Did the LEGO MASTERS judges get it right? Did they get it wrong? The Brick Fanatics expert panel take a look at this week’s builds and debate whether the judges got it right or wrong
In the second episode of the new series, LEGO MASTERS had two very different tasks for the pairs of builders. Each team had to spontaneously build the most breakable LEGO model possible for Melvin to drop from a height, aiming to create the biggest smash possible. Things were a little more conventional in the planned challenge, in which the competitors constructed models that recreated moments from history.
Spoilers are ahead – if you have not seen LEGO MASTERS Series 2 Episode 2, come back once you have.
Now that Matthew and Fran have had their say, the Brick Fanatics panel gives their verdict on whether Nathan and Tom were the right pair to be leaving contest, along with their thoughts about what the other teams produced.
On to episode two, and it was a bit of a strange one. The first build challenge was the antithesis of proper building, with the goal specifically demanding builds that wouldn’t survive an impact. As a serious builder, and someone with a lot of respect for my materials, watching all of those bricks being potentially ruined was utterly cringe inducing. Beyond making for arguably exciting television, it’s difficult to say what the point was.
Still, as a thought experiment, it was rather interesting to see the bare minimum of structural integrity needed to achieve the goal. Most of the outcomes were as one might expect, but a couple of the teams obviously missed the point, though it’s difficult to blame them considering how often teams are chastised by the judges for not making builds “fun” enough on the show.
The second challenge was much more interesting, and it was great to see such variety from the teams. The historical bent made the stories interesting in most cases, though a couple of the entries were pretty weak. It was clear the mechanical directive tripped up a number of the teams. Paul and Lewis, as well as Patrick and Catherine had lackluster functionality both in concept and design.
On the other end of the spectrum however, Harry and Ollie killed it with a really interesting, dynamic build, which they were both clearly very interested in. Their simple yet effective infinite waterfall was wonderful, and a bit of a black eye to some of the older builders.
Speaking of which, all of the teams with an adult/child dynamic felt a bit unevenly weighted in this episode, with the adults leaving little room for input from the kids. Hopefully this is something we’ll see addressed in future episodes.
Sadly, we say goodbye to Tom and Nathan this week. While they may not have performed at their best, I don’t necessarily think their work was the weakest. They were obviously too invested in their idea, and didn’t weigh it against the time limit. While their build may have fallen short, at least their concept was grand. The same can’t be said for Paul and Lewis, who would have been my pick for elimination based on the two challenges this episode.
The first task was the drop challenge which was almost painful to watch, yet intriguing. As someone who is fairly protective of their brick collection and doesn’t like to see them getting dusty, let alone scratched, the thought of creating something to deliberately smash creates a sense of minor discomfort, though secretly still wanting to see just how smashed up those creations would get.
With so much focus on structure and stability within commercial LEGO sets, I couldn’t quite see why they wanted builders to make badly-designed models purely to smash in slow-motion. Then Fran started talking about hoping to see piston systems that enforce the crumbling of bricks, which seemed like wishful thinking, until some of the builders were shown to be doing just that.
The second task looked to be another with a pre-determined footprint (which isn’t made clear to viewers), but makes sense for when the judges compare models at the end.
Adding kinetic movement to LEGO is definitely a skillset worth having, and certainly not one that everyone can claim to master, so I wasn’t sure how some of the younger teams would fare here. Somewhat amazingly, Harry and Ollie’s model was once again one of my favourites, with the sheer enthusiasm from them both really helping to win them fans. Chris and Joseph’s looked fantastic, they are one of the teams to watch steam towards the final. They also had one of the few models I noticed that incorporated light in the flames.
One thing more obvious in this episode – though perhaps might just be based on editing – was that teams like Paul and Lewis, Jayden and Kato, and Izzy and Stuart were very adult-led, and we didn’t really see the children do much at all. This perhaps raises the issue that this programme is simply family-based entertainment with a series of entertaining LEGO challenges, but not truly designed to find the ultimate LEGO builders in the whole of the UK.
Sadly, and somewhat surprisingly, we said goodbye to friends Nathan and Tom. I understand why based on their fairly plain ice build, but much like last week, I don’t think they were the weakest builders there by a long shot. It’s entertaining TV regardless, and ultimately that’s surely the aim so I will enjoy tuning in again next week to see if anyone else surprises me, for better or for worse.
It is confession time – I thought that Nathan and Tom were the clear favourites to take the LEGO MASTERS crown for Series 2 coming off the first pair of challenges last week. Now, just seven days later, they are gone and I agree wholeheartedly with the decision.
I have produced builds for LEGO outlets going on five years now, producing models both large and small under a deadline. Based on that experience I can attest to two things that hindered Nathan and Tom – the first is that it can be a deeply unsettling experience for builders used to taking their time. The second is that you must avoid getting too invested in a certain aspect of your creation at all costs. It was clear in the snippets we got of their planning process that this cataclysmic breaking of the ice was the idea that the entire model was centered around. Done right, it could have been amazing, but the problem is that such an complex mechanism is not well suited to a tight timeframe.
By contrast, Harry and Ollie’s waterfall was a very simple mechanism, just 1×4 bricks on a standard Technic tread system, but it was extremely visually effective and, more importantly, simple and could be built quickly. Nathan and Tom were too ambitious, spent most of their time trying to make their precious idea work, leading to a lacklustre ice breaking mechanism and the remainder of their build being too simple due to not having had time left to work on it.
The judges were spot on to be debating whether to eliminate Paul and Lewis or Nathan and Tom. I would have accepted either of them but in the end, I agree with the decision. Paul and Lewis’ build was not trying to be more than it was whereas Nathan and Tom’s ice break ended up being a complete letdown. Paul and Lewis will have to up their game though, as the going gets tougher they will definitely be in danger.
I must give a special shout out to Harry and Ollie. While definitely basic in its aesthetic – Minecraft seems to have been an influence – their creation was imaginative, colorful and made some of the best use of motorization. There is no way that these two can ultimately last against their more experienced competitors but whenever they leave, they will do so having impressed me.
Next week, the teams will be split in the unplanned challenge before building holes for a LEGO crazy gold course. Episode 3 will air on November 20 at 8.00pm on Channel 4.
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