Hi, my name is Veronica Watson and I am the Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester in Yonkers, NY. This fulltime job includes tasks such as designing and constructing original Lego models and maintaining our Lego displays. I also teach educational workshops including our AFOL nights on the first Thursday of every month. While my love of Lego stems from the joy it brought me as a child, I like to think it is also linked to my educational background. I studied Urban Design and Architecture with a minor in Studio Art at NYU. I am constantly impressed by the way Lego bricks can be such a meaningful medium of creative expression for both children and adults. Ask me anything!

I'm here at reddit NYC to answer your questions.

Proof: http://imgur.com/URVD79x

and if you guys come to the LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester AFOL night on April 2nd (https://www.facebook.com/LDCWestchester?ref=br_tf), you can have the chance to win my exclusive Game of Thrones inspired LEGO creations!

Update: Thank you guys for all your wonderful questions. This has been so much fun. I hope you all come visit me at LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester in Yonkers. It's worth the trip! And keep building!

Comments: 104 • Responses: 31  • Date: 

mbritt7417 karma

Do you date Batman?

VeronicaWatson15 karma

Um, no. I did not know he was available.

leb_11 karma

How many Legos can you step on barefoot?

VeronicaWatson19 karma

Oh god... 2.

One for each foot.

I mean, after that, I would look down and realize I was stepping on them.

EpicVuze5 karma

Any tips for getting this job?

VeronicaWatson5 karma

Well, practice building memorable models out of LEGO. And models that represent yourself and things that you like. And if you want to become a Master Builder, you have to do a building competition called "Brick Factor" - for that you have to be able to build & think of ideas to build very quickly, so if you want to practice "speed building" without instructions, that can be a good skill to build.

Mantisbog5 karma

Comments on that story about the guy who wasn't allowed into legoland?

VeronicaWatson2 karma

Sorry, can you clarify what you're asking?

Mantisbog3 karma

This guy, an adult, who really likes Legos was denied entrance to Legoland because he didn't have a child with him. That seems unfair.

VeronicaWatson11 karma

At LEGOLAND Westchester (http://www.legolanddiscoverycenter.com/westchester/) we have a AFOL (which stands for Adult Fan of LEGO) night the first Thursday of every month. And there's activities, building competitions, trophies, scavenger hunts, plus a cash bar for those 21 and older... there are various similar types of events at Discovery Centers across the country. But as a policy, LEGOLAND Discovery Center is designed for children to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

s-watson3 karma

Is it true that your cousins are also pretty good with legos? I remember one of them building a sweet lego snow speeder recently

p.s. sup veronica

VeronicaWatson2 karma

Yes. I come from a family of VERY talented LEGO artisans. I always played with LEGOs with my cousins and my brothers growing up.

Spoonsy3 karma

What's your favorite thing you've built that isn't a kit? And are there pictures?

VeronicaWatson21 karma

Well, most of the things I build aren't kits, unless I'm building for a specific event where we have to showcase models. Besides GUERNICA, I built a garden gnome which is my workshop. I love that one a lot.

PHOTO: http://imgur.com/tYbM9lV

Spoonsy2 karma

Wait, Guernica? As in that Guernica?

Are there pictures?

Spoonsy1 karma

That is so amazing. So's the gnome.

Did you get any feedback from the real designers on the NYFW ones?

VeronicaWatson2 karma

Marc Jacobs posted one on his tumblr...

MikeRadical3 karma

What's your favourite thing you've made?

VeronicaWatson9 karma

Oooh. Um, hmm. Favorite thing I've made would be Picasso's GUERNICA, out of Legos.

Link. I think it took a couple hours altogether.

BitteWenden2 karma

Is this job as awesome as it sounds?

VeronicaWatson5 karma

Um, yes. It's awesome. Certain days are more fun than others. My favorite days are when I get to work on a new project, or work on something out of LEGO. Sorting LEGOS are less fun. It takes a very long time - by color, by size, by part, how do you organize it, I don't know, and I have a very small workshop, so I have to lay it out in a certain way...

mypetproject2 karma

How tall can a Lego structure get?

VeronicaWatson5 karma

Whew. When it starts to get taller than I would say... 3 feet or so - we have to put a metal structure in it. So models like that are done in California. So the buildings in our Mini-Land, like the Empire State Building, or One World Trade Center, those all have a steel frame inside to make sure they stand the test of time. Anything that's going to be on display that's taller than a small child needs to be reinforced.

But hypothetically, you could build a building out of LEGOs.

I think someone did. I think someone built a LEGO house in England? Let me check.

TakePrideInSize5 karma

It was James May, he did an Xmas special and built a house out of lego with furniture aswell, no frame.

VeronicaWatson2 karma

Yes!!! Yes!! I saw that. That was awesome.

integralvoid2 karma

I took my kids last summer and it was in a state of disrepair. The scale didn't work, the shooting guns weren't in good condition, the theater crapped out half way through the Chima movie, and a majority of the employees seemed disgruntled.
I have 3 questions:
(1) Does management care at all about the condition of the Westchester facility in Ridge Hill?
(2) Do you think you overlook these shortcomings because of your love for Legos?
(3) Do you notice a difference between employees who work directly with the Legos versus those who do not (such as cashiers)?
EDIT Sorry if this is overly negative, I was just so very disappointed when I made the visit, especially since I've loved Legos before I was even able to read.

VeronicaWatson4 karma

Well, I've been there for 2 years. I've only been a Master Model Builder for about a year, I won "Brick Factor" after I graduated from college, but we all work hard together as a team to deliver the best experience that we can. And it's a lot of work to maintain the LEGO models and the attractions, but we do our best. And I really appreciate the team that i work with. They really bring their love of LEGO to the table every single day and they work hard.

VeronicaWatson1 karma

And please come back. There's a lot of fun stuff coming up in the Spring.

wewantstheredhead2 karma

For the larger displays are you just left alone to figure it out or are there instructions or technique cheat sheets?

VeronicaWatson4 karma

Well, if I'm having trouble with a particular model I'm trying to build, I have the other Master Model Builders I can reach out to, and ask how they may have done it in the past and if they have any tips for me, and if they can make any suggestions... when I first became a Master Model Builder, I went to Kansas City for training with the Master Model Builder there, his name is Jeremiah, and he taught me some of the more basic skills that you need to be specifically a Master Model Builder.

He told me how to glue (the Kragle! a controversial subject), he taught me how to build a sphere out of LEGO, he taught me how to plan out the models in advance using "brick paper" - so if i have a more complicated model, you can draw it out in advance, it's like graph paper but scaled for bricks.

So more like collective bits of wisdom from the Guild of Master Builders.

dragonfly19932 karma

did you like the movie?

VeronicaWatson1 karma

Definitely. It was an amazing film. It was definitely really fun to have the kids come in and start talking to us about the different characters, and they would all wear their LEGO movie shirts. It was awesome. We also did a LEGO movie event and I actually decorated our MiniLand with different scenes from the movie, and people would have to search for the different characters. Like I hung Benny's spaceship over Staten Island.

TakePrideInSize2 karma

What's your favourite pizza?

VeronicaWatson4 karma


I like buffalo chicken.

Quellman1 karma

Hello Ms. Watson. You said

I am constantly impressed by the way Lego bricks can be such a meaningful medium of creative expression for both children and adults.

Do you have any favorite set ideas from ideas.lego or other artists that really stand out?

Additionally which out of production set or series would you like to see in production again?

What type of maintenance must be performed on the displays?

Thanks and have a great build.

VeronicaWatson3 karma

Ooooh. Well, um... I'm very excited about the new LEGO ideas that are coming out. They have (I believe) WALL-E and Dr. Who Companions (both of which I voted for) - those are coming out from https://ideas.lego.com, and I always go there to see the latest and greatest.

HARRY POTTER. Definitely.

Oooh. Well, every evening, we go through with a vacuum, and we vacuum sort've the larger areas in MiniLand. However, usually ever 2 weeks, I go in for a "deep clean" which involves me with a paintbrush and vacuum, and I very delicately dust the details of MiniLand.

It takes a good 2 hours.


TheLiberalMedia01 karma

When it comes to pop culture based models like star wars and such, how much freedom does the design team actually have when it comes to model design?

VeronicaWatson1 karma

Well, I'm not involved in the design of models that LEGO puts out in production, so I wouldn't really know their process... I've never had any issues with any sort of branding. I think that as long as you're respectful of the aesthetic of the brand, and the fans who are super-attached so you don't disappoint them, as long as you make something cool you should be okay.

notjabba1 karma

I got my daughter a $60 lego building kit, which was great except the conspicuously missing little people. Then I saw that the cheapest you can find one of those 1-gram piece of plastic people is $4. My daughter is asking me for people, but I have a hard time justifying the expense. Am I missing something? Is there really no better way to field a lego baseball team then to drop $36 for a quarter of a pocket load of plastic?

VeronicaWatson1 karma

Well, if you come to LEGOLAND Discovery Center, you can trade minifigures with the employees (we do trade!)...and https://www.bricklink.com I mentioned does have some minifigure parts on there too... and unless you find a set with a bunch of minifigures, the best way to acquire many figures might be to get the "blind bag" minifigs. And plus it's fun because it's a surprise, and you can collect them all, AND trade with your friends.

j_one_k1 karma

Is there any trick you can describe in a short paragraph that we could all use to be better at designing and building lego models? I'm sure practice, practice, practice is a lot of it, but any tips for those of us who just mess around on occasion?

VeronicaWatson2 karma



I would just say that I think like any other art form or medium, that everyone will have their own sort of interpretation of how to use the medium. So I think the key for me is to always to try to use new pieces in ways that I hadn't thought of using them before. So a lot of times when I'm building something, a lot of the time is spent taking it apart and re-building it, because with LEGO, you're trying to represent... something with a limited vocabulary of parts, so until you mix them around and re-arrange them, you won't necessarily know how to build them right away. It's not like there are instructions in my head, it's like trial & error.

It's definitely fun to practice with. But it's really trial & error, to be honest. I must practice building this thing over & over - it's not like that, for me, anyway.

courtiebabe4201 karma

How did you get interested in working with Lego as a way to utilize your educational background? Did you always want to be a Master Builder?

VeronicaWatson1 karma


Well... I studied urban design & architecture at NYU, and I also did a minor in Studio Art. And while I was finishing up my undergrad, I was working at LEGOLAND Discovery Center on the weekend, teaching classes. So when I ended up graduating, at the same time, the position opened up for Master Model Builder, and I entered the competition for fun, and I won! And it relates to architecture, and studio art, and sculpture. So it was kinda a fortunate accident, I think.

I definitely always built with LEGO as a kid. And always loved it. I didn't know that Master Model Builder was a thing, like a job, until I found out about it, so I can't say that I thought it was a career or a job. But it... ended up being a great combination of my interests!

mracidglee1 karma

How often do you break out the Kragl?

VeronicaWatson2 karma


For displays that are gonna be permanent, I do have to... glue them. But it's only so that they don't fall apart when the guests come to visit.

But I don't use it if I don't have to.

I can understand, as a fan of LEGO myself, how it kind've goes against the idea that you can reuse LEGO to build different things with the same brick. But sometimes, sacrifices must be made for art.

DeaconoftheStreets1 karma

How do I get a ton of Legos without depleting my bank account? I've always felt like they're kinda pricey for some plastic bricks.

VeronicaWatson3 karma

So if you have a model, a specific model in your mind, that you want to design & build yourself, there's a website called https://www.bricklink.com where you can order the particular parts that you want in large quantities for niche projects.

TheLiberalMedia01 karma

What types f models are your favorites?

VeronicaWatson1 karma

Well, I like to collect the LEGO ideas models that come out, and I also collect some of the architecture models. And as far as models I like to build, i think the most exciting thing to build is something you wouldn't have thought of being made out of LEGO - whether it's something from pop culture or something unexpected!

TheLiberalMedia01 karma

Make a Kanye model with additional characters like Taylor Swift for him to insult.

VeronicaWatson1 karma

I would love to make Kanye.

HunterHearstHemsley1 karma

How are the legos organized in the workshop? By color? Shape? Size? Are they in little drawers/bins, or just dumped out in a massive unorganized pile on the floor like when I was a kid?

VeronicaWatson3 karma


Well, the workshop is a little bit messy at the moment.

I am constantly in the process of re-organizing it. But we have most of the LEGOS separated by color, and then type of brick within that color - so you have one-bys, your one-by-twos, your one-by-threes, your one-by-fours...

And then you have your two-bys...

And then it's up to whatever makes the most sense for you. I kinda pair pieces together if they're used together often. So wheels will go with axels...I put all the technic bricks together... and I separate minifigs. I try to keep a decent stock of different heads and bodies, so if I have to make a specific character, I have something to work with!

The minifigs are stored in tackle boxes, and the regular LEGO components are either on the wall in cartons, or mounted to the wall in little drawers. Like little parts-drawers.

drake07271 karma

Do you plan on working there for a long time or is this a stopgap job?

VeronicaWatson3 karma

I like LEGO as a medium, and as a mode of creative expression. But it's not the only medium I like to use. So one day I would like to go back to grad school for architecture. But there's definitely creative fulfillment in the job I have now, so I'm not complaining - DEFINITELY not.

ExtraAndroid1 karma

Do you think there's any room for technological (i.e. computers, software) improvement in lego's future products?

VeronicaWatson2 karma


Um, well, they do offer the LEGO Mindstorms product line, which I haven't worked with myself, but it's a robotics program, so a lot of schools will use it in classrooms to teach kids engineering and problem solving, that sort of thing...

[deleted]-3 karma


VeronicaWatson3 karma

Oh yes, I do get paid.

Um... well, when I was younger, like 10 years ago maybe, with my brother I built a Hogwarts castle with my brother from scratch from LEGO. So at the time I was really proud of that. Pre-professional days.