Many of us liked playing with Lego as young children, but for Paula Laughton, 49, it’s a full time career.
She is the particular person powering all of the extraordinary Lego buildings you can see at Legoland Windsor.
We chatted to her about pondering outside the house the box, dealing with pesky pigeons and a appropriate Royal blend-up with Prince Philip.
Did you participate in with Lego as a little one?
I experienced one particular retail package — it was a house and vehicle. Following uni, I did freelance prop-building and movie do the job and when a mate informed me Legoland have been recruiting a model maker, I bear in mind imagining, ‘I’m certain which is not for me.’
But then I imagined I’d just give it a go and I have been right here 24 several years. The finest selection I ever designed.
How a lot of design makers are there on your staff?
We now have 13 because we are doing a substantial refurbishment in our Miniland place. The team are genuinely very good — very a humorous bunch.
What expertise do you have to have to be a Lego model maker?
I know this may perhaps audio silly but we tend not to go for men and women whose CVs say, ‘I just like Lego’.
We go for men and women who have a wide know-how of artwork, design and style and product producing but not essentially Lego.
We’re wanting for simple capabilities — how to use a drill for occasion. You have to be patient and you have obtained to have a little bit of entertaining.
How has Legoland improved considering the fact that you started out?
When I commenced there ended up some thing like 20million Lego bricks in the park and now we have bought above 100million. The entire park has massively changed.
There’s a environment of prospects that have formulated from Ninjago to Pirates to Vikings and our new land Mythica which is a entire new principle. Then there are the two resorts as properly.
Was it an psychological working day when you reopened just after Covid?
It was. Like every person, with Covid we did not know when we could reopen. It was these kinds of a relief and it was so gratifying viewing the guests’ faces. They hadn’t been anyplace both.
They were being so content, ideally at Legoland, but also just to have a day out. It was really wonderful to see the guests come back in.
Do you have any recommendations for Lego fans to get the ideal out of their kits?
A fantastic starting place is a hobby. So if you like a soccer group or a dancer you can transfer that into Lego. You can make one thing like a football shirt or a ballerina.
That can result in creativity. We generally say commence off compact then make up to what you are actually interested in. It’s also finding to know the style of bricks you can use. Just about anything is doable.
For occasion, we did a Blackpool Tower a pair of many years in the past and we employed pirate guns for the depth of the steelwork. You’ve bought to think of it as not just becoming that component, you have obtained to just believe of it as being a awesome shape.
Truly assume out of the box.
What strange queries do you get from Lego admirers all around the entire world?
A large amount of them say, ‘Do you know the title of this piece? Each piece has obtained a element quantity, like 419, but there are tens of millions of Lego parts.
When I commenced we experienced about 11 colors — now there are 1000’s. We have bricks and plates and some aspects but you can get them in all designs and measurements.
Have you ever had any Lego disasters exactly where it has collapsed mid-develop?
We do have pigeons sitting down on major of the Lego Eiffel Tower and when 1 of them moves the spike, we have to go up on the cherry picker to straighten it.
Moments like that occur fairly a whole lot with some of the wildlife in the vacation resort. Or at times they make a mess, leave matters powering for us to thoroughly clean off.
If men and women at supper parties talk to you what you do for a living, are they stunned when you tell them?
Yeah, it is pretty a lot a party stopper. Then all night men and women are asking you issues about it. ‘I remember this’ and ‘Do you do that?’
At function we’ve had folks phoning up and saying, ‘I’ve found my son’s Lego in the loft and he’s now in his 40s. I’m going to give it to my grandchildren. How do I clean up it?’
Paula’s major suggestion for turning into a Lego builder
‘You want sturdy fingertips mainly because it can harm occasionally. It is humorous since if you have been on holiday they get a bit tender once more.’
What was your proudest modelling moment?
There are a good deal of proud times in my 24 many years. When we have labored on a undertaking as a workforce, they are generally my favorite.
But the one that stands out the most was when we intended and designed the Lego Eiffel Tower for our French cluster in Miniland.
We experienced a incredibly limited deadline to fulfill and the product is four metres tall. Regretably, as we have been achieving the prime of the tower, we started off to bit by bit run out of bricks!
The past day we had to get the job done in the course of the evening to get the design completed and put in the subsequent working day ahead of opening to attendees.
We are a devoted staff and regardless of becoming very drained we completed the design in the nick of time ready to be unveiled in all its glory.
The facts: What it truly is actually like to be a Lego builder
Income: From £18,000 to £25,000 beginning out
Common hours? ‘We frequently work Monday to Friday but we do have to go over weekends as a product maker. We have to carry out repairs and routine maintenance, checks and other things in the mornings’
Small and sweet advice: ‘If this is what you want to do, do not give up’
Mistakes, you have manufactured a couple of?
My funniest — and most embarrassing — moment was when the Queen and Prince Philip frequented the vacation resort to celebrate the Golden Jubilee.
Ahead of their arrival we commissioned an precise reproduction to be created of Buckingham Palace. We carefully researched each element brick for brick and even made the legendary Golden Carriage and the horses.
We considered we experienced performed an amazing position at finding the element location-on — that was right up until Prince Philip whispered to me that we had constructed the horses in the wrong colour! We apologised and rapidly remade them.
It was a small embarrassing but Prince Phillip was so knowledge and reported that mistakes with the horses happen all the time in parades also!
Lego Mythica: Globe Of Mythical Creatures is now open at Legoland Windsor. Pre-e-book at legoland.co.uk.
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