MYRNA BROWN, HOST: Today is Thursday, January 12th. We’re so glad you’ve turned to WORLD Radio to help start your day.
Good morning. I’m Myrna Brown.
MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: Brickmasters!
No, not the people who wear hard hats and work with concrete. We’re talking about another kind of brick. The plastic, colorful kind known as LEGO. You know, the ones that really hurt bare feet when you step on them?
BROWN: Well, in my house, we were always losing pieces. So, we could never get organized to build anything. Not so, for two brothers who got to show off their life-long hobby and share their faith before a national audience.
It was Super Bowl Sunday, 2020. Like most families in the U.S., the Tulls were gathered around the television.
BRENDAN TULL: We’re not big football folks, but just for fun we gathered to watch the game and my nephews had their little lego collection out and they were messing around. My niece had asked if I would make a helicopter. Well there’s not much here, but I’ll see what I can scrape together. And then one of my nephews saw that and he was like, hey can you make me a monster truck. And then another one said, hey we’ll you make me a train. So, they’re running around the room showing off these little models that Uncle Brendan made. And then meanwhile, a commercial comes on to the TV.
LEGO MASTERS INTRO: Last week LEGO Masters kicked it into high gear…
BRENDAN: And my siblings started piping up like, hey you guys should do this. You guys are great at this. And I’m thinking…why not?
Days later, Brendan Tull and his brother Greg began pursuing a spot on FOX Network’s reality-competition, LEGO Masters. The series invites LEGO enthusiasts from around the country to bring their imagination and designs to a snazzy studio slash playroom. Supplied with wall to wall unlimited LEGO bricks, teams of two go head to head. Each team is vying for the $100,000 cash prize, a shiny trophy, and the grand title of LEGO Masters.
GREG TULL: And we got cast in season two and that was out of something like 11,000, 15,000 open applications. It was a huge number.
A bout with COVID pushed the brothers back to season three. Both Greg and Brendan took leaves of absence from their jobs to compete. Greg an active duty Coast Guard and Brendan worked for an e-commerce development agency.
LEGO MASTERS PROMO: It was brothers Brendan and Greg and influencers Nick and Stacey who accelerated their way into first place…
Greg and Brendan competed against two dozen other teams of LEGO brick builders. They faced down ambitious and at times outlandish challenges, like building race cars, castles, and life-size-show dogs.
LEGO MASTERS GET YOUR BRICK ON PROMO: So give it everything you got. Are you ready… ready…ready…get your brick on! Got some ideas going here… drawing time, drawing time….
It was a 6 ½ week adventure.
MYRNA TO TEAM: How much time do you think you all spent together throughout that entire season?
GREG TULL: Ok. So that would have been 1,142 hours for the time that we were there and I would say we probably spent two-thirds of that time in each other’s presence, so you’re looking at about 760 hours that we were probably in each other’s physical company.
The two brothers admit they had drifted apart. That time together took them back to their childhood and days of building with their father’s hand-me-down LEGO. Raised in the tiny town of Cole Camp, Missouri, the Tulls were a family of ten: four boys, four girls, an IT/electrical engineer father and a homeschooling mother. They lived on a 42-acre farm, but thanks to neighbors, had access to another 300 acres.
BRENDAN TULL: We made up a lot of games. We’d climb trees, we’d play Robinhood. We’d build a fire and play cowboys and Indians.
GREG TULL: We invented a sport call “bocker”, which was a combination of soccer and hockey that you would play on a frozen pond.
But it wasn’t just adventure that helped mold the two.
BRENDAN TULL: We weren’t only discipled in the faith, we were taught history, we were taught apologetics. We were taught critical thinking and reasoning.
Back on the LEGO Masters set, Greg’s imagination and big ideas, coupled with Brendan’s problem-solving skills helped the two soar through the beginning of season three. But they say it was their Christian faith that kept them grounded.
GREG TULL: In episode five when we did the build of the Boston Terrier, Mikey, on his back left leg, we were doing some finishing touches and we finished that model right up to the wire.
Greg says at some point during their building, they inadvertently knocked off a few pieces from the structure’s back leg.
GREG TULL: His back leg kind of looks like someone like stripped it or skinned it on his back left leg. And so it was really just a very… at least in our minds kind of glaring and frustrating, like gross imperfection in this model that we were otherwise pretty proud of for what we created.
Time was up and they only had a moment to consider their next move.
GREG TULL: And there was kind of a moment there where we could have gotten those pieces back on in a way that probably nobody would have realized.
BRENDAN TULL: Yeah, especially when we’re clearing the table, moving the model around.
GREG TULL: We didn’t fix it. The model is still imperfect. We did win that episode, which was pretty great, but even with an opportunity to be dishonest, I suppose you could say, the witness even extends to those areas that other people don’t see.
29-year-old Greg and 27-year-old Brendan advanced to the season finale…
BRENDAN: The idea of making things out of LEGO that are propelled by water is a really exciting idea.
...But got stuck under a wave of indecision.
GREG: Do we need to step back on this whole idea then?
With only a few precious hours left to build, Greg finally had an epiphany.
BRENDAN: So we’re building a Holland -style windmill with tulips that grow out of the ground from the rainfall
GREG: The blades will turn for the movement of the water and then fill our bucket mechanism….
The two gave it their all. But it wasn’t enough.
LEGO MASTERS JUDGE: (soft music) Brendan and Greg you two are incredible builders and you came together as brothers….
GREG: (heavy sigh) I’m not usually an emotional guy.
GREG TULL: It was like being told that you’re disqualified in like mile 25 of a marathon right.
While they didn’t advance to the next level, Greg and Brendan say they walked away with another kind of satisfaction.
BRENDAN TULL: We know that our lives belong to Him. He’s redeemed us because we belong to Him. We are to live for Him and in a way that honors Him and so you know we don’t get to say at the end of the day right…. If our goal is to live in a way that honors Him that means trusting Him with the outcome.
Reporting for WORLD, I’m Myrna Brown.
Editor’s note: WORLD has updated the transcript of this segment to note that the Lego Masters cash prize is $100,000.
WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.
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