Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Book Review- insight: Photography & Dioramas by Gianni Lopergolo

My Favorite Christmas Present for 2009!

I saw this book advertised several months ago and was very impressed by the images that Hasbro had on their website. The pictures were very impressive and beautifully crafted. This book speaks to the amateur and the professional photographer.

I'm a member of Joedios.com and frequently post my brave attempts at diorama photography, but my work is far below Lopergolo's work. There are some wonderfully skilled photographers on Joedios and all of the members can learn someting from the book.

The author of Insight, Gianni Lopergolo, offers much advice on how he created these wonderful images and shares some clever tips and tricks for his pictures.

Insight is much more than a book on diorama photography. Lopergolo has been living with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease) for three years and chronicles some of his struggle with ALS. His writing is poignant, uplifting and inspirational. This book will inspire you at what ever your photographic skill level is.

Even more importantly, this book will inspire you as a person. I highly recommend this book to toy fans, photographers, heck - I recommend this book to everyone!

While it would be wonderful to share all the pictures with everyone, I will not do that. Instead, buy the book! But I do want to share some of my personal favorite pictures from Insight.

The pictures in the book cover G.I. Joe (12", 8" & 3 3/4"), Star Wars, Marvel figures, and even Action Man! I'm just a little biased toward Joe figures, so that's what I will be reviewing.

The first three are from the 2005 Bravo Collection of the 12" G.I. Joe line. These figures must have been planned just prior to the cancellation of the 12" line. Horrible, horrible shame! These three figures are amazing! I would have easily bought at least two of each!

Advanced Land Soldier - 2025
Excellent picture!

Advanced Land Adventurer - 2010
Amazing stuff!

Future Ops Code Breaker
The scenery in Lopergolo's sets is just amazing!

Desert Wolf from the Sigma Six line. No digital effects! Compressed air creates the gunshot blasts.

Marine Leatherneck from Sigma Six.

An unreleased 12" Baroness figure from 2002. Why, Hasbro, why? Amazing figure! I would have definitely bought this figure!

Postcard to Home.
Beautiful set up of the 40th Anniversary line.
There are several pictures from the 40th line that are just amazing.

The 3 3/4" line gets some love, too. Looks like a promotional picture for the DTC line. Really cool picture!

The Smokescreen Transport. Did this ever come out? I don't know. The amazing part of this picture is what Lopergolo used to set the scene - very surprising, very innovative!

The Sea, Air & Land 8" set (TRU exclusive) captured wonderfully.

Again, I highly recommend this book. It is an amazing look at some wonderful pictures showcasing the work of Gianni Lopergolo.

Make the investment, add this book to your personal collection, be inspired to seek to improve your own skills as a photographer. And most importantly, be inspired in life.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Set Building with LEGO

Who would have thought that LEGO would make a great set for using with GI Joe figures? The round pegs on the top of the bricks are just a dead give-away and just don't look good with the Joes.

Here are a few shots of a set that I built with LEGO and used with some of my troops.

Duke gets ready, his only way out blocked by Cobra troopers.

A side view of the previous shot, showing the length of the hall.

Helix gets in on the fun, ready to clear the hall and make her escape.

Here is a shot from the weekend Joedios.com Fatalities Theme. Duke put up a good fight, but he's not going to make it through this mission.

Here is a brief tutorial on how I made the set. Shouldn't it just be a simple process of throwing some bricks together? Yeah, it is, but I thought I'd go into a little more detail. You have to remember the principle for basic Lego construction. I learned this lesson when I was very young. Bricks must always be over lapped, just like in real world construction. If bricks are stacked in columns side-by-side, there is an inherent weakness to the structure. Any wall made of bricks is done by overlapping them The structure of the wall just becomes much more solid.

The first step was to build the wall. I had a bunch of plain bricks and just decided to build a wall as a background for pictures. It's really surprising how many bricks get used when building something as simple as a wall. The objective is to get the wall tall enough to be somewhat appropriate in relation to the height of a figure. I didn't have enough white bricks to make a solid white wall, so I added the red and black highlights. I could have probably had just a solid red area, but I thought that the single black bricks acted as a way to break up the continual red bricks.

A picture to give an idea of the height of the wall. It could be a little taller, but I decided that this would be a corridor in a sub-basement somewhere.

This angle shows the side that will form the corner of the hallway.

A look at the roof panel. I used seven 8 x 16 x1 base plates and used the red flat strips to secure them.

I added various detailing on the underside just to give the hall a utilitarian look. I used various Technic pieces as pipes and valves. I think a proper term would be "greebles". 

Duke and Helix show off the wall and the roof. I added a column for support. The steps of construction for this project began with the wall, moving on to the roof. I think that the wall may have been a bit taller, but once I built the roof, I knew that I needed a support column and sacrificed some of the original height of the roof in order to add the column.

This is a back wall that will serve as the other side of the hall. I didn't have enough of the other type of bricks to use and I thought that the blue beams with the holes could add some interesting lighting effects. This is also considered as a temporary wall; it can be removed for side shots of the hall.

A look at the fully assembled set with all walls attached. See all the greebles? Pipes, vents, conduits - I don't know what they are - just extra added detailing.

Helix stands by the corner support column while Duke waves from the back of the hall.

Another view from the side to give you an idea of different photographic angles. In general, Lego would not always make a great set piece for use with action figures, primarily because of the round pegs at the tops of each brick. I designed and built this with the idea that nearly all of the pegs would be covered up once construction was complete.

This was a fun little project and one that I would love to replicate on a much larger scale. I can imagine Lego's would serve as a great medium for building the walls of any secret military installation!