BETHLEHEM Like any other child, Ian Coffey remembers playing with Legos when he was young, but around ninth grade, building with the miniature, plastic bricks became more of a serious hobby.
“One day it just hit me, and I started,” said the 26-year-old Slingerlands resident. “My friends would come over, and we would build Legos and listen to music.”
Over time, his collection of projects grew. At first he had just one ping-pong table down in his basement covered with things he’d built himself. Soon, large party tables were added to include scenes like New York City or Lego kits he’d purchased. He now has nine large party tables covered with Lego scenes, along with the ping-pong table.
Coffey isn’t sure why he kept building over the years other than the fact he finds it fun and calming. It’s also similar to his summer hobby of entering sandcastle-building competitions in Maine.
He never thought of working with Legos as a career choice until a friend who lives in Boston sent him a clipping from the newspaper about an upcoming competition at the Boston Public Library.
The competition, which was held in January, took place over two days and the winner would be hired as the master model builder for the Legoland Discovery Center Boston opening in May.
“My friends and everyone thought I would win,” said Coffey, who works as a desk clerk in the New York State Senate. “I didn’t think I had a shot.”
Coffey was going to ignore the competition, but a friend decided to enter the two-day competition for him. Coffey agreed to drive to Boston to see how far he would get. He brought his skis along with him, figuring that when he was finally eliminated, the trip wouldn’t be a total waste.
David Gilmore, general manager for Legoland Discovery Center Boston, said the competition is held once for every new attraction that is opened. The event is meant to drum up press for the opening of new discovery centers and is a unique way to hold a job interview that “puts applicant’s skills to the test.”