I've been loving shooting these vintage toys and I plan to shoot many more! I've always tried to create theatrical and dramatic settings in unusual places through the use of my lighting, especially in the Alleys & Ruins and Glam Bugs series, and this project is a continuation of that.
If you missed the first three toys I shot, they are in my Light Paintings series.
These vintage toys are in mint condition and highly treasured by collectors. Lighting each toy for the photograph requires many days or weeks of preparation and execution with various lights and colored gels to create the realism - yet surrealism - I am trying to balance. Scroll down to see me in action.
Robby the Robot, 1956
Robby the Robot became a sci-fi icon after the release of the legendary 1956 film Forbidden Planet. He was the first movie robot to have a personality and a moral code and appeared in numerous movies and TV shows afterward. Having him in my studio for a month was a delight! The setting in my photograph doesn't really reflect any that he was ever in - it is imagined by me, although the Robby Space Patrol vehicle was used just in Forbidden Planet.
Creating realism was vital - and fun - and required a little thought. Since Robby is not actually on another planet, the only thing visible through the rubber parabolics was my studio. I had to bring up the misty scene on my phone and place it back there over a long exposure.
Arctic Tracker c. 1960
Many of the great vintage tin toys of the 1950s and 60s were made by Japanese toy manufacturer, Bandai. The company got its start creating toys like the one above for Western markets like the US. Most of the toys were modeled after real vehicles or pop cultural characters, but some, like the Arctic Missile Tracking Car were pure fantasy.
Snow! courtesy of baking powder and white hair conditioner...
The toys are shot in roughly the same way as the Light Painting and Alleys & Ruins images....long exposures while I light various parts of the scenes. I have numerous kinds of lights: strobes, flash, LED and halogen flashlights and spotlights, plus colored gels to create the exact quality of light I want.