There are certain themes and characters that the toy photographer on a budget simply cannot get his hands on. Sometimes because the only available example is made by one of the higher end manufacturers like Hot Toys or Sideshow who put out undoubtedly fantastic pieces, but are just a little too pricey for my pocket. Others just don’t seam to be available full stop – whether they are too specific or niche to attract a big enough audience I don’t know, but either way an articulated action figure is off the table for some of my favourite characters from some of my favourite franchises.
Never fear though. Funko have you covered.
Now, I don’t need to tell you who Funko are or what they produce. Anyone with even the slightest interest in toys or toy photography have at least hear of their Pop Vinyl range, with the more ‘invested’ fan being aware of their other lines such as the fantastic Vinyl Idols or their ingenious mash ups with the likes of Playmobil.
From my perspective as a photographer, the Pop Vinyls create a bit of a paradox: they look fantastic in the flesh (…or plastic), but how to create something dramatic and eye catching using them. They have no articulation other than the head twist. They very really come with any sort of removable accessory.
As you’ve probably realised by now from reading any of my other posts or visiting my IG account (@markwalkerphoto), my style of indoor and studio photography tends to be more low key, using shadows and at times quite harsh lighting to create the overall effect. By using this on the Funko Pops it is more than possible to capture drama and highlight the detail that goes into each one.
The joy in shooting these little guys comes then from finding new ways and techniques to light and position them. The shot becomes as much about the setting as the subject as by creating a little world around the model, the in-action figure has new life breathed into it. Something as simple as a twist of the head can create emotion and drama. By including two or more Pops with some dropped out of focus behind (as in the Sherlock shot above) this too creates the illusion of reality that toy photography can be about.
My local Comic Book shop sells the Pop Vinyl figures at £12 each which really isn’t bank breaking and with characters from pretty much any and every franchise out there from the geeky with lines from Star Wars, Marvel, Rick and Morty and Doctor Who to the cult with characters from The Big Labowski, Adventure Time and even The Golden Girls appearing in Pop form theres something for everyone.
Do you collect and photograph Pop Vinyl or any of the other Funko lines? I know there are a lot of beautiful IG accounts full of nothing but Pops in some great soft settings, using books and other house hold objects to set the scenes so go and check them out if you’re interested or fancy a challenge.
Keep photographing and have fun! – Mark