A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about my latest obsession with Instagram. What grabbed my attention is the fascinating interest in toy collecting/photography, particularly of the Star Wars genre, from mostly males between their mid 20s and 40s and a slightly smaller percentage of younger females. Action figures, scale models and replicas have been around for years, but why the growing interest within the past decade? Over the years, the Star Wars franchise has increasingly stepped up their game with regard to their retail merchandising of toys, video games, books, theme park attractions, apparel, etc. Months leading into the anticipated world-wide release of its seventh film ‘Star Wars – The Force Awakens’, die-hard fans were just as excited for the announcement of its new Hasbro merchandising, ranging from 1:18 (3 3/4″) to 1:12 (6″) scale figures. These are not the average toys that many of us from generation X grew up with. They are highly articulated and poseable, especially the ones in the 1:12 scale, where you can get them to pose in certain ways you can’t quite do with the smaller scales. Currently, the Star Wars franchise in the 1:12 scale is dominated by the Hasbro Star Wars Black Series, followed by SHfigArts, Revoltech and Bandai. The Black Series is not quite as articulated as say, Revoltech, but their figures are true to the films in terms of their shape, color and size, and they are also not as costly.
(left) Bounty Hunter Boba Fett in the Hasbro Star Wars Black Series. (right) Same character in the Revoltech series. Most of us would see subtle differences (paint color, for ex.) but to the trained eye, it is quite noticeable. Notice on the right, you can see the ball joints in the shoulders and elbows and knees (not shown). This gives the figure a wider range of motion than its leading competitor although it isn’t as sturdy and durable. The disadvantage is that the Revoltech figure looks more machine-like than human because of its dislocated ball joints.
(above) Boba Fett by Bandai. This version is the most accurate of all the figures in 1:12 scale. The only downside is that it is a model and it is not as durable as the Black Series figures. Although it is fairly easy to put together, you still need to custom paint it to give it that authentic, worn look.
The hyper realism that comes from these toys allows us to feel closer to the films and recreate our own fantasy in the Star Wars universe. It is as if we have become our own directors, cinematographers, and editors, to recapture the film as best we can or to tell the stories in our own unique ways. Social media has allowed us to connect with one another, to share not only our photos but our experiences as well.
(left) Photo taken by @actionfiguresnotdolls. It depicts a scene from the battle of Hoth in Empire Strikes Back (Episode V) using fake snow, LED lights, exposed wires, and lots of extra figures. (right) Photo taken by myself @cheunglab. I used my laptop as a background and set the figures on top of an iPad, using a white screen on the brightest setting.
I am amazed at the talent that many of these individuals have. There are so many things to consider: how many figures in the frame, the poses, camera angles, location shots, storyline, special effects, etc. Currently, I am posting mostly toy photography, even outside of the Star Wars universe, as well as outdoor photography and minimalist architecture. I am glad that this hobby gives me a sense of enjoyment when I am not working, cycling or spending time with my family. It keeps me motivated and inspires me to create more.
(left & right) These photos were taken by @sgtbananas on Instagram. They cleverly represent ourselves in toy form.
(left & right) Photos taken by @non_1072, one of the few toy photographers on Instagram who knows how to best capture realism with his 6″ Star Wars Blackseries line of Stormtroopers.