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EXCLU DESIGN COLLECTIVE

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JACK STURMAN @exclucollective

Jack is the Director of Exclu and created the platform as a place for creatives and members of the toy industry to connect and embrace modern popular culture. The platform is ever dedicated to the showcasing of original community talent.

JASON YANG

SPENCER WITT

In real life, Jason Yang uses his job as a commercial animator and illustrator to fund his ever growing toy collection. His toy photography work has been featured at San Diego Comic Con, NYC Toy Fair, and Star Wars Celebration.

Spencer Witt is a Salt Lake City, Utah based toy photographer. His work has been showcased as SDCC, Star Wars Celebration and the New York Toy Fair. His photos have been featured on StarWars. com. Entertainment Weekly and Yahoo movies.

@workmoreorless

@swittpics

TREVOR WILLIAMS

MARK WALKER

@onesix_shooter

@markwalkerphoto

Mark Walker is a full time professional photographer based in Nottinghamshire, UK with a studio set in the heart of the Sherwood Forest. His work has appeared at SDCC on the Hasbro stand and on the Yahoo Movies website.

Trevor is the owner and Creative Director of The Brand Counselors based in New York. Toy photography melds his childhood dreams of comic book illustration and film directing with his design uncontainable talents.

STAN RUSSELL

THAM YING KEET

Stan is a graphic designer from Orlando, Florida, and has been an avid lover of toys for his entire life. He love’s doing anything that exercises the creative side of his brain and toy photography has been a tremendous outlet for that.

When Tham is not counting cash in his office, he can be seen taking pictures of his toys in his man cave. It’s therapeutic according to him, citing Toy Photography as a means of relaxation from his stressful job.

@yingkeet0675

@vimlossus

DALE SCHENCK

PATRICK PCHALEK

Based in Austin Texas, Dale enjoys long walks on the beach and catching up on reruns of The Golden Girls in his free time… He also just happens to have an insatiable sense of humour that matches his passion and dedication to his craft.

Patrick Pchalek comes from the middle of Germany and he spends his rare spare time with toy based photography with his pictures always available under @wonderbunk and his trademarks are versatility and laziness... or so he claims.

@darth_shank

@wonderbunk


ISSUE 6 Exclu Collective Issue 6 marks the beginning of a new creative direction and a brand new line-up of community photographers to showcase ranging from season veterans to relative newcomers to the community. We’ve also been incredibly fortunate to work alongside some industry platforms this issue including Kotobukiya, Tamashii Nations UK and Oldboy CTTS which has spurred the team on to create some amazing new material to debut here. Thank you to all who continue to support our platform and the work that we do across the community to continue showcasing and shining a light on the talent and spirit of Toy Photography.

KEEP CONNECTED YOU CAN EMAIL US

jack@exclucollective.com READ ALL ABOUT IT

www.exclucollective.com FOLLOW WHAT WE’RE UPTO

@exclucollective

ISAIAH TAKAHASHI

SHAZHAD BHIWANDIWALA

Isaiah Takahashi is an Orange County based photographer, California. He is also a founding member of Related Grey, where he is the CG Director. When he’s not out shooting, you can find him trying to sneak more toys past his wife, or teaching his daughter the ways of The Force.

Shahzad is an India based toy photographer who has worked with various companies such as Asmus Collectibles, Kotobukiya, Sphero, Beast Kingdom and alongside being interviewed by media outlets Buzzfeed India and the Indian Express.

@sbphotographs1

@blksrs

ALEX EGLINGTON

MATT HEYWOOD

Alex dives into E6 with a fresh pair of eyes and a determined creative know-how as guest designer adding further variety and depth to the shift in creative direction at Exclu.

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of EntertainmentBuddha. com where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When not shooting you’ll find him taking pictures of toys and talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.

DESIGN CONSULTANT

JAX NAVARRO @PLASTICACTION

Instagram’s own @plasticaction creator Allen “Jax” Navarro steps out of his comfort zone as he takes some of his work indoors. See how the full exclusive cover shoot and interview played out right here in E6.

@heywoodpop

COVER ARTIST

The material seen here-in may not be replicated or reproduced without the express permission of Exclu Media Ltd. Any instances of the above will be treated seriously. Exclu Media Ltd is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or retailers seen here-in. All rights reserved.


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Spread: Michael Myers 1/6 Scale Custom Figure.

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JAX

Hey guys! Wow, is that REALLY my work on the cover of a magazine?! My work has never been on the cover of anything so I can’t tell you how exciting this is! Thank you Jack and Exclu Media for letting me be a part of this. If you already follow me on Instagram, you’ll notice that over 90% of my posts are outdoor shots, mostly because I really sucked at creating what my vision was indoors. I always struggled with lighting. I truly believe that we need to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations in order to grow so I decided to shoot half of the shotsfor this spread indoors. One of these shots literally took me a combined 5 hours to get right but it was overall a great and much needed learning experience.

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#PLASTICBALLERZ

Hey Jax! A huge thank you for getting involved with us again for Issue 6. Let’s start with the cover and what a cover it is! What was your inspiration behind this shot? It was an absolute honor and pleasure, Jack! The idea behind the shot was simple for me. Merge two things that I love into one shot: basketball and Star Wars. I’ve been a basketball junkie most of my life and Chewy was an easy choice because he’s such a versatile character. And who doesn’t love Chewie? You can put him into any situation or scene and he will look natural doing it. Also, the ability to articulate his fur madethe motion in the shot believable. Being a huge Lakers fan, I knew that I had to get him wear a jersey, although it barely fit. I chose the “between-the-legs” dunk pose to pay homage to the great Kobe Bryant who, in fact, did this same dunk during the dunk contest his Rookie season. I have a whole series of fun basketball photos under this Instagram hashtag: #PlasticBallerz How much time went into the creation of the cover would you say from conceptualisation through the final image you see at play here? Good question! Unfortunately, I didn’t time it. But if I were to guess, it probably took a combined 4-5 hours to create this shot. Since I merged two of my images into one (foreground and background), it took some extra time to process especially because I had to deal with individual strands of hair on Chewy. It normally doesn’t take this long to produce a shot but this particular one took some extra processing time. The Last Jedi shot featuring both Luke and Rey is perhaps the best use of the figures we have seen to date so talk us through your thought trail leading to the shot?

Top Left: Hotwheels Millenium Falcon, Micro Machines Tie Fighter. Bottom Left : Black Series Rey and Speeder

Thank you! This was actually a test shot that I had intended to do outdoors, but I ended up being real happy with this one, so I rolled with it! The concept behind the shot is something that I am confident we will see in Episode 8, where Luke reveals who Rey is and where she comes from. I wanted the shot to portray Rey as an eager, yet skeptical Jedi student, and show Master Luke just moments before he lets Rey in on who she is, where she comes from, who her parents are, etc. If you read his lips, it almost looks like “I AM YOUR FATHER,” doesn’t it?

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YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHO I SAW ON THE WAY TO WORK TODAY. Spread: SHFiguarts Padme Amidala, SHFiguarts Harley Quinn, SHFiguarts Mario, SHFiguarts Tony Stark, SHFiguarts Black Widow, SHFiguarts Bruce Lee, SHMonsterarts King Kong, NECA E.T., Marvel Legends Old Logan (Oldboy Custom Head), Mafex C-3PO, Mezco 1/12 Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. Extreme Sets Subway Diorama.


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You delve into so many characters and licenses here so would you agree that it’s one of your strengths as a creative that you are able to apply your own style and work ethic to a broad range of subjects?

with since the very beginning and the license that anchors @plasticaction today. You know you did something right if you have the younger generations of today who absolutely love the original trilogy characters from 25 years ago.

Absolutely. The beauty of toy photography is that you have no limitations. And you don’t have to worry about licensing, contracts, and all that other legal BS to get 2 different worlds (or licenses) to collide onto one scene. I love that I could take Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock from Star Trek and have them decimate a couple of Stormtroopers from Star Wars. Or how about Optimus Prime versus an AT-ST? Mashups play a significant part in my work and they are definitely one of the more fun aspects to execute.

Looking at the larger picture now, where did you toy journey really begin and at what point did it start to take on a very serious life of its own as a fully-fledged hobby?

Following on from that then, what would be your favourite license to shoot from the figures that you own? I have to go with Star Wars. The characters are so rich with personality. It’s what I started 10

Before I was @plasticaction, I used to be an “All BB-8” Instagram feed (@bb8files) after my wife Lora bought me a Sphero BB-8 for Christmas in 2015. It was sort of a “screw around and see what happens” Instagram profile, since I was managing my “more serious” pet photography profile of @thefugee. But after 1 week of just BB-8 pics, I gained over 1,000 followers and thought, really? People are actually interested in this? From that point, that’s when I discovered a really talented and inspiring pool of Toy Photographers in the Instagram community.

After seeing some mind blowing content, I knew that I wanted to dive into this, even though I had no idea what to do and what to expect. I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t expect it to become an addiction. Even to this day, I’m still blown away by some of the content being published on a daily basis. My first action figures I bought were the Black Series Rey and Kylo Ren and I haven’t looked back ever since. I’ve seen the term “plastic crack” thrown around and there’s no better way to sum it up. We can’t continue without touching on the amazing arcade group shot which we imagine must have been a lot of fun to pose and create? Ah, yes! Most definitely a blast to setup and shoot. The idea started out with just King Kong and Mario playing Donkey Kong, and felt it was missing something so I added Harley and Padme. From that point I kept adding more and more figures to see how many characters I could fit into one frame yet still maintaining


interest visually, by keeping a balance and avoiding too much chaos. It eventually manifested into 13 characters and my goal was to have each character doing something, so that the audience could stand back, analyze, and perhaps even discuss what they think is happening in each little mini-story and the overall scene as a whole. That’s something I enjoy doing when I go to art galleries and see paintings that have a bunch of characters interacting.

Above : Funko White Walker head on Funko Brienne of Tarth body, Black Series Tauntaun. Right : Wei Jiang M01-D (Optimus Prime), Black Series 3 3/4 Inch AT-ST

We see your work has a great blend of digital effects such as glowing eyes and also practical effects like background pyro work but which would you say took you longer to master? I’ve now had almost 15, (mostly non-professional) years experience using Photoshop but I still fumble around, trying to get certain effects to look

realistic. In my defense, I’ve had no formal training, but digital rendering is by far the more difficult to master for me. What would you say is your strongest image from this Issue and what makes you think it? Tough question! I have to go with the arcade scene. I really stepped out of my comfort zone to get this shot because my normal scenes consist of 1-3 subjects shot at a closer, lower angle. This scene had 13 subjects, a couple of props, and shot at a higher, wider angle. Although it took me hours to get the lighting, composition and posing to my liking, I was really happy with the final result. I also love that there’s so much going on and that the dialogue and and character interaction is left for the audience to interpret.

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FREDDY VS THE WORLD

Neca Freddy Krueger, McFarlane Carl, Penny, and Zombie Walker. Extreme Sets Asylum Diorama.

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Lastly we’d love to hear your thoughts on what you think is next for the Toy Photography platform and any advice that you might have for those people now starting out on how to get their work seen? The Toy Photography community on Instagram is very small with respect to the other genres of photography. There’s not a lot of people doing it and most people doesn’t even know it exists. I think once this art form gets exposed outside the Toy Photography community (pages, sites, or blogs that feature great photography or content in general) on a consistent basis, it will get the exposure it deserves. There’s an abundance of talent out there and people are getting better and better everyday so the future is bright! If you’re just starting out, there’s a great handful of Instagram profiles that share posts from the community, so it’s just a matter of finding those profiles that are relevant to what you post and using the relevant hashtags so that they are able see and repost what you’re publishing. A lot of users post “behind-the-scenes” that show how they accomplished their shot so make sure to tap into those resources. Study lighting and composition in movies and television, those people are masterful in making a scene look pleasing to the eye. But the important thing is to just enjoy what you are doing, don’t be afraid to try new things and take A LOT of photos. Every shot is a learning experience. Focus on your own work and don’t get caught up on comparing yourself with others or trying to replicate other peoples successes. You’ll be respected for what you do because you are YOU, not because you are version 2.0 of somebody else. 14


Spread : Hot Toys TFA Luke Skywalker, Hot Toys Rey (Resistance Outfit)

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EXCLU X BANDAI TAMASHII NATIONS UK Featuring the work of Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto) via the Cosmic Group.

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“ A few months back we started a collaborative relationship with Tamashii Nations UK courtesy of The Cosmic Group which saw us review and cover several of the latest S.H.Figuarts to hit the UK. Mark hit the ground running with his work shooting and reviewing the WWE figures with a blend of studio style break down shots that highlight the figures unique features and also the Toy Photography style that Exclu practises. We reviewed The Rock, The Undertaker , Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kane and HHH in this combination of style with the summaries being showcased here-in and the full break down on the site. It was a real pleasure to be able to work with figures and a license that isnt such an obvious one in a Toy Photography space which is largely dominated by Star Wars and Marvel and so this change up was immensly refreshing. Not only this but we also got some hands on time with the recent Street Fighter S.H. Figuarts Ryu and also ChunLi which again was a very refreshing experience and a break from the norm and we’re excited to debut some new combo shots right here in E6. A huge thank you to Tamashii Nations UK for their support and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for more upcoming collabs.

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KANE Bandai Tamashii Nations WWE S.H.Figuarts Kane - Shot by Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto)

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THE UNDERTAKER Bandai Tamashii Nations WWE S.H.Figuarts The Undertaker - Shot by Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto)

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THE ROCK VS HHH Its the most electrifying move in sports entertainment!

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THE ROCK

Bandai Tamashii Nations WWE S.H.Figuarts The Rock - Shot by Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto)

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STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN

Bandai Tamashii Nations WWE S.H.Figuarts Stone Cold Steve Austin Shot by Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto)

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Working with the Street Figher S.H.Figuarts provided Mark with a real creative challenge as he sought to showcase as much of the figures as possible in each shot from their impressive articulation to the well executed paint application. The final shoot really is the culmination of this effort to create a series that showcases the figures from an objective review stand point with our own flavour of Toy Art too and whats great about these figures is that they come with their own backdrop which , when used and edited in properly, can create some seemless shots that could easily double as screengrabs to the untrained eye. It was a great experience to have to cover a line that really is outside of the norm and its great to see gaming figures have their turn in the limelight as they have so much potential behind them for scene recreation and also original work too. Leading on from our work with these figures we would definitely advise you to shoot a wide variety of characters and licenses as each new one you take on with help to add depth to your work and help you tackle new challenges.

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CHUN-LI Bandai Tamashii Nations Street Figher S.H.Figuarts Chun-Li - Shot by Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto)

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RYU Bandai Tamashii Nations Street Figher S.H.Figuarts Ryu - Shot by Mark Walker (@markwalkerphoto)

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Equipment : Nikon D700 Lenses: 1) Tamron 15-30mm f/2.8 VC 2) Nikon 35mm f/2 3) Nikon 50mm f/1.8 4) Nikon 85mm f/1.85) Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 Macro: Kenko extension rings. (Love these things. They turn all of my lenses, except the Tamron, into macro lenses.) Off camera Flashes:1x Nikon sb-6001x Yongnuo YN460-II Wireless flash triggers: 2 sets of Phottix Strato II wireless flash triggers Light modifiers: 1x Rosco Gel Sample Pack (An $11 pack of 200+ gels that fit perfectly over my flashes and provide endless ways to color light), 1x Cowboy Studio 24x24 softbox -1x Shoot-through Umbrella

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BRIAN WINSHELL @DARKWORMPHOTO

Brian is one of those guys who sum’s up the Toy Photography communities all-helping nature, as he came to our aid when we went about prepping our video material and so we just had to return the favor. Brian’s Issue 6 series show’s why he has become such a revered photographer and the always impressive quality of his work which shows that he never misses the beat.

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Left: 1979 Kenner Alien Right: 1997 Nickelodeon Rugrats Poseable Keychains shot via @gloworm

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DARKWORM GLOWORM Hello, my name is Brian Winshell, 37, currently live in Austin, TX, and I have been doing photography for 10 years. I shoot for two toy photography projects, Gloworm Photography and Darkworm Photography. I started shooting toys three years ago when the idea was first presented to me by my girlfriend who is now my wife. Before shooting toys, I was keeping busy with shooting landscapes, my travels, weddings, babies, pets, and anything that came my way. Sissy, my wife, has been a vintage toy hunter/collector for 20+ years and one day she told me she has always wanted to photograph her toys in different scenes. I admit I wasn’t entirely on board right away. I think I was a little shy about the idea of taking toys outside, but we started brainstorming anyway. For our first shoot, I thought we should approach the toys like I would in my portrait sessions; pick a nice location, shoot during sunset, and use my various prime lenses at their widest apertures to try and get lots of smooth bokeh while keeping the subject in focus. Sissy has a great collection of vintage plushes so we took an old plush Lorax to a blooming cherry tree at a local park at sunset. It didn’t take long after we saw our first images on the computer screen to be completely hooked, and we started constantly thinking about what to shoot next and

where to shoot it. I was so on board with this new art form that I stopped taking portrait and wedding gigs, and much of my time off from my day job would be spent photographing toys, building dioramas, and eventually making custom figures. Occasionally I find time to work on music projects as well. However, there is something about trying to make the toys come to life in a photograph, something about trying to make an image that we and other viewers could connect with no matter the subject. This is when we started Gloworm, initially using Sissy’s collection as subjects, and (have continued collaborating on photography of vintage toys and themes.

living in Massachusetts where scouting locations for natural light was a difficult task when winter came around. This actually made the perfect opportunity to then learn diorama building. I already had some off-camera flash equipment from shooting wedding receptions, so once I built my first diorama, the Ninja Turtle lair, I was ready to shoot indoors while the freezing weather hit us for nearly 6 months. Since Gloworm was dedicated to the vintage, eclectic, and nostalgic ideas of my wife, the photos with the newer toys became part of the project we call Darkworm.

Eventually we discovered the toy photography community on Instagram and realized that there were other people out there who were just as excited about toy art and taking it to inspiring levels. For us, some of the biggest excitement comes from going long distances or incorporating our shots into our travels, like when we thought it would be fun to take our vintage Ninja Turtles figures and vehicles to New York City and shoot them with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background and a NYC Sewer in the foreground. After about 8 months of making photos for the Gloworm project, I was hooked on toys and started my own collection with some of the newer more articulated figures. At the time we were 31


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We chose the name Darkworm because it has fun with the worm theme and has synergy with Gloworm, you know, like Glow in the Dark. So three years and nearly 500 (released) toy photos later, Sissy and I are still in love with this art form. Sissy has always had an interest in learning photography, so now many of the

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shots in the Gloworm portfolio were shot by her. When we’re fortunate enough to travel we use it as an opportunity to take toy photos. We just returned from a belated Honeymoon to Hawaii, where the majority of our carry-on luggage was filled with toys and camera gear. Recently, we were honored to be asked


by Hasbro to make images for the 40th Anniversary of Star Wars. We saw that as a perfect opportunity to travel long distance for our image, so we drove 12 hours roundtrip to the sand dunes in West Texas to shoot the diorama of Luke’s Tatooine Home, which took over 20 hours to make. One of our most fun and challenging projects was to build a

diorama for one of our grail figures, the 1979 Alien by Kenner. We sculpted the eggs from scratch, with clay, and we collected random parts from broken toys and things found at thrift stores to fill out the background.

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KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD

I just love shooting anything nostalgic like you see in the Rugrats photo which is full of fun props and references to other Nickelodeon shows. The Rugrats figures are actually key chains, but they are poseable, so we thought they would work great for a scene. Sissy did a great job in hiding little things like the key rings to make the editing process as simple as possible. After shooting, I use Adobe Lightroom for basic color/contrast adjustments, then I go to Photoshop for removing wires and making the image pop a little more. For Pigpen, we really wanted to make him look dirty, like a cloud of dirt was just following him around. We shoot facing the sun so it makes the dust seem to glow. Off camera, my wife is kicking the dust at the figure while I have my Nikon D700 set to shoot at 8FPS. Shots like that are a bit of luck sometimes. Living in Austin gives us access to a good mix of natural and urban scenery which we try to integrate into our shots as much as possible. Floating down the river on an inner tube in Austin is a tradition and the city motto happens to be “Keep Austin Weird.” So, I thought it would be fun to have Michelangelo eating some Weird Pizza while floating down the river on the Austin Greenbelt. And finally, when I was choosing what figures to shoot for this article, I knew there was going to be ninjas, and not just of the turtle kind. This article was could 34

have easily been 100% ninjas, but I really wanted to show a little variety. I really love my dojo diorama, and I originally made it in anticipation of the Ninja and Samurai figures from the Articulated Icons line. It took about 18 months of slow progress to complete, but it worked out since it took the manufacturer two years to produce and deliver the figures. The lighting for the dojo shots were made using two off camera flashes. One flash, placed behind the rice paper walls, has a colored gel over the bulb. The second flash, usually overhead or off to the side, is just a bare bulb. Toy photography has been one of the most fulfilling creative endeavors I have ever made. The fact that this is something I also do alongside my wife, makes me so thankful. Without a creative outlet I might spontaneously combust, so I am very grateful to have this “hobby” and a community of like-minded individuals that challenge and inspire me on a daily basis.

There seems to be never-ending room for learning and improvement, whether it’s the technical aspects of photography itself or in the construction and choosing of scenery. Big thanks to the Exclu Collective for featuring Gloworm and Darkworm photos. Hope to share more with this community soon!


Spread: NECA Michelangelo on vintage TMNT tube

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Above: Black Series SDCC the Last Jedi Luke and Rey set. Top Right: MedicomToy MAFEX BvS Wonder Woman. Bottom Right: Diamond Select Toys Lady Deadpool.


KRIS SNELS @TOY_KRIZ

Kris has shown time and time again his creative flair within the Toy Community. He embraces a multitude of characters and licences which always helps to keep his work fresh and propells him in new directions. His previous exclusive themed shoots for our site went down a real treat and it was a surprise to no-body at Exclu to have him involved here for E6. Hold on tight. My name is Kris, known on Instagram as Toy_Kriz.I am a Belgian, living in Germany and I collect 1:12 scale Star Wars, DC and Marvel action figures. I have been creating digital media since I was about 16 years old. An older friend who worked at a designer studio showed me Photoshop (Photoshop 5 I believe). He even swapped my head with Anakin Skywalker on 1 of those high resolution promo pictures from Attack of The Clones he had access to. At a later age I wanted to become a graphic designer, but unfortunately I could not go and study it so I had to learn it by myself and made it my hobby. I have been doing amateur graphic designer work since then. I also focused on web design for a while, creating websites for friends of relatives. It is only since about 2 years that I do some illustrator work on a professional level at work on a regular basis. I really love doing that. And now I have a new hobby called toy photography, but I do not consider myself a photographer. I am always modest about it. I have no photography background at all, and in all truth, a year ago I did not even know what ISO, shutter speed and aperture meant. A real photographer would probably laugh if I say that I am a photographer.

They probably also see things I do not see. But I also believe it all comes down to opinion sometimes. A picture may look good to me, but not to you, and somebody else may think it is a masterpiece. You may like the photographic style of someone, but I may not like it. I know there are some basics to fulfil, and I try to learn them as I go. Next I plan to dive into learning compositions; where do I place certain elements in my shot, does it interfere with the background, is it too messy, and so on. I recently started shooting tethered indoors, there is so much more to be seen on my PC screen. I have bad eyesight, so I like everything large. Using a tablet over Wi-Fi also works really great. I do highly recommend this kind of shooting, but it is a battery drainer, so make sure you have some spares lying around. You may have noticed I use a lot of female figures in my pictures. They sure dominate my DC and Marvel collection, I am one of those rare guys who likes the female heroes more. Even as a 9-year-old kid I loved female heroes and villains. In school everyone liked the green and red power ranger (Mighty Morphin), but me? My favourite was Trinity, the yellow ranger. 37


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BATGIRL X SPIDER-GWEN

Equipment : Canon EOS 1000D with kit lens / Canon EOS 750D, 50 mm prime lens and kit lens. Editing in photoshop CC 2017. Spread : BAmazing Yamaguchi Spider Gwen, DC Icons Batgirl of Burnside

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WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?

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I also like to take portrait pictures, I enjoy the sculpts we are getting these days in our action figures. And in full frame body shots, many of those details are lost, especially on Instagram. Another thing that may define my style is darkness. Maybe because I shoot indoors a lot, I always end up cranking up the darker tones. The only part of my pictures that is the most random is the setup itself. I sometimes have a digirama setup, sometimes all practical, sometimes I use Photoshop, sometimes I put random items out of focus to create the background. And recently I took my first steps outside. I have thought about focusing on a specific setup only, but it ismore fun and challenging to try multiple techniques. Sometimes I ask myself, why are you doing this? For who? What are you trying to prove? In all honesty, for myself, because I like it, it helps me relax and forget about my daily life.It is a way of enjoying my rising figure collection, to enjoy the sculpts and details of those figures. I used to think “cool new figure on my shelf�, but nowadays I cannot wait to receive a figure as there are 100 possible picture scenarios in my head. You can say the photography is a by-product of me enjoying my collection. And who knows? Maybe I become good at it some day, and I can move on to larger living 1:1 subjects. I would like to thank the Exclu Collective team for this amazing opportunity. In truth, Exclu is the reason I became better at this hobby. Without the two themed shoots, I would probably still create really bad images. It made me think about what I was doing, and I started planning shoots. So it is safe to say Exclu made me the hobby photographer I am today. I would also like to thank my followers on Instagram. It is always hard to know if I created a good image or not, but if you reply and say something nice, I know it must be a good image. I like the toy community in general, and I learn a lot from a lot of talented people out there. Thank you to each and every one of you. I would also like to thank my two good friends Tina and Stefan, I can show them my pictures, and they analyse it, and give an honest opinion. Many of my shots would have not looked the way they do without Right: MedicomToy MAFEX Rey

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As far as I can tell, my origin as a toy photographer started on June 12, 2012. I was new to Instagram and always looking for random things to post, and a Marvel Lego set had just been released which included Deadpool who has always been one of my favorite characters. At this time I wasn’t much of a photographer. I’d really enjoyed the few photography classes I’d taken in high school, but spent little time behind the camera in the following sixteen years. When I decided to take some pictures of my Lego Deadpool, my cell phone camera was garbage. I dug up an old digital camera for the job and like a rusty tractor, my photography knowledge started sputtering, and screeching as it came back to life.

DAVID VALDEZ @FATHERSFIGURES

David was one of the first photographers to give us a full breakdown of their work in a Behind The Scenes feature on the site, and we’ve been hooked on his work ever since. His portfolio develops with every passing day as more characters and licenses are added helping to form a substantial and varied body of work.

Back then I mostly followed comic book artists, but somehow stumbled across this strange hobby of toy photography. The Instagram accounts of guys such as @mossallthetime, @brandon_robinson_, @chindo6 and @x_captain_kaos_x showed me toy photos could be so much more than silly pictures. It could be a serious art form! I slowly dabbled with taking toy photos over the next couple years. It was the perfect excuse to buy more toys. I started @fathersfigures on January 29, 2014 and have yet to lose inspiration. My whole life I’ve had an insatiable need for creative outlets. It seems to come in almost any form. Drawing was always the easiest outlet, but designing, building or creating is something in any capacity is essential for my mental health. Now it’s photography again. It all works generally the same way: Somehow an idea pops up or one needs to be conjured, then it gets manifested physically. The style of my photography starts with the cinema. Like most people I watched a ton of movies growing up. As I got older I certainly grew to appreciate the art of film, and there was even a point where I considered myself to be a film buff. If there’s anything visually appealing about my toy photos, it’s from what I’ve retained through a love for cinematography. Taking a simple photo of a toy isn’t particularly challenging in itself, so what makes some more appealing than others? There are a few basic elements that I want my shots to have. I want a great pose, great lighting and a great location. If you’re able to add some practical effects to the mix, it might end up being extra special. I don’t think many of my shots incorporate all of these elements, but I want at least two to be present. What I really want, but don’t always accomplish, is to tell a story with a single image.

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REY ROCK

This shot of the Hasbro Black Series Rey doesn’t have a particularly great posing, but the location and lighting are perfect for what I had in mind. This spot on Lake Superior ended up being a great double for the planet, Ahch-To from The Last Jedi. From what I’ve seen, Ahch-To is subject to a lot of dreary conditions, so I would not have taken this shot in the sunlight. Normally I shoot with a more narrow depth of field, but in this case I wanted to see the clouds clearly to sell the mood.

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WWFIRE

Practical effects are so much fun. Part of that is because you can’t really predict exactly how the shot will turn out. Hopefully the location is reminiscent of a WW1 battlefield. The problem I’ve been having with this Mafex Wonder Woman figure is that when posed, her torso looks much too tall.

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Most of my work is outdoor photography because I love the way natural light can look. Another reason is because I struggle with doing my own lighting, so this shot of the S.H. Figuarts Doctor Strange was a challenge. Those pose isn’t very strong, but I like how the atmosphere turned out.

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“WHAT I REALLY WANT, BUT DONT ALWAYS ACCOMPLISH, IS TO TELL A STORY WITH A SINGLE IMAGE.”

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REY REPAIR

One thing that I’ve learned from other photographers is that you don’t need a big concept to make a shot interesting. The Hasbro Star Wars Black Series Rey’s Speeder set has so many possibilities. It’s fun to show it floating along, but I wanted to see a more mundane moment with Rey and her speeder. I incorporated just about everything in this shot: fun lighting, practical aerosol effect, custom tools and Photoshop effects.

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TO US SHE’S ROYALTY

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LEIA EXIT

Losing Carrie Fisher was more emotional for me than I might have predicted. I’ve wanted to do a tribute shot and finally came up with something that felt meaningful. In this shot I used the Hasbro Black Series Leia with a beautiful custom head from Oldboy Customs. She’s walking away from us toward a door that we cannot see the other side of. I lit her with blue light on one side to represent the good side of the force and red light for the dark side. The idea is that she’s leaving both of those concepts behind for something much bigger, as Luke would say. 49


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Right : Sideshow Wolverine

FELTON LIGHTY @YASUKE_79

Felton just came like a rocket right out of no-where and completely knocked us for 6. The visceral nature of his work leaves little to the imagination as he is able to completely convey his vision in every shot whether that be a quiet portrait styled image, or one of the gore-infused scenes that he is most recognised for. Its the variety there that keeps you hooked and the quality never misses a beat as we found out. My name is Felton A. Lighty. I’m 38 and live in Northern Virginia, about 45 minutes from Washington D.C. I currently do contract work for the government. From a young age I was obsessed with art, especially drawing. My style was mainly illustration, which was heavily influenced by comic books, as that’s what I grew up on. I collected everything from Marvel and Image Comics primarily, and was heavily influenced by artists such as Jim Lee, Eric Larsen, Todd McFarlane and Greg Capullo. Spawn and the Punisher being my favorite characters ever! Of course action movies and martial arts flicks contributed. Feeling the need to do fulfill the creative urges I’ve always had.I decided to attend The Art Institute of Pittsburgh. I graduated with a Degree in Media Arts and Animation in 2013, with a minor in graphic design. I guess you can call me a Jack-of-all-trades in regards to many things in the media and graphic arts arena, and a master of some. After graduating I tried my best to land a job in the creative industry. I found job placement services from the institute to be no help. The region I live in didn’t have existing careers to many artisan skillsets either. For years, I just kept hitting brick walls. I had all this creative knowledge, but couldn’t find work doing anything creative. 50

So, one day I ended up hitting that proverbial fork in the road, on the pathway to fulfillment and purpose. However, just as Jay-Z said on his song Renegade from The Blueprint album,“ Just know I chose my own fate. I drove by the fork in the road and went straight”. I went out on a limb, and started my own Photography, videography and graphic design business. It was a little terrifying at first because I had no clue how to run a business. However, I found that it was best to not let the fear of failure be my downfall. There’s an old Japanese proverb that says. “Fall seven times and stand up eight”. I knew that my resilience would eventually lead to fulfillment. It felt good creating content, whether it be a music video, Real Estate virtual tours, logos or photography. I just knew that God gave me abilities for a reason, and when I wasn’t using those abilities I grew very irritable and depressed. It wasn’t until about a year ago I stumbled on a piece of art surfing the net that totally changed me. It was an image done by another action figure photographer that really impressed me. It ignited a creative spark in me that I haven’t had in awhile. It was in that instance also that I felt almost like Alice in Wonderland.


Equipment : Canon 70D - Canon 60mm f:2.8 Macro Lens - Canon 18-55mm f:4 Kit Lens - Manfrotto Tripod - Chauvet smoke machine -Viltrox L116T Slim Led Light - Neewer Led Light - Pixel TW-283 Wireless Shutter release - Extreme Sets Subway Pop-up Diorama - Sons of Anarchy Bar Diorama, made by Roger Gaytan /@notorious_collector

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SI G N COLWolverine L E CTI VE & Hot Toys Hulk (Age Of Ultron) E EXCLU Page Right D: ESideshow

“FELTON SEEMED TO SHOW UP IN THE TOY PHOTOGRAPHY GAME OUT OF NOWHERE AND HE’S BEEN ONE OF THE BEST, MOST CONSISTENT, MOST CREATIVE GUYS THAT I’VE SEEN ON HERE FOR YEARS.” - @the_whaler I stumbled into a whole new world I never new existed. That piece of art ended up being ThreeA’s The Blind Cowboy and Ghost horse. And that whole new world I discovered was the Toy Photography community. Two months later, I tracked down that figure from a seller in Asia and vowed never to get rid of it. It is still to this day, and many, many figures later one of my favorite figures. I then learned fast that once you start collecting in this hobby, many including myself fell victim to the “Plastic crack” addiction. Otherwise known to those outside the community as,“being addicted to toys to the point of frequent purchases and anxiously waiting for your next fix.” The types of figures I collect vary. I’ve collected everything from ThreeA to Hot Toys, Sideshow to Storm Collectibles, Mythic Legions, DamToys, Neca, SHF Figuarts, Maefex, Articulated Icons, Mezco: One 12, and even a few custom figures. I pretty much collect whatever interests me, inspires ideas , my wallet allows and which has some sentimental vaue . Like the Hot Toys Delorean. The Delorean is an iconic vehicle and a staple piece of pop 80’s culture growing up. As for my style of imagery, I’d like to think I have no defined style. The term style 54

to me conveys limitations. I don’t see myself as having limits on my creativity. I try to incorporate techniques I picked up throughout the years, whether it has come from photography, film or even media arts. And even those I learned by accident. Most of the time I try to post daily photographs, but sometimes I’ll mix it up and post a 60 sec video production of some sort. I think the community is big enough for diversity in imaginative content. I try to constantly push myself to go all out just to get the scene nailed. I’ve even destroyed a few dioramas accidentally, by way of explosion to nail the vision. I’ve learned that in my short experience in toy photography scene, the most uncomfortable and frustrating shot to nail, usually ends up being a great shot in the end. That’s at least my personal experience. I must say, that in all my years on this earth, the toy photography social community has some of the coolest and nicest people I’ve “ever” known, virtually or in person. The interaction between all us artist is for the most part very positive and welcoming. I love the amount of talent I’m amongst. I’ve finally found a satisfying level of creative fulfillment, and it wasn’t attached to a career goal…Even though I’m still pursuing those.


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BRYAN TIOSECO-MAYO @ACTIONFIGUREN00B

Here’s something no-one can ever dispute - Bryan is one of the nicest guys in the Toy Photography community. Always engaging and supportive to his peers and actively shooting every week and we’ve had the pleasure of working with him over several shoots now and it all culminates in a very impressive submission that takes us from The Flash to Lord Vader.

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Marvel Legends, Mattel’s DC Universe, NYC-based Mezco Toys to Japanese imports like S.H. Figuarts and Figma, as well as 7” action figures by NECA and Diamond Select. Since high school, I’ve been interested in photography. I never really did anything with it. I knew I had a creative side, but I directed it onto other hobbies, like drawing and poetry. Any “photography” I did was through my flip phone camera, mostly vain shots which I posted on social media sites back then. Fast forward after high school and acquiring an iPhone, my picture-taking switched over to chicken and waffle brunches, cheesecakeflavored froyo and mouthwatering oysters - anything that was a feast to the eyes. That was it... until action figure collecting came along. It started back in 2015 at New York Comic-Con when I saw all the Star Wars toys vendors were selling. I started collecting the 3.75” Power of the Force 2 figures, which I had when I was growing up. Getting them made me feel like a kid again, so many familiar ones and others that I remember wanting but never got, now in the palm of my hands. Then, my friend Anthony, who’s also a big Star Wars fan, raved about these highly articulated 6” Black Series figures. It was around the same time when The Force Awakens came out and I was all aboard, in full Force, on that hype train. Unfortunately, the old 3.75” figures became things of the past for me. Now my entire collection consists of 6” action figures including Hasbro’s 58

With a looming interest in photography, my growing collection, and the bite of nostalgia, I turned towards toy photography. I started with my iPhone 5 with the help of various apps to create fancy effects. Then, about 6 months in, I switched to DSLR. Luckily for me, my husband owns one that hasn’t been used in a while – a Sony Alpha DSLR-A100 with a 50mm f1.4 lens. It took some time for me to get used to it, and, to be quite honest, if you ask me SLR-centric questions, I would still be fumbling for an answer! Even though I have learned a lot along the way, I’m sure I haven’t reached the full potential of my camera. Even with my lack of knowledge of my camera, what really got me to pursue toy photography was actually being able to print my own backgrounds. I work at a local print shop, so I have access to nice paper and a nice printer that gives me high quality printouts. I also have access to some extra finishing’s, like matte lamination, which help with reducing glare on backgrounds due to lighting. With this, my imagination can run wild with ideas. When I get new action figures, I’ll hop on Google and sift through images that would match the characteristics of that particular figure. Right : SH Figuarts Street Fighter Ryu, SH Figuarts Street Fighter Chun-Li

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SNAP

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But there are times when a background isn’t enough. I needed some depth to my shots. I see all these talented people with their hand-crafted dioramas, and I’m amazed at what they can do. Unfortunately, I feel I’m not skilled enough for such intricate creations, but that did not stop me from being crafty in my own way.At craft stores, I found props for my setups – fake moss and other greenery for forest-type scenes; vase fillers that look like pebbles that I can use as rocks; and concrete-looking pieces that I use as rubble to portray a fight’s aftermath. I’ve also gone into pet stores and used reptile logs and other tank accessories to portray outdoor scenery. Recently, I asked master craftsman Chris Delgado (@ bone_claws_customs) about a warehouse diorama that I’ve been thinking of for a while. The end result was more than what I had imagined. It’s this twostory warehouse. Outside is half a street with detailed accessories like a fire hydrant and parking meters, and inside there’s a balcony with pillars, a chain mechanism and exhaust. Even the windows have at least 3 different styles I could put on them. And there’s also a rooftop! These are just some of the cool things he included. He gave me so much options to setup scenes with it! This diorama has definitely helped me when I’m struggling for ideas, especially with Marvel figures.Coming up with a scene is definitely my favorite in toy photography.

I can spend hours and hours creating outdoor environments or indoor settings, before finally plopping a figure or two in the middle and then... SNAP! As an indoor toy photographer, lighting is a bit challenging, and the guidance I’ve gotten from ACBA (@articulatedcomicbookart) has tremendously helped me in that respect. It’s a lot of fun applying different colored lighting at the right amount and angling it at the right degree which adds splashes of color to liven up a photo. Who knew there was more to just daylight and soft light? Another fun factor I add to my photography are cutouts. This I credit to ACBA as well. “Say it with cutouts!” they say, but unfortunately I haven’t been involved much on speech bubble cutouts. Instead, when toy companies haven’t quite made a particular character as an action figure yet, I print them the same way as my backgrounds and cut them out by hand. My hands might end up sore, but when I do it right it’s worth it!

Left : Medicom MAFEX Wonder Woman / Mattel DC Multiverse Hippolyta & Menalippe. Above : NECA Heroes of the Storm Thrall

Being part of this community is great. I’ve found it very helpful, not just to me, but to others. I’ve always been fond of online communities. Just like the MMORPGs I used to play back then, I love the sense of camaraderie, teamwork and willingness to help. I have met a lot of wonderful people along the way, both online and in person, and that is a big reason why I keep on going, improving and just having fun with this hobby.

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I very much appreciate the toy community – photographers, collectors and customizers alike. There’s so many talented people to mention, but without them, I wouldn’t be having as much fun and have this much inspiration in the almost 2 years I have been doing this hobby. Thank you to Jack and the Exclu Collective team for all the hard work to promote and bring together our community even more. Last but not least, I would not have been going for this long without the support of my other half, Jay. He puts up with my action figures taking over our living room, which I’ve made into my makeshift studio. So long as I can afford to continue collecting figures, my imagination will continue to run wild! Left : Hasbro The Black Series Darth Vader & Snow Troopers.

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EXCLU X OLDBOY CTTS Tham chat’s with George Wong from Oldboy CTTS alongside a closer look at their work.

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I started collecting action figures when I purchased the First Order Stormtrooper from the Black Series line. It was the time when The Force Awakens was starting to hit theatres in my country. Being a Star Wars fan myself I was swept away by the hype of the movie and buying up stuff that were related to the movie. So, the Black Series line from Hasbro was my first experience of collecting action figures as an adult.

So I first asked George, why do people customise their figures?

As I went along accumulating figures of my favourite characters from the Star Wars movies, I was exposed to this group of customizers who called themselves Oldboy CTTS. I came to know about them through @ starwarstheblackseries on Instagram. They were being featured on that page for their work on the Luke Skywalker headscuplt which was based on the final scenes from The Force Awakens. This group of customizers are based in Bangkok, Thailand. At that time Hasbro has not announced an old Luke figure from The Force Awakens, so this was something interesting that caught my attention. The level of details and paint job on the headscuplt was fantastic. I ordered the headsculpt from them of course and that’s where I got to know the spokesperson from the group, George Wong.

Right now the Oldboy crew is split into two teams. Tattoo team with the shop in downtown Sukhumvit area and the Headsculpt team. Headsculpt team is led by X (painter/sculptor) & Go (caster, fitting) and me as the page admin and promoter.

I think for people who enjoy customs, it adds a layer of enjoyment and value to our collection. Something different is always nice, be it good or bad, we all start somewhere. So, let’s talk about the team behind Oldboy CTTS and how it came into existence?

Actually, X and Go used to be tattoo artists too but somewhere along the road they got into collectibles and mainly 1:6 scale. Fascinated by the detail that these collectibles were able to replicate from real life people and movie characters.

From then they were in love with this craft and the only way to move forward was to sculpt. During that time, they started sculpting one of our earliest projects, Buakaw a famous Mix Martial Arts/Thai Kickboxer. This received quite a lot of attention from the local 1:6 community. This really gave them the confidence to move forward, although they realized one thing is that there’s already a lot of pro customs for 1:6, so they decided to move down to the 1:12 scale…absolutely no local competition back then. Could you tell us a little bit more of how you came to be involved with the team? I came into the picture when I got in touch with them to commission for Hasbro 6” Star Wars repaints. The results left me in awe. After that, I met up with the artists a few more times before proposing that we should go international.

The fascination soon led the two artists to start customising figures heads. Practicing and learning from Youtube tutorials and other sources for headscuplt painting for custom third party heads, Sideshow and even Hasbro 12” vintage.

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HOPE Which of your projects did you choose for your international release? We started with our first headsculpt preorder, Ben Solo. Was a great start and good momentum because Nerdist and The Fwoosh did a scoop for us on Star Wars head repaints. Back then a lot of things to learn. Everything was new especially the international community. Some people really loved our work since then but some just really dislike us as well. The Ben Solo/Kylo Ren brought a lot of attention to your team internationally and I missed out on that one. I caught the next one though, which was the Old Luke head from The Force Awakens and have been a fan of your work since. Just how many headscuplts have you put out since then and how have you guys progressed from there?

Fast forward two years, we made 18 headsculpt projects. We learn a lot along the way, tried a lot of different things (moving into Marvel and DC characters and also doing headscuplts of people who are of common interest – Donald Trump and George Lucas). On the technical side of painting and sculpting we also learn a lot. Testing new paint types and brands to see what works. Sourcing for professional grade sculpting tools for miniature scale, and also getting more into toy photography (one of my most enjoyable hobbies to date). Time really flies once we took the first step of this journey. A lot of the original sculpts that we do are chosen due to personal interest in the character, what they did that was inspiring and lastly fan interest and getting good feedback from work in progress/reveals. 67


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Would you say at all that back then there were people in the international community that dislike your group? Back then, we did get racist comments and hate phrases from a small part of the community. Some we responded, retaliated or simply chose to ignore. Nowadays it’s usually comments about likeness although I’d always like to think that likeness is somewhat subjective and is usually expressed as an opinion. So we try to understand why they thought that way, always in the hopes of continuing to hone our skills. I guess because when there’s something new and really different from the rest, we were seen as the black sheep. On our first international release – the Kylo Ren head, we had comments that it looked Asian or doesn’t resemble the actor who was playing Kylo Ren. In the end, it’s the difference that makes us stand out though. We really appreciate a lot of our fans and visitors’ comments and constructive criticism as it points out what we need to improve. Finally, what piece of advice would you give to anyone looking to begin figure customisation?” Start by researching first. You want to focus on a certain aspect of customs instead of going all over the place. So research wide and start narrow. There are alot of knowlegde to be found on Youtube, Facebook groups, and other artist’s blogs. Equipment is important to help you get there, but most important thing is practice. 68


PRACTISE

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CONNOR YOHO @LEGO_LUTS

There’s times when the Toy Photography space surprises you and throws up yet another talented creative and thats exactly our experience with Connor. We had only recently come across his wildly good Lego based portfolio and so it really was a very common-sense based approach to invite him to debut new material here-in - and he does not disapoint. 70


Equipment : Canon T3i 60mm, 50mm, 18-55mm Canon Lenses (Most shots were done on the 60 or 50), Manfrotto mini tripod, White box for bounce, Compressed Air.

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Bel ow and : Rog Cus Chirr ue On ut tom e Infe Imwe Baze M .B rno Squ ottom albus ad T roo Left: And per by rew Vu.

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Equipment : Canon T3i 60mm, 50mm, 18-55mm Canon Lenses (Most shots were done on the 60 or 50), Manfrotto mini tripod, White box for bounce, Compressed Air.

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I started doing Lego Photography around the time of my Junior year of College. While I did have an instagram account (all the cool college kids did) I rarely used it, but one day I was messing around with it and I discovered the work of Vesa Lehtimäki (Avanaut) who had these amazing images of Lego Storm Troopers! I thought to myself, “Holy #$@$! , you can do that with Legos?!” I decided then, that when I was home for break, I was going to take a crack at this myself. Funny enough, I started shooting pictures of my Legos on Christmas Day, it was 60 and clear (Pittsburgh Weather and Global Warming, what can you do?) I grabbed a handful of figures, “Ol Reliable” (my Canon T3i) and got to work! I’ve come a long way since then in terms of my creative style and how I approach building each frame. It’s been so much fun applying new ideas to my work and watching my work slowly evolve. An important lesson i’ve learned very early on, is that there is nothing wrong with simplicity. My first photos were simply me grabbing a figure or two, finding an interesting spot in my yard and then shooting. Over time, the more I shot, the more I began experimenting with different techniques and taking more things into consideration when shooting.

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“THAT’S ONE OF THE BIGGEST STRENGTHS THAT I’VE FOUND WORKING WITH LEGO, THAT YOU CAN SHOOT ANYWHERE AND STILL ACHIEVE BEAUTIFUL IMAGERY WITHOUT EVEN HAVING TO LEAVE YOUR HOME!” or lighting, a well composed shot can carry itself quite far. Second was lighting, I shoot exclusively outdoors without any external lights and over time I started planning my shoots around certain times of days depending on where the sun would be or what figures I would be using. Personally, i’ve found that the best lighting you can get outdoors is usually in the late afternoon going into the evening when the sun is starting to set. The only extra piece of equipment that I do use with my camera is a reflective white box that acts as a bounce for me, helping to fill in the shadows on the figures. Third and finally was adding effects. At first I used photoshop for my effects, but I would eventually switch over to doing practical effects in camera through the use of compressed air. Originally I got the idea from one of the first Toy Photo accounts I ever followed Galactic_warfighters (Matthew Callahan). A can of compressed air if applied properly, is capable of adding so much to any kind of toy or macro photography! I’ve lost track of how many cans I go through on a monthly basis! It can be used to simulate explosions, fog, or rain. Sometimes i’ll even use it to simply add a bit of texture or depth to my shots. With December fast approaching, it will be my two anniversary since starting this hobby and it has been an incredible experience! Everyday I find myself in different places or lighting scenarios and when working with Legos in photography it really challenges you to look at the world differently. I’ve had moments where i’ll spend entire days shooting at parks and not like anything i’ve gotten. I’ll then go home and throw something together in my front yard and it would completely blow me away , but

you would never be able to tell the difference. That’s one of the biggest strengths that i’ve found working with legos, is that you can shoot ANYWHERE and still achieve beautiful imagery without even having to leave your home! Starting out, this was really just a creative outlet that really allowed me to have fun with Legos again! I wasn’t doing it for followers or attention on social media, I did it because it was always a fun adventure setting out into the world with my legos and camera not knowing what I would be coming back with. I strive everyday to create the best image possible and i’m not afraid to completely scrap a project, if it doesn’t meet my own personal standards. That never bothers me, because when working outdoors with Legos the possibilities for inspiration are endless! If one idea doesn’t work, I usually have about a couple dozen written down on a notepad that I can try out as well. Looking ahead I’m excited to see what new and crazy ideas that I can come up with! I would love to start experimenting with fireworks…. if i can find a place to do it where no-one will call the cops on me!


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Right: Whiplash Mark.2 Die Cast MMS 237. This 1:6 figure from Hot Toys is Die-cast and is very heavy. The Mickey Rourke head sculpt is so real, the likeness is crazy. For this figure, capturing full body or a close-up is so much fun, and I love the armour detail.

Qui-Gon Jinn (Order of The Jedi). 1:6 Scale figure from Sideshow Collectibles. My favorited character, who in my own personal opinion is the most charming and wisest Jedi ever after Yoda (of course). I’m not too happy with the head sculpt here though and this figure also has limited articulation, making posing it a challenge in itself. I’ve been dying to capture him in this specific pose and I hoped with this pose and lighting, that it really brings out his essence and charisma.

JURIS TOBING @HANJUANG18

Juris The Constant. If ever he should receive a honorary title that should be it. Juris first featured with us way back when in Issue 2 and is back with us now for E6. His work has never faltered in the many months between as he continues his impressive showcasing of 1/6th scale figures against that stark black backdrop. 78

It’s been an honour to be returning to feature in Exclu Issue 6. I’m very happy to have the opportunity to share my work with all of you again so let’s get started. In this photoshoot I’m still using my regular props in my mini studio at home. As for my camera well that’s a Panasonic Lumix GF Series (GF6) and my new 20mm fix focal lens alongside the same shooting technique using a dark room and then light painting on top. The shoot for Issue 6 focuses on my 1:6 scale Hot toys and Sideshow figures. Here I’m trying to capture my figures with some statue pose’s that are inspired from Star Wars and Marvel films. Last but not least, for my post processed and editing. On this photoshoot, I’m only adjusting brightness-contrast and shadow-highlight to enhance the images and I’m not using any effects - I just want them to be clear and simple pictures. Well, I guess that’s all from me now, I hope you’re as excited as I am!


I WANT MY BIRD

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Spread: Chirrut Imwe MMS 403. This 1:6 scale figure from Hot Toys for me is 9.5/10 almost perfect! All the articulation you expect and all the joints work pretty much as intended. It provides lots of accessories and amazing detail on its fabric too. This one is my second favourite character - for me Chirrut is even cooler than a Jedi!

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Right: “Mysteries of Farron Woods” - Figma Link. Left: “Where’s all the rum gone?” Bandai SHFiguarts Captain Jack Sparrow.

It is of great honor that I’ve been invited to partake in Exclu Design Collective’s Issue 6 and I would like to thank Jack Sturman for this opportunity. As I mentioned in my first feature here at Exclu, I have continued to push boundaries in my personal photography learning journey by improving on the Digirama technique as well as also building physical dioramas and making use of the outdoors to create particular scenes.

@IMAGININGJAY

For this exclusive shoot, I decided to showcase what @imaginingjay is all about, but if I had to describe it with a single word, it would be the word “diversity”. As a learning photographer, I aim to capture and deliver different characters and photography styles to keep things fresh and showcase content to captivate all sorts of viewers.

We first linked up with Jonathan a few months back for a themed shoot on the site and it really made us appreciate his work all the more. There’s a lot of time and attention that goes into each and everyone of his shots as he takes his craft very seriously and that really shines through across his portfolio. His submission here in E6 really is no different as you’re about to find out.

Although I try to have an assortment of new characters, themes, techniques etc. I try to focus on capturing shots that would not only appeal to the hardcore movie or comic book fans but to also appeal to the casual fans or basically anyone that has the slightest interest in Pop Culture.

JONATHAN ANG

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Top Left “My Pizza” - Revoltech Spider-man & Deadpool. Bottom Left: “I Will Start My Operations Here, And Pull The Rebels Apart Piece By Piece” - Hasbro The Black Series Grand Admiral Thrawn. Top Right : “Do you read me General Skywalker?” - Sideshow Collectibles Captain Rex and 501st Trooper. Bottom Right: “Bounty” - Mafex Boba Fett & Hasbro The Black Series Bossk


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When I first started out in toy photography, I was heavily influenced and inspired by ACBA (Articulated Comic Book Art). ACBA taught me the essentials of getting the right pose, maximize tangibility and also the usage of speech bubble cutouts. The constructive criticism also instilled a habit of taking conscious effort to avoid any careless mistakes that may be a sore-eye in some cases. At this stage, I focused more on marvel comic book fight scenes, but I came to realize that not many people appreciated this style of art unless they were avid comic book fans.

and Comic convention) by showcasing my own toy photography for the very first time. The response from the crowd was pretty good. It was really an amazing eye opening experience!

From there, I then positioned myself and my photography to emulate artworks that the average pop culture fan would consider hanging on their wall.

From here, I look forward to participating in more events such as STGCC as well as uploading more exclusive content right here at Exclu Design Collective.

In the earlier part of September 2017, I participated in my local comic con which is titled STGCC (Singapore Toys, Games

I had both local and international followers who came up to just say hello and some even bought a couple of framed pieces from me. I really want to thank my family, friends and new friends who came down to support me because this is what inspires me to keep pushing my boundaries and to strive to be more creative in my hobby.

Left: “Starkiller Base� - Disney Infinity Kylo Ren

TRAITOR! 87


JESSE CONTRERAS @EVERTHINGKYLO

We’ve had the great fortune to work with Jesse several times over the last year and it all gets drawn together with this accomplished new series for E6. Jesse draws on his wild imagination and dangerous love affair with practical effects to create a thoroughly engaging body of work.


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Hi, my name is Jesse and I’m addicted to toys! I’m 40 years old and I’m a born and raised Cali boy! Out of all of my hobbies, I’d say photographyparticularly toy photography, is by far my favorite and the one I’m most truly passionate about. I’ve been a photographer since high school but never tried toy photography until about two years ago. It was right around the release of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I immediately made an Instagram page for myself as I also wanted to connect with like-minded people. I was so excited I didn’t even notice the spelling error in my handle, “Ever thing Kylo”! I knew after that it was too late to change my name as I was already gaining fellow toy photographer followers.

for location reasons but just to change things up. Only when I have a vision set will I grab my camera, equipment, a few figs and I take a drive. Yet sometimes when I arrive my mind goes blank - complete photo block. I know a few of us suffer from it and it’s the worst. It’s one of the major reasons I shoot from the hip and just take it to the backyard.

My intro shot “Coming Through” features, Rey’s Speeder from the new 6-inch Black Series collection and just when I was about to wrap things up, I looked at Rey’s Speeder, then looked over at Deadpool and said... “oh yeah, we’re doing this sexy pants!”. I figured it would be a fun shot so I then grabbed a couple of Black Series 6 inch Tusken Raiders, propped them I saw the figures from the S.H. up and lit the fuse! Couldn’t Figuarts line and it truly sparked have been any happier! something inside me! I ordered my first Stormtroopers and of course, Kylo Ren. I remember Deadpool is my first Mezco getting them in the mail and figure and I couldn’t be happier. I was just like a kid on I couldn’t wait to open it up - the Christmas! I opened both and packaging itself was amazing! started taking a few pics! Out of Once I opened the box I was in all of my figures my favorite has awe, I instantly fell in love. He to be my Hot Toys Darth Vader as really is very well crafted and seen in a few featured photos something completely different here at Exclu. I love how regal from my usual buys. I couldn’t he looks! He is so shiny and believe the detail on this thing just overall the most beautiful - Mezco definitely delivered figure I’ve ever owned – Hot Toys everything down to the last and definitely nailed it. smallest detail. I will admit, I’m not one to shoot out in the public. I’m not one when it comes to scenery, but I understand that it plays a big part in telling a story. I have tried shots several times in public, not

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Right: Mezco One:12 Collective Deadpool


Left: Mezco One:12 Collective Deadpool

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Spread: Hasbro The Black Series Commander Gree / Flametrooper & S.H.Figuarts First Order Stormtrooper

I am a big fan when it comes to doing mash up shots. I wanted to somewhat recreate the Deadpool 2 trailer. With Deadpool telling Commander Gree to zip it! This really was a challenge so I resorted to what I always use which is also my favorite - galvanized wire from Home Depot. The set-up is always easy but a huge challenge when it comes to post editing. There are times when I think “what have I done!”, “what have I got myself into” and “why did I put that wire there and why not here!” It’s frustrating at times, but a huge success when finished. On my last series of shots I used a S.H.Figuarts First Order Stormtrooper, a 6 inch Black Series Flametrooper, and Black Series Commander Gree to save the day! Coming under fire in helping the wounded First Order troopers out of harm’s way. I know these are from different era’s but I figured again it be fun to introduce Commander Gree as a hero.

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Many of my followers know my style as that of not holding back when it comes to practical effects. For me this is where the fun and creativity begins. I used fake Halloween blood and of course, my favorite fireworks. For the shot with the troopers running through heavy smoke I used Pixo “smoke cakes” which I actually read about here at Exclu with a behind the scenes with Azwan Kabar - @toyfloxin. I’m absolutely in love with these smoke cakes and have stocked up. In conclusion I would like to say have fun. If you have an idea, jump on it quick and never hold back! There will always be current and new followers that will like your style no matter your experimentation. The toy Community has always been appreciable and have always provided me with endless support. I have much respect for this community and I know the extensive work that we all put in just to make someone smile and laugh. I would like to once again thank the toy community for always giving me feedback and support when needed and of course all my followers.

NEVER HOLD BACK

Last but not least I would like to thank my wife for always tolerating my craziness and taking a rain check on dates just so I can get the perfect shot. Most of all, my daughter who actually is an excellent photographer herself. She is also one of the people that inspired me to do what I’m doing now. Pick up that camera again baby girl! Also a huge thank you to Jack and the team here at Exclu for this amazing opportunity and for always letting me be me and putting my pictures out there for all to see. 93


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EXCLU X KOTOBUKIYA

Featuring the work of Jason Yang (@workmoreorless) and Spencer Witt (@swittpics)

We were fortunate enough to link up with some of the latest ARTFX+ Statues courtesy of Kotobukiya for a round of exclusive showcase shoots.

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“ Unlike our previous industry collaborations, this brand new series alongside Kotobukiya, provided us with a unique new challenge in the form of fixed posed statues from their hugely popular ARTFX line. Jason and Spencer tackled the challenge head on with 2 statues each - Jason would spend his time with Marvel’s Carnage and also DC’s Wonder Woman whilst Spencer would take on Jason Voorhees and The First Order’s Flame Trooper. Straight away you are struck by the variety at play here and that just compounds the creative conundrum on how to shoot figures that are fixed in their pose. Well, unsurprisingly, if anyone can continually shake things up its these two as their final shoots show fantastic creative solutions with new refreshing techniques that show that the world of Toy Photography really does know no bounds. A massive thank you goes out to Kotobukiya for their support and collaboration and to Jason and Spencer for their incredible work showcasing the ARTFX line.

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CARNAGE

Kotobukiya Marvel Now Carnage ARTFX+ Statue shot by Jason Yang (@workmoreorless)

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“I’ve been a fan of Carnage ever since the character was introduced in the Amazing Spiderman #361 in 1992. Although Carnage has been made into several action figures since, in my opinion there hasn’t been a better representation of the character than this Kotobukiya ArtFX+ statue. True, a statue has it’s limitations, but that’s easily countered by it’s dynamic pose, superior sculpt, and fantastic paint application. The symbiotic tendrils wicking off his body are beautifully sculpted and accentuate the overall form of the figure. I appreciate the design, allowing for Carnage to be magnetically attached to the metal base, or be free-standing without it.” - Jason Yang @workmoreorless

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Standing at a towering 11.4� height, the 1:6 Wonder Woman ArtFX statue is extremely detailed. The sculpt is incredibly accurate and the perfect likeness of the Movie version of Wonder Woman played by Gal Gadot. She comes with both the sword and shield from her stand-alone film, along with the versions used in Batman Vs. Superman. The craftsmanship speaks for itself in photos, and definitely makes this figure worth every penny. - Jason Yang @workmoreorless 98


WONDER WOMAN Kotobukiya Wonder Woman (Movie Version 1/6th Pre-painted PVC) ARTFX+ Statue shot by Jason Yang (@workmoreorless)

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JASON VOORHEES

Spread: Kotobukiya Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th Part 3 1/6th Pre-painted PVC Statue ) ARTFX shot by Spencer Witt (@swittpics)

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Spread: Kotobukiya Jason Voorhees (Friday The 13th Part 3 1/6th Pre-painted PVC Statue ) ARTFX shot by Spencer Witt (@swittpics)

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The Jason statue was something so different than what I usually shoot. I wanted to do a simple shoot, with a black background and manipulate the lighting from a single source. The details on these kotobukiya models are amazing, especially Jason’s eyes. I wanted to do some shots showing off these details. - Spencer Witt @swittpics 101


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FLAME TROOPER The Kotu flametrooper is awesome! It came with a stand and flame effect. I knew I wanted to do a shot that incorporates the effect. So for this shot I combined several photos together. I used several fireworks at different places to get different sparks and flames. The trickiest part of this shot was to make the flame effect the same color and brightness as the actual fireworks.

Kotobukiya Star Wars : The Force Awakens First Order Flame Trooper ARTFX+ Statue shot by Spencer Witt (@swittpics)

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- Spencer Witt @swittpics

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JEFF LEBARRON

JOHNNY WU

ISAAC RENTERIA


JAX NAVARRO

HOT KENOBI

BLAIR ALTMAN

EXCLU 6

Thank You


FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2017

EXCLU DESIGN COLLECTIVE : ISSUE 6

Exclu Issue 6  

Exclu Design Collective - Issue #6 Issue 6 debuts new material from 10 community photographers and original collaborations within the creat...

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