MATTHEW Johns, albeit inebriated and sleep deprived after hours earlier winning the 1997 grand final, had it right when, searching for something awesome to compare the reception the Knights received in Newcastle to, settled on "it was better than LEGO!"
There is not much else better than LEGO. Except, of course, a LEGO fan event.
Riding the success of a family-friendly reality TV hit, collaborations with global franchises like Harry Potter and Star Wars and its own ever expanding movie franchise, LEGO - those colourful interlocking plastic bricks - has never been more popular in Australia than in 2019.
And so this year's instalment of Newcastle Brickfest, a LEGO fan event, was always going to be a huge hit with brick builders young and old who had seen what was possible on Nine's surprise reality TV series ratings hit, LEGO Masters, and wanted to see more. Those inspired by the creativity and detail on the show were not disappointed by what they saw when they packed into the Newcastle Jockey Club over the weekend.
About 60 exhibitors had created a huge city layout, complete with working train, a LEGO replica of Civic Park, a LEGO amusement park, Star Wars and Harry Potter displays, old school space LEGO, Star Wars and Stranger Things LEGO mosaics, a giant red LEGO brick being worshiped by minifigures, a cricket game, a working coal train, a giant LEGO chicken and international landmarks like the Opera House, Big Ben and the Taj Mahal, among dozens of other displays.
The appeal of LEGO lies in the fact that the potential to build something is never-ending, bound only by your imagination and creativity.
And Newcastle Brickfest organiser Kevin Evans said as the exhibitors learn from each other and develop so do their displays, and the event itself.
Just like building Hogwarts or a city block, an event like Newcastle Brickfest is built from the ground up, brick by brick.
"To put it from our point of view," Mr Evans said. "You start with a certain number of bricks and you can only build something basic, not big and elaborate.
"But the more exhibitors that come and the bigger their displays get the more we get inspired by each other and the more we learn."
The event pre-sold 4000 tickets over the weekend, more than the total number through the gates last year, and there were about another thousand extras who bought tickets at the door.
Mr Evans said "a big chunk" of the increase was undoubtedly down to the popularity of LEGO Masters, which was watched by millions earlier this year.