Shootin’ in the Rain

Just a few weeks ago, I celebrated the change of season. The color change in the leaves, the crisp autumn breeze in the air, everything around us reminds us of fall. While it’s an invigorating time of year for me, there’s just one thing I forgot about…

Shooting in the rain kinda sucks.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love the rain. Whenever it rains, my wife and I open up all the windows in the house, breathe in the wonderful smell, and listen to it fall. I also love how rain looks in photographs. Actually capturing those photos, however? That’s a different story.

Like Brett, the idea of my camera getting wet terrifies me. In high school, I was shooting a short film and reviewing footage at the bottom floor of a parking garage when suddenly, a gush of water fell on me and destroyed my camera. Someone on the top floor thought it’d be a funny prank! Ever since then, even the smallest water drop on or even near my camera makes me nervous.

I won’t deny that I’m overly cautious. Most modern cameras are built with some kind of water resistance, and as long as you don’t go out in a downpour and pay close attention to how much water gets on your equipment, you’ll likely be okay.

Still, I like to play it safe, and have found these quick fixes can help ease my worries and allow me to enjoy that sweet, sweet rainfall.

Fake it

star wars k2so black series
“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”

The simplest and sometimes most effective way is to simply fake it. Make it look like you’re in a downpour, either through a bit of creative editing or by sitting underneath a covering. It could be an umbrella or awning, inside a gazebo, or under a heavy cover of trees.

The K-2SO shot above employed several of these methods. It was taken on my covered back patio, and given some extra rain in Photoshop. If you really want to sell the illusion, make sure to actually get some water on your subject. I’ve found that simply sticking the figure out into the actual rain does the trick while ensuring that you and your gear stay dry (and safe!)

Stay indoors completely!

This one might feel like cheating, but staying indoors and finding ways to shoot the rain outside can lead to some excellent photos.

lego friends 41305
Rain, rain, go away…

I’ve also found that a spray bottle with a slow shutter speed, or more magic in Photoshop, can turn any studio setup into a nice rainy scene as well!

lego singin' in the rain
“I’m siiiiiingin’ in the rain!”

Cover your gear

If you do want to be brave and venture out into a rainstorm to capture the perfect shot, go for it! Just make sure to protect yourself and your gear accordingly. Keep your head covered, wear layers, and cover your camera, either in an affordable rain resistant case, or even a simple plastic bag.

I personally like the plastic bag method, and have found great success with it in both rain and snow.

All dry!

The plastic bag trick isn’t a perfect fix, and may take some trial and error. Once you get it right though, you can turn inclement weather into a prime photo opportunity. Here’s a great video tutorial and how to achieve a seal better than the one I used above.

Do you brave the elements for your photography? What methods have you found helpful for keeping you and your gear safe? Let us know in the comments below! 

James

If you enjoy posts like this, we invite you to check out and join our G+ community!

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog to get notified when we have a new post ready for you.

$1 Photo Challenge – The Results

The results of Octobers $1 (or equivalent) Photo Challenge are in!! The premise of this contest was to see if an expensive toy was the secret to great toy photography. We wanted to find out if everyone was limited to taking photos of toys that cost less than $1 or the equivalent, would we see the same quality and ingenuity that we have become used to. The results are in and we can say without a doubt, that cheap toys can also for creative photography.

The winner of this months contest is John Van Regemortel for his “Landing of the Jedi on Dagobah”. He purchased this micro machine for 99 cents Euro.

Second place was awarded to Joseph Cowlishaw for capture of the rare Gray Woolfeep (Ovis Canis) that he spotted in the dry desert regions of North America.

Third place was awarded to Krzysztof Łuszpiński who may not have taken a photo of a toy, his photo captures the spirit of toy photography. I love his creative spirit! Plus he wins the honor of spending the least amount of money: 1/100 Pound (100 clips in a pack for 1 GBP). Awesome job! 

I speak for all the moderators when I say how much fun this contest was. Because our subjects were cheap toys, there was no pressure to make them look good. Since we knew we couldn’t make our toys look realistic, as a group we decided to have some fun instead.

Bellow you will see some other fabulous examples from the $1 Photo Challenge taken by our moderators and our contestants. I hope you enjoy them as much as we had fun taking them.

by Tourmaline
“I am…” by Jason Nvmore
“Good morning Mr. Anderson. While you were out Mr. Bennett called. You’ve got a 10 o’clock meeting with Mrs.Chapman. And you’ve got a 12 o’clock appointment with a bucket of fish.” by Brett Wilson
Lonely me, alone on my own journey… by 莫亞克力
The Lone Wolf: A Study of Three (1 of 3) By Julie Blair
Italian Cuisine by Tomasz Lasek
Shopping at Costco, in the nude? 😳  by Ryan DeRamos
“Redheat” by Jeffrey van Zeijst
Skully sets out his cookies and milk for The Great Pumpkin. He is so excited this year! …… the skeleton and table were bought at the dollar store. The pumpkin, cookies, plate and glass of milk were made by me with polymer clay. by Victoria Eschen
Spider by Wendy Verboom
Landing by Reiterlied
“Somebody There?” by Tobias Schiel
“Operation Tonga” by Tony Tulloch
“Hailing from New York and living in the sewers, these young adolescent reptile abominations hide in the shadows by day. And fight crime by night! ” by Lego Runner
“Hunters will tell you that a moose is a wily and ferocious forest creature. Nonsense. A moose is a cow drawn by a three-year-old. – Bill Bryson” – by Shelly Corbett
New Challenge

We have posted a new challenge in our G+ Community: Detail. Here are the details:

Some say the Devil is in the detail but, here at Toy Photographers, we believe the essence of an image is in detail. Often details are overlooked by a viewer’s conscious observation, but they still add to (or detract from) an image.

Many toys out there have beautiful detail that we take for granted. Even some of the smallest toys have the odd piece that is worthwhile bringing into the image. In the photo below I have concentrated on the small logo on Cruz Ramirez’s fender. This supports both the smile and eye placements on the car and is true to character.

Why not pick up a favorite toy and look for a pattern, logo/symbol, or some other detail that is true to that character and highlight it in an image. Feel free to do this up to three times during the month. The winning photo will grace the Toy Photographers banner for December, and the winner will receive a cool Ant-Man prize. – Tony Tulloch

I hope you will join in this fun challenge and show us the details on your favorite toys. Tony has posted in our Tips and Tricks section three techniques to help you master this months challenge. So why not head over the community and check out all the details.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our $1 Photo Challenge and I look forward to seeing what you create for this months challenge on Details.

Shelly

The Gender of Plastic

Lego isn’t the only plastic toy with a gender problem.

The economic uncertainty of the Great Depression created the need in the model hobbyist arena for less expensive, space saving train layouts. Through this HO scale/H0/1:87 – ‘half O’ scale was born. This scale, in which the people are roughly 2 cm tall, boomed in the 1950s and became the most popular scale for realistic model layouts in the 1960s. It remains the most popular scale today.

This popularity means more houses, scenery, people, etc. etc. But the time period in which its manufacturing exploded, is where most the items available on the market here in 2017 still reside.

Let’s take Preiser’s line of HO scale figures for example.

Preiser is a scale model manufacturer known in part for its precision hand painted, and thus high quality figures. The most recent catalog I can find available online is theirs from 2015 so here goes. The HO scale section spans pages 2 – 183 with up to 18 sets of 3 – 12 figures or so per set. Here’s a deep dive into just the very first section, pages 2 – 13. Download for your own perusal here: https://www.rocousa.com/preisercatalog.htm

On these pages, excluding children, there are 480 men and 263 women. That’s 65% men to 35% women. Within those numbers the women hold the following 25 roles:

  1. Passenger
  2. Railway personnel
  3. Mother
  4. Farm Worker
  5. Housemaid
  6. Gardener
  7. Photographer
  8. Bride
  9. Wedding Attendee
  10. Beach Goer
  11. Housewife
  12. Roller skater
  13. Tennis Player
  14. Nudist sunbather
  15. Nude model
  16. Nurse
  17. Traveler
  18. Cyclist
  19. Dancer
  20. Motorcyclist
  21. Waitress
  22. Golfer
  23. Figure skater
  24. Swimmer
  25. Skier

Men, on the other hand hold the following 38:

  1. Construction/Maintenance
  2. Passenger
  3. Railway Engineer/Track Worker
  4. Farm Worker
  5. Trucker
  6. Gardener
  7. Soccer player
  8. Referee
  9. Coach
  10. Minister/Reverend
  11. Motorcyclist
  12. Fisherman
  13. Photographer
  14. Film Crew
  15. Roller skater
  16. Beach Goer
  17. Groom
  18. Wedding Attendee
  19. Cyclist
  20. Painter
  21. Sculptor
  22. Traveler
  23. Emergency services
  24. Nurse/doctor
  25. Dancer
  26. Police Officer
  27. Friar
  28. Musician
  29. Firemen
  30. Innkeeper
  31. Waiter
  32. Mountain Climber
  33. Postal Worker/ Delivery man
  34. Golfer
  35. Diver
  36. Figure skater
  37. Swimmer
  38. Skier

Gender may be one noticeable gap, especially when it comes to the roles represented. But even more so is race with almost all of the figures available being white. The non-white figures sets are typically marked as such. And on this small sampling of 12 pages, 1 of the142 sets was of non-white figures – these were Japanese, and unmarked there are 4 woman and 1 man in 3 different sets that look like they may be black. That’s a total of 11 figures, 1.5% of all on these pages.

All this said, I don’t know that I’m actually trying to effect change here.

Many of the figures produced across all model train manufacturers are models that have been produced and re-produced for years and years. Train modeling is a nostalgic hobby practiced largely by white, middle aged men and therefore what is sold is going to be directed at them.

So, I think instead, those of us who photograph them have to simply be aware of the selections we’re making and what we end up portraying in our images. HO scale figures come in a huge number of options. There may be a gender gap and most definitely an ethnicity gap, but search hard enough and you might just find what you’re looking for. If all else fails, customize, modify, and paint away.

Want to get involved and keep up with the blog? Sign up for our weekly email round up and join us on G+!

 “Toys? Seriously?”

I’ve heard it more than once. People want to ask “Why?” but apparently deciding it’d be rude, they just flop the unspoken question out there disguised as disbelief. 

I’d had a camera since high school [Yes, they made them back then!], dabbling in everything from nature to concert work. But I’d drifted away from it, rarely dragging the old 35mm out. Then came digital and suddenly my phone had a camera! Then I acquired a tiny point & shoot and the requisite Flickr account to document some non-scan-able artwork.

It was while poking about on Flickr that I stumbled upon toy photography: 4″ Stormtroopers eating a spaghetti dinner! Ugly Dolls fighting over each other’s belongings! Tiny N-scale railroad figure; I dabbled in that pool too. People using photos to breathe life into bits of plastic! Not only did these early finds make me laugh, they inspired me to try it.

When I got back into photography much more heavily around 2009-ish, with the purchase of a DSLR, I [somehow] found myself shooting predominantly nature and wildlife – birds, for some reason, to the degree that a friend christened me “The Bird Whisperer.”  Toys fell by the wayside while I shot much more “serious” stuff. Meanwhile, LEGO came out with the CMF series, and I collected the ones I liked. At times, I excused their purchase by saying “Oh, I plan to photograph these…” but it was very occasional, at best.

Fast forward a bit further to a few years ago, when the residual damage from an accident started to catch up with me. Instead of spending nearly every waking hour of every weekend out in the woods, up in the mountains, trooping through rain and snow, camera in hand, I was… home. I was exhausted, in pain, medicated, and frankly, depressed. Sometimes I’d get out for an hour or two, but not like I had been. My creative outlet was out there and I wasn’t. And I wasn’t handling it very well. 

One miserable, cold, snowy day I discovered a fistful of Minifigures on the counter, next to my phone. I started pushing the figs about, noting how it looked like they were talking to and interacting with one another… and I snapped a photo. Then I remembered other figs I had, and that box of accessories I’d had for my old crew of misfit Stormtroopers. And I just kept going, regaining a creative outlet by photographing them as I did so.

Before long, there was always at least one fig in my work bag, in case an opportunity came up. When I was able to start spending more time out shooting, toys started riding along in my camera bag, as well.

And while, initially, I sort of hid my toy photography from most people, only showing the “serious” stuff… that has changed too, especially over the last year or so. Finding the Toy Photographers community has played a role in that. Seeing so much boundless creativity presented by such talented photographers inspires me on a daily basis. Not only can toy photography be technically serious, there’s no good reason to be shy about it.

And really, when you go out to dinner with friends, and they are all Instagramming their dinner but you have to set up a tiny sushi chef in the middle of yours first, you’d better get over the shyness factor, and learn to laugh at yourself –  while still getting the shot!

And when they ask “Toys? Seriously?” I respond “Very.”

Because toy photography has become something I enjoy. It’s something I’m passionate about.

Seriously.

R.E Wolf

Ryan is currently one of our fabulous moderators in our G+ Community. Come hang out with him and all the wonderful people who make this corner of the internet special. You can follow Ryan on either G+ or Instagram

Minifigure Gender distribution: 2017 update

A little over a year ago, I wrote up an analysis of gender distribution in LEGO® Minigures in the post friends era.  In the years since LEGO Friends had been released, there had been some positive trends towards an equal balance, after starting from a pretty low base line (around 11% in 2012) up to 30% in the Volcano Sub-theme of LEGO City in 2016.

LEGO ideas set: 21312 Women of NASA. Real Life STEM role models in LEGO form.

As well as supporting the regular themes, 2017 has been a big year for LEGO tying in with cinematic releases, with both inhouse and external IP.  By the end of the year, we will have seen a new Star Wars movie, Wonder Woman and Justice League movies, The LEGO Batman Movie and LEGO Ninjago Movie released.

This post was provoked, in part after reading a comment about the relatively low female representation in the Collectable Minifigure sets recently released. I thought it would be interesting to revisit the question of gender distribution in some popular LEGO themes, and see if there were any significant shifts in trends over the last 12 months, when I last reviewed the numbers. The impending release of the Ideas set ‘Women of NASA’ is also of interest, as it certainly demonstrates a desire to see inspirational female role models immortalized in LEGO form.

I would like to look specifically at LEGO City, overall, as well as broken down into its major sub themes; The LEGO Batman Movie; The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and also LEGO Friends. I would also like to look at LEGO Star Wars sets released since the Force Awakens…

LEGO City: A Progressive Town?

When we last looked at LEGO city, there were some encouraging trends: almost 30% (41/144), with the ‘City Adventure subtheme’ – Volcano Explorers – featuring 10/27 mini figures with feminine characteristics. This is compared with around 10% in 2011 But what have we seen in 2017?  Have we seen LEGO City approach parity, or is it still subject to a significant gender gap?

We have seen a number of sub themes this year including: Police, Transport, Coast guard/ beach life and Jungle. Some people also like to include their Creator Expert sets with their City (Modular buildings, fairground, winter village).

Creator Expert – City scale models: In the three sets mentioned there are 20 mini figures (plus one baby).  Ten are female, so we have a great start for gender parity right here.

Starting with the Police Starter Set 60136, we have two figures with definite feminine traits, while the other two can be imagined either male or female by the user.

Looking in the LEGO City Police sets, 13 out 43 were demonstrating feminine characteristics, six were not clearly determined, and 24 displayed masculine characteristics.  But wait, that’s just a little gender binary of you Rambling Brick… I suppose it is.  I am judging these characteristics as: feminine: lipstick, maybe eyelashes, maybe a ‘figure curve shadow’ on the minifigure torso print.  Figures with masculine characteristic typically demonstrate some form of facial hair.  

There is less ambiguity as to the gender of these two minifigures.

Where I have described faces as non specific, there is no clear lipstick or facial hair on the print.  These figures make it easy for the child playing with the LEGO sets under consideration to determine the gender of the figure for themselves. You are welcome to disagree with my methods.

Like ‘Fun In the Park’ last year, 60153 Fun at the Beach has a pretty evenly balanced gender mix portrayed in the included figures.  If we pool the transport, beach, coastguard, ands random racing car sets (NOT Speed Champions), we have a total of fifty five mini figures, with twenty four appearing to show feminine characteristics – I felt that eight of these figures did not have a clearly specific gender: 24/55 = 43%.

Welcome to the Jungle

In this year’s Jungle sub theme,  we have a mixture of adventurers and scientists trekking through the world’s jungles, seeking hidden treasures, wildlife and the occasional carnivorous plant. We have a total of twenty six figures, across seven sets.  Eleven of these figures have feminine characteristics. 11/26 = 42% figures with feminine traits.

Let’s look across the entire city theme: this brings us to 49/124 figures available in sets and polybags appearing female. This brings us to 39.51%.  If we include the minifigures included in this year’s Creator Expert sets (10/20 figures), the percentage edges up to 40.9%

Another story worth looking at is by looking at the number of minifigures currently available in the LEGO online store – which will include figures from older sets.  So… looking at LEGO City sets available at shop.lego.com/en-AU/ on 18th October 2017, there were a total of 252 minifigures across City and Creator Expert ranges. Ninety six of these show feminine characteristics.  A total of 38%.  This is remarkable progress over the last few years.  As time progresses, it may get closer and closer to 50%.  It is interesting to note that the figures present in the Creator Expert displaying feminine traits has been around 40-50% for some time.

Creator Expert sets, such as 10255 Assembly square, have seen fairly even gender distribution over recent years. Even though their faces are just classic smiley faces, even gender stereotyping sees the balance maintained in this Modular Building.

LEGO City is one of the company’s flagship ‘Evergreen’ themes.  It is aimed particularly at a younger age group than some of the more fantastical themes such as Star Wars, Elves and Ninjago, set in a world where children develop their understanding of how the world works.  The way that the gender balance has shifted over the last few years demonstrates a significant improvement over the 10% in 2011.

The LEGO Batman Movie

The LEGO Batman Movie was released earlier in the year and there is no doubt that there were some great sets, and a vast array of C-Grade villains, between the regular sets, and the collectable minifigures.

One of the drawbacks of  The LEGO Batman Movie sets is the presence of LEGO Batman in almost every set. So, lets look at these sets in several ways: Unadjusted gender ratios (including collectible minifigures) and then by characters ( 23 Batman figures/costumes = one character.  But Bruce Wayne is a second.).  I will take this analysis to include the second wave of figures, and the imminent release of Joker Manor.

Overall, there are 98 figures released across the sets(including the bigfigs: Bane and Killer Croc, plus a further 20 CMFs, and 3 in LEGO Dimensions). There are only 3 different Batman figures (variant head pieces anyway) as well as 2 Batgirl figures. Across these sets, there are 24 figures with feminine traits, and six out of 20 CMFs. Thirty out of one hundred and fifteen (30/115= 26%)

So, lets discount the range of ludicrous BatCostumes/Joker Costumes/ Harley Quinn Costumes and Dick Grayson Tuxedos, and count only the characters released, we have 15 female characters out fifty five – 27.3% This does not seem to make a significant change to the overall ratio here, which suggests that this may have been chosen to maintain the gender balance along these lines.  I will apply the character based calculation in LEGO Friends and LEGO Ninjago movie shortly as well, because in those ranges we have also multiple characters appearing multiple times across the range.

So in TLBM, we have more than a quarter, but less than thirty percent of minifigures or characters released to date having female characteristics. This is pretty close to last year’s LEGO City average.

Catching up with our Friends

Over in Heartlake City, gender bias tends to be in the other direction, with females outnumbering males significantly.  We have come some way  however, from the first wave of sets when only one minidoll included in that wave was male. This year, five out of 42 minidolls in new sets are male.  However, many characters (especially the Andrea, Mia, Emma, Stephanie and Olivia) appear in multiple sets.  Let us consider the characters released this year: we find that five out of fourteen characters released as Friends minidolls are male.

James and Alicia come to terms with Stephanie’s new boyfriend?

Again, however, if we look at the sets currently available on shop.lego.com, there are 12  male minidolls across the friends range (12/61= 19.6%). Looking at named characters in 2017, 10/26=38.5% of characters in Heartlake City are male. To calculate this, we only count one of each the principal characters. Alternatively of the 41 Friends sets containing minidolls, 12 contain a male figure.

The ‘Serious’ DC Extended Universe

This year has been a big year for DC, with Wonder Woman hitting the screens in July, and Justice League due to be released in November.  Female characters are not common in the DC cinematic universe, however it is good to see that there are at least two Wonder Woman minifigures released in DCU Tie-in sets this year.

Considering this year’s DC Cinematic releases, we see Wonder Woman Minifigures appear in three sets, plus another variant on the cover of a DK Book. It was disappointing that there were no further releases related to the Wonder woman film other than 76075 Wonder Woman Battle: there were so many strong characters on Themascyra.  Across the 4 sets released that tie in with Wonder woman and Justice League, our amazing Amazon is the only character other than Batman to appear in more than one set. There are no other female characters represented this year, with the exception of the SDCC exclusive Vixen figure. This brings our ‘non LEGO Batman Movie DCU, non Mighty Micros’ Female minifigure count up to 3 out of 16 (18%). Not knowing yet whether there are other potentially strong female characters in the Justice League film, it is hard to know whether or not the source material is to be blamed at this stage.

DC Hero Vixen was only available to a lucky few at San Diego Comic Con this year.

However, if we consider the DC Comics universe, there are dozens of female characters waiting to make their official minifigure debut. In Gotham city alone we have Spoiler, Batwoman, Cassandra and Huntress, just to name a few. And how good would it be to have a Barbara Gordon as Oracle?

The LEGO Ninjago Movie

As a movie based on one of LEGO’s own intellectual properties, the first wave of sets  portrays a significant number of city dwellers.  This would suggest that we might expect close to parity in our gender count.  However, our heroes (and Villain) appear multiple times, in both civilian and ninja clothing. And then there is the Shark army, with a remarkable amount of stubble on their chins.  Or is there?

So, lets start off with the raw numbers. To date there have been 17 sets released, plus a series of 20 collectable mini figures. In the Collectable Minifigures range (71019), we have six female characters: Nya, Misako, Shark Army General #1, the GPL Tech, N-Pop Girl and also, hidden under all that awkward headgear, the Shark Army Angler. That is six out of twenty (6/20=30%).

Looking at the LEGO Ninjago movie sets, we see a total of 85 mini figures, including Kai’s Dojo Pod Set. Only thirteen of these figures have female traits. This is around 15% of the minifigures associated with the LEGO Ninjago movie sets being female.

Why does our data seem to be skewed, reducing the proportion of female representation, when it would appear that many of the LEGO Themes this year are increasing the ration of female:male figures?  In part there are three manniquins/figureless sets of clothes so we can discount them from our denominator: 13/82 =15.8%.  We also have multiple occurrences of our ninja force: and of the 14 members of the shark army seen in the sets, all are male.  Let us add the two members from the CMF series: this brings is 1/16 shark army members are female, plus one of two generals depicted.

So: if we pool our populations by character, so that duplicate characters do not count: –

Shark Army/ Gardemon  Two out of eleven characters (both in the CMF range) are female (19%)

Ninja Force (including Sensei Wu): Nya is the only one of the six characters in this group who is female – so one in six . Each character has multiple representations, with Kai appearing in seven figures, and Nya appearing four times. Zane has only three occurrences in the Movie related sets. Each figure appears in multiple versions of ‘Uniformed’ as well as in civilian clothing.

Non Shark Army, non Ninjas: These residents of Ninjago City make up twenty three characters released in the CMF and first wave of sets associated with the LEGO Ninjago Movie. For the sake of the sums, the GPL tech  has been included in this list. Ten of them are women. (10/23=43%)

But were there opportunities wasted? I think it is disappointing that we did not have a figure of Iron Lady Dragon released in the first wave of sets, but she will appear twice in the next wave of sets.  Are there other figures that could be represented? The bride from the movie trailer?  Other Schoolmates of the Ninjas? Their high school teacher? I do think there were some further options available, and it would be good to see them appear in future waves of Ninjago Movie sets.

So 43% of the city residents are female; 12.5% of the Shark army are female and 16% of the Ninja Force.

Star Wars: In search of a New Hope…

The original trilogy has a paucity of strong female characters, beyond Princess Leia.  We see Aunt Beru – rapidly killed off, Mon Mothma, leader of the rebellion and no one else is named. Three characters in three movies. At least Leia had a variety of outfits, which have been able to be developed over the years. Mon Mothma has appeared in only one set, and Beru has never appeared in minifigure form.

Why can I never find a Princess Leia minifigure when ever I need one? Oh, wait…

So, I performed a quick and dirty, back of the serviette, calculation of the number of Female Star Wars Minfigures released over the last twenty years.  I referred to Bricklink’s Browse mini figures feature, selecting Star Wars as the Theme.  With Sixty six out of nine hundred and eleven different figures (including droids and clones), that is barely 7%.  In comparison, there are fifty variations on Luke Skywalker ALONE!

I thought it would be interesting to see if there had been a change in the representation of women since the release of the Force Awakens, so let us look at the number of female characters represented in LEGO Star Wars sets since 2014 ( the last year before the ‘Disney films’)

The release of The Force Awakens in 2015 should see things look up, after all Rey flies off in the Millennium Falcon doesn’t she? While Rey gets a figure, she is on her speeder, and not in the Falcon. Still, 7/81 female figures is all we have to show for the year that saw  first season of Rebels and The Force Awakens.  They do, however, put the original trilogy to shameas far as female representation is concern.

2016: Last year we saw the release of subsequent sets based on Rebels, Episodes 1-VII and episodeVII, as well as as the Star Wars Story Rogue One. Only Eleven Figures out of 115 are female. (9.56%)

2017: This year, eight out of seventy six mini figures to be found in Star Wars sets are depicting female characters.

Despite the strong leads: Leia, Jyn Erso and Mon Mothma and Rey in the movies currently being considered, the general availability of these figures is diappointing. Most only appear in one set. This is sad, as in part it suggests that there has been no movement on the from of gender ratios in the current film franchise, AND Lego are not taking all of the opportunities to produce fresh new characters for the Sets. And let us not forget that two of those appear in the $AU1300 Millennium Falcon – so, not easily accessible at this point! There does not appear to have been a specific tipping point in LEGO Star Wars, unlike City which has rapidly increased its female representation in recent years.

But, are things really so bleak in the Star Wars Minifigure Universe?

Why not exclude the ‘faceless’ masses of clone troopers, storm troopers, droids, unnamed non-humans from our calculations, perhaps we will see a higher ratio of female to male mini figures. This graph demonstrates how this has changed.  It is important to recognise, however, that even though this calculation results in a ‘best score’ of 18% in 2012, and only 16 2/3% this year.  However, there has been an increase in the number of ‘non central’ female characters appearing in the Star Wars mini figures, such as ground crew, and ranking officers. While there has been an increase in the absolute number of female minifigures released each year, compared with 2010, we have also seen a significantly greater number of Star Wars minifigures released each year.

In Conclusion

So, in summary, LEGO City has made great leaps forward towards equal gender representation in recent years and continues to lead the way on the path to gender equality amongst minifigure representation. At almost 40% this year, it is still a significatnt improvement over last year.

Themes referencing intellectual properties, either in house such as Ninjago, or external such as Star Wars, DC Superheroes and LEGO Batman Movie, are limited somewhat by the source material.  There does, however, seem to be a general trend to have increased diversity in ‘non principal’ characters.

LEGO Friends also has improved balance overall, with almost 30% of sets available containing at least one male minidoll, and over 35% of characters currently on the shelves are male.

Star Wars still has some room for improvement. There are still some pivotal characters yet to be seen in LEGO form, including Shmi Skywalker (Anakin’s mother), and Luke’s Aunt Beru.

I suspect that City will remain the benchmark for gender equality in the world of LEGO Minifigures. (For the record, Collectible mini figures are a bit below the  current par, with 5/16 in the regular series this year, and 6/20 in the movie related series being female.)

I hope you have enjoyed this update on the depiction of gender characteristics in LEGO Minifigures, for 2017.

What do you think? Will it still take too long for your old minifigure collection to approach parity? Is it just a good start? Why not leave your comments below, subscribe for updates and share this post with your friends…

Play Well

My 365-project depends on the light and suddenly it is gone

I’ve done a 365-project before and something seems to happen in mid-October. It’s that  part of the year when the days get shorter and the rain gets more intense. Because I am a photographer who prefer to work with daylight, this time of the year always is unexpected. Until mid-October hits me the light has been my friend.

During work days

During work days, I photograph the kitchen with flash as a light source. During the project mid-October meant mer than the fact that I had to find the flash. I also realized that my ideas and my lack of attributes make the images feel predictable. And a bit boring to do. Many days this project feels like one other thing I have to do.

My doubts are high and I wonder what this 365-project will give me…

My 365-projects

My first 365-project gave me invaluable knowledge about technics.  Doing an image a day made me find my language or at least the beginning of what would become my language as a photographer.

My second taught me to develop my style, my expression and to work with the flash, a controlled light as a tool.

Some insights

This is my third, what have I learned more than October means that the light disappears and with that also the desire and the will to creat. I do not yet see what I have learned, but I have some insights:

The first one is that ”a lego-figure” is a tough toy to vary a story around. I would say that as a toy for a story it requires attributes. Many legophotographers like to use attributes like faces to enhance their story. I use a bit of attribute but my toy box is limited, by choise. I prefer to let the viewer read emotions / mood in the image via the light and the choice of location, time, angle and composition.

In my first 365-project the lego-figure was an attribute, and looking back at that I think the next toy-project will be with another sort of toy – no more – lego for me… When I do a new toy-porject I’ll probably choose use lego-figures be just attributes. I am currently doubting that I am a pure lego photographer.

I also doubt what the value of a 365-project. To take a picture a day is not really a challenge, it’s mostly a matter of planning.

A 365-project makes me attached to my motive

But there is one thing that I have realized. My feeling for the toy that is my motive has changed with all the dirt and the scratches that the project has given it. I didn’t feel anything for my choice of toy when I started, now I look for it and talk about the toy as one of mine. I value it – as my motive. I have grown in to liking the toy, the scratches and the dirt on the toy because they make it mine, and only mine.

Kristina

Teensy Travel

“Like a pair of binoculars with no right or wrong end, the camera makes exotic things near, intimate; and familiar things small, abstract, strange, much farther away.”

-On Photography by Susan Sontag

Toy photography spans genres. This, I’ve already said. Petite products, abridged architecture, pint-sized portraits, small surrealism…but what about those of us who create on the go?

Avid travelers, occasional tourists, whoever you are, if you’re a toy photographer, when you leave town you probably bring a toy figure or two (or ten).

Historic Artistic Travel

From the very early days of photography, travel photography has been a part of the medium. From the time photography came to be, those who had the capability to travel were, and they were creating momentos of their travels – from Francis Bedford’s pyramids, George Wilson’s Temple of Jupiter, Francis Frith’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, to the works of Maxime Du Camp, Solomon Nunes Carvalho, James Ricalton all created in the 1840s & 50s. And the history of artistic travel doesn’t stop there painters make images of their world travels as well.

Perhaps the most iconic toy photography example would be Brian McCarty’s War Toys, a project he began in 2011. In this, he travels to war zones and creates images while there using locally sourced toys to illustrate stories shared with him by local children. I’m simplifying his work overly so, so please learn more here.

Why We Do It

All in all, humans like saving their memories, they like souvenirs, not to mention, we’d have very limited world views if there were no images of other places and cultures.

As toy photographers, the items we photograph are often an extension of ourselves and how we feel about the world. Because of this they become perfect representations of our feelings toward the places we visit.

We can savor our memories, while creating new narratives around them. Explore a new place an inch from ground level.  Tell tales and weave experiences that no other person who has visited that place can.

We give toys memory and a sense of adventure by allowing them to travel the world. 

~Tourmaline .

Do you ever take travel photos of your toys? Tell us about it and leave a link to a photo in a comment below.

Also, if you enjoy this post idea let me know what photo genres you’d most like to see next.


Want to get involved and keep up with the blog? Sign up for our weekly email round up and join us on G+!