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Pop CultureMay 23, 2019

What the hell is LEGO Masters and why is it so great?

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LEGO Masters Australia is a new show that will grab you by the heart with its extendable Technic arm and never let go.

Before LEGO Masters, Lego was nothing to me. It was an evil beast that gave me the shits when I stood on it in bare feet at 3am, and I took great pleasure in listening to its death rattle as the vacuum sucked up yet another rogue oblong.

But thanks to the glorious LEGO Masters, I have fallen in love with Lego.

What is it about LEGO Masters that makes the show such a delight?  Is it the loveable bunch of Legoholics vying to win $100,000, or lively host Hamish Blake and his trusty sidekick Brickman? Or is it the Brick Pit, that magical portal to a plastic paradise where 2.5 million Lego pieces live in perfect harmony?

I once found a similar number of Lego pieces jammed down the back of my couch, but choirs of angels did not sing for me like they did when the LEGO Masters teams entered the Brick Pit for the first time. I mean, sweet baby cheeses, just look at this place.

Pictured: Lego! Please don’t eat it.

LEGO Masters is the Bake Off equivalent for plastic bricks. It’s a show that celebrates creativity and imagination and bloody good fun, as teams showcase their imagination and technical ingenuity in a variety of unique challenges. Whip up a mindblowing megastructure and progress to the next round, or chuck together an uninspiring hot mess and risk elimination from the competition. The last team standing is crowned LEGO Masters, pocketing a cool $100,000.

That seems like a good return for mucking around with some colourful bits of plastic, but hold the tiny Lego phone. LEGO Masters is serious stuff. These contestants live for Lego, they breathe Lego, they bloody well get married in it. If you opened them up with a little Lego scalpel, their hearts would look like a gorgeous Lego snotball. Snotball is a technical term FYI, as is ‘putting your studs in all directions’.

Studs to the left of me, snotballs to the right, here I am Lego, stuck in the middle with you.

Like kids with Lego, it’s… adults with Lego.

The eight teams are an unlikely mix of charming contestants. There’s oil rig workers David and G, neighbours Dinushi and Gayan, and Jimmy and Maddy, who had a Lego themed wedding. My favourites are Lyn and Matt, whose shared love of Lego began when Lyn used Lego to help toilet train Matt. I don’t know if it’s more impressive that Lyn kept her grandson’s toilet training chart for all these years, or that Matt didn’t blink an eye when his Nana proudly flaunted his childhood pee achievements to an international television audience.

Gold stars for Lyn and Matt, because these two are going straight to the pool room.

Teams are guided by The Brickman, who as well as having the best nickname on TV (pissing all over ‘The Wolf’ and ‘The Hosk’), is the Tim Gunn of LEGO Masters. Brickman wants attention to detail, he wants teams to think big, he wants them to cut a blender in half and attach the Sistine Chapel to the other side. Mostly, he wants the bricks do the talking.

Talking? These bricks won’t shut up. They scream MOULD ME INTO YOUR HOPES AND DREAMS and I WAS BORN TO BE HALF A MYTHICAL BEAST. They transform into cities, they get dropped from a great height, they form the missing half of a mystery object. Who knew you could do this much with Lego?

This is just what happened to The Mountain on Game of Thrones.

Challenges last up to 15 hours, yet there’s still panic as the clock ticks down. “You’ve wasted three seconds!” Hamish screams. “Less faff!” he suggests later. Hamish is having the time of his flipping life, and if I had enough Lego pieces I’d build a cage to trap him, bring him to New Zealand and release him onto Breakfast with John Campbell. John would wear a beautiful Lego tie, and I would wake up each day at 6am with a smile on my face like a little Lego woman holding a plastic carrot in one hand and a tiny bugle in the other.

For such a cheerful show, it sucks that a team has to be sent home. The first elimination makes Brickman cry, because he’s used to Lego making him happy. He’s always been the unicorn at the front of the bike, and now he feels like a Lego solar system that’s been smashed into smithereens by Hamish Blake waving a baseball bat. Brickman’s heart has broken into a thousand tiny pieces, most of which will never be seen again until a tired parent sleepwalks in bare feet at 3am.

Gold star, LEGO Masters. Gold star for you.

LEGO Masters Australia airs 7.30pm Wednesdays on Three. Catch up here.

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