“I want to be a LEGO MASTER” – The Gisborne Herald
Posted May 07, 2022 at 12:37 p.m
‘Taken from the brick’.
Brick by brick, Gisborne’s own Jonathan Samson has been built for tomorrow night when he hits the TV screen for Lego Masters NZ.
Jono and his Brick pal Dan Mulholland from Upper Hutt will put their imaginations and building skills to the test against five other teams in New Zealand‘s first televised Lego ‘Brick-Off’.
“When I saw the overseas shows, I always wished it would come to Aotearoa. And when it happened, it was a piece of cake. i had to play
“I want to be a Lego master,” Jono said, not giving anything away when it comes to what’s happening on the show.
Jono is a super Lego fan.
“When I was very young I made the mistake of biting a lego piece off another lego piece and ended up swallowing it,” Jono said.
“I think it sucked into me and I was taken over by the brick.”
Growing up with three younger sisters, Jono was Lego as he got away as his siblings all loved tap dancing.
“Part of my escape was going into my Lego room and doing whatever I wanted. I built Lego until I was told I was too old for Lego – like 16 or 17. I stopped playing a long time ago.”
When Jono turned 30, he figured it was time to get back on the blocks.
“I realized I was big enough and ugly enough to decide if I was old enough to still play Lego.
“I saw this really cool dinosaur helicopter set and I was like, ‘How can I resist?'”
His hobby became serious in 2014 when professionals in the industry took notice.
After the death of his train driver father, Bob, Jono decided to commemorate his father in bricks.
“When I was a kid we used to ride up and down the train tracks along the coast. There was a piece of the gorge it used to go through. There was the terrain, the train, the tracks and the water, and I just wanted to capture it in Lego.”
When Jono was building the piece in 2014, he received a call from Toyworld in Napier – his closest Lego retailer – who was having a Lego tag.
“I had revolving laybuys there.”
The event featured a who’s who of the Lego world, including Australian Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught – one of only 21 Lego Certified professionals worldwide.
Jono decided to take his canyon and train piece to the show and received a fantastic response. Hundreds of people admired his work and even The Brickman himself was impressed.
A few years later, Jono’s future Lego Masters teammate Dan started a Lego show in Hawke’s Bay. The couple bonded and a friendship blossomed.
Jono and Dan have both had mental health struggles and Lego has acted as therapy – something Jono is keen to share with others.
When Jono saw TVNZ on social media calling for applications to join Lego Masters NZ, he immediately messaged Dan and the dynamic brick building duo was born.
“When I went to Lego Masters, I was a middle-aged guy playing with a kid’s toy,” Jono said. “Coming back I felt like a Lego artist.”
“It’s very affirming as an art form, as an outlet for expression and mindfulness. It keeps me creative and creating the life I want.
Jono said the experience was a privilege and he couldn’t wait to see the looks on his three children’s faces when they watched the show.
“My kids these days just look at screens, so now I can reach them through a mechanism they understand . . . Maybe I can throw in some life lessons they can learn along the way.”
■ Lego Masters New Zealand will be shown on TVNZ 2 from Monday at 7.30pm
Jono Samson attributes his obsession with Lego to swallowing a piece of the plastic bricks as a child. The Gisborne man takes his passion to a new level in the first Lego Masters NZ TV series from Monday. He is pictured with an exclusive mini ‘LM’ set given to him after attending the show. There are only 500 of them worldwide. Pictures by Liam Clayton
A smart brick Tui.
BRICKS CAN FLY: Lego Masters NZ contender Jono Samson has started a bird series where he creates native birds like the fantail and tui and then sells them online. Pictures by Liam Clayton