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First Look: “Unboxed: The Art of Action Figure Photography”

Mike J. Marin’s short film documentary starts with a black screen and the words, “They’re not toys! They’re collectibles!” and attributes the quote to “every action figure collector.”

“Unboxed: The Art of Action Figure Photography” chronicles the passion and dedication of the not totally new but definitely growing art form of action figure photography. It is presented by “Real Talk Junkies Films” with “Stuck In The Damn Crib Productions”.

Like many of us, looking through the Sears Christmas Catalog and the memories of visiting KB Toys and the “church” of Toys R Us are his favorite memories. Mike talks about the next level of “bounty hunting” at local toys stores that have become our favorite spots, places where you are known and the owners know what you are looking for.

For Mike, Quake Collectibles in Chicago, IL is one of those places. He knows that online ordering is fine but cannot beat the feeling of going out and finding that rare gem.

He also understands that all collectors love showing off their toys, but for a certain few, the ranks that take action figure photography seriously, they use it as an art form…

The right poses, lighting and angles mixed with editing take an action figure and can make it look like something Alex Ross painted. It can be very time consuming, but with the right medium and the right artist, the final product can be something that stands up with any piece of fine art hanging in a gallery.

“You got to capture that detail just right, to get the picture how you imagined it…”

The film explores some amazing work by toy photographers using superheroes, Star Wars, and movie characters but what Mike J. Marin really enjoys capturing is horror. The independent film maker loves horror movies and it shows in his work. “I like to make single frame stories” says Mike while explaining that he like to put different movie characters into the same universe. Over his narration pictures flow across the screen including a shot where the Ghostbusters find Face-Hugger Aliens.

Mike explains in his film that Star Wars figure photography can transport you to the world you wanted to visit as a kid. Detailed planning, setups with lighting, and the patience to get that perfect shot can lead to an image that captures action and mood almost unparalleled in traditional art.

“there is no limit to pretend, the universe is the limit”

In some ways, it is reminiscent of what Phil Tippet did with movies like Star Wars and RoboCop. In the 1970’s and 80’s, many larger than life special effect scenes where made with highly detailed models and the most expensive cameras while kids at home had the original Star Wars figures and maybe a 35mm point and shoot or a polaroid camera. Today, NECA, Marvel Legends, Star Wars Black Series and an iPhone will wield amazing results. Not to mention the artists who work with SideShow Collectibles figures and DSLRs.

Action Figure Photography in general and as an art form is just another way that the toy community continues to grow and support each other. This film does a great job of standing up and showing off that support and the comradery that the artist’s show for one another.

I asked Mike if he knew of any art galleries that have held events showcasing action figure art. He says he has not yet been approached to participate in something like that and I think it is only a matter of time until we see some toy art exhibitions, maybe around comic-cons in the near future.

“These images speak for themselves” 

If you want to learn about the time and skill that goes into the art form of action figure photography, then keep an eye out for “Unboxed: The Art of Action Figure Photography”. It is currently making its way around the film festival circuit and will be released to the public soon. Be sure to watch Mike J. Marin’s Instagram account for updates. @theboneyardcollectibles

“Unboxed: The Art of Action Figure Photography” features work by…

Andrew Rombach @the_plastic_dojo

Darrell Butler @nomads_action_figures

Ed Gonzo @ectogonzo

Edward S. Guidos @toy_journalist_

Fancy Mark @fancy_mark

Gerald Genier @skullified___

Gilles Hemmerle @gil_toyphotography

Greg Carter @gregcarter

Ian Kadleck @kflash900

Karl Loiuse Regalado @baron_creamo

Kwame DeRoche @poptoyphotos

Martin Hoffman @balweis_toys

Matt Hicks @houstonhicks

Matthew Aricgon @aricgon_afp

Michael Berube @invadermoz

Patrick Salisch @bespin_tibanna_gas_corp

Petey Paul @thekoolkidstoys

Richard Ledesma @g1raised

Robert Rameshwar @opt975

Ron Hatfield @galactic_basic

Scott Short @scottjoker95

Theo Vallejo @thezissou

Will Thomason

We at The Toy Store Guide join Mike J. Marin in hoping that people begin and continue to use toys as their art medium to showcase their talent as well as their collections.

Article by: @toydelorean on Instagram

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