By Syed Umar Ariff
WOULD you like to build Lego models for a living? Many people, especially the young-at-heart, would consider this a dream job, possibly even better than food-tasting or being the caretaker of an island paradise.
Which was why, when Legoland Malaysia announced recently that it was hiring 22 local Lego model builders, more than 1,000 candidates turned up to apply for the job.
But only a few had an idea what the job was all about - that, as a model builder, they would have to create over 15,000 Lego models for Legoland Malaysia. They would also be Asia's pioneer batch of Legoland model builders.
Some of the candidates who turned up were those with engineering, chemistry and architecture backgrounds.
They were taken aback when the job "interview" was actually in the form of a competition. They had to undergo three phases of model-making challenges to gauge their creativity, technical and building skills.
"Well, the main point here is for everyone to have fun. But the truth is, it is not easy," said Merlin Entertainments production director Tim Burnell when met during one of the interviews.
The six successful candidates from the first hiring competition attended a 10-week overseas training programme at Legoland California and Legoland Billlund.
There, they learned how to build models designed to meet the highest international quality and safety standards.
As of now, they are working to build Lego replicas of national and state landmarks for Legoland Malaysia at its Model Building Centre at Nusa Cemerlang Industrial Park in Nusajaya, Johor.
The prowess and skills exhibited by our own model builders is extraordinary. The detailed design of the Sultan Ibrahim Building for example, was made up completely by Lego blocks.
Even Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman was impressed by the models built by the local talents.
"To see the landmarks of Johor Baru being replicated is breathtaking," he said.
One of the model builders, former receptionist Noor Amyee Suratman never thought that her hobby would one day become her "real job".
"I was a receptionist-cum-administrative clerk at a construction company. That is certainly a far cry from my current job," said the photography and creative imaging graduate from Johor Baru.
As for 30-year-old Beijing Central Academy of Fine Arts graduate Tan Yi Chuan, his skills as a sculptor proved to be useful as a Lego model builder.
"I can create sculptures from metal, wood and even bronze and playing with Lego bricks has always been my pastime.
"Now, I am working in my dream job as I get to sculpt as well as play with Lego," he said.