would be perfect timing since he turns 4 next Saturday!

  9. Can’t wait to bring my kids to the new discovery center. They just love being creative with their Legos!

  10. Wow!!! This interview was great! I would love to be able to take my 3 yo to the Discovery Center!


  11. How fabulous! I can’t wait to share this with other lego fans. Proof that you CAN find a job doing something that you love! Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win – we haven’t been to any of the Legolands yet!

  12. I still remember my 1st Lego set, it was a very cool space station set. I spent countless hours with my brother to play with it. Lots of imagination! Now my 3 years old plays with his construction site set almost everyday. Can’t wait for him to see the Lego discovery center Boston.

  13. We’ve been to the LEGOLAND in Chicago, but I didn’t even know there was one in Boston. Thanks for the great post!

  14. I would love to take our family to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center! My son is attending lego camp this summer and our whole family would love this!

  15. My husband and son LOVE everything Legos! We’re so excited about a Lego Land being within driving distance! I’m sure going with them will be like having TWO kids 😊. A free trip would make it even better!

  16. This interview will be so much fun to share with my son. Boston’s Lego Land is on our priority list for this year. Thanks for the opportunity to win tickets!

  17. Great interview!!! I have two little boys who would love to go to legoland this summer!!! Thank you!

  18. Thanks for sharing this interview. My son enjoyed learning about master builders and is super excited to have a lego discovery center close to home.

  19. My son wants to be a master builder too one day! It must be the best job in the world he says! We have been to Legoland California but it is great that we now have one right in New England!

  20. I am staying with my grandson. He has Legos all over the place. We just finished making a special place in the basement for his Lego structures. We need to visit you.

  21. Just went a week ago, my daughter loved it. Remember to bring socks if your child is wearing sandals, you have to wear socks only for one of the play areas

  22. Nice interview. We can’t wait to get to Legoland Boston! It will be so nice to let my kids play with Legos and not have to pick them up from every nook and cranny of my house afterwards 🙂 (and of course explore and play)

  23. My 10 yr sons dream job is to become a Lego Master Model Builder. This past Valentines Day he built me a mini version of the Taj Mahal which I will cherish always.

  24. My 8year old son Loves Lego. He made a small Lego city in our small aparment. Ryle personally said: when he grow up he want to be just like you Ian Coffey.

  25. Great interview. My older son and I were there when Ian was “crowned” – my son is a Lego fanatic well on his way to being a Lego Master Builder himself 🙂

  26. That is so cool! I would love to go to one of their adult nights and have a good time! 🙂 I have always wanted to go when they opened!

  27. Fun article! I think my son will be a future master builder. He started when he was 2 and now he’s 4 and it’s what he does all day!

  28. I’m not sure who will love this place more, my little kids or my big kid (hubby)!! They all love their legos!! Definitely going to visit this summer!

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