Toy Photography, Hype, and Pop Culture Overdose

Does too much hype kills the hype?

Every time a new CMF series is released, my IG feed is flooded with pictures of the new Minifigures. While some people manage to buy them in stores before the official release date, I’m usually in the category of people who have to wait a few weeks to get them. Indeed, Finnish toy stores (and supermarkets) can be slow getting newly released LEGO sets.

I’m rarely in a hurry when it comes to getting something new, so it’s fine with me. But with the CMF, I noticed that by the time I can buy them, I’ve seen so many pictures that I don’t have any inspiration left to take pictures.

Getting from LEGO a couple of CMF to review for the blog has one advantage: I can play with the new minifigs before Instagram is invaded with pictures of them. It’s how I fell in love with Aria. Without the great opportunity to play earlier with her, I would probably have had very little interest in photographing her. She’s still today one of my favorite Minifigures, always accompanying me outside and still going out in front of my camera regularly.

My latest photo of Aria.

Sometimes, I can experience the same feeling of tiredness with “regular” sets. Lately, it was the LEGO Movie 2 Space Squad. It’s undoubtedly an amazing set. As soon as I saw the first official images, I couldn’t wait to buy it. But by the time I got my own copy in late December, I was already fed up with seeing pictures of the pink spaceman everywhere. So I gave up the idea of using the spaceman for any photo.

Pop Culture Overdose

But besides the more occasional hype coming with the release of new toys, I’m experiencing more and more that feeling on a whole new level. I’m getting tired of pop culture.

In many ways, I’ve never felt a strong connection with some licenses. Like DC and Marvel Super Heroes for example. So it’s not new that I care so little about the vast majority of photos featuring them. But I’m getting tired of some beloved licenses too… Among them, Star Wars.

Spiderman is one of the few characters from DC and Marvel that I feel remotely connected to.

Star Wars Overdose

Contrarily to Super Heroes, I’ve been a fan of Star Wars ever since my father brought back home VHS of the original trilogy, more than 20 years ago. But I’m getting fed up with it.

One reason might be the overdose of Star Wars since Disney bought the franchise. I don’t have any major complaint about the new movies. (I’m actually waiting for the last episode of the new trilogy before coming up with a clear opinion about it.) But I can’t deny the impact of the hype and merchandising around it. It’s too much.

But Disney or Lucasfilm aren’t the only ones feeding the overdose. The toy photography community is also feeding it.

There is not a day going on without seeing pictures of stormtroopers or droids. After years of following hundreds of toy photographers, it feels like there’s nothing new. Sometimes I wish we would see more of them in unusual situations than the usual troopers on a recon mission or in a fight. I understand and share the nostalgia for the Original Trilogy… while at the same time I’m just tired of it.

My last photo of a Stormtrooper, taken in December 2015.

But Star Wars has been an important part of my photographic universe. I’ve taken a few series of pictures based on Star Wars characters. Most notably Master Yoda and Admiral Ackbar. Although they are among the toys I always carry around, I rarely use them anymore. Did I run out of ideas? Or is it a consequence of too much Star Wars?

My last photo of Yoda and Ackbar goes back to before the winter, and so far I’ve got no plan to take any picture withthem… Is this the end of my oldest photo series?

Because of that, lately, I’ve been more inspired by people photographing toys I would have never expected to be attracted to, rather than photographs of characters dear to me. Like LEGO Friends, Sylvanian Families, or My Little Pony.

A remedy?

Every year since I started taking pictures of toys, I post a photo to celebrate “May the 4th”. But this year I’m wondering… Do I still want to take one? Do I have any idea interesting enough to make me want to post it on social media?

Is there a remedy?

Or maybe there isn’t and the solution lies in looking for characters and themes that are not so much hyped in the toy photography communit?

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5 years ago

Your post is full of very interesting points, and as a fan of the pop culture you are talking about, I have to take some time with ideas I had planned to photograph. If I understood well, you’re not totaly fed up with pop culture based pictures, as long as there is a little originality in? Maybe a serie I’m preparing could get one or two likes from you. ;) About the massive wave of pictures each time a new CMF serie is released, I agree with you: I buy as soon as possible some minifigs, but the time I… Read more »

5 years ago
Reply to  Maëlick

It’ s a bit strange, as we have a very close discussion on BrickCentral forum. :) To get likes or not, with the choices you made when preparing your pictures. Instagram is a good source if you want to study people: the one that lives through the number of likes and followers, the one who copycat every popular photographer, the crazy poster with his 854 pictures per day, and so on and so forth. Every one is now a photographer with Instagram, and using easy likes catchers (stormtroopers, new CMF…) is a key to success a lot of people use.… Read more »

5 years ago

So I’m not the only one? :O Good to know!

5 years ago

Living next door to Disney World in Florida, I’m inundated with the Disney characters and soon to be Star Wars, not to forget Marvel since Disney owns all 3 of them. I’m actually a HUGE Disney fan so I love the characters. I do try to put them in unusual positions. I take the Star Wars characters around Magic Kingdom, I take Marvel characters to Epcot. And I take the classic Disney characters everywhere :) It is difficult to find inspiration when there’s a million photos already but I try to find my own scenes. Sometimes, it’s good to take… Read more »

The Aphol
5 years ago

I TOTALLY understand you.
When a new CMF series came out i start to hate every one of them. Then i slowly recover and my goal is just to have them to mix them up for future pictures. I never search inspiration in new figures but i know i can use them for my concepts.

David Grewcock
David Grewcock
5 years ago

Thanks for this post; it’s reconciled some thoughts I’ve been having. I’ve stopped wanting all the CMF figures in each series, just focusing on the one or two. Like you, I’ve seen many of my ideas already done to death before I get mine (the giraffe in the latest series and Toys-R-us is an example) Yes there is a proliferation of all manner of toys – I’ve also got caught up in other collectible toys too – and again, I’ve pulled back (if only to save the bank account!). I’ve also found that by using non-current toys (or very cult… Read more »

Tomasz Lasek
5 years ago

I am able to understand your overload and overwhelm by hype and pop culture. It can actually be tiring. I, in turn, when shopping for example, choose minifigures chaotically, guided only by immediate needs and ideas. That’s why I don’t have most of the superheroes. I have Spiderman for less than a month, it was available in a cheap polybag attached to the magazine and it would be a sin not to take this opportunity. I also have a few Batmans and minifigs from TLM2, but I never take pictures by force, so they will not appear on my feed… Read more »

Tomasz Lasek
5 years ago
Reply to  Maëlick

I also have some sets/minifigures I never photographed yet and don’t know if they even will be photographed. I post most of my pictures but I have no intent to increase my likes/follows or care about it. And I don’t actually care about it. If I did, I wouldn’t post my low key shots; I see they’re not popular and strangely they are mostly my best and favourite shots.

5 years ago

Hi all, such a great post. I couldn’t agreed more with your thoughts.. I‘m also always a little bit late with getting new stuff, but it’s not my fault, it’s just release dates.. and I‘m also bored with floods of the same figs. Have a nice weekend

5 years ago

Awesome little post, Maëlick. I have been stuck in Big Inc for a while, and just waking up to SiP this fine Saturday morning and catching up with some of the fun we have going on here. I recognize (like many others) your feelings. I see three distinct topics that I connect with. The first is the race to be first. And we for sure as one of the prominent communities in LEGO Toy Photography play in this area as well. When we get an early box to creative review the latest and greatest new minifig series we add to… Read more »

5 years ago

Very interesting reading! I agree with you about the overdose of pop culture on my instagram feed, but for me it’s a more general pop culture overdose.
Yes Stars War is great but there are Stars War merchandising absolutely everywhere. Same for super heroes movies, Disney movies, etc.
And once you saw one of them, it’s almost like you have seen them all.

So, I’m happy to shoot my Japaneses skeletons ^^

5 years ago
Reply to  eatmybones

Note to self: if I am to meet Eatmybones, remind to take a t-shirt NOT from the Star Wars pile.

5 years ago
Reply to  DavidGrafika

Hahaha I can speak to you even if you wear a Star Wars t-shirt :p

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