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To Hollywood, with Legos

(Ray Mickshaw/Fox)


To Hollywood, with Legos

Creativity and teamwork led Tyler and Amy Clites to a Lego Masters championship

Be in the world but not of it: A familiar concept for Christians, but easier said than done if the world is Hollywood reality TV. Just ask Florida couple Tyler and Amy Clites, champions of Fox’s new show Lego Masters.

Tyler, who has built with Legos since he was 2 years old, works for an independent online company designing instructions for creative brick models. His office is a spare bedroom lined floor to ceiling with white plastic drawers of bricks. The bricks are organized by type, as Tyler demonstrated, pulling out a drawer to reveal yellow 2x2x1 cylinders. Amy, a piano teacher, had no Lego-design experience before meeting Tyler. “I married into it,” she laughed.

The competition, which took place from November to December 2019 and aired this spring, consisted of 10 Lego “builds” based on different themes and judged for technical level and artistic appeal. Each round lasted 12-15 hours nonstop, and at the end of each round the judges sent one team home. Tyler and Amy had been married only about a year when filming began and hadn’t gone through any major stresses together.

The first round was especially rough. The challenge was to build a theme park, so Tyler designed an egg drop ride as the central feature. The elevator mechanism didn’t work until the last minute. The Cliteses were still getting used to the TV show world, the pressure of the clock, and building together. Plus, Amy is pregnant and had some first-trimester nausea.

The Cliteses live in Bradenton, Fla., but the competition took place in Los Angeles: Coming from conservative backgrounds, the couple felt drained by the long days filming in a highly secular atmosphere, where profanity was prolific. For Amy, who had been a missionary in Uganda 10 years earlier, it felt like returning to the field.

They faced many challenges. One was staying realistic about the outcome, since the winners would take home $100,000. Tyler and Amy had been planning to buy a house, and such a cash prize would help. So they started each Lego build with prayer: “Lord, make Your will our ultimate desire.” 

Tyler was more stressed by the idea of going home and losing the opportunity to try every challenge. Amid the pressure, he constantly had to remind himself not to idolize proving himself. He and Amy used their differences to complement each other: Amy was the planner and timekeeper, Tyler the designer. 

Amy pushed herself to engage and seek out deeper conversations with the other competitors. Although the producers didn’t give the competitors a chance to talk about their beliefs, they highlighted the Cliteses’ newlywed status in a positive, if caricatured, light. The couple dressed as if for date night and stole kisses onscreen.

The judges favored builds with strong characters and storylines, and that allowed Tyler and Amy to showcase both their creativity and pro-life values. One of their builds featured a giant super-baby saving the world from milk-stealing cats. Their prize-winning build, Treasure of the Griffin, depicted a mother griffin with realistically flapping wings fiercely protecting her young.

—Lego Masters is available on Amazon, Hulu, and Fox Now. Cautions: Mild bad language from one participant, and other participants include a homosexual couple.