Week 17 – Ching Shih

For many of you, Ching Shih might be among the most obscure human beings on our list.

The Pirate Woman

Ching Shih is a Chinese pirate woman who terrorized the seas of China in the early 19th century. She can be considered as the most successful pirate ever. Not only she commanded the biggest pirate crew, but she also died as a free old woman.

My Elvish Ching Shih

She started her life as a prostitute but married a pirate at the age of 26. Together, they gathered one of the largest pirate fleets in China, which she eventually led on her own following the death of her husband. She resisted Qing (Chinese), Portuguese and British governments. Upon her defeat in 1809, she surrendered and managed to stay a free woman until her death in 1844 at the age of 69.

Why Ching Shih?

When we made our list of human beings for SiPgoes53, we tried to include as many women as possible. Still, after our initial list, we had quite more men than women. None of us knew who was Ching Shih. She came through a list of influential historical women and was a perfect fit for SiPgoes53.

Piracy

For me, Ching Shih is a character of importance because she is a pirate. Pirates always fascinated me in many ways.

This one is still among my all-time favorite photos ever taken.

First, romanticized piracy is one of my favorite source of inspiration for toy photography. It means adventure and freedom. But part of that romanticized view as also some interesting historical root of importance. Indeed, pirate crews from the golden age of piracy often worked in a more democratic way than any of the European countries did back then.

My pirates are pacifists. Plundering a city means wandering around on a bike holding fruits and vegetables.

But piracy is in many ways a form of non-legal violence that has been common throughout the history of civilization. Piracy has existed since civilization has been sailings seas and oceans. While it usually ends being punished by governments, it has also been tolerated and used by the same governments.

In particular during the golden age of piracy, privateering was nothing else than legalized piracy used by a colonial empire over another. It didn’t happen only in the Caribbean though. Both Christians and Muslims used piracy in the Mediterranean as a way of continuing the holy wars throughout the 16th century. And war in itself is nothing else than large scale piracy conducted either on land or sea.

My Elvish team of Pirates, trapped on a sea of ice on their quest to Magnetic North.

So to me, piracy is also a reminder of the terrible (legalized) violence on which western civilizations are based upon, including our modern one.

Elsa and Anna

Anticipating the release of the new Disney characters, the amazing guys at LEGO and Stuck in Plastic have managed to ship them out across the globe ready for us to capture them and write up our little toy review.

So I received Anna and Elsa, possibly Disney’s most popular characters. I am sure they will be a massive favourite addition to every Disney fans’ LEGO collection.  Prior to receiving the girls, I noticed that Maëlick had created some amazing images, just how can I match his images. He had Olaf to top it off, plus real snow.

I have neither real snow or an Olaf. But then I remembered years ago buying my kids a tube of magic snow that needed water adding. So I set out to make snow, yep make snow, and boy did I make a lot hahahaha. For my background, I used an image that I took in Alaska… 23 years ago! And here are the results.

As for the characters, they are really lovely Anna comes with a double pale face so you can have her winking or eyes open, her face has a few little cute freckles. She carries a lantern (which will come in handy when I shoot Florence Nightingale for SIPgoes53 wink! wink!) She wears the classic Anna outfit with the recognisable colours and has a lovely shade of red hair.

Elsa also has a double face, no freckles, and beautiful yellow hair. The detail in the hair is really well thought of.  She also carries a blue snowflake and wears a cape with snowflake details.  Her dress is really pretty and has the typical design from the movie.

The Frozen sequel will be released in November and I expect it to be darker and more sinister than the original film. Nevertheless, I am sure it will be a box office hit, as are these LEGO minifigures.

Beverley

Week 16 – Einstein

Albert Einstein… Is it really needed to present (the one who’s probably) the most famous scientist? If so, here’s a brief insight into his life.

The Scientist

Einstein was a theoretical physicist who revolutionized physics with the theory of relativity. One of Einstein’s goals or dreams was to have a single scientific theory that could explain all physical phenomenon. In particular, at the beginning of the century, classical physical laws couldn’t explain a recently discovered phenomenon: electromagnetism.

This is what led him to state the theories of special and general relativity which reconciled Maxwell equations (electromagnetism) and classical Newtonian mechanics.

It is quite a coincidence that the first image of a black hole was revealed last week… Indeed, the idea for the existence of black holes roots in Einstein’s theory of relativity. (Credit: Event Horizon Telescope, CC BY 3.0)

For much of his life, Einstein dreamed and tried to find a way to unify physical laws. Although known from the general public as a genius, he often ignored new theories and was laughed at by mainstream physicists. He never managed to find said a theory. Nowadays, finding a theory that explains everything is still the major challenge in theoretical physics.

The activist

What inspires me most about Einstein is not his impressive scientific career, but his strong opposition to war. Indeed, as a pacifist, he abandoned his German nationality for Swiss to avoid military service. He signed a counter-manifesto to the one written by 93 German scientists who supported World War 1. While he opposed German war aspirations before the WW1, he also protested against the Allies spoil of wars after 1918 and worked in order to repair relationships between France and Germany.

As a jew, he emigrated from Germany to the US shortly before the Nazis rose to power. While he signed the letter advising the USA to develop the atomic bomb, as he feared the danger of the Nazis doing it first, he later regretted it. He campaigned against the use of weapons of mass destruction, eventually signing before his death a letter that would lead to the creation of an organization seeking to reduce their threats.

Throwing back a photo from SiPgoes52 about Harmony, that also matches the pacifist theme of this week.

If you’re in to show us your vision of this famous man, be sure to tag your photos with #SiP_Albert_Einstein on social media.

SiP goes Denmark- The Agenda

The Story So Far

As most of you know, this year toy photo safari will take us to Denmark. Between the 27th and 30th of June we are going to spend some happy times taking pictures, laughing and creating memories with old and new friends alike. And finally we can share the detailed agenda with all of you. Including the final registration form that we want you all to complete. But first things first: the agenda.

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Knabbel & Babbel

Chip & Dale are cartoon characters created at Walt Disney Productions by Bill Justice.

Origins

First meeting… with Pluto! Walt Disney made many short films in the army during the Second World War. Private Pluto from April 1943 is one of them. As a guard dog, Pluto must guard a small bunker. And by chance two squirrels use that bunker as a storage place. It is the first performance by Chip and Dale.

Continue reading “Knabbel & Babbel”

SiPgoes53 – The March Recap

March is over and spring is on its way. Last month we explored Elon Musk, the woman of your choice, Bjarke Ingels, Hedy Lamarr, and Socrates. It’s time to look at your entries that caught our eyes on Instagram.

(If you want to join in the SiP goes 53 series you can still join at your own pace and leisure. Just tag along and creatively explore our handpicked 52 humans. One every week.)

Continue reading “SiPgoes53 – The March Recap”

Disney Magic

I’m almost ashamed that a few weeks ago I wrote about how I was tired of pop culture. Yet I have to admit that I’ve been pretty excited just thinking about the upcoming Disney movie releases. The live action version of Aladdin, the remake of the Lion King, Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2.

I’m a huge Disney fan. Needless to say that for me, Disney nostalgia goes hand in hand with toy photography. I grew up in the 90s and the Disney animation movies from the second Disney golden age had a strong influence on me.

After the first Disney CMF series, I thought we would soon get a second one… But it didn’t happen. When the new series was announced, I was truly thrilled. And excited when I saw that some of my favorite characters were part of the series.

But before writing about those characters, I have to finish a work in progress project that was started in December.

Continue reading “Disney Magic”

Week 15 – Simone de Beauvoir

After exploring Socrates two weeks ago, this week we’re looking at another philosopher. This time though, she’s quite the opposite of Socrates (and not because she’s a woman).

Indeed, while Socrates is known as the founder of western philosophy, Simone Bertrand de Beauvoir is known for being a key figure of existentialism, a modern way of thinking, sitting at the top of the evolution of western philosophy.

A Philosopher, A Teacher

De Beauvoir, originally a teacher, never considered herself a philosopher. Even though some assume that she developed the ideas of Jean-Paul Sartre who she met while studying in Paris. The two shared a lifelong relationship.

A Feminist

She wrote many novels, essays and biographies dealing with either politics, philosophy or social issues. Still, for many Simone de Beauvoir will be a key personality for the feminist movement. In 1949 de Beauvoir published a treatise called “The Second Sex”. Today this is known to be the works that started the sex-gender distinction. Before that, the the role of women were defined historically and by society. She wanted women to be free of this role-thinking and to become independent and self-determined.

This And More

But only reducing her life to being a writer, a philosopher or a feminist wouldn’t be enough. She also wrote many travel diaries from the U.S.A, China, Cuba or Italy. She was also a founder and editor of the political magazine Les Temps Moderne.

SiPgoes53

As often the human beings we explore have multiple facets that can lead images. Here again, Simone de Beauvoir can be explored through different angles. Either as a simple human being with a personal life, or through her own achievements and the impact they had on modern society. Which one will you choose?

The Disney Minifigures Series II

When TLG asked us whether we were interested in reviewing the new LEGO Disney Minifigures series 2 we did not had to think hard or long. We shouted almost instantly to Niels (not Holgersson) YES!
Count us in!
We love minifigures!
We love series!
And we do love Walt, too.

The unboxing

We got the package and started the unboxing process. It took us exactly 40 seconds to get everything unpacked.

We were that excited.

The Review.

And then it was time to get creative. Who was going to review these beauties? We asked our regulars, and they all said yes. And then we asked you on IG and you all shouted yes as well.

Right about now we have got sixteen creative reviewers signed up. So we are slightly overwhelmed and stoked at the same time. 16. One Six. That is a lot of reviews coming your way in April. Better fasten your seat belt and relax while we´re get this roadshow on the tracks. But before we get you all hooked up in the creativity of Natasja and Lukas, to just name a few, we would like to introduce to you our main characters.
The heroes and heroines of this series.
Shot without too much creativity.
Straight from the box before they jumped into their travel bag and on to their creative reviewer´s destinations.

Mickey and Minnie

Mickey and Minnie are right there

They are very similar to the Steamboat Willy set, yet different. They are not silverish. But you have a fair chance of picking up M&M as there are four of each in each box. And Mickey comes with a steering wheel while Minnie give us photographers an extra hat.
How cool is that?

The Duck Tales Gang

One happy colorful gang

The most exclusives of this series. Only two full sets of the ducklings are included in each box and you all wanted them. It is a pity that the legs are not the bendable type, but I am sure we will still have fun with Louie, Dewey and Huey.

Chip and Dale

The Chippendales …

For sure these are the party animals of this collection. A lot of you wanted to review these strippers (while at the same time I am missing my favorite Disney childhood character Pluto. He makes it here in Sweden every year to the Christmas Carol together with these two).
The good news is that there are four of each.
So lots of mischief is coming our ways with their short, brown, movable legs.

And there is much more Disney awesomeness after the break

Week 14 – Robin Williams

For the first week of April, our human being is Robin Williams. Comedian and actor, he has played in many iconic films.

The comedian

He started as a stand-up comedian in the Bay Area during the 70s. Then began performing on TV and in movies in the 80s. It’s with Good Morning Vietnam, for which he got a nomination for Academy Award for Best Actor, that he became a renown actor. He won and got nominations to the Academy Awards for many of his appearances in movies in the next years. Dead Poets Society, The Fisher King, Good Will Hunting.

Other well-known roles in Hollywood blockbusters include Mrs. Doubtfire, Jumanji, Flubber, the Bicentennial Man or Night at the Museum.

Besides his career as a standup comedian and an actor in live-action movies, he also performed as a voice for animated characters. Most notably, he is the iconic voice of Aladdin‘s Genie. He also gave his voice to the robot of one former attraction at Disneyland, the Timekeeper.

The man

Besides being an incredible comedian, Robin Williams also had a life with struggles. Before becoming a movie star, he developed an addiction to cocaine. Following the trauma of the death of John Belushi from an overdose, Williams decided to stop drugs. He started cycling and developed a passion for it. Later he admitted it saved him.

However, in the 2000s, he started drinking again. He was also someone suffering from severe depression which led him to end his life in 2014.

Robin Williams in SiPgoes53

To me, Robin Williams is one of those iconic actors from the 90s. It’s one of the persons on our list that yells “nostalgia” at me. As much as I love Dead Poets Society (try to not cry before the end of the movie), if I had to choose a single of Robin Williams’ roles for toy photography, it would be Hook.

Directed by Spielberg (another human being of SiPgoes53), the film act as a sequel to Peter Pan. Williams portraits an adult version of Peter who has forgotten about his past life, is married, work and has children. However, he has to go back to Neverland to save his children kidnapped by Captain Hook, portrayed by another fabulous actor, Dustin Hoffman. A wonderful critique of adult life and a story about how much we need to keep our inner child alive.

In addition to the great cast (which also includes fabulous actors such as Julia Roberts, Bob Hoskins, and Maggie Smith) and a beautiful soundtrack (composed by no one else than John Williams), the movie is visually stunning. It has that kind of atmosphere screaming “Adventure!” that makes me want to play with my toys in front of a camera.

But what will you create this week? Will you also take inspiration from one of Williams’ roles? Or maybe the more serious aspects of his life? Or you will look for something more remote, like the name of his daughter inspired by a famous video game princess?

In any case, don’t forget to tag your photos on social media with #SiPgoes53 and #SiP_Robin_Williams!