Saturday, February 25, 2012

Advanced Geek Photography and Kenner Star Wars Action Figures


When you hear the term "professional photography", certain things immediately come to mind--fashion modeling, photojournalism, art photography, and studios and freelancers who specialize in niche markets such as wedding photos, family photos, graduation photos and so on. Yet professional photographers can be employed to take pictures of just about anything, including cars, appliances, food, and toys ... including toys from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.


Meet Pete, an avid collector of vintage Star Wars toys. Due to limited space within his own home that precludes a worthy display of his collection, he opted instead to take pictures of the action figures and vehicles so he could appreciate them on his computer. His photo collection of his toy collection eventually grew into his own blog, which is called Star Wars Action Figures Doing What They Do Best. As someone who grew up with Star Wars toys, the toys that introduced me to the joys of scale replicas and obsessive collecting, I'm amazed at how good these toy pictures are. I don't know if Pete is a professional photographer or not, but his inspired usage of lighting, focus, color and object placement in each photo reflects a talented eye for photography--a very impressive feat, considering that most of Pete's subjects are less than four inches high.

Click the link above to go to Pete's site to see all of his photos, and you can also click here to read an interview with him on the Galactic Awesome blog site. Pete also let me post a few of his pictures here (such as the above picture of Darth Vader); click below for a small gallery of some of his work, as well as a few thoughts about how Kenner used photography when it first launched its Star Wars action figure line.

When I started collecting Star Wars toys when I was just a wee lad, what struck me the most about them were wide variety of color. The original 12 figures were painted in a bold spectrum of colors, such as silver, blue, gold, yellow, gray, tan, white, black, auburn and brown. The second wave of figures, which largely consisted of droids and cantina aliens, expanded the palette to include green, orange, red and navy blue. To emphasize the figures' colors, early photos of the action figures that appeared on the figures' cardbacks and in the mini-catalogs that came with the Star Wars toys were individual photos of each figure. Each photo had a different background in order contrast and highlight the figure's coloring. The picture below is the closest thing I could find to what these early photos looked like.

A vintage Kenner Star Wars mini-catalog, courtesy of Plaid Stallions.

Kenner stopped doing individual photos during the action figure releases for The Empire Strikes Back, opting instead to do a single photo of all of the figures against a bright yellow or dull blue background. Thankfully, Pete's photos put the color and creativity back into the vintage Kenner figures from the entire original Star Wars trilogy. As you can see in the gallery below, he occasionally places them with the vehicles that Kenner designed and sold for the figures; needless to say, these figure and vehicle pics far exceed the kinds of photos Kenner used to sell its Star Wars merchandise.

















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