LEGO MASTERS has arrived Down Under – how will the Australian version of the building challenge show turn out?In 2017, LEGO MASTERS arrived in the UK, bringing brick building to television in a competitive format for the first time. Once it proved a hit, the format was sold around the world – and now the first English language version since the British version has launched in Australia.It is immediately apparent that LEGO MASTERS Australia is bigger than the UK version – and not just because of the huge warehouse that the eight teams are building in. Unlike the bragging rights that teams played for in the original show, in this edition there is $100,000 prize money up for grabs.To go along with the bigger stakes come faster cuts, more dramatic music and the tension being ratchetted up. Initially it feels jarring, but soon works as the viewer is drawn into the drama. In this version all of the contestants are adults, which means that piling up the pressure does not feel exploitative.One of the completely bizarre aspects of this show is that Ryan McNaught, the LEGO Certified Professional who serves as the judge, is referred to as Brickman throughout. It really is weird, and leaves the audience concerned that perhaps his family also have to refer to him using the moniker.Hamish Blake is the secret ingredient that makes this show work. LEGO MASTERS Australia is completely over the top both in its reality television drama and immersion in the nerdiest aspects of LEGO building – but thanks to Blake’s brilliantly understated humour and meta performance as a host, the audience realises that those behind-the-scenes on the series realise just how ridiculous all of this is.Not all of the contestants realise that though, perhaps forgivably given that there is $100,000 up for grabs. In the first task, they must build part of a Mega City in 15 hours, completely unplanned, which is then judged – before they then have to put it under attack in just three hours, when it will be judged again.Marielle and Kaitlyn are outrageously overlooked after putting together an absolutely beautiful build, which they then enhance perfectly in the second stage. Why they do not elicit more praise from Ryan – sorry, that should be Brickman – is completely baffling, especially when their nonchalant attitude gives geekdom such a good name.Jimmy and Maddy show great imagination with their monster attack build and are quirky in a good way. David and Gerhard construct a beautiful church then improbably build a beautiful church bombing scene – whilst having a wonderfully dry sense of humour. Jordan and Miller seem to struggle in this first episode, it will be interesting to see if they manage to develop next time.It is clear from the off that Henry and Cade are contenders in the competition, and when they manage to build something that lives up to their lofty ambitions, the feeling that they have a good chance of winning is cemented.There is a little disconnect between Matt and Lyn, with the youngest contestant needing help from the Brickman to encourage his grandma – thankfully it pays off as they settle into a groove. It is not quite the discord that takes place between Bilsy and Kale though, with the latter offering little support for his teammate to the point that he is admonished for it in the judging stage.No-one is eliminated in the first episode. Unlike the British version of LEGO MASTERS, in which contestants are eliminated each week, the rules are as confusing as the best of reality contest shows – as Hamish acknowledges.LEGO MASTERS Australia manages to be a very different programme to LEGO MASTERS UK. The premise is the same, but this version leans more into high octane reality contest shows, while the British edition went more for a teatime Bake Off vibe.What really makes this take on the format work though, is that the LEGO building is trusted to be engaging enough – and it is. There is no concern that watching people build is too boring, no long cutaways to family life – LEGO building is interesting, and the producers roll with it. Whether a general audience clicks with it or not, for LEGO fans, this will be a treat.Stool me, Ham’.Read more LEGO MASTERS Australia reviews:Episode 1 Episode 2 Episode 3 Episode 4 Episode 5 Episode 6 Episode 7 Episode 8 Episode 9To continue to support the work of Brick Fanatics, please buy your LEGO sets from shop.LEGO.com and Amazon using our affiliate links.
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