Master Lego Model Builder
For Jason Miller, 28, following the Lego brick road led to a dream job at Legoland Florida.
By Amanda Morales
Norma Lopez Molina
“I’ve been building since I was 5 with sets that my mom bought me, displaying them, creating little dioramas with various themes. I had a city series and created an entire cityscape on foam boards with cardboard paper for rivers and lakes. I created buildings, hospitals, banks and had a whole city planned out.”
Miller, an Orlando resident, is a senior member of a team of builders at the Legoland Florida theme park that constructs the thousands of displays using the interlocking toy bricks. Miller has built or helped build approximately 80 to 100 models in the park, including a tractor at the entrance to the new Fresh From Florida Greenhouse display and several pieces in the Miniland USA exhibit.
“Every model is completely different. ‘Minilanders’ [4-inch-high Lego people] are very small and take 5 to 10 minutes to build. Others take as much as 6 months to even a year—it just depends on how many people are working on a model and the size of it. For instance, the Grand Central Station that I helped with had six people working on it and took three months. It’s a big building, about 500,000 bricks.”
Miller sold his childhood sets in order to help finance his pursuit of a degree in mechanical engineering. But his love for Legos never went away. He landed a job with an Orlando Lego store and then with Legoland Florida when it opened a year ago. He has rebuilt his personal collection and now has about 350,000 bricks, worth $5,000-$6,000.
“Playing with a collection at home actually strengthens what I do at the park. The funny thing is I’m actually not very artistic. I can’t draw, I can’t paint, I can’t sculpt with clay but I can pull an idea out of my head and actually do it out of brick.”
“In our model shop we have our current project board and our wish board. Pretty much everything I have dreamed up has been built or it’s on that wish list. There are times when concepts may not work and are scrubbed, but our boss is very good about letting us have creative freedom and build what we like.”
“When we create new models we have to look at the most current details for that building and make sure everything looks as close to it as possible. We only have the bricks that are available to the public. So having to find a piece to translate into a wall sconce or a ticket booth is challenging.”
“My very first build for the park was a fire truck that is in our New York cluster in Miniland. It’s truck number 12, representing the day that I met my wife. Every model builder has the ability to hide references like that to themselves or family members. My sister-in-law and two nieces are on a bench in Grand Central Station.”