‘I’m David Holder, and I’m a professional Lego builder’

Photo: Julian Kingma

Photo: Julian Kingma

I was totally into Lego as a kid, but I only got back into it in earnest when I was 22. The renewed interest went hand in hand with a bit of disposable income, and one of those $10 vouchers from Target.

My voucher was expiring that day, so I went in with the intention of blowing it on a bag of lollies, but the first thing I saw was a sale on Lego: three figurines for $10. It just so happened that the trio came from a set of 16, and the collector in me kicked in straight away. I had no idea it’d turn into a career.

Melbourne Legoland announced the “Brickfactor” contest when they decided to hire a master builder, so I signed up. It was amazing, but intense: it was a two-day Lego building expo and competition, with 100 entrants. We were assigned different challenges with a set number of bricks, and bonus challenges were thrown into each round. For instance, in one round we had half an hour to start a model, but had to instruct a team to help us finish it. Everyone from engineers to IT professionals and teachers had a crack at Brickfactor.

I don’t have an engineering or construction background or anything like that, but I am good at Lego. I’d studied music, so maybe a creative background helped, too. I also have an open mind and I’m patient, which you really need, because working at Legoland as a master builder isn’t just about sitting in a room building Lego by yourself all day. The biggest part of the job is instructing kids about how to build and interacting with people.

I started work at Legoland two months before it opened in 2017 to help set up the site, which involved building the display models and planning workshops. Since then, it’s been one of the broadest roles I’ve ever had, covering everything from keeping displays up-to-date and in good repair, and building in the workshop with the window open so that kids and parents can see what you’re working on and have a chat, through to teaching classes about creative Lego building.

My favourite and most challenging build was when we constructed the world’s largest Lego Millennium Falcon. It was five meters long with more than 50,000 bricks. Builds like that are never wholly mapped out, and they don’t have step-by-step instructions. You have to be intuitive.

I’m pumped to have this role, and my friends and family all think it’s cool. Some of my mates weren’t that surprised, they were more like, “we thought something like this would eventually fall into your lap”, because I was so passionate about it.

My nieces and nephews are definitely the most excited. At the start everyone was like, “that’s so cool” – it’s definitely one of the most unique jobs in Melbourne – but it’s become normal now. It’s more like, “yeah, that’s Dave. A professional Lego builder. That’s his thing.”

As told to Meg Crawford

Photo: Julian Kingma

Photo: Julian Kingma

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