The test

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. After a pause, she opened her eyes and nervously took hold of the controls. She’d never driven until 6 days ago. What on earth was she doing in the cockpit of an RC Car taking her driver’s test?!

Trepidation.

Lego ShtacyP had never cared too much for cars. But sometimes in life you have to take opportunities when they arise. So when the chance to take a Fast-Track RC Driving Course came up, ShtacyP didn’t want to let it pass her by.

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A Dino in the Park

The new Jurassic park set is here. I’ve been lucky enough for LEGO to have sent me the set a bit earlier to shoot.

The set

As I opened the box I was immediately surprised by the sheer size of the set, clocking up 3120 pieces! The great thing about the build is that you can share it with a friend. There’s one book of instructions for the iconic “Jurassic Park” gate and another for the star of the original film, the T-Rex.

I set to work on the big beast and loved the way you can build it up section by section. You can then click each part, such as the tail sections, together.

My wife, Helena, tackled the gates and loved the fact that she got to build all the minifigs. She’s a big fan of the Jurassic World series so she knew all the characters’ names right from the off.

The first problem to hit me after the build was how on earth I was going to transport the model out to my version of Isla Nublar!
With plenty of small pieces on the gates, and the T-Rex being pretty heavy, I knew that I had a big job on my hands.

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Photographing large toys – part 2

Last week I talked about how I forced and trained myself photographing larger LEGO sets. Eventually, this led me to the Ultimate challenge of photographing the second tallest LEGO set: the Disney Castle.

This blog post is the continuation of last week, focusing on my two photo sessions with the Castle. The difficulties encountered and the lessons learned along the way.

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Rawr Rawr Rawr I’m a dinosaur!

Earlier this week, we shared the announcement of the new Jurassic Park: T-Rex Rampage set featuring a brick-built dinosaur. At the same time, our friends in Billund were sending us two copies as part of a toy photography collaboration. I received one on Friday. I binge-built it in order to enjoy the sunny weekend with Rex.

In this blog post, I want to share my first impressions about this set from the point of view of a Jurassic Park fan, LEGO enthusiast and, of course, toy photographer.

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Buggy Review

Stuck In Plastic’s #sip_apocalypse challenge was great fun. I really enjoyed creating characters, stories, and pictures to illustrate the survivors of the doom. My work was appreciated by SiP’s crew and I ended as runner up of the challenge. One of the prizes I won was 70829 Emmet and Lucy’s Escape Buggy which I review below.

The Buggy

Although there is plenty of sand and dust here, Apocalypseburg is not a sandbox, definitely not a place to play. It’s the landscape after the battle. These special time and place require special vehicles, and under the inconspicuous name of “escape buggy” hides a monster, ready to run through the wilderness of the ravaged world of bricks.

Just look at its silhouette.

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Photographing large toys – part 1

I’ve always felt quite uncomfortable when I have to photograph relatively large toys. I’m used to photographing minifig-size toys and when I need to move to a larger scale, I usually struggle. It’s completely out of my comfort zone. Bokeh is an important element of my photography and with a larger scale, it gets more difficult to rely on it. As an outdoor toy photographer, another challenge with large LEGO sets is transport.

For over a year now, I’ve been forcing myself to photograph larger toys, mostly complete LEGO sets and builds. My main goal has been to have photos of the entire build, not some close-up shot of details. (I consider close-ups as cheating as it would amount to going back inside the comfort zone.)

In this two-part blog post series, I want to look back at how I practiced photographing larger toys, in particular, large LEGO builds. Today, I will talk about how I rehearsed and trained myself. This will lead to talking next week about the story of how I ended up photographing the Disney Castle as the Ultimate Challenge. and what I learned along the way.

(And maybe there will be a third part later after receiving the new LEGO Dino…)

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The Eagle Has Landed

The LEGO NASA Apollo 11 Lunar set 10266 also known as “Eagle” has landed. It is since yesterday available in LEGO stores around the world. A good month and a half ahead of the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong being the first man to set foot on the moon. This set nicely completes last years NASA Saturn V rocket. One which got Stefan running around in Hamburg with the rocket in one hand and making woosh woosh sounds.

The Eagle is beautiful, fragile and very discreet and has a prominent place on my working desk.

One small step…

And while the detailed replica of Apollo 11’s Eagle lunar module may not be ideal to run around within the fish market in Hamburg on a Sunday morning, it is an epic nostalgic build. I replayed those magic first words of Neil a few times while holding the set in my hand and making touchdown on the Sea of Tranquility. From the iconic “Houston, the Eagle has landed” to the first step on the moon. “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”.

One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind …

Now how to shoot this set?

That was the question that ran around my head for a while. First, I was thinking about taking a step back and go analog. Getting some good old film into my Hasselblad. I quickly came to the realization I do not have an analog Hasselblad at my disposal. And even if I had to, I would most probably get frustrated with the analog process of not having instant validation on the digital big screen. For those of you who are wondering what Hasselblad had to do with the moon landing, have a look at this beautiful page over at their website.

A selfie with a Hasselblad (*)

LEGO Space

And while I was contemplating how to get this set on the wet plate, Pink from Benny’s Space Squad came over and had to take some quick snapshots. After all, this felt for her like going back in time. A nostalgic moment she learned everything about in the Space Academy. And while she liked the gold touch on the helmets of these iconic men, she felt much more comfortable in her pink space suit.

Pink (**) is getting some snapshots from the Eagle.

The Golden Van Allen Belt

The Eagle has quite a few golden parts on it. When looking at them I thought that these golden parts were there to protect against space radiation. And while I ultimately was wrong in my assumption(*’), they brought me to the idea of shooting the set with a different kind of camera. An X-Ray camera.

Not the one used in space guns, but the ones used in Hospitals and Airports around the world to see through the plastic with a different lens. And so I sent the Lunar model for an X-Ray check up with my co-conspirator and operator of big cameras, and the result was special. Very special. Feel free to maximize the video below.

The Eagle for sure had landed.

(*’) The golden parts on the Eagle are not there to protect against space radiation but against the heat of the sun. Technically that is also radiation, but I was more thinking about the evil Van Allen Radiation Belt. The golden foil is actually Kapton multi-layer insulation blankets, and they act as a heat barrier to sunlight.

Worth buying?

Well, every LEGO set is worth buying of course, but this one is special and makes a perfect gift for the upcoming Father’s day (Mother’s day just happened in most countries so you were too late to get it for that occasion, but of course you can still gift it as a late present). The Eagle won’t break the bank as much as the iconic Porsche or Bugatti (another Father’s day present). It sells for a comfortable 89 EUR at the local LEGO store in Hamburg (Stefan, just in case if you want to land in the Fish Market).

The set is great fun to build and packed with nostalgic memories to a time when landing on the moon looked so easy. And with it’s grey and gold Kaplan-like color scheme it nicely fits in any library or office space and it won’t take up too much space.

And for those who are into collectibles, the LEGO stores around the world have a unique LEGO NASA patch available. Limited editions I was told.

Please note that Pink (**) and Hasselblad (*) are not included in this set.
They were added by yours truly as part of the creative review process.
TLG provided the set for review and picture taking.

Looking for Uncle Scrooge

For the Disney II minifigs review, I chose Huey, Dewey and Louie Duck and Uncle Scrooge as they have so much potential to tell stories. Also, they were my favorite characters from Donald books when I was a kid.

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75180 The Upside Down – A Review

Something Strange This Way Comes

Boom! The rumours could be heard here and there- and recently all over the place. Last night rumours became reality, when the new LEGO set 75180 The Upside Down was released exclusively in London´s Leicester Square LEGO store with a release event. Time for us to have a closer look at the set and the story it tells.

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