It’s Robot and Droid Week here at the virtual Exclu offices and it’s all we can talk about around the imaginary water-cooler. Who among us hasn’t longed for an adorable and/or snarky metal companion to follow them around tending to your needs or even saving your neck once in a while. That is, until the inevitable day that they invent the T-1000 to take us all out. But I digress…
Recently I took a trip to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, a beautiful place where I spent many summer months of my childhood. Of course I had to take along some figures to shoot amidst the beauty of the pristine landscape there. One of my traveling companions, and the one I ended up shooting the most, was everyone’s favorite sad-sack; the GNK Power Droid or as we all know him…Gonk.
Whereas the GNK in A New Hope came off as a bit aloof and hyper-focused (not to mention repetitive), the original Kenner Power Droid has a look of wide-eyed, naiveté to him. His stubby, bulky, opposite-of-agile shape gives him the look of something that would need to think for a minute or two about how to kick a ball in its path and, inevitably, fall over from the task anyway. But his single, focused eye that sits next to a subtle face-like button array, his coiled legs and his smoke-stack chimney makes for a plucky, determined demeanor that reminds me of the Little Engine that Could.
I rarely, if ever, just set up some figures and start shooting. I almost always have a scenario or narrative in mind that I want to convey or quickly develop one if there is a figure I just need to shoot.
As I found spots to shoot the G-man, a narrative started to emerge. As I was on a bit of a journey myself, I figured Gonk should have his own adventure exploring the woods of the northeast. Where is he going? What is he searching for? I imagined he was searching for purpose – something to power – or maybe recharging his own batteries through his commune with nature. Whichever it was, there was no stopping him.
I captured Gonk’s Journey with a Nikkor 40mm macro lens and sometimes with the help of an awkwardly propped up relector. The sun filtering through the trees in the early morning made for some fantastic lighting. I’m more of an indoor photographer because I like control over the light, so it’s always a challenge for me to work with what I have when I venture outside.
Gonk was a trooper throughout and for the most part held his balance well. Some trusty tac adhesive helped out when he couldn’t. For such a simple – not to mention dated – figure, the Power Droid has a suprising amount of character and with some posing work was able to convey some subtle expression. I look forward to our next journey together.