A mother-son combo from Alberta are on reality TV this fall as they try to become Canada’s next Lego Masters.
Edmonton residents Sam Malmberg and his mother Neena Ahluwalia were on TV this week as the sole Canadian contestants on Season 4 of Lego Masters — a reality TV show where Lego artists compete for prizes.
The show’s first episode aired Sept. 28 on CTV in Canada.
An electrician, Malmberg, who grew up in St. Albert and now lives in Edmonton, said he was a lifelong fan of Lego who never got out of the hobby.
“I think of it as a wonderful artistic medium,” he said, as it combines limitless creativity with the challenging constraints of how the various bricks fit together.
A science fiction fan, Malmberg has gained a following showing off his Lego spaceships and castles on his Instagram account (@groovybones) and at various Lego and pop-culture exhibitions — he built a big green dragon and a castle for the eBay booth at the Edmonton Expo earlier this month, for example. A scout with Lego Masters noticed his Instagram and invited him to audition along with a family member.
“I said, ‘I could bring my wife, but if I do, who will look after my cats?’” Malmberg quipped.
Instead, Malmberg picked Ahluwalia as his teammate, despite her having virtually no experience with Lego. (Ahluwalia was unavailable for an interview.)
Malmberg said Ahluwalia’s inexperience was actually an advantage on the show, as she brought fresh perspective to components he had used zillions of times before.
“The real advantage was that no matter how frustrated we get with each other, we’re still contractually obligated to love each other at the end of the day,” he joked.
The show sees 12 pairs of amateur Lego artists build structures related to a specific theme or challenge under a time limit. Judges eliminate one pair per episode, with the last pair standing winning $100,000, a trophy, the title of Lego Masters, and the chance to see one of their creations turned into a commercial Lego set.
“It’s kind of like Master Chef for Lego,” said Malmberg, referring to a similar cooking-based show.
Malmberg said he decided to compete on the show as he was a fan of it and had several friends who had been on it before.
The show itself was filmed last spring in Atlanta, Georgia. Malmberg said he didn’t have much time for sightseeing, but did get to visit the city’s enormous Lego store.
Episode One required competitors to construct a party boat, mount it on a remote-controlled boat, and sail it about a lake.
Malmberg said he and Ahluwalia built an Indian/Punjabis-themed boat that was hosting a tea party — a tribute to his grandmother’s skill with chai. Sharp-eyed viewers may notice one of the partiers being sick over the side due to having one cup too many.
“We try our best to put in little jokes,” Malmberg said.
Malmberg said the teams had something like 5 million Lego pieces at their disposal and were all very supportive of each other, even pitching in to help when others needed it.
“There were 24 of us going into this thing and I came home with 24 new great friends.”
While he couldn’t disclose the show’s outcome, Malmberg said his time on it reinvigorated his love of Lego. His mom has also gotten interested in it, and is going with him to her first Lego convention next month.
Lego Masters airs Thursdays on CTV.