LEGO Master Australia: Because, really, We Are All Winners

Okay, some of us are a *little* more ‘winners’ than others…

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Image provided by Channel Nine Australia

If you have NOT watched the Grand Finale of LEGO Masters Australia (which aired Tuesday, 14 May 2019) AND you do NOT want it spoiled for you–turn away. Click on something less ‘spoiler-ish’. Go check out Going For Galapagos or Destination Denmark because I know those two slackers haven’t even watched the episode yet. No risk of spoilers there!!

BUT…

If you have actively chosen to continue reading past this line of text, then “there be dragons of the spoilery kind” and I am no longer responsible for what you may or may not interpret from this point on.

Kind of normal for the Evil Genius Mum blog, really.

….

Okay.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FIRST LEGO MASTERS OF AUSTRALIA!!

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There’s 2 right? #LEGOMastersAU #HenryAndCade

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I always knew you had it in you.

You know, I discovered Henry. With one hand tied behind my back. No, seriously.

The first time I met Henry was at the Sydney Brickshow 2016. That was the year I broke my wrist and unfortunately had to wrangle the three spawnlings around the Brickshow without EG Dad. He was sorely missed; for both his ability to use TWO hands and his jovial enthusiasm for all things LEGO. Now he won’t miss an episode of LEGO Masters Australia

2016 was also the year Henry Pinto was awarded Best Newcomer–so I suppose Sydney Brickshow could also claim to his discovery. And what do we say to that?

“Not today.”

In all honesty, Henry is one of the most creative LEGO builders and also the most supportive that I have ever met. We have caught up a few times over the years at various events, and Henry always stands out in the way he will chat with everyone. He talks through his builds and shares little details because he wants to share his love for LEGO.

EG Mum: How anxious/excited/insane are you feeling in the lead up to the show?

Henry: I was quite nervous leading up to the show being aired as you don’t know how the general public will receive your builds. This was very quickly enveloped with an abundance of excitement! At the end of the day, this is the first Australian TV show based on LEGO.

Lucky for Henry, he was partnered with an equally impressive LEGO builder, Cade. Not only are they both LEGO builders and geeky dads, but Cade appears to have a similar sense of humour to Henry. And in my opinion, that makes all the difference. Having someone to laugh with is just as important as having someone to create with.

Watching LEGO Masters Australia with the spawnlings has shown them how great teamwork can be. Listening to Cade and Henry talk about “their” build, how “we did this”, and complimenting each other on their contributions. Sure, it is bordering on “I love you, man! – No, I love YOU, man!” and I think that’s an amazingly positive thing to share on national television.  

That, and watching our spawnlings run off to the LEGO table, inspired by the imagination of the contestants and motivated by the skills shown.

EG Mum: Did you learn any new skills from the show? And now that you can bring these mad skills home, what is it like building with the kids again?

Henry: Going on the show, I realised how limited my skills were. I make extremely complex machines, yet I had never really explored the grassroots “system” style of brick-building. Since the show, I have become obsessed with all things system and am currently working on my first landscape style MOC which will have my own twist on it. I’ve shown it to a couple of my LEGO mates, and they were really surprised at what I was doing, so I think I’m on the right track. The kids have probably benefited most from my new found obsession with “system” bricks as there are a lot more “kid-friendly” inventory in Dad’s workshop!

 

EG Mum: How different is your approach to LEGO for your designs to how you portray it on the show AND then again for how you play with the kids?

I would say that the way I build on the show is exactly how I build at home. I don’t pre-plan anything; I basically have an idea in my head and then just go for it. The way I play with the kids, however, is very different. I basically let them have free reign over my LEGO whenever they want. I really want them to explore what they want and figure out their own ways to use LEGO. They don’t really play with too many sets either, as they have access to my LEGO “workshop” whenever they want.

{Put your hand up if you want Henry to adopt you so you can have access to his LEGO workshop…}

EG Mum: Henry, how much do you incorporate LEGO into your everyday life?

Henry: To be honest, I only use LEGO as a relaxation tool from my work life. The only other useful time I have made is a holder for my phone. I basically made a phone stand/holder out of LEGO Technic so I could watch videos on it without it falling!! 

I am pretty sure LEGO and Australia’s Channel Nine can consider LEGO Masters Australia to be a hit. The show has been talked about on a variety of forums, and not just LEGO. From discussions about free play for kids (thanks to Matt and Lyn) to charity work with Maddy and Jimmy, and of course, the mathematical and engineering genius shared by David and G. LEGO Masters Australia has shown how universal t LEGO can be.

Personally, I welcome our new LEGO overlords and await the second coming of LEGO Masters Australia.

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Talk about a pack of scruffy looking nerf herders

For those who want to learn more about the skills used in the creations, check out the Official LEGO Masters Australia Facebook page. Ryan “Brickman” McNaught has shared a few mini videos with tip and hints on how to bring out your own creative mastery.

 

To learn more about the show, LEGO Masters Australia, check out my article on the GeekMom site: LEGO Masters Australia: Reality TV for Geek Families

You can also read this other fantastic article on Roarbots: LEGO Masters Australia: Interview with Ryan “Brickman” McNaught

 

 

Art of The Brick: DC

There are only a handful of themes which truly stand the test of time. The kind of things shared between generations; dancing across language barriers; appreciated by any child, anywhere, anytime. Lego is definitely one. DC characters are absolutely there. Art is certainly there.

And then whoa! You have someone like Nathan Sawaya combining all three?!? Welcome to the Art of the Brick: DC Comics.

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Sydney Brickshow 2016

Happy 5th Birthday to the Sydney Brickshow!

We’ve attended four out of the five shows in Sydney; Sinister won a place as a Junior Builder in 2013.

Each year the show is an absolute hit with the kids AND the bigger kids. It’s a huge exhibition for Lego fans to show off their designs. This is not an official Lego show; these are fans who create displays that combine sets with free play – just like every spawnling dreams!

Check out the beach scene – you won’t find this as a set in any store. You’re going to have to cannibalise whatever you have at home.

But it’s not just a flat Lego scene. Look at the barrel in that wave! The use of the linked bricks! And they move! That’s an added level of creativity.

Sometimes the fans just want to build their fandoms, whether or not Lego has released a set.

This year had a stand-out Pokemon display. Not only were the Pokeballs impressive (see above), the complete layout for the original opening route was equal parts nostalgic and inspiring.

That’s the secret weapon of these local exhibition shows – not Lego itself, but the ability to inspire you to go home and create.

I overheard one parent comparing the Sydney Brickshow to the other hot Lego ticket in town, Nathan Sawaya’s Art of the Brick: DC.

Both exhibitions are designed to inspire; both show the endless creativity available with Lego as a medium.

But while I love Nathan’s ability to show play as an art form, I also love the approachable nature of local exhibitions.

For me, the star of the show (for this and ALL the Sydney Brickshows I have attended) was this guy: Henry Pinto.

He just started this year – won Best Newcomer for 2016. Built the above chess set for his son to learn how to play, as well as a very cool collection of Bat-vehicles.

But the real reason I would give him the title of Evil Genius Lego Builder is because of this:


Not only was Henry willing to show how he made his chess set, he actively encouraged the kids to recognise the pieces they may have at home. He is interacting with his audience and showing them how to do it too. He is sharing stories with them! He knows about being a Lego fan and shares that. This all happened so quick and so naturally, I’m lucky to have caught it at all!

While we love all the exhibits and will definitely be back next year (maybe junior builders again?), Henry is the guy I will be looking for.
All photos from our visit will be posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. No sponsorship – happily paid for our family tickets as the money supports a fantastic charity, Bear Cottage.

I Want … A LEGO TARDIS!!

  
Kudos to Minion Kellie for telling me about this one. 

For a limited time, BBC / Doctor Who (Australia) had a full size Lego TARDIS down at Bondi Beach (Sydney).

Isn’t it beautiful? Doubly so- Lego AND Doctor Who. *sniff* I so want but considering the other Lego filling up the lair, I would be better off using the Lego bricks to build an East Wing. 

  
This special treat was mostly for me, and partly to promote the Doctor Who Festival in a couple of weeks (21/22 Nov). Unfortunately EG Inc is not going this year but I’m hoping to head some excellent reports from any minions who do. 

  
In the meantime, I will settle for every other opportunity The Doctor throws my way. 

I still want one. 

Evil Genius Parent Tool #9 – Special Event Freebies

Every now and then, I receive an invite to some special promotional event. Some new book launch, a celebration at the local comic book store, card game tournaments at the game shop. Whatever the event, if it is geeky enough and of benefit to our ‘world domination plans’, then I’ll drag the whole EG Inc down there. I get a kick out of showing off this “EG Perk” to the spawnlings.

However, sometimes I receive a bonus laugh.

Like the last event we went to. Toys R Us had a Free LEGO Build ‘n’ Take Event for Ninjago.

Whoa, Nellie. I know – FREE LEGO. But don’t rush at me!! I’m talking about an event that has already passed!

Anyway, we turned up at this event with the three spawnlings. It was a pre-registered event (more on that in a minute) and we had registered to the max – all three spawnlings and EG Dad. I sat this one out – this time.

When we turned up to check names off, the sales assistant handed over three sets of LEGO and directed us to the table.

“Uh, excuse me. But there are four of us for the event.”

Stunned look.

“But sir, this is for kids.”

Stunned look back from EG Dad – “Where does it say Kids Only?”

More stunned look – “Well, it’s LEGO.”

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“And?”

“My name is on the list. I like LEGO. There is nothing about this being a Kids Only Event. Gimme my LEGO.”

I almost felt sorry for the woman – clearly she had no idea of her demographic. If she did, she would have known never to stand between ANY LEGO fan and free LEGO. Almost felt sorry…

But that was also when I realised how much fun it was messing with the minds of innocent minion-sales assistants who have no idea of fan-doms and geek merchandise. And thus, I want to share this with ALL THE MINIONS – so that you EG Parents can enjoy in the “messing of minds”. While sharing geeky goodness with the spawnlings, of course.

So how do YOU get an invite to one of these special events?

Normally there are two ways – either you have some sort of connection to the publishing/merchandise gods. OR you are willing to join/follow a few different retail groups. Toys R Us is a great example – sign up to their VIP Club and they will send you out invites to these events around every 3 months. Normally the events are pre-registered on set dates at your local store – they will send you an email with instructions for registration. Sometimes it is LEGO. Sometimes it is some other toy. Be selective – don’t ruin it for genuine geeks by turning up to everything and taking everything just because you think you can. These are opportunities to share new stuff with the spawnlings, and if they like it, follow its lead around the store.

The thing is – if you want to be in the know, you need to be willing to make the connections. Follow bloggers or newsgroups in your interests. GeekMom and GeekDad are two good places to start.

Also, head down to your local gaming store. My favourite is GoodGames – they have regular tournaments in-store and plenty of friendly staff to guide you.

And don’t forget your local comic store – places like Kings Comics make it their business to know all the merch news, especially for big events like Free Comic Book Day.

In the meantime, Australian minions should head over to Toys R Us and check out the upcoming LEGO event:

LEGO Bricktober Make & Take. LEGO City Kayak!

Now remember: Don’t go abusing the power, kiddies. With great power comes great LEGO collections responsibility to share with your spawnlings.

And anyway – I’ve already registered for mine.

Review: LEGO Research Institute #21110

It’s frackin’ awesome! </end>

I know, it’s 3 mini-figs in a cool scene, but there are some amazing bits and I love the ingenuity of the dinosaur skeleton.

But the part that really made it for me – the instruction manual. 

Let’s start at the beginning:  

 

We received this as part of our huge LEGO family haul for Solstice 2014. It’s taken this long for us to build it – see, it’s not just you. I have even neglected LEGO (did you check if she had a pulse? She could have been faking…)

Now, being the geeky goddess I am, I read everything and of course, I started with the manual.

If you have bought or will buy this for a young budding scientist, this manual is perfect for explaining the purpose of the set and introducing the finer details of specific areas of science.

And it should – since it was designed by a scientist.

 

Three areas of science are covered: 

    

And then there is the LEGO. The chemist is awesome, with her dual face, lots of potions (that’s what Nefarious calls them) and diddly little bits that I had never considered building before DESPITE using pieces I have had since I was 5. See her hand – I never considered that the buttons of LEGO fit in the Minifigs hands!!

The archaeologist was more of a build, particularly with the skeleton, but enjoyable nevertheless. 

 

I love building with EG Dad. He is such a good little scientist; organising and categorising EVERYTHING. The above picture is my ‘sorting’. This is his: 

 But he had his revenge when he left the floor of the astronomer to me. Fiddly indeed: 

Worth it: 

  

The end result is a beautiful little mini fig set that I could display, but the kids get a kick out of using the sets in far more dramatic EG scenarios.

  

The set has now been retired, which means if you missed out through the LEGO website, you are now going to extorted through eBay. In Australia, they’re currently selling around $65 mark. If you are into collecting LEGO, it is worth it. To be frank, the manual with the set is worth it. And if you want to support STEM in your spawnlings, they will treasure this.

There is a 2nd set submitted by the designer Alatariel: Science Adventures! 

I’m definitely watching this one! Tiger! Rawr!! You can check more of this here.

Now go, my minions!! Build!!