Category Archives: Photography

New Diorama in a new scale

A few nights ago it was window frame building night. Lots of windows in those old brownstones. My MiniMate diorama has begun.

I have been working this time to create a more multi-dimensional diorama for my figures. Since I am making this one for MiniMates, a lot of the pieces are smaller than I have been building in the 6 inch scale. Since I started the window frames, I have moved onto the stairs. I wanted this particular house to have a set of curved stairs to a landing and then a second set of stairs up to the front door. I think it is a cool architectural touch, and a potential for some fun photography in the future…if I ever get this thing built. I have since added the side railing, which is drying in the garage.

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Post 500! My how things have changed…

500

6 years and 499 posts ago I started this little page.   It was always meant to be a look at toys.  From reviews to just out taking pictures.   Over the years it has grown and changed a lot.  Here are some of the stats that have blown me away:

81,794 views.

Views from 125 different countries.

Top 5 Most Used Tags:

  1. Transformers (168 times)
  2. Hasbro (65 times) though I should have used it more often.
  3. Marvel (Probably most in the recent year or so with so many Legends figures)
  4. Generations (A long span of figures from that Transformers line)
  5. Transformers: Prime (There were a LOT of figures over the course of the show)

Top 5 Most Tagged Figures:

  1. Optimus Prime (Not a surprise, except I thought Bee might be higher)
  2. Bumblebee (Second only by a few posts)
  3. Iron Man (We have had lots of Tony over the years from Legends to MiniMates)
  4. Megatron (I was a bit surprised Megs was so high, but he just keeps coming back)
  5. Wonder Woman (I was surprised she was so high on the list.  Lots of Ame-Comi figures)

 

Over the course of 6 years, I went from collecting a few things, to collecting a lot.  I had an old shed in my backyard that I converted into a Fortress of Solitude.

Laying the last of the shingles on the new roof.

I was able to make this the place to keep all of my toys.  Safe, protected, and out of the way of my wife.

Since then, I have also upped the ante on camera.  From humble beginnings with a tiny digital camera, to the much better Canon Digital SLR I am running around with now.  I used to throw a camera in a backpack and go, and now I actually have a special backpack to keep the camera safer from harm.

Many of my early posts were pictureless.   It was a time of figuring out what I was doing.   I had the most posts I ever made in my first year 2010, but I also had the smallest amount of visitors.  As I found my way, I also needed to add more pictures, so I sought out Flickr.   I started my Flickr account about a month after I started this blog, and boy are the stats over there huge.  I think it really tells something about pictures being worth a thousand words.   My views over there are 1.3 million views, with 4327 pictures being posted.

The early stuff was not good.  Too dark, and very static.  It was a steep learning curve.   The biggest thing that helped me to get better at pictures was to look at other people’s work.  See what they were doing that I liked, and ask questions.   Now I can take a well lit picture.  So my focus is moving on to getting better dynamic lighting.  I have people I follow that take some of the best photos I have ever seen. They inspire me to be better and do more.

At some point daylight clicked and I took my toys outside to shoot.   Boy did that help.  But of course, then the setting was a bit weird.  Can’t keep taking pictures of Transformers on the deck. Something had to get better, but that was not going to come for a long time.  For some reason I was stuck on the figures, and didn’t focus on the background.

The reality of making better photos came in small steps.  I made a photo booth out of PVC pipes.   I added opaque fabric to allow for diffused light.  I then bought a fold-up photo booth to again boost my photos.

What really hit home was this summer.   I started to play around with backgrounds.  I started to experiment with insulation foam.  From there, I had to up my lighting game.  The results were night and day.   I wasn’t just taking pictures any more, now I was telling stories.

Did you know toys could be posed?  Boy did it take me a long time to come to that realization.   I was always a guy who loved to take the toys out of the packaging.  They are meant to be played with, not kept in the boxes on a shelf.  Well, then I would just stand them there and take pictures.  What better way to talk about their articulation than to actually show them in motion.

It was really a way of thinking that needed to change.  Even to the extent of ” I am going out somewhere?” “Bring a toy, because you never know where you might end up to take pictures.

So, 6 years and 500 posts in, and I feel like I am just getting started.  I have finally found my stride, and I am ready to bring it on!  I have a new big diorama I am working on, to help get away from the alley scene.  I have a few other ideas in mind too.  I have started to carry a blank book around with me to write down my ideas.  Going back over the past 6 years of pictures, I feel like I have done some of my figures a disservice, and I want to make it up to them.

I leave you with a funny stat that surprised me.  4327 pictures, ranging from Marvel to Transformers, from anime to cartoons.  And the photo with the most views, far, far, far beyond second place was this picture of a Monster High doll:

This was some fun I was having while my sister came to live with me.  We bonded over toys and photography.   This picture was taken a year and a half ago and has over 5,800 views as of today.  Something about a lady riding a motorcycle I guess.

Up next, a look at a figure that is no good.   I was glad I only picked up one of the wave.  Don’t need a whole shelf of that garbage.

Until next time my friends.  There are pictures to be taken and stores to be searched.


Marvel Legends – Ant-Man Wave (Ultron)

This wave was a bit funny.  It was full of Ant-Man characters, but it featured Ultron as a BAF.  In the comic world, Hank Pym is the creator of Ultron, but this is the movie version of Ultron Prime… so a bit of a disconnect.   The line is full of great heroes and some pretty wild villains.  Let’s take a look.

Ant-Man (Scott Lang):

I really like the outfit that they used for the movie.  It was a well done motorcycle suit with some electronics.  Great for the time period the suit was supposed to be made.  As we move to future movies, we will probably see an updated suit like we have with the Avengers.

The three small figures that came with Scott Lang.

Tiger Shark:

Of course Tiger Shark would debut in Sub-Mariner. Nothing would be so fitting as that. He is another character, like Bulldozer that I really don’t know much about.
He is big and strong, and a bit weird looking. And that can be a good thing. Nobody will say the orange and purple guy with a big fin on his head will blend into the background of any shelf.He looks so menacing with the mouth full of teeth, and they are painted up just right.
We are a little thin on plot points to tie Tiger Shark to this wave. He once teamed with Egghead to try to ruin Henry Pym, but ultimately was beaten by Pym.

Bulldozer:

I don’t know a lot about Henry Camp, and his abilities as Bulldozer, other than what I have read on the Marvel site.
What I do know is that the figure is awesome. It is heavy, and strong, and well detailed. His armor has so many scratches and dings in it, and having his head wrapped like that really makes him stand out.
The link to this wave seems non-existent to me. With 7 other characters in the wave, I would think I would have found some sort of link. Really, I think the fans wanted to collect all of the Wreckers, and this was a place to throw him in. And that is fine since he is pretty darn awesome.

Grim Reaper:

Hmm, this one is a bit lacking for me. He has an outfit that is just a little bit too out there. The mask is strange, and the reaper arm makes it hard to pose him effectively.

He fits into this wave by once beating up Wasp, and teaming up with Utlron.

Wasp (Janet van Dyne):

The lone female of the wave, but boy does she hold her own. She is thin like we would imagine she should be. She has a great combination of the black and metallic gold on her suit. Her haircut is great, and really allows for wonderful movement.
The wings are translucent, and the light looks great shining through them. I was so glad they were unattached in the box. That allowed Hasbro to really go crazy and make them as big as they wanted/needed them to be. And when they are attached, they really make her stand out, and surprisingly, stand up wearing them.

BAF Ultron Prime:

We have had Ultrons in the past. Way back in 2005 there was an Ultron that was released. Much more recently there was a comic version released in the Iron Monger series.
This Ultron is so much larger and more detailed than the rest. He is outstanding.

Three Ant-Men:

Eric O’Grady (Walgreens Exc. reviewed here), Scott Lang, and Hank Pym.  Three guys that could have ended up looking very much the same all in one wave.  But they are different and look great together.

8 figures, including the Walgreens Exc. version of Black Ant.  This is a great series of figures.  It really seems that Hasbro has hit their stride, and is making some great figures.  I have already begun to gather the Rhino Series that has begun to hit the stores.  The figures I have in hand are pretty awesome, and I may not be able to wait to open the first three. We will see.

Coming up next… after this shoot, I wandered deeper into the woods and took a series of photos to create a story around this group.  It was fun with so many good and bad guys all in one place.


Clash of the Transformers – Legion Class – Toys R Us Exclusive

There are a few Transformers that are exclusive to Toys R Us in the Robots in Disguise line.   There are the two 2-packs here, as well as three Warrior Class figures, and some one-step and three-step figures.  As I shy away from any of the one-step figures, I will not be looking at them.   I will however be looking at the Legion Class figures today, and the Warrior Class figures coming up.

Clash of the Transformers - Logo

The TRU exclusive figures are listed under the Clash of the Transformers subline of the Robots in Disguise TV series line of action figures.  The figures are recolored versions for Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, and Underbite. This is the first Megatronus figure we have seen in the RiD line.

I like the colors of Bee.  In vehicle mode we see mostly grey/blue, but get him in robot mode, and we get to see his signature yellow show.  As with most of the Legion Class figures, the articulation is pretty limited.  We get some shoulder movement, and leg/hip movement and that is about it.

This version of Optimus is pretty plain. He is basically white and dark grey with a few splashes of blue and red.  He doesn’t have much in terms of articulation either. Mostly some movement in the shoulders, and that is about it.

Underbite looks pretty close to his original Legion Class version, with a little bit of green added on. More really that much added, but it gives a bit more detail.

Megatronus is probably the best figure in this wave of 4. He has movement in his waist (due to transformation), and he is the only figure to come with a weapon. He does lack the articulation very much the same as Optimus. No knees or elbow joints. It really limits the play.

Underbite Vs Bumblebee  

If Bumbleebee can hold off Underbite’s metal chomping jaws, he can win this Clash!

Bumblebee Wins!

Optimus vs Megatronus

Megatronus brought a gun AND a knife to this fight.  Optimus brought nothing!

Optimus Strike – “Side Kick!!!”

 

Megatronus falls!!!

Overall, these figures are just what you would expect from the smaller Legion Class figures.  They are rather simplistic and they don’t have the articulation of the larger scale figures.  What they do have is size and cost.  They are small enough for someone to carry in their pocket, or play a big scene with small figures.  They are also cost efficient.  They were $11.99 for the two-pack, at least where I live in California.  The single Legion figures are going for $7.99.  The single pack Legion figures are cheaper on Amazon, but the Exclusives are way more expensive.  It is still better to get them in store.

If you have the other figures in the line, these are nothing new… except for Megatronus. He is a good figure to pick-up for your Legion collection.  If he had come with the grey Bumblebee, I may not have even been interested in picking up both sets.  Underbite is really similar to the regular version, and a white Optimus really doesn’t do much for me, since they are repainting him to be Ultra Magnus, that should be out now, or very soon.  I wish Hasbro would stop sandwiching in an Ultra Magnus every time they make an Optimus.  They are really quite different, and should be treated separately, like they are doing in the Combiner Wars Line.

 

Bonus:

This is the first photo shoot, using my new background.  I am still working the kinks out of lighting, and I have some ways to go there.   This background is two sided.  This side was intended to be multi-scale.   I can use it with Legion Class, Deluxe Class, or Voyager Class figures.

It can also be used with other brands of toys too.  Marvel Legends, GI Joe, or really anything.  The back side was really the whole reason for making this background in the first place.  It is an alley scape really for Marvel Legends and that scale figures.  I have some prop pieces ready to go on it, and I have just found a few of the Rhino Series figures to get started on that photo shoot soon.

Coming up, I have a fun story to tell using Marvel Legends figures I carried in a backpack for over an hour through the rough forest, just looking for a place to shoot.   When I saw it, the whole store came around.   It should be fun.


New Photo booth storage

What to do, what to do?  That is what I was thinking this morning as I was trying to figure out where to store my new portable photo booth.   The set came with a booth, two lights, a tripod, and 4 background colors on rolls.   The solution came to me as I was dismantling my old photo booth I had made with PVC pipes.   I noticed that the rolls that hold the background colors had a center hole wide enough to hold a 1/2 inch piece of PVC.  Thankfully, since I have done all of my own plumbing for the sprinklers in the back yard, I had plenty of pipe laying around.  The questions was wether or not I could find enough Ts to make a holder.   I did, and this is what I came up with.Photo booth storageThe stand is mounted to the wall behind the door.  Each roll can fit on one tube, and there was room for the photo booth to be hung on a hook next to the stand.   The whole set-up is thin enough that the door can fully open and be out of the way.  The stand is also right next to a desk I use to set up my booth, so it will be really convenient to change colors or get everything cleaned up in a timely manner.  This is exactly what I was hoping to do, when I asked for a photo booth for Christmas.  Now everything is out of the way when I am not using it.   More importantly, it is easy to set up and break down, so I am more likely to actually do it.


Big Boy Toys

This Christmas, I got some power tools for building stuff, and some new camera equipment.

20131225-143134.jpg

Along with my new macro flash, I also received a diffuser for my big flash, as well as a new photo booth that folds up. Everything a toy collector needs to keep those photos rolling. The flash works great. I am really excited for my new background colors. I have always used white, but now I have black, blue and red as well. This should be a fun new year of toy collecting and photo taking.

Merry Christmas everyone, and good luck finding all the toys you want in the new year.


Fall of Cybertron Grimlock

I have had this guy in my hand for a LONG time, but with the new school year starting (I am a teacher), and summer ending, I was not able to get photos done.  In the meantime, I was making plans for an all new photo booth.  More light, and the removal of the line through all of my pictures from where the back wall and the floor of my old booth met.

Needing a good guinea pig for the experiment to see if it worked or not, I finally got around to opening Grimlock.  And I think the pictures turned out very well.  The color was very close to being right.  I did not have to do tons of adjustments to get whites back to white.   And the photos are a lot brighter now.  Capturing images of figures like Grimlock, it is important to have good light to catch all of the details.

So well done.  You know it is HIM!  There is no mistaking that grey/gold body.  Give him a good looking asymmetrical shield, and a sword that looks like it unfolds into shape, and we have another great Generations figure.

He has really good articulation overall.  I really like how the shoulders move around, and give him fantastic motion.  The lower legs are a little funny.  He bends at the knee, but his legs also pop out where his tail is stored, and that can give him a weird stance at times.   Not a big deal at all.

In his T-Rex mode, I cannot help but think of a gecko.  If you are not familiar with those little guys, they can store fat in their tails for later use, and they can get quite fat.  Maybe Grimlock is storing up energon for the long Cybertron winter.

With the other three Grimlocks in my collection, he is a great size.  Behind him, the Masterpiece Grimlock is of course, giant.  He is also unwieldy and heavy.  This Grimlock is perfect.  In the Voyager scale, he is a nice big figure.

Overall happy with Grimlock.  Happy to have a new photo booth up and running.  I have a HUGE backlog of figures to get to.  Transformers, Anime, and even a Power Ranger.  That is for another time.


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