Showing posts with label Toys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Toys. Show all posts

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Tier Zero Point Five


Transformers - The Movie 1986 Toy Collection Classics Universe Generations

It's the little milestones that make it worthwhile.

With this week's arrival of FOC Grimlock, Tier One of the Transformers: The Movie collection is halfway complete. The Iron Factory upgrade kit is yet to arrive for the King, but then the base figure is the most important bit.

Unlike in the case of Rodimus. The CHMS Protector kit arrived shortly before Christmas, and along with Springer and Grimlock it's utterly transformed my Autobot collection, turning them from a ragtag group of deluxe cars and one towering triple changer into a small combat unit with a clear leader. 

Transformers - The Movie 1986 Toy Collection Classics Universe Generations Rodimus Grimlock Springer Prime
Not the clear leader I was thinking of, but who's gonna argue?
After getting Springer and realising how excellent he is (and I'm clicking those satisfying ratchet joints as I write this) I was tempted to get the Transformers Cloud Rodimus from the same mould; however the idea of having two all-but identical robots in the same small lineup put me off. If it were a case of having Bumblebee and Cliffjumper or Frenzy and Rumble it would be acceptable as they've always shared a mould. For two characters as unique as Rodimus Prime and Springer however the Protector armour was the best way to go.

So now it's on to the expensive part of the wave ("why hello there contract extension and bonus scheme, please do acquiant yourself with my bank account"). If you can find Mania King (not-Galvatron) in stock you're looking at anything from £65-100, whilst a quick sweep of eBay indicates paying about £25 each for Kup and Scourge at BIN. Wheelie is proving the most elusive of the lot however, with the GDO Jazz repaint being in far more plentiful supply than the Universe release that I'm after.

As much as I enjoy buying the plastic crack and rattling through these wishlists, patience will keep both my bank balance and my girlfriend happy...

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So anyway, how are you doing? You may have noticed I took a couple of months off of the blog to focus on other things, like getting better at my job, a huge amount of film editing and a general steadying of the ship during what was a pretty calamitous end to 2014. It was strange to look back on a post from December 2013 where I stated my collecting ambitions then, and comparing it to where I'm actually at now. I've learned a lot in the interim.

Once again I'm making no grand promises about the future of the blog. I have plenty of figures (robotic and otherwise) awaiting their turn in the spotlight, and at some point I'll actually get around to putting them up here. In the meantime, feel free to hit me up on Instagram, where I do my best to ensure I don't mix lighting temperatures as much as I have with the picture on this post. Youch.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Vintage Wednesdays: POTF2 Biggs Darklighter Review

Star Wars Rebellion against the Empire

Yesterday (April 29th) marked the anniversary of the 1997 release of X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter, the single greatest Star Wars video game experience available. Some other Star Wars news overshadowed this monumental date for some reason or another, but to ensure XvT gets the love it deserves this week I’m celebrating with a Vintage Wednesday look at Luke Skywalker’s best buddy, Biggs Darklighter!

POTF2 card front freeze frame

First of all then, the packaging. Biggs comes on the iconic green blade POTF2 card with the distinctive Vader cut edge, and also comes packed with my favourite of the 90’s era promotions – the freeze frame. I loved these things for a few reasons back in the day; firstly, they were a neat memento to the character’s appearance in the films in a way that harks directly back to the medium of film itself, and secondly they marked the start of a significant upturn in quality for the POTF2 line. This is a US cardback and so doesn't have the trilingual descriptions that I normally saw on my figures - a nice added bonus of being able to pick these guys up for peanuts on eBay nowadays...

Star Wars Power of the Force 2
 
Released in Wave 14, Biggs benefits massively from a slimmed down sculpt and realistic proportions in comparison to previous human characters, a change for the better that the line started to take in 1998. Whilst still dynamically posed, the figure has a good centre of gravity and stands easily.

Star Wars Biggs Darklighter Hasbro

In addition to the more realistic sculpt Biggs also has much better detailing than the earlier releases, such as the pipes that run along his flight suit and a strong facial likeness. The paints are a nice combination of colours, with the dull, screen accurate orange much better than the day glow Black Series version that’s currently available, and the recreation of Biggs’ helmet design is superbly done. There is some unfortunate sloppiness with the paint apps on my figure, such as some spill from the black glove onto his arm, and a little grey splodge on the back of the white tabard which does count against him. Other sections such as the helmet and the chest panel are as sharp and clean as possible, however.

Power of the Force 2 Biggs

He comes with two weapons, the standard Correllian Blaster that came with nearly every Rebel POTF2 figure, and a larger blaster cannon. Both are fun (and he looks mean carrying one in each hand), but the larger gun works best in his left hand, due to the sculpt of his right elbow. The helmet isn’t removable, but given how the Wedge Antilles from the Rebel Pilots Cinema Scene set turned out, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

POTF2 Biggs and X-Wing

Anyway, there’s one area in particular where the POTF2 Biggs Darklighter excels, and that is in the cockpit of an X-Wing fighter. The first actual X-Wing pilot figure released in the modern era (Luke and Wedge were both previously released in their Snowspeeder gear), Biggs needs a slight push on his arms but once he’s in the cockpit it’s like he was made for it. I’ve had a POTF2 X-Wing for a while now without a pilot, and Biggs here does the job perfectly. I just need to make sure I keep him away from any Death Stars…

Biggs Darklighter Admiral Ackbar X-Wing

The 1998 Biggs Darklighter is a fantastic figure, and was a sign of the great things to come with the Hasbro Star Wars line. If you have an old style X-Wing kicking about in desperate need of a pilot, you could do far worse.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Star Wars Action Figures and Articulation

Whose Line is it Anyway?

New 5POA Jedi Kanan figure from the upcoming Rebels line
Star Wars Rebels: Kanan Jarras
5POA. If you’re a fan of Star Wars action figures at present, or most current licensed toy lines for that matter, that term is likely to evoke some strong emotions one way or another. With the reveal of the 5POA Kanan figure from the upcoming Star Wars Rebels line (above), I think I’ve finally hit a moment of clarity with regards to my own stance on the articulation debate.

As a rule I try not to let the excessive negativity of online forums get to me, and sometimes find myself taking a contrarian position just to counter that aggressiveness – I can’t help it, I have a natural aversion to sharing a viewpoint with some of the more… dedicated forumers out there. It was this attitude, along with genuine curiosity and an appreciation for the fact that Hasbro were making action figures affordable again that I picked up my first Saga Legends figure, the Super Battle Droid. Despite some initial reservations this purchase was swiftly followed with Anakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi and the Shock Trooper from Saga Legends, and the Darth Vader/Seeker Droid and 212th Clone Trooper/Battle Droid sets from the Mission Series. I’ve now essentially got a small selection of vintage style Revenge of the Sith action figures, but as cool as they all look together… I’m not really sure what to do with them.

Saga Legends Darth Vader, Shock Trooper and Anakin Skywalker
A small selection of Saga Legends
I enjoy taking photos of my toys when I can find the time, but I’ve struggled to get much mileage from the Saga Legends in that regard. Don’t get me wrong, I love Rather Childish (RIP?) as much as the next toy collecting Star Wars nerd, but there are two factors stopping me from ripping him off as much as I’d like: firstly, my photography skills are nowhere near as developed as his, and secondly the vintage figures have a certain charm that the Saga Legends toys emulate, but don’t quite match… And that’s probably as close as we’re going to get to an empirical value for nostalgia. As pilot figures I think they look great, and I would love to pick up a Class II (accurately scaled) Jedi Starfighter with which to display either Anakin or Kenobi when I have the funds. Beyond that though, I’ve really run out of interest, and that’s only confirmed that this isn’t the action figure line for me.

And the thing is, it’s really not. I called it when the Saga Legends were first announced, and after giving them a fair go I’m happy enough to say that these figures aren’t for me. They’re for my nephew, his friends, and any other kids discovering Star Wars for the first time, and I am not gonna fault Hasbro for that – after all, it was an affordable kids toy line that got us all hooked in the first place, whether it was vintage or POTF2. That’s why I’m OK with the new Rebels figures being 5POA, because it means staying affordable, and might even lead to a new group of collectors eventually joining the party - something that’s definitely required if the line is ever to reclaim the heights it once scaled.

Promo pic of Ezra from the upcoming Rebels TV show
Star Wars Rebels: Ezra Bridger & The Ghost
The Saga Legends toy line isn’t for us, and the Rebels cartoon (a Disney channel exclusive, no less) isn’t for us either. If we enjoy it, that’s a different matter; but it’s not for us, and amidst all the pitchfork wielding about how the new Rebels characters have been designed purely for kid appeal, or that the latest figures aren't the greatest quality, that’s something entirely worth remembering.

I'll get off my soapbox now... 

Thoughts prompted and images snatched from the always awesome FLYGUY.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Resolute Collector

The Party Dude!
Christmas has been good to us here at the Mos Espa household, but things are settling down to normal again now. One of my gifts from the Emcat was the superb TMNT Classics Michelangelo figure seen above, and I can't stress how great this guy is. Despite loving the original cartoon over and above anything else, the Classics figures didn't appeal to me at first; however in recent weeks I've become truly converted. I'm looking forward to picking up Leo, Raph and Don as soon as funds allow.

That's not all I'm looking forward to though. You may have noticed that 2014 is just around the corner, resplendent with the optimism that a new year always seems to bring, and as such I'm going to highlight a few of the figures that I'm most looking forward to over the coming months...

T-U-R-T-L-E Power!
Continuing on a theme, there's the TMNT Classics Series 3 to look forward to, which features the Turtles based on their appearance in the first live action movie from 1990. That was the first movie I remember getting bed-wettingly excited about, and I completely wore the soundtrack cassette out from repeated late night listening on my Walkman, so these guys are dead certs for the collection.

Image from TFW2005.com
Arriving later in the year is the MP-22 Ultra Magnus "Perfect Edition" from the Transformers Masterpiece line. There are no images of it yet, but early reports indicate it will use the existing MP-10 Convoy mold for the cab, in true G1 style. I don't yet own any Masterpiece figures as I'm still deliberating where to start, but as Ultra Magnus is a big hitter for me in TF terms this is one I'm very excited about. It will most likely cost a bomb, however...

My money's on Spider-Man.
Hitting stores a lot sooner is the rebranded Marvel Legends: Infinite Series, which combines all of the movie related waves under one catch-all line. I'm loving the Superior Spider-Man comic right now so I'm very much looking forward to picking up SpOck, as well as Captain America in his 'Super Soldier' costume from the Winter Soldier wave. ASM2 Spidey and Boomerang are also on my radar, but those first two are on my want list for certain.

*

So that's three lines that will almost certainly be getting my money over the next 12 months, but it doesn't stop there. I've collected my thoughts on the state of the Star Wars line here, but of course there is the upcoming Rebels to look forward to in the Autumn. I'm late to the party but NECA's Predator series looks like it's been churning out some pretty incredible figures, and then there might be some interesting offerings from the Transformers 4: Age of Extinction line. I'm not sold on a lot of the Bayformers but Dinobots? Hell yeah!

With all of this excitement for the future, I guess that wraps it up for 2013. It's been a good run for the blog with an expanding readership, brand new look and redefined focus and purpose, and I'm enjoying running it here more than I have at any point before. Massive thanks to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my ramblings or to look at my pictures, and thank you even more so if you're a returning visitor or commenter. The comments mean a lot to me, and I appreciate you taking the time. 

I wish you all a most excellent 2014. It will be better!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Photoshop

Gold and Blue Team.
Whilst perusing some toy photography shots on the web, I came across this photo of Bane from El Dave Photography. Reading through the description I decided to mess around with layers in Photoshop with one of my own lightbox images to see what I could come up with...

The Original Image
Firstly I duplicated the image twice, each time into a new layer. I made the top layer blue and reduced the opacity until it simply created a pale blue tint over the image. With the next duplicated layer down I increased the contrast and the brightness, which really helped clarify the details.

Post-Photoshop
Then I pulled the photo into PicMonkey and got to work. After cropping the image I put a gentle vignette over it, which helped to soften the corners, and then used the Orton filter to give it a slight glow. The finished image is a bit too soft for my preference, the compsition's not fantastic and the reflection of my hand in C-3PO's shiny frame is a bit too blatant to ignore; but all the same I'm impressed with the results of ten minutes experimentation.

As an aside, this was the kind of vibe I was going for with the original photo. Probably.

"My joints are freezing up!"
It was in my ESB folder anyway, so I'm guessing this is what I was thinking...

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 21 October 2013

Instagram Man

The Sanctuary Moon!
I tried the latest beta test of Flickr last week and found it to be painfully lacking - it's actually a far worse user interface than the last major 'upgrade' earlier this year, and so, given the direction that the site seems to be taking, I've jumped on to the Instagram wagon...

Biker Scout (Sans Bike)
It's been a good experience thus far as I've connected with loads of Star Wars and film enthusiasts from around the world, and there's tons of funny, interesting and highly creative content on there. It's also given me the opportunity to use some phone camera shots that I've been sitting on for a while; subsequently today's pictures are bought to you by my HTC Desire S. And filters. Don't forget the filters!

Feel free to check out my pictorial ramblings, and maybe even follow:

http://instagram.com/tjapes
@tjapes

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

The Purge: Round Two


Welcome to the second of three posts on the first lot of figures I'm shifting on Ebay this week. It's been mainly Star Wars figures I'm selling so far, is that going to change today? I sincerely doubt it... On to the toys!

Big Millennium Falcon
Mace Windu here is from 2007's Anniversary Collection, and looks pretty neat. The Sith lightning on his lightsaber is a nice touch that's really well realised, but I have zero interest in this figure. I have massive respect for Samuel L Jackson, but I also think that Mace Windu is one of the biggest wastes of space in the Star Wars universe, with terrible dialogue and not much to do but sit around and be a bit of an arse to Anakin. And I never liked the purple lightsaber either. Easy sell!

If only Qui-Gon were here...
On the opposite end of my preference spectrum is Episode I's esteemed elder Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn. Liam Neeson is the best actor in the whole of the PT for me, lending Jinn the nobility and authority the role required, and he's captured here in the plastic for 2012's Movie Heroes line. I picked this up for cheap but as I established before, I have no interest in collecting anything from TPM or AOTC. Also the light-up lightsaber feature actually momentarily blinded me when I looked at it wrong, it's that bright - two good reasons that he's got to go.

With Action Feature!
Qui-Gon's apprentice is next up. This Obi-Wan Kenobi figure is from 2005's ROTS line, and as such is imbued with a 'slash attack' action feature - basically, you squeeze his legs, and his torso jerks left and right, waving the lightsaber around. It's actually a pretty neat feature. I've gotten some alright shots with this figure before, but he's since been replaced by a far superior Kenobi (review and pics to follow).

I am wondering... Why are we here?
This may surprise longer term readers to see these two gone for auction, but I can explain - I picked these up in a POTF2 lot earlier this year, duplicating two of my collection's stalwarts. I love these figures and would recommend them to anyone, but I only need the one set myself.

The Flop Film Cast (John Carter not present)
Today's final lot is a small selection of figures from the Prince of Persia and Golden Compass movie tie-in toy lines. I've highlighted the Lyra figure before, but Prince Dastan (who came as a pack in with a fantastic gate backdrop) and Setam (bought on clearance from Toys 'R' Us) have both been largely anonymous on the blog. I did toy with the idea of picking up discount lines a while back, but ultimately had no real interest and found I was just buying junk. Not saying these figures are junk, but they're no longer items that I want in my collection, and hopefully putting them together as a lot means I can sell them all a little bit quicker.

*
I had planned to tackle sculpt versus articulation today, but that's a debate which is just getting bigger and bigger to attempt to do justice to in one or two paragraphs, so it'll be the subject of a future post of its own. In the meantime I'll be back on Friday with the last of this week's Ebay listings as well as some ideas on custom figure recipes that I never quite gave myself the time to try...

Until then, thanks for reading!

Monday, 14 October 2013

The Purge: The First to Go...


I have my first few listings up on Ebay for the Purge, the catch-all term I'm using to describe the stripping down and streamlining of my collection. Every item is at a 99p start and with reasonable postage, so I'm really not trying to rip anyone off; I'll just be happy to clear out some space (both physically and mentally) and make some pennies whilst I do it.

First up is the Anniversary Collection Evolutions Jango Fett figure, which I obtained in the AOTC Bluray multipack...

The Ultimate Army Builder.
I've highlighted this figure before here, but now it's time to say goodbye. Despite coming from Episode II, an instalment better forgotten, Jango is actually a fairly decent character as a gun slingin', 'simple man' of a bounty hunter.  The thing is, this toy looks awful. I mean, it's in good condition, but look how squeezed that helmet is on the head, and how off-colour the purple jumpsuit looks. I don't watch AOTC with regularity at all, but I remember it well enough to know that Jango looked a lot more blue under the armour than he does here. Regardless of the many points of articulation this version has, the 2013 Saga Legends edition just looks far, far superior.

The Ultimate Penknife
R2-D2 here was a present that came from the previous incarnation of Saga Legends, although research tells me it was originally available in 2005 as part of the Revenge of the Sith line. It's a decent figure, good sculpt and size, but it's one of four R2s I have - the OTC Dagobah R2 is also electronic and is part of a set, the Saga Collection R2 is my standard go to Astromech and the POTF2 version I'm keeping for the sake of sentimentality. This isn't a bad figure at all, but it's a case of being the odd droid out.

Hero Lot
Luke & Han from TAC are both figures that I acquired in job lots, and I don't really have any need for either. I've photographed this Luke figure once, but generally use the Legacy Collection version as my default whiny farmboy. I would use the Han if I had a Millennium Falcon, but I very much doubt I'll own one of them any time soon...

Hot Wheels? No Wheels!
There's actually a bit of an embarrassing story behind how I ended up owning this Galoob Action Fleet Landspeeder, because when I bought it I thought I was getting a rather cheap Hasbro/Kenner POTF2 version. As soon as it arrived I realised my error, but it was my fault for not asking any questions of the seller and leaping on the purchase at the last minute, however vague the listing was. I still managed to work it into a few shots though and, needless to say, I've been crystal clear when listing it this time around.

Dark Knight in Bright Light!
It's not all Star Wars. This Batman figure from Mattel's DKR line was bought for a reduced and insanely low price, and it's served its purpose for one shot. However I've since acquired the Play Arts Kai Dark Knight Trilogy Bats, and since I'm not picking up any other 3.75" DC heroes, I've hit the end of the road with this one. As a kid I would've loved this Batman, as opposed to all the day-glo versions we got from the movie lines and animated series, but it's now surplus to requirement.

*

And so the Purge has begun. Do I have any second thoughts? Well, Jango Fett is the first figure that really raises any questions for me, because not only is it the only figure I've looked at today that I don't own another version of, but it's also something that I'm in two minds about whether to even replace. I'd like the 5POA Mission Series Jango, and also the Class II Slave 1 ship for him to pilot (toys being toys again!) but as I inferred above, Episode II doesn't hold any huge appeal for me. As collecting is becoming affordable and interesting again with both Saga Legends and next year's Rebels, I think it's important to set parameters - and the first of those is to stick to my stated Star Wars focus of collecting Episode III and onwards only. It felt good remembering this when I came within a whisker of picking up the Geonosis Mission Series pack today.

I'll be back on Wednesday and Friday highlighting and justifying the rest of the stuff I'm selling, whilst also thinking out loud about the 5POA vs SA debate, and why I'll never be a customiser...

As always, thanks for reading!

Sunday, 13 October 2013

The Great Purge Has Begun!

First for the Chop
I've written before about my need to pare down my collection, which has grown incredibly bloated and in all sorts of unfocused directions over the last few years, and this weekend I've finally been able to sit down and start the process. It's been a case of going for the low-hanging fruit to begin with, as I'm getting rid of all of the odds and ends I've accumulated through bulk purchases, discount impulse buys, and older versions of characters that I've since replaced. Still, at least it's a start!

I'll be profiling the different figures over the coming week as they await their fates on eBay, and giving some insight as to why they no longer make the cut for the collection. Hopefully from this I'll have a clearer idea of which direction my collecting focus is taking as well, which would be nice...

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Shelf Review: Vintage Trilogy Saga Collection Greedo

"I'm lucky I found you first..."
Shelf Review! Not as in-depth as my regular musings, but a look at the equally-deserving items on my toy shelf all the same. Today I'm taking a look at Greedo, from 2006's Vintage Trilogy Saga Collection. The question is, is he as bad a figure as he is a bounty hunter?

Wrong Trade, My Friend.
I'll put you out of your misery straight away - Greedo is much better at being an action figure than he is a hired goon. Coming in at 14 points of articulation, with soft goods, a working holster, a striking colour scheme and exemplary sculpting (particularly on the head), this version of Greedo is as definitive as it gets.
 
All-Round Rodian.



As with all the better 3.75" Star Wars figures, Greedo has a good weight to him, and feels like a solid mass of toy. The joints are stiff on my version, which always helps to make a figure feel robust and well made, and because of this Greedo is easy to stand and pose unaided. The working holster is a treat, and the gun fits securely both in there and in his hand, which should really be a minimum essential for any figure that comes packed with a weapon. I know some folks aren't too keen on the soft-goods coat, but for me it's one of the better examples of soft-goods in the Star Wars line - I appreciate it hangs a little low, but it can be easily trimmed if you're so inclined. Otherwise it has a great colour, it fits, isn't see-through (ahem, Darth Vader) and generally looks great. For me it's the coat which takes the figure from solid to spectacular, which is really saying something for a minor character when it comes to my personal tastes.

Super-Size Greedo
As I'm sure most of you are aware there's a newer, bigger version of Greedo coming in the Black Series Wave 2, due in November, which I think looks ace - but it has some pretty big shoes to fill. If you're after the definitive 3.75" Greedo for your collection, then you should look no further than this superlative VTSC figure.

*****
Thanks for reading!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Back to the Fold

The Best at 6"
I've been pretty slack here for various reasons over the last month or so, the better of those reasons being that I've just started the third year of my university course. Whilst that is (rightly) going to take up a lot of my focus, worry not about my Star Wars fan status - my dissertation is going to be on George Lucas himself, and the many, many contradictions that he presents. If I don't end up hating every word I've jotted down by the deadline, I may even post it up here for your perusal...

Looking for Someone...
My apologies if you came back here expecting Black Series 6" reviews - whilst I have three out of four of the first wave, I've not gotten around to objectively collecting my thoughts on them yet. From my limited 'playtime' I would suggest that the Sandtrooper is the best of the bunch, but it's difficult for me to judge, with X-Wing Pilot Luke Skywalker being one of my favourite versions of the character in any action figure line anyway; even the times when he's actually a Snowspeeder Pilot!

Lightsaber Duel? I Maul For It!
Other than these guys I have no recent purchases to highlight, vintage or otherwise, which should allow me the opportunity to catch up with some of my backlog a little bit. University deadlines or not, I'm sincerely hoping to give you many more reasons to return for the next couple of weeks at least...

Thanks for sticking around!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Ackbar!

Life on Home One
Sorry for the lack of updates; between an extremely poorly relative, client work and another film entering pre-production the last 10 days have absolutely flown by, and I've had no time to post anything. Even this is a fly-by blogging - I just wanted to show off a shot I took of Admiral Ackbar last night...

On a collecting note, I've finally spotted the Mission Series two-packs in the wild (at Forbidden Planet Sheffield), and they look good, particularly the Utapau Clone Trooper set. I also saw the ROTS Obi-Wan Kenobi in hand as well, and it looks much better than any pictures I've seen of it online. As I already have an Anakin on pre-order (scheduled to arrive with the good Black Series Luke X-Wing and Sandtrooper), that may be a final 3.75" temptation.

On that note, I've also started to reach some conclusions about my collection, and the direction I'm taking it. The Purge is coming... As soon as I get a free day to sit down and actually do it! For now though, I'm all about dealing with what's immediately in front of me; and that's a house in mid-sort, and a film that needs a production office. None of these things are mutually exclusive, but at the moment collecting is fairly low on that hierarchy. Hopefully though it won't be too long before I'm back with more regular updates, and maybe even a Black Series review... 

Until then, thanks for reading!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

On Location

Leo going solo.
I re-arranged my Flickr sets today, and as I pored over the photographs from the last three years I was struck by how bad some of my initial efforts were. Unfortunately, some of the more recent ones stuck out as well, and it struck me that my biggest issues are lighting and setting, two of the three key components of a photograph (the third being the subject). I thought I'd pay a little attention to this for today's post...

Leader in blue!
It's unfortunate that I don't have room to store different sets, much less the time to build them nowadays, and a cluttered house doesn't really cut it as a backdrop when photographing 1:18 scale figures. Fortunately though, as fantastical as Star Wars is, if you live near a swamp, woodland, desert or beach, or even some destitute scrub land, you've got the ideal setting for your action figure photographs. Although living in the middle of the UK isn't ideal for a desert or beach, it more than does the job when looking at Dagobah or Endor...

BTS: The glory of cropping!
But what about the urban heroes? Northampton really isn't much of a cityscape, the lift tower being the sole defining feature of the skyline, and if I struggle with building a set for something fictional, I think I'd really mess up a scale recreation of an NYC rooftop. So how best to photograph them? Why, multistory car parks, of course!

Miles Morales...
I frequently try and find a lighting set-up that works best for me at home, in the lightbox or otherwise, but hands down using natural light is the best. The colour balance looks right, and if you pick a  good spot (somewhere open but out of direct sunlight) the lighting is crisp and even across the subject. Occasionally you may need to use a reflector to get the light to go exactly where you need it, but you should be fine without. Also, the more light that is available, the less your camera has to compensate by auto-filling information. This is what happens when dark pictures appear grainy; there's not enough information for the camera to create a whole picture, so it fills in the gaps itself. It's always better to shoot light and darken the image in post, if needs be.

...the Ultimate Spider-Man!
A car park fits the bill of being somewhere open but out of direct sunlight, and provides a gritty and urban setting for our more 'street' figures, with a view across the rooftops to boot. Furthermore during the day the higher-up levels of the car park are rarely used, providing all the privacy a grown man playing with toys in public needs!

Ninja Protector!
It's not perfectly to scale, but the car park fits the bill well enough, and it's nice to finally have somewhere to play with capture my superhero figures at work. What's even better is that I'm finally starting to get the quality of photograph that I've been after since I started. Onwards and upwards, I suppose...

Good luck with your own on location shooting, and thanks for reading!

Monday, 29 July 2013

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 6" Figure Review

Definitely not in bad taste.
This week we'll be looking at the Ultimate Comics Spider-Man 6" figure, from last year's Amazing Spider-Man movie line. The single wave consisted of the ASM (movie costume) Spidey, the Lizard, and in a nice surprise this guy, the new Ultimate Comics webspinner Miles Morales. "Who is this usurper?" and "how good is his action figure?" are questions you may be asking yourself. Well, read on if you'd like to find out the answers!

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #1
After being bitten by a radioactive spider that was smuggled out of an Oscorp lab by his uncle, thirteen year old Miles Morales developed similar (but not identical) powers to those of Spider-Man. Following the death of the Ultimate universe's Peter Parker, and Miles' guilt at not helping in the fatal battle, he takes up the mantle of Spider-Man himself. As with all good spider-men personal tragedy runs rife, and he's already paying a high cost for the costume...

Packaging Front & Back
So, on to the figure. The packaging follows the template from the ASM movie line with the same visuals and cut of the card, and there's really not much to say about it, other than that this costume pops on the image on the back. These things are made for opening though, so let's see what we get!

Figure, shield and stand.
UC Spider-Man comes packaged with a stand and a clip on web shield, both of which look pretty cool and provide a good looking, if not particularly Spidey-esque display option. That's already more than what came with the 3 3/4" Ultra Posable Spidey, so we're off to a good start...

Face front!
First thing I noticed was how sturdy the figure felt out of the packaging; although I then felt like I was putting that theory to the test with my first attempt at posing. The joints were properly stiff, and I felt like I was going to snap the leg off, but after the first click the hip joints started to move a bit more freely. This figure boasts a whopping 25 points of articulation (including double joints on the shoulders, elbows and knees) which allows for amazing posability, but unfortunately it also suffers from only having a swivel head, which limits how good some poses can look. This is compounded by the hunched neck, which looks cool in some poses but really doesn't work in others. The thighs can only bend so high, which restricts some of the more athletic poses we're used to seeing with Spidey, but really these are the only drawbacks; the articulation is otherwise very well done.

And back!
Cast in black plastic, there's very little actual paint on the figure, but what is there should be good. The intricate lines and design of the costume are very cleanly applied, and the eyes have a pearlescent sheen that matches the black and red colour scheme perfectly and looks beautiful. It's a good looking costume and one that they've applied to the figure very well. On my sample (mail ordered) there were some chips in the paint which are noticeable on close inspection (and unfortunately I can't unsee the red dot on his left eye now), so if you get the chance to inspect this figure before picking it up it's worth giving it a scan. Individual blemishes aside though, the paint job is very well done.


The last strike against this figure is more about the character than the toy itself; Miles is a young teenager and is drawn as such in the comics, whilst this figure looks more like a fully grown and pumped adult. Overall though it's good we've gotten an action figure of Miles so soon in the character's history, and despite its few flaws this is a very solid toy.

*****
Thanks for reading!

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