Just a big kid at heart
London Community News
Photos by Mike Maloney/London Community News/Twitter: mdmaloneyphoto
Dan Steininger has one of those jobs that more than one kid who never wanted to grow up, wishes they had.
For the past 19 years, a trip to the office hasn’t meant eight hours behind a desk pushing papers for Steininger. Instead, for him, it has been hour after hour of playing with plastic blocks — Lego blocks to be precise.
Steininger is a Lego Master Model Builder and for the last week (Aug. 20-24), he has been at the London Children’s Museum, creating an eight-foot tall bust of the Star Wars character Darth Maul as part of the Blockbuster Summer program at the museum.
Based out of the Lego North American headquarters in Enfield, Conneticut, Steininger is one of less than 40 Lego Master Builders world-wide, a job he said, there couldn't be a better one to have.
“ I am kinda like Tom Hanks in the movie Big, I get paid to play, … it’s great,” said Steininger.
Working first as a model gluer trainee and then as a model builder it was two years before he earned the Master Builder moniker.
Travelling up to 20 weeks a year across Canada and the United States, Steininger said there isn’t much he hasn’t built out of Lego. Some of his more notable projects include a 16-foot tall Macintosh apple at New York’s Rockefeller Centre, a life-size Volvo XE-90 in California and a giant Lego cowboy hat in Calgary.
To create a typical life-size figure is something that takes approximately 60 hours of design time on a computer to render a 3-D image. That is then feed into a program called Brick Builder 2 — “or deux in France,” quips the Lego aficionado — to create the actual brick-by-brick plan for the piece. “It is from that Brick Builder file that we finally begin building the actual model.”
With a background in the arts himself before embarking on his Lego sculpting career, Steininger remarked that likely the number one question asked by both kids and their parents, is what kind of background do you need for the job.
“It’s basically art. Sculpting, 3-D design on the computer, engineering and architecture — that’s all great too.” But the biggest requirement he pointed out was “Being a big kid at heart and enjoy playing.”
The Lego Master Builder: Star Wars session at the Children’s Museum was the last of the Block Buster Summer programming. Other events in the series included, Hockey Hall of Fame: The Ultimate Fan Fest, Little Ray’s Reptile Zoo: Venom Exhibit and more recently, Art of Play.
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