clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bricktastic! Cody Ottley among Utah’s many Lego Masters excited about new Fox TV series

Cody Ottley is one of the elite Lego builders in Utah, whose builds regularly dazzle fans at the annual Brickslopes convention he co-founded

Lego builder Cody Ottley poses next to a giant seven-foot-tall “Lord of the Rings” tower near his workspace in his home in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.
Lego builder Cody Ottley poses next to a giant 7-foot-tall custom “Lord of the Rings” tower near his workspace in his home in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SPANISH FORK — Cody Ottley’s definition of a man cave is a bit different than most.

Instead of walls lined with sports memorabilia and autographs from favorite athletes, his walls are lined with Lego — hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Lego. From Star Wars to Batman, Lord of the Rings to Pirates of the Caribbean, and dozens of more themes in between, Ottley’s basement is a chaotic homage to a hobby that is not just for kids.

“The nice thing about Lego for adults is it brings everybody together. It’s a universal thing. You can go to any household in the world and there’s potential Lego in it,” said Ottley, who still has the original Lego set, Black Seas Barracuda, he received when he was 7.

Now 37, Ottley is what is known as an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego), an audience to which Lego is increasingly catering. Of the 25 highest-piece count sets produced in the past 60 years, 18 have been released in just the past four years.

Fox is banking on that audience as well with the release of its “Lego Masters” competition television series that debuts Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. and is hosted by Will Arnett.

Ottley will no doubt be watching from his Spanish Fork basement — probably with his three young kids, 8, 5 and 2 as well. After all, Ottley tried out for the show along with friend Steve Peterson, and made it through several rounds of phone and Skype interviews. They were cut after the final interview before teams were invited to Los Angeles for final casting.

No Utahns are among the 20 contestants, but Ottley is proof there are plenty of Lego masters in Utah — even if they didn’t make the prime-time cut.

Ottley and Peterson tried to promote themselves as the BBG (Bearded Builders Guild) — a real group of three bearded AFOLs in Utah — hoping it was a niche Fox might want to highlight.

Perhaps if only they were better arguers, they might be making their national television debut.

“In one interview, we were asked to fight with each other to cause that drama, but it was hard to fight,” said Ottley.

Some of the creations of Lego builder Cody Ottley shows his workspace in his home in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. He has built a giant seven-foot-tall “Lord of the Rings” tower.
Some of the creations of Lego builder Cody Ottley shows his workspace in his home in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. He has built a giant seven-foot-tall “Lord of the Rings” tower.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Ottley admitted it was a bittersweet feeling not being invited onto the show. After all, it would’ve forced him to reschedule a family trip last fall to Legoland California.

In the 11 years since he came out of what he called his Lego dark ages — beginning when he said girls became more important in high school — Ottley has created many, many massive Lego builds that have inspired kids and adults alike at various conventions.

He estimates that his largest build ever was his pirate volcano, which took 20 boxes to transport and display at a convention. Another recent large build was a Star Wars First Order hanger, which he said measured 60 by 70 inches.

For this year’s Lego BrickSlopes convention at the Mountain America Expo Center (May 14–16), Ottley said he’s planning on creating an estimated 5-foot tall Darth Vader Tower from Rogue One. He hasn’t started construction yet, but recently purchased 4,000 black 2-by-4-inch bricks he’ll need.

“In typical AFOL fashion, I’ll procrastinate until the last minute to get started,” said Ottley.

BrickSlopes is a convention Ottley helped found seven years ago. He admits that as his kids get older, juggling the responsibilities of organizing an entire convention — attended by over 6,000 in 2019 — and keeping up with his regular jobs is becoming increasingly more difficult.

“I do it now for my friends ... so they have a convention,” said Ottley.

Like many AFOLs, he’s collected most of the big sets from the past decade, whether it’s the Star Wars Super Star Destroyer, the Imperial Flagship pirate ship or the 4,124-piece roller coaster.

He’s finding that more so than ever, he prefers creating his own custom builds.

“I’ve kind of gotten out of the collector phase, now I just want to build my own stuff,” said Ottley, who joked that he needs a bigger house to keep up with the hobby, or create a better way of organizing his millions of Lego.

“I’m slowly getting better at organizing.”

Many of his larger builds through the years have been dismantled as he needs the pieces for newer builds. The one build he has no intention of dismantling is his custom Tower of Orthanc.

Lego builder Cody Ottley talks about his creations as he shows his workspace in his home in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. He has built a giant seven-foot-tall “Lord of the Rings” tower.
Lego builder Cody Ottley talks about his creations as he shows his workspace in his home in Spanish Fork on Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. He has built a giant seven-foot-tall “Lord of the Rings” tower.
Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Several years before Lego released a 2-foot version of the Lord of the Rings tower, Ottley created a 7-foot version of the tower that used an estimated 15,000 pieces.

His tower made a big impression on John Rhys-Davies, the actor who played Gimli in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, when he appeared at FanX at the Salt Lake Convention Center in 2017. He asked Ottley if he could display the tower in his booth where he signed autographs for fans.

He of course said yes, and Ottley got him to autograph a large black Lego plate.

It’s hard to notice the autograph in the sea of amazing Lego creations in the Ottley household, but it’s certainly one of the highlights. It’s a collection that will inevitably keep expanding, a hobby that Ottley supports with a second job delivering cookies at night — and yes, he’s created a mini build of him delivering a pink box of cookies.

Editor’s Note: Throughout the Lego Masters TV series the Deseret News will publish periodic stories highlighting local Lego builders and their unique creations.