Our toy photography community loves photo challenges, and the editorial team here does, too. That’s why Alan Rappaport and I are doing a bit of a dance-off, photography style. I’m taking all outdoor photos of the new LEGO Minifigures Series 21 (#71029), and he’s doing all indoor shots.
Without further ado, let’s check out these minifigures!
This figure is wonderfully poseable, able to turn his head and have full range of minifigure motion, even with the helmet. He has a “friendly” face, too, but I like the fierce one best. His unique weapon, shield and headpiece are fantastic, along with the impressive amount of arm and leg printing. He’s obviously an Aztec jaguar warrior, though I understand why LEGO might want to keep his name more generic.
I was disappointed that the hair keeps her head from turning, so I’ll probably customize her with another hairpiece. The quiver also tends to come off very easily, so it may be worth using a little sticky tack to hold it in place. Or perhaps with a different style of hair it can go on her human back instead of on her horseback.
Pug Costume Guy
This is a fun figure, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t turn the head of the figure because of its breath-mask. This makes it a lot less expressive than I’d like for a character.
Space Police Guy
The beard of this figure naturally limits the range of the head, so there is almost no turn radius. He’s also the only figure in this series besides the alien who doesn’t have two facial expressions printed on the head.
Behind the scenes
When it comes to outdoor toy photography, the biggest issue is that you can’t control the weather. You don’t know what you’re going to face when you gather up your camera and figures, and go outside. Or you may be on a deadline to shoot some pics and the forecast is all rain for days—which is what happened to me. I ran outside in between rain showers to shoot most of these minifigures in my foothills forest home.
For the last two (Shipwreck Guy and Paddle Surfer) I had a sunny day. We drove out to a local park by way of Dutch Brothers coffee (yum!). Once fully caffeinated, I was ready to get a few shots at the big pond.
But I fell for one of the classic photography blunders: I didn’t check my camera before I left the house and didn’t bring a backup battery. It died before I could even snap a single shot. So much for the park pond! I would have to create my own body of water. The good news is that LEGO minifigures don’t require a lot of space to create the illusion of a lake or ocean.
I filled a shallow pan with water, put a big rock in it, and used a piece of insulation foam for the sky background. I recently used this same foam for sky in the “Le Petit Prince” shots I did for the Toy Photographers Virtual Meet-Up earlier in January. A utility clip held a piece of aluminum to bounce some light where I needed it. It’s always amazing to me how something so unimpressive when viewed in a BTS shot can make such magic in a photo! The silver edge on the back of the shallow pan even became a sort of ocean horizon line in the water shots.
To make the Paddle Surfer “float” on the water, I used this rig. The clip is heavy enough to keep the LEGO bits from floating, the clear piece helped the support to be more invisible. However, the yellow-and-black of the clip showed clearly through the water at some angles, so I ended up wrapping it in a sheet of white paper (which quickly became soaked and flexible in the water). The white paper blended into the light silver pan holding the water much better.
Chime in below!
I’d love to hear comments from anyone who has a rig for floating LEGO surfboards and canoes on the water effectively. Sometimes when shooting at the edge of a pond, the water is deep (6 inches or more) or too shallow for this clip. Do you have recommendations for something that adjusts in 2–8 inches of water while also anchoring the LEGO pieces well? Or even something that works reliably in shallow water between 1–3 inches?