The next photographer to tackle one of our themed shoots is John Michael Huang who not only created an impressive series of images but has curated one of the most accomplished and mature pieces of content that we have ever seen on the Exclu platform.
Tasked with interpreting “The Limit” by the Exclu Design Collective, I stood at the center of my collection and examined each figure closely. What eventually came to mind was that every character reached a certain “limit” in their story, a moment in time that forced them to make a choice and be irrevocably changed. These scenes were often evocative and inspiring, moving us to the edge of our seats in anticipation for what the characters would do or not do.
For this feature, I chose a few memorable characters to pose and attempted to capture the spirit of their transformative moments. (Spoilers ahead!)
“You’ll soon drip precious rubies.”
When Benjamin Barker returned to London after years in exile, he was told that his wife had poisoned herself and his daughter had been kidnapped. He also learned who was responsible. Every man has his limits, and Mr. Barker certainly reached his, vowing to seek revenge on the corrupt Judge Turpin and the scum of London. At the end of the scene where he finds his weapon of choice, with blood on his mind, he says, “At last, my arm is complete again.” Sweeney Todd, “The Demon Barber of Fleet Street”, was born.
Figure used: Hot Toys Sweeney Todd.
“What we do in life echoes in eternity.”
Maximus Decimus Meridius, once a decorated general in the Roman army, lost his family to the amoral and power-hungry Commodus. Captured by slavers, Maximus would eventually fight as a gladiator in the Roman Colosseum in order to rise through the ranks and avenge his family. He was always pushed to the limit on his long and difficult journey, but his honour and integrity never wavered, inspiring those around him. Whether dressed as a slave or wearing gladiator armour, Maximus never lost who he was.
Figure used: Pangaea Gladiator General with custom head sculpt.
“There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.”
When all hope seemed lost, the Ring-bearer Frodo Baggins at his limit, Samwise Gamgee rested his friend’s weary head on his lap and recounted the good things in the world: the orchards in blossom, the birds in the thicket, the taste of strawberries with cream. All they needed was one final push to the summit of Mount Doom, and all would be well again. They could finally return to the Shire—home. With hope renewed, Sam carried Frodo the rest of the way and fulfilled their quest to destroy the One Ring.
Figures used: Asmus Toys Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins.
“I am one with the Force; the Force is with me.”
The enigmatic Chirrut Imwe’s faith in the Force was unshakable. Though blind, he could take on an entire squad of stormtroopers single-handedly. The Force guided him and showed him where he was needed most. This eventually led him to help the Rebel Alliance on a mission of great importance—a suicide mission. Chirrut was one of the first to volunteer. On the planet Scarif, pinned down by enemy fire with nowhere left to run, Chirrut knew what had to be done. It seemed an impossible task: the relentless “Death Troopers” were cutting down anyone who approached the objective on the open field. But Chirrut called upon the Force, took the first step, and sealed his fate.
Figures used: Hot Toys Chirrut Imwe, Death Trooper Specialist, and Death Trooper Specialist Deluxe.
“War. War never changes.”
War may never change, but the people involved do. We do not think much of the face behind a stormtrooper’s helmet, but behind the visor lies another being’s hopes and dreams, beliefs and ideologies. Sometimes, the only difference between an Imperial and a Rebel is that they were born on opposite sides of the civil war, fighting to protect what they know and love. Limits are often crossed in war, and a stormtrooper may wonder if the ends truly justify the means, for both sides.
Figures used: Hot Toys Stormtrooper Jedha Patrol, Sandtrooper, and Death Trooper Specialist Deluxe.
A massive thank you goes to John for curating one of the most accomplished and mature themed shoots that we have ever collaborated on here at Exclu. Be sure to catch more of John’s work over on Instagram @johnm.huang and for all things toy photography stayed tuned to Exclu.