Brick Dads reveal how they've cashed in on their love of Lego

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Henry Pinto and Cade Franklin were the first-ever winners of Lego Masters Australia, a series watched by more than two million Australians. The men had not met until they started filming the series but have since become close friends.

Prior to the show, lifelong Lego fan and video game designer Cade worked with a friend to build the largest Lego caravan for the Guinness Book of Records. Henry loved Lego as a child and was drawn back into it by his kids. He recently renovated his house to include his own Lego room.

The two friends have now released a comic book full of dad jokes and illustrated with their own Lego builds.

lego masters brick dads henry pinto and cade franklin

What was your first job?

Henry: My first job was as a landscaper, straight out of high school. I wasn't a landscaper for very long and then I became a waiter at an Italian restaurant. I was super shy and had an extreme fear of spilling drinks on customers.

Cade: My first job was as a Christmas casual in Kmart at the cash registers - but I was often found in the toy department.

Did you ever think that Lego was going to make you money?

Cade: I actually think so; part of me thought it would be a big driver. I never knew how, but I've always followed my interests and passions. When I heard of the show Lego Masters where you could build Lego it was something I knew I had to do. So, in a weird way - yes.

Henry: I was the opposite. My parents wanted me to be a lawyer or doctor, I was even hesitant to tell my mum as a 37-year-old grown-up that I was going on a TV show because I instantly knew I would be judged. She said she couldn't believe I was going on the show, she said I would lose my job and I was gambling with my children's livelihood.

Were you surprised at how widely popular Lego was when the show started to air?

Cade: I remember being so excited at what we did on the show, but it takes six months before you get to share it with everyone. We were really excited and hoping that everything we felt and experienced on the show would come through to the audience. There was relief that people 'got' our hobby and loved it. It was a surprise and not a surprise, at the same time, of how popular it was.

What's the best money advice you've received?

Henry: Being very traditional, my parents said, buy a house as soon as you can. I was quite young when I bought my house, I was 23, and that was the best advice.

Cade: It was to use your own money - avoid credit cards - so I never had a credit card until a lot later in life. That helped me work out my means and, if I wanted something, what I had to do to get it.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

Henry: For me, it was not a physical investment in anything. When I was young I invested in a lot of life experiences, it helps me in my adult life having those experiences. I did some crazy things like becoming an amateur kickboxer, and I ended up being really good at it but my parents would constantly ask 'how is this going to make you money?'. I also went travelling - they were investments in my life experience.

Cade: It's a toss-up between importing super cheap Lego in the late noughties which became so valuable I was able to use as collateral to purchase my first property, and spending $200 on a Lego set 10196 Grand Carousel and selling it for over $5000. Certain sets you know will be popular or you think will be popular. It's a bit of speculation but if it doesn't increase in value you end up with a whole lot more Lego!

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

Henry: When I first earned adult money I would collect vintage toys. It wasn't good because I wasn't the type to keep the boxes pristine and my kids would always get their hands on them, and they would end up being broken.

Cade: My time playing video games. I spent a lot of time over the years playing video games and I would say that was a poor investment on what I could be doing with my time.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

Henry: Lego! Sneakers come in a close second. I probably have about 200,000 pieces of Lego at my disposal at any time.

Cade: That's pretty obvious, Lego! I would say I have not enough but my wife would say I have more than enough.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

Henry: I would put it in a managed fund toward the kids' education. I have three boys and I would put it somewhere I could see it grow to help them in their education.

Cade: Easy one for me. I would buy some Lego. If it ends up becoming collectible I'd stand to make a fortune, if not, I'd have $10,000 worth of awesome Lego!

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

Henry: Ring the bank because they definitely made a mistake.

Cade: Buy a coffee for $5 at the local coffee shop and come up with a plan.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

Henry: Absolutely, the kids will need all the help they can get to live in Sydney.

Cade: Yes.

Would you like to see any changes in the way people look at money because of COVID-19?

Henry: Not only post COVID, but I am a strong believer that household finances should be a subject taught in schools. Kids need to be taught the basic fundamentals of finance. You're never too young to learn about how a mortgage works and how to manage bills and credit cards.

Cade: If COVID has taught us anything, it's to have fun. If there's one thing people should be doing with their money, it's ensuring it brings them some joy.

Finish this sentence: Money makes... 

Henry: Money makes you happy, but knowledge is the key to being content.

Cade: Money makes money.

Win a copy of Brick Dad by Australia's first Lego Masters champs

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Julia Newbould is the managing editor of Money magazine and is one of the hosts of the Friends With Money podcast. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.