Around the world in 90 minutes

You may remember back in July 2019, the image I created of the Apollo 11 Lunar Lander appeared on LEGO social media. The good folks from Billund have now sent me the not yet released 21321 LEGO Ideas International Space Station to review in preparation for the official launch at the beginning of February.

The International Space Station

For those of you who do not know what to expect, here are three interesting facts about the ISS:
1. It is one of the largest single structures that mankind has ever put into space.
2. The space station was taken into space piece by piece and gradually built in orbit.
3. The ISS circles the globe every 90 minutes at a speed of 17,500 mph.

I really did not know what to expect when I said yes to reviewing this set. I knew it would either be something else or just space junk. Once my son put it together we could see just what I had to work with for producing images for LEGO.

It’s big… And it really has to be if LEGO is going to create a replica model. Indeed, the actual space station including its large solar arrays, spans the area of a US football field. This scaled-down model spans a width of 19 inches (49 cm). The solar panel width span is 12 inches (38 cm) so you are going to need ‘SPACE’ to store it.

The International Space Station

It is fragile, oh boy is it fragile. I would not recommend you purchasing it for children to play with as it will be broken into the tiny little pieces it started off as. It is definitely a display model if you have the ‘SPACE’. The attention to detail makes it like the actual real thing and this set includes eight movable solar panels.

Three are a Team

The ISS generally holds crews of between three and six people who are responsible for science experimentation and maintaining the station. Included in this set are officially two (well actually three) Astronauts. However if you are expecting the usual size mini-figures I will have to disappoint you. These figures are only half an inch high. Nevertheless they add to the scale of the model. In addition as a nice little touch, a little Space Shuttle is also included.

Three Astronauts

The Mission

My mission was to photograph the International Space Station ready for the official release. As a matter of fact, it was a challenging mission. Firstly I needed ‘Space’ and not to mention good lighting. The model reminds me of the size of an old fashioned television aerial, remember them? Secondly, I knew I would have a few hours editing the final images. Nevertheless, the build itself took a few hours and I have created five different images in more time than the ISS circumnavigates the world. (Keep an eye out for the pix, remember to check every 90 minutes).

The question is, would I purchase this set? Personally I do not have the ‘Space’ to display it but if I did, yes I would, simply because I love the idea of this set and what technology can do for our learning experiences. I will never get close to the real International Space Station (ISS). Still this set gives me the opportunity to explore and learn. It allows my perception to envisage just what Space Agencies are achieving. The fact that different nationalities live together in harmony shows that it can be achieved. The team from LEGO Ideas has created something special and again I will say: If you have the ‘Space’ then make this station yours, too.

The Gingerbread House

A few weeks ago, Boris told me about the opportunity to review a LEGO Creator Expert set part of the Amusement Park series. I was a bit surprised as these used to be released in spring, and after the Roller Coaster, I wasn’t expecting something else in that series.

Nevertheless, I decided to accept the challenge. I had no idea what the set was, and was afraid it would be another set too big to easily transport outside. But I thought that if that was the case, then it would force me to take some indoor studio photos for a change.

Fast forward one or two weeks later, I get a shipping notification from our friends at LEGO. Two hours later, once back from work, I see on multiple LEGO news websites the official announcement for the new Creator gingerbread house. So it meant the set that had just been shipped from Billund was actually the gingerbread house.

I was partly disappointed (no new amusement ride for my city) and partly relieved (no struggle finding a place a place for it in the city). I was also partly excited (winter is coming!) and partly scared… It will take a few weeks before the first snow comes here in the North. This meant I had no choice and would have to put my (rusty) indoor photography skills to the test.

Continue reading “The Gingerbread House”

The Best of the LEGO Jurassic World 2019 sets

I went to Denmark with a rather detailed (and long) list of the sets I wanted to buy while visiting the P-Shop. On top of that list, the complete series of new Jurassic World sets. I’ve spent my summer with all of them in my backpack. I even went on a road trip along the coast of Helgeland with them.

One of my first photo with the new Triceratops, taken during our fun challenge #ToyPhotographersDoItBetterTogether on the last day, in collaboration with @gehrkesven.

In this post, I want to share what inspires me photographically in the following sets:

I won’t go into all the details but focus on what I liked to photograph. If you’re looking for a full-fledge review, you can probably find one on Brickset which list both text and video reviews.

Continue reading “The Best of the LEGO Jurassic World 2019 sets”

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.

Continue reading “A Dino in the Park”

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.

Continue reading “Photographing large toys – part 2”

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…)

Continue reading “Photographing large toys – part 1”

Arabian Nights

Last time, my first post about the new Disney minifigures was about relatively new Disney characters. Now it’s time to look at older characters. In particular, the ones from my childhood.

One of my favorite Disney movies, if not my all-time favorite, is Aladdin. Mostly because of its villain who fascinated me during my childhood.

In company of my brother, ready to celebrate carnival some 25 years ago.

Upon the release of the first Disney series, my disappointment was strong to see Aladdin and Genie, but no Jafar. I had no hope to see him as part of a second wave. Yet it happened. (Most likely thanks to the live-action adaptation to be released in a few weeks.)

Continue reading “Arabian Nights”

Where’s my Super Suit?

“You need a new suit, that much is certain.”

Edna Mode
Honey! Where’s my Super Suit?

The Incredibles, a movie painstakingly put together by many animators, editors, and producers. Its attention to detail and realistic animation style give it top scores by all. Just look at how long it took to make the second one, 14 years! With that being said, LEGO spared no expense getting the details right on its two newest Incredibles minifigures: Frozone and Edna Mode.

Continue reading “Where’s my Super Suit?”

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”

Meet Ade

About Me

​I live in the northern English county of Cheshire. I am in my early 40’s and married. I have one grown up step-son and two grandchildren. Currently working for the local National Health Service (NHS) Management Accounts team. Outside of my toy photography, I am a fan of science fiction/fantasy movies and books. Currently working my way through Garth Ennis comics.


I first picked up a camera back in 2012 when coming across David Rupp who had an online photography site. Despite living in the United States we have become close friends. He encouraged me to pick up a camera and over the course of 18 months undertook a project called ‘Across the Pond’. Each week we would have a theme and every Sunday would exchange the pictures we took and comment on them. Despite not being very good, David was a great source of encouragement and helped me develop as a hobby photographer.

Continue reading “Meet Ade”