Like a lot of kids, I absolutely loved Lego. I never had much of my own but that didn't matter because a neighbouring kid had a giant suitcase crammed full of every size and colour brick you could imagine.
Opening the lid on this treasure trove of Lego was a lot like opening Pulp Fiction's famed briefcase; I swear it would shower me in a bright light of truly religious proportion as I basked in the glory of the tens of thousands of bricks inside. We'd spend hours and hours in his family's spare room building and rebuilding vast cities, giant castles and expansive moonbases complete with cities and castles.
It sparked a love of Lego that never quite left, again similar to a lot of kids. Despite the Lego company's best efforts at luring me back with their increasingly complex sets based on appealing pop culture properties I didn't indulge in the hobby as an adult. Although I'll admit that their recent Lego Seinfeld set from a few months back nearly got me.
That's not to say I haven't bought any Lego, though. This year my son turned four, which I foolishly believed was an appropriate age to move him on from the clunky, chunky Duplo bricks he'd grown up with and onto the more elegant and sophisticated world of proper Lego. At Christmas, I'm not sure if it was him or me who was most excited as he unwrapped set after set of the little bricks. You bet we happily spent the next few days building and clicking them together, together.
That part was fun. But the sets I'd picked out for him - Luke Skywalker's X-Wing and Darth Vader's Imperial Shuttle - proved far too fragile for the rough and tumble play of a four-year-old. Believe me, you haven't felt like a Grinch until you've tried to explain the concept of 'display Lego' to an excitable child...
Lest you think I'm a complete monster, I'll hurriedly add that it's a concept I quickly gave up on, instead resigning myself to a summer spent constantly clicking wings, lasers, landing gear and cockpit windshields back on as he flew them through the increasingly perilous galaxy in our lounge.
Being a true Lego convert he was very excited about TVNZ's new reality competition show Lego Masters NZ when I told him about it. As a kid, what could be more exciting than a warehouse full of Lego to play with? Even as an adult I can understand the appeal.
With the series, TVNZ has once again looked abroad for an idea to remake in our image. As such the show doesn't break the mould from similar competitive shows of its ilk. There's a funnyman host, comedian Dai Henwood in our case, six teams of hopeful wannabes, and a task that for us laymen watching at home may as well be Mission: Impossible.
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In the first episode, the contestants had to create their own tourist destination, a challenge limited by their own building skills and imagination. Neither of which any of the contestants seemed to be lacking. There was a Rock Arch Wedding venue, a Kiwiana theme park and an Amazing Rescue Zoo which lived up to its name with a working elevator and a functional animal monorail.
Gone are the mean old days of a scowling Simon Cowell or a shouty Gordon Ramsay as a show's judge and de facto entertainment factor. Instead, evaluating the builds was a very nice man named Robin Sather, who works as an LCP (Lego Certified Professional). This means he lives, breathes and possibly sleeps on Lego.
As such he only had nice things to say about all the builds which, to be fair, were all pretty impressive to someone who'd recently struggled his way through various Star Wars vehicle sets.
But it did mean the show lacked drama. No one lost their rag and the mid-build twist didn't cause too many problems. The old reality staple of tears and tantrums were just not there.
As an older viewer, I found it a tad dull. But as a parent, it was great to see. True, my kid was less than enthralled with the talky bits, of which yes there was too much, but he was very much into the building segments and delighted seeing the fruits of the contestants' 16-hours worth of labour. I hope there's more focus on the ups and downs of the actual builds in the coming episodes.
But overall, Lego Masters NZ is just a nice, pleasant show to watch with your kids, even if the commercialism and product placement is a bit on the nose and it does feel a bit cheap. It's wholesome family entertainment as long as someone in the family, be it old or young, is into playing with building blocks.