POCATELLO — One look at local resident Drew Maynard’s LEGO replica of the One World Trade Center and it’s no surprise the producers of a nationally televised show asked him to put his brick-building skills to the test.
Joined by his sister Miranda, the sibling pair from Pocatello are one of 12 teams of two competing on the third season of Fox’s hit reality show “LEGO Masters,” hosted by comedian Will Arnett and set to air on Sept. 21.
Weekly elimination challenges based on how well each team’s LEGO creation wows judges Jamie Berard and Amy Corbett will determine who at season’s end will hoist the “LEGO Masters” trophy and take home $100,000.
The Idaho State Journal recently interviewed Drew and Miranda via Zoom to find out what it was like to be on the show and how the generational toy has brought their own and many other families together for decades.
“I would just say it was surreal,” Drew said about experiencing the “LEGO Masters” set in person. “It was just such a cool feeling to see over 5 million bricks in the brick pit. … There’s just so many opportunities to build whatever you want because you have most of the pieces to do it. We’re big fans of the show, so meeting Will Arnett was super crazy.”
Miranda said, “It was really exciting just because we had seen this show on TV before and were so familiar with it that it was so strange to be there and get to see it all in person. … To listen to the feedback they give you, it’s totally different to get that for yourself and something you’re working on. You always imagine how that would go down if you were on the show, so to have it actually happen, we never expected that.”
The 18-year-old Drew and youngest of eight other siblings, who lives in Pocatello, has been building with LEGO since “practically birth,” Miranda said, after he discovered a giant tub in the attic full of the colorful bricks accumulated from his brothers and sisters over the years. Miranda, a 22-year-old Brigham Young University student living in Provo, Utah, is the second youngest. She has been building since her early teens when LEGO were common birthday and Christmas gifts.
The combined age of 40 puts them as the youngest pair of contestants to appear on the show this season.
“I’m the youngest person that has been on the show,” Drew said. “And so that was kind of intimidating because you want to show that young builders can still build really cool things.”
Miranda added, “It was a big deal to us being the youngest on the show.”
While thousands of potential candidates apply to participate on the show each season, it was Drew’s towering creations and his latest model of the One World Trade Center, which stands at an impressive 77 inches tall, that caught the interest of producers on social media and earned him an invitation.
“They actually reached out directly to Drew, which is cool,” Miranda said. “I remember Drew got an Instagram (direct message) and we all looked at it and we were like, ‘Is this real?’ He sent it to the family group chat and we were doing our amateur detective stuff, trying to figure out if it was real and it was, which is super cool.”
New York City’s tallest building isn’t the only from The Big Apple included in Drew’s LEGO city, which features a handful of LEGO kit-based structures and numerous MOCs, which stands for My Own Creations and are Drew’s sole inventions from the design stage to final product.
A peek at his Instagram or YouTube channel reveals MOC’s of the Rockefeller Center, Flatiron Building, Baxter Building, the fictional Avenger’s Tower and Oscorp building from the Marvel Universe and, of course, the Empire State Building. The layout includes Times Square, Central Park, spaces for the Brooklyn and Queensboro bridges and custom lighting throughout — something their father Richard Maynard, a local family physician, has a knack for helping install. The Maynard’s LEGO room in Pocatello features dedicated spaces for sets from Star Wars and Harry Potter, special collections like the McCallister home from “Home Alone” and dozens of boxed minifigures line the walls.
“A lot of what I do is replicate New York City buildings,” Drew said. “I look at a lot of the pictures of the building and will go onto Google Earth to try and figure out the proportions, but it’s all me. I’m ordering the pieces and designing them as I go along just in my head basically.”
From the brief moments the country saw Drew and Miranda in June during a special “Jurassic World” sneak peek of season three, the pair appear to have a partnership rooted in supportive teamwork with unique strengths.
It was during that episode that Miranda offered a glimpse into what it’s like growing up in Pocatello, which she described as “such a small town that our life would be so boring if we didn’t have LEGOs.”
Drew, in the world of LEGO and as described by Miranda, is more like a technic axle rod — strong, complex and the glue of any large creation. Miranda, as described by Drew, is like a LEGO egg.
“You’re like an egg because you’re really funny but you’re essential,” Drew said as he laughed. “The egg is packed with protein and you’re packed with helpful qualities.”
First created in 1949, generations of families have enjoyed the pastime of building with LEGO, an experience with highs seeing your creations take shape and the lows when a piece inevitably finds its way right under the ball of your foot.
“Building with LEGO provides a unique way to express your creativity,” Drew said. “It’s not always super satisfying while you’re building, but once something’s done and you’ve spent all this time designing it or putting it together, it’s such a great feeling of accomplishment to see the finished product.”
As fun as the hobby can be, it also teaches people positive life skills and it can in some ways help make us better people, Miranda added.
“It teaches us planning, patience, cooperation and creativity,” she said. “I work for a company down here in Utah and they actually commissioned Drew to do a really awesome model of their building, so you could even transfer it into a business skill.”
Excluding any challenge from the show, Drew said the most arduous and equally rewarding build was the LEGO Death Star, a 4,016-piece set. All nine Maynard kids had a chance to build some part of the station from the fairly thick instruction book.
“It took us a month maybe of different siblings going and building for hours straight and at that time we didn’t have a whole bunch of LEGO in our collection,” Drew said. “That was one of the first really big sets we got and I just remember all of us sitting there building the Death Star one at a time and it was the best feeling ever when we eventually finished it.”
As the siblings compete against some pretty tough competition this year, many of these skills will be put to the ultimate test. Will the Pocatello pair reign supreme?
Those interested in seeing how the duo stack up against the other 12 teams can tune in on Fox at 7 p.m. on Sept. 21.