Asking someone to share their Favourite Figure isnt always an easy feat and that was the case when Neil Burke took on our weekly theme and so he mulled over those figures in his collection that he struggles to choose between in the best possible way – with a full exclusive shoot!
When I was first told that the theme would basically be “Your Favourite Toy” I knew I had to bust out some of my Black Series Star Wars figures. Only I couldn’t just leave it at that, I had to pick out a couple others (just in case).
The First Order TIE Pilot here is probably my favourite Black Series figure right now. There’s so much detail on it and the armour has such a nice shine to it that it just draws you in. I remember the days when an action figure being all one colour meant you were getting something cheap and disappointing but that is not the case here. I’m of the opinion that pretty much every toy collector or toy photographer needs a First Order TIE Pilot in their arsenal. I affectionately call mine VL-3725.
On rare occasions, I make use of my portable photo studio, usually when I want to try something out for the first time before heading out to take a proper shot but today I used it to take a very specific shot that I knew I’d struggle to capture anywhere but under the LED lights of the photo studio and I couldn’t be happier with the results. By bouncing the light off of the diorama behind VL-3725 (and that diorama is actually my kid’s Scooby Doo dungeon) I managed to cast the TIE Pilot in an interesting yellow/green glow that draws extra emphasis to the shininess of his armour. A hack I used was running him under the cold water tap and flick the excess off him, leaving him just wet enough for it to manipulate the light falling across him even more.
As for that mono shot of him? I’m a sucker for monochrome and the TIE Pilot is perfect for it, again, thanks to his really shiny armour.
The Finn (Jakku) figure here was actually my first Black Series figure but I have rarely used him in my toy photography. This was an excellent chance for me to have a little fun with him and also try something I have wanted to give a whirl for a long while now: an action shot. Whenever I have taken a shot of two figures opposing one another they have always been either before the confrontation with them looking at one another or after, with the victor standing over their defeated enemy. This was my first real attempt at capturing a fleeting moment within a fight.
At first I wanted Finn to be kicking the TIE Pilot with the First Order goon doubled over but the wind was too much and kept making the figures lose their balance which is why I then settled on an image of the pair grappling over a weapon (for a brief moment I considered a set-up that had Finn standing over a kneeling Tie Pilot with his EL-16 raised over his head, ready to smash the TIE Pilot’s helmet in but it lacked any real sense of urgency. On the whole, I’m glad I at least attempted an action shot and it has definitely given me the confidence to tackle them again in the (near) future.
With the Durotan shot I was reaching for something emotional, something that wasn’t quite anger but wasn’t sadness. It was vague in my mind but I knew I had IT with this particular angle. It is almost a weariness. To achieve this, not only did I desaturate the figure and ramped up the contrast and shadows, I used Snapseed’s Brush tool to play with the exposure, especially around his eyes and the exposed side of his torso. Standing at six inches tall, this Durotan looks taller due to how bulky and weighty he is.
Even with having never played the game, even with being disappointed with the movie, even with his limited articulation, he’s an exquisite addition to my collection and I really dig him.
This particular Riddler shot is a re-edit of a shot I took last week and haven’t done anything with. He’s from the Batman the Animated Series line and is certainly a lot of fun. With this I wanted to do something that felt a little ‘Christopher Nolan’ and while I’m not sure I really captured the feel of the Dark Knight trilogy, I’m still happy with it as a whole.
This figure is actually my latest acquisition, I’ve only had him for a couple of weeks but I already know that I’m going to be shooting this one for a long time to come. I wouldn’t mind, he was a spur of the moment buy, too, purely because the figure I had gone for (the Arkham Gordon) was out of stock and I wasn’t leaving empty-handed having walked all the way to the shop. Riddler isn’t even one of my favourite characters, he’s not even a particularly favourite Batman rogue.
Lastly, we have the DC Multiverse Captain Boomerang and as you can see, this has been weathered and made to look a little more screen accurate with dirt, bruises, and blood having been painted on (which I did myself). This is also a fairly new buy and I think it’s a wicked cool figure.
I like the Multiverse line, obviously, they are not as detailed as a lot of figures out there and they are a little on the ‘budget’ side of collecting but I think they look really good. This one comes with a little holster beneath his coat under his arm and it actually fits one of the boomerangs that came with him. It’s a nice touch. As for the photograph itself, I shot this one inside my photo studio and the diorama behind him is the same Scooby Doo one from the TIE Pilot shot just from the front. The lighting glow here, however, is artificial and to achieve the effect I added a glow in Snapseed and then notched the exposure levels up a couple of degrees.
There are so many figures I could have used for this theme but I’m glad I went with the ones I chose in the end because I think I have created a diverse set of images that serve as an example of the varied approaches I take to toy photography although, looking back in hindsight, I kind of wish I had taken something that was a little cute or poppy, which is something I rarely tackle.
Thanks for having me, Exclu!
A massive thank you goes to Neil for taking the time and effort to create such an varied body of work for his weekly theme feature showing off his personal favourites. You can catch more of his work over on Instagram via @whambamclick and for the latest toy shoots stay tuned to Exclu.