Disney+ premiered The Mandalorian on November 12, 2019, but today marks the first May 4—also known as Star Wars Day (as in “May the Fourth be with you”)—since our often divided fanbase came together with love and admiration for this new show. For once, Original Trilogy purists, prequel devotees and those superfans who celebrate and enjoy any Star Wars film, including Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi, could agree on something: The Mandalorian absolutely rocks!
In appreciation of this unifying spirit, we asked members of the Toy Photographers team and some of the most talented toy photographers in the game to share their shots of the galaxy’s biggest new star, plus a few of his most beloved friends. Did someone say Baby Yoda?
Dan Leonard – Norwich, England
Filmmaker and animator Dan Leonard—creator of the With Toys In Mind mental health awareness toy photography book project—got it absolutely right with his vision of the Mandalorian. The pics, featuring his 6-inch Star Wars the Black Series action figure, are gritty with a great narrative quality. We like them so much, we chose one to lead this post. Unfortunately Dan wasn’t available to further illuminate the images he sent us with his own words, but they really speak for themselves anyway.
Chris Lynch – Boston (and Brewster), MA
As soon as I saw Jawas would be on The Mandalorian, I had this image in my mind of them being informants and mischief makers for the bounty hunters on the show. And I just feel like you can never really trust a Jawa!
This was shot at a small, rocky cove during a recent family vacation to Mexico. I really love how well they scaled to make it look like Mando is high up above his prey, about to do some disintegrating—probably firing on some Jawas! It also makes for a nice homage to Obi-Wan.
Alan Rappaport – Lincoln Park, NJ
For my Mando shot I took a stab at recreating the interior of the Razor Crest, and showing just how successful the Mandalorian is as a bounty hunter. The multiple carbonite-frozen bounties may take the focus, but my favorite part of the shot is the toilet in the background. This is a nod to the vac tube on Mando’s ship, which has the dubious honor of being the first bathroom ever depicted in the Star Wars universe.
Isaiah Takahashi – Orange County, CA
I wanted to capture the always stoic Mandalorian in this straightforward, standing-at-the-ready pose. I used a simple area in my backyard and Atmosphere Aerosol to add the haze. I really wanted to get that glint of light coming off his helmet, so I’m happy with how that turned out.
This shot featuring the Hot Wheels Starships Razor Crest was extremely challenging to pull off, and ended up requiring a ton of Photoshop work. Ultimately though, I’m super happy with how it all came together. It was a fun shot to do, and it was great getting to try my hand at some new techniques as well as forced perspective.
I’d wanted to create this particular shot ever since Disney released the first few images from The Mandalorian. I knew I was going to have to try my best to recreate it! A simple setup, really: My custom Smuggler’s Retreat diorama from @dagobah_customs (linktr.ee/Dagobah_Customs) came in clutch for background, as well as scene lighting.
Trevor Williams – Babylon, NY
Trevor Williams has earned himself quite a reputation among toy photographers. He’s well known for shooting all manner of articulated action figures, but he’s also done some remarkable LEGO minifigure photos. These excellent pics of the Mandalorian were some of the first great images of the Mando minifig on Instagram.
Fans of the show will recognize the stormtrooper helmets on spikes in the second of Trevor’s four pics. These were shown in promo shots for the show and, of course, in “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger” when Mando visits everyone’s favorite wretched hive of scum and villainy, Mos Eisley spaceport!
Trevor’s third shot is the sixth in his LEGO #sixtoyportraits challenge, which you can find on his Instagram account. He explains:
I had a bunch of ideas for Mando himself, but I’ve been wanting to shoot all of these guys—they look great together! If you’ve never shot LEGO, I highly recommend drinking between rounds of picking up and resetting everything after you knock it over moving a light or a reflector, or lightly bumping the table. You might also enjoy trying to figure out where the reflection that’s hitting that one minifigure is coming from. Oh, the fun!
Here, Trevor uses an adorable Baby Yoda by John Walker Customs (@johnwalkercustoms) and his Black Series Mando figure. He shot this long before Hasbro released their official version of the character, which U.S. collectors have just started receiving from preorders.
Oliver Peterson – Center Moriches, NY
I shot this fairly simple image about six weeks before The Mandalorian premiered on Disney+. I was immediately enchanted by the early promotional images from the show, and I absolutely fell in love with the Black Series action figure. I found some rocks I thought complemented his colors well at the beach near my home on Long Island and shot this quick, simple composition, adding a bit of blowing sand, as we saw in the first pics Disney released.
A while later, maybe a month after the first episode aired, I was dying to recreate the scene when Mando first encounters The Child, aka Baby Yoda. It was such an unforgettable and iconic moment, and I was glad to get this static figure of the world’s most adorable tiny alien by John Walker Customs. I was glad it allowed me to show him in his hovering bassinet, which, unfortunately, is not included with Hasbro’s otherwise brilliant new Black Series version. The composition features a Space Walls blast door by GTP Toys and a bunch of diorama bits and pieces from my collection, including two Star Wars Xcavations Creature Crates. I Photoshopped out Baby Yoda’s clear plastic flight stand (which I added in the first place) to make him float.
Matt McDonald – Seattle, WA
I was a big fan of the LEGO Mandalorian Battle Pack, but my photos were missing a few things due to a lack of Baby Yoda. So I picked up one of those customs minifigures to complete the photo I had in my head. I ventured out into my backyard to set up the scene and two off-camera flashes. This final photo is a composite of two photos since when I sprayed canned air to get debris moving around the “floating LEGO” flew away with it. After I got the debris background photo down, I captured the final shot with everything arranged the way I wanted it. I also Photoshopped out the paper clips that helped support the floating minifigures, merged the two photos and cleaned up the overall image to achieve the photo above. #ThisIsTheWay
James Garcia – Vancouver, WA
Star Wars has always been one big space western, and that has never been more prevalent than with The Mandalorian. I really leaned into that when photographing my Black Series figure of the mysterious titular bounty hunter. This simple portrait of Mando is now one of my favorite photos I’ve taken, and it was actually a happy accident.
I shot it in black and white using my iPhone—it wasn’t meant to be the final shot but more of a camera test for the customized cape I’d made. I was so happy with the pose and composition that I then tinkered with it a bit in Photoshop, bringing color back into the shot and adding the dust around him.
For the Gamorrean Guard shot, I was inspired by classic John Carter of Mars book covers—an aesthetic George Lucas himself paid tribute to in Attack of the Clones.
Kevin T. Oei – Jakarta, Indonesia
I always wanted to take a group shot of the three “real” Star Wars the Black Series Mandalorian figures in my collection, and once I came across this chaotic Battlefront 2 concept art/background, the rest was just a simple matter of posing and setting up the lights to match the scene. I added a little bit of fog, embers, and flare in post-processing, and had to straighten out Mando’s rifle as I realized too late that it was bending to the right.
This was a scene I’d always wanted to recreate since I watched The Manadalorian season finale, especially since I got my hands on a Star Wars the Vintage Collection 3.75″-scale TIE fighter. I was going to do a mixed scale shot with the Black Series Mandalorian figure, but luckily my order for the Vintage Collection Mandalorian arrived before I created the photo. Setup was simple—I held the figure up with some sticks, which I removed in post, shot in front of a rotated TV monitor with a stock sky photo from Unsplash (a free photo site). The rubber cape didn’t suit the pose, so I erased it in Procreate and painted in a replacement. I lit the scene with a single Aputure MC, and used the light painting method to give it a slightly overcast feel.
Tomasz Lasek – Poland
The Mandalorian’s adventures are very refreshing after the last Star Wars trilogy, which I found a bit ponderous. On the one hand, I associated the series with spaghetti westerns. And on the other, because of the pair of main characters, it feels like the Japanese manga Lone Wolf and Cub. Being a big fan of both and, of course, The Mandalorian, I really wanted to take a picture of Mando and The Child. The shot below shows them in one of the few moments when they don’t fight and run. And while Baby Yoda is frolicking carelessly, enjoying a moment of freedom, Mando is keeping vigilant watch for lurking danger. I bought a LEGO AT-ST Raider set (75254) to get Mando. I also picked up an uber-cute custom Baby Yoda and painted it myself. I’m pretty sure this won’t be the last picture I take of these two.
Don’t miss The Mandalorian
If you’ve not yet seen The Mandalorian, the show’s entire eight-episode first season is now streaming on Disney+. Do yourself a favor, subscribe for a month and watch this series. You will not regret it.
Take a deep dive with the Star Wars toy photography community on Instagram to find hundreds of brilliant interpretations of this character. Better yet, get yourself a figure and shoot some of your own. We’d love to see them.
Happy Star Wars Day, everyone!
– Oliver Peterson (@oliversees)