The Builder’s Block: Iron Builder

Jasmine Liang

Hey people! For this post, I’ll be talking about one of the most popular LEGO contests, the Iron Builder. This contest stars the most talented builders of the online LEGO scene, showcases just how cool LEGOs can be, and was what inspired me to start posting photos of my own creations (MOCs) online.

Similar to the Iron Chef, the Iron Builder is a competition for people who are excellent at their craft competing for a title, but in this case, it is LEGO builders that are competing for the title of Iron Builder. Opponents are given one month and a ziploc baggie filled with multiples of a certain LEGO element. With that, builders must create as many things as they can using their LEGO collection while incorporating the special element, or “seed part,” at least once in every build. Builders post their builds throughout the month onto the Iron Builder discussion thread and simultaneously trash-talk their opponent. At the end of the month, a panel of judges decide who has the most creative, best presented, and skillful builds, and the winning builder(s) are honored throughout the LEGO online community.

When I stumbled upon my first Iron Builder discussion thread, my initial thoughts revolved around how crazy the builds were. The competition is a mixture of hilariousness (each round starts off with a funny introduction of the competitors written by Guy Himber, chairman of the Iron Builder), amusement, and creativity on steroids. In my opinion, the first Iron Builder that I read was not only the first but also one of the best rounds of Iron Builder in terms of creations and trash talk. You can read it here (the photos are definitely worth taking a look at).

In 2017, Iron Builder returned for a new season, and recently, a round was held between two of my favorite builders, Legopard and Pate Keetongu. They are both extraordinary builders and it was epic to see them competing against each other. The seed part in their round was a 1×4 DUPLO grass piece (DUPLO is the subtheme of LEGO bricks that are designed for kids 3 and younger and are shaped larger than the average LEGO piece). DUPLO has largely been disregarded by older LEGO fans, so using a DUPLO as a required piece in one of these contests is a big deal. Adding to the intensity of this round, DUPLO is hard to integrate into a LEGO build as it is bulky and usually appears in a flashy, unappealing color (in this case, green). You can read the discussion thread here.

Can you spot the seed part(s)?

Sometimes a good Iron Builder entry is one where you can’t exactly find the seed part right away. For example, this build (pictured above) by Pate Keetongu.

It might be hard to spot the DUPLO piece, but it’s the lines of the heart rate monitor. Pate Keetongu used the underside of the DUPLO piece by flipping it sideways, mimicking the spikes you would see on a heart rate monitor. This is my definition of crazy.

What about this one?

Another notable build from the latest Iron Builder round is Legopard’s Black Witch (pictured above). For the witch build, her entire face is the seed part, and Legopard does a great job of using the irregular shape of the DUPLO to create a sinister expression.

The Iron Builder is the living proof of how LEGOs have no limits when it comes to what you can make with them. For me, it’s extremely entertaining to scroll through the discussion threads of ongoing or past rounds. And as I mentioned earlier, Iron Builder was what inspired me to start posting. I don’t exactly aspire to become an Iron Builder now, but discovering it has helped me realize that there are people out there who are just as passionate about plastic bricks as I am.