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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Better Run… Or Get Your Camera Out

The News Is Out

Today the LEGO Group announced some great news for all fans of Jurassic Park AND for toy photographers. Whether you’re into dinosaurs or not, this set will probably be a gem if you like to spend your time taking pics of toys.

The Set

The new set to come, 75936 Jurassic Park: T. rex Rampage,  will not only consist of a fantastic model of a beautiful dinosaur as the Dino will be  accompanied by a giant gate and six minifigures (three of them brand new). Additionally, the gate will be framed by a wall. If you turn this around there will be six rooms that were inspired by movie scenes. That sounds like a whole lotta fun!

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The May Recap

May is over and it’s time for our monthly #SiPgoes53 review. Last month we explored Carrie Fisher, Haruki Murakami, Florence Nightingale, Anton Corbijn, and Leonardo Da Vinci. It’s time to look at your entries that caught our eyes on Instagram.

(If you want to join in the SiPgoes53 series you can still join at your own pace and leisure. Just tag along and creatively explore our handpicked 52 humans. One every week.)

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Week 23 – Christopher Lee

For this week of #SiPgoes53, we’re starting the month of June with another movie celebrity, Christopher Lee.

The actor

Christopher Lee has a cinematic career spanning almost 7 decades. He is best known for his iconic roles as a villain. Most notably, Dracula for the oldest ones, Count Dooku and Saruman for the youngest ones. In addition, he’s also known for playing other villains such as the Creature of Frankenstein, Lord Summerisle, Sir Henry Baskerville or Francisco Scaramanga.

One key feature of Christopher Lee such was his iconic strong deep voice which led him to also to voice acting. I can only recommend listening to the beautiful original poem of the Nightmare Before Christmas he narrated.

Although limited by his age, Christopher Lee continued acting until passing away 4 years ago (on Friday) at the age of 93.

I always ask myself ‘well, what else could I do?’. Making films has never just been a job to me, it is my life. I have some interests outside of acting – I sing and I’ve written books, for instance – but acting is what keeps me going, it’s what I do, it gives life purpose.

Christopher Lee

The singer

To me, Christopher Lee is also of importance for his work as a music singer and narrator, and in particular as the oldest Heavy Metal singer. Having grown up with French dubs of Star Wars and the Lord of the Rings, I actually heard Christopher Lee’s true voice for the first time as a teenager while listening to Rhapsody’s Magic of the Wizard’s Dream.

Following this first collaboration with a Heavy Metal band, he continued to do narration work for Rhapsody. (I can only warmly recommend the wonderful 16-minute long “Mystic Prophecy of the Demon Knight” which ends with Lee’s beautiful narration.) Later he also replaced Orson Welles as the narrator of Manowar’s re-recording of their first album. His last musical appearance was as the narrator on the opening track of Hollywood Vampires, a rock band formed of Alice Cooper, Johnny Depp, and Joe Perry.

But next to these collaborations with existing bands, Christopher Lee also ended up with his own personal project and released two concept albums about Charlemagne. He even became the oldest person to enter the Billboard Hot 100 chart with his heavy metal version of Jingle Bell.

My Elven Charlemagne, inspired by the cheesy but never tiresome video clip of the Bloody Verdict of Verden.

Your image

What will you create for this week? Which aspect, or role, of Christopher’s Lee life will you reuse? Let us know and don’t forget to tag your photos on social media with #SiPgoes53 and #SiP_Christopher_Lee.

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.

Week 22 – Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci, another brilliant mind that is so famous it seems pointless to present him. Yet while his “Mona Lisa” could be the most famous painting in the world, Da Vinci was a lot more than a brilliant painter. Inventor, drawer, writer, sculptor, engineer, mathematician, and so much more. Da Vinci is the ultimate example of someone who was truly interested in anything with a neverending curiosity and imagination.

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