Behind the scenes with FathersFigures

Your Photo is fantastic - how did you get into toy photography?

I started taking pictures of toys in 2012 as a means of story telling and connecting with other genre fans on Instagram. I joined Instagram about the same time as I started collecting toys again, so it felt natural as something to share online.

What does this assignment mean to you as a fan, especially now that the original Star Wars saga is reaching its conclusion?

My photography has been a great outlet to share my love for all the stories and characters I'm a fan of, but Star Wars will always be my number one. When the Black Series began in 2013 it solidified my love for toy photography and is still my favorite to shoot. Each time I'm asked to collaborate with Hasbro it's an incredible honor to add that to my own Star Wars story. The original saga may be ending, but Star Wars will be with us forever.

What’s the inspiration behind this shot—why was it important for you to recreate this particular scene?

I'm a Star Wars fan who loves the prequel trilogy. The Phantom Menace introduced me to my new favorite Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn. As the trilogy went on, we were shown how wise Qui-Gon was. If the Jedi Council had listened to him and the living Force, they may have been able to overcome Darth Sidious. Qui-Gon was the first Jedi to face a Sith in a millennia. I wanted my shot to recreate this symbolic confrontation.



When Episode 7 was announced it blew my mind. We all thought the saga was over, but now three more movies were on the way. Unlike the prequel trilogy where we knew it would be about the fall of Anakin and the Jedi, we had no idea what these stories might bring!

It was a lot of fun at the time to create images and scenes based on just the tone that was suggested by the teaser trailers.

~ David Valdez

Walk us through the steps involved in recreating the scene.

For the battle on Tatooine, I needed natural light. Unfortunately this fall in Minnesota has been overly gloomy and the only sunny day I had time to shoot was quite windy. Wind is one of the greatest foes of any outdoor toy photo shoot.

I knew I would use a long lens (100mm) for the shot so the set of the Tatooine desert wouldn't need to be too large. I have a baking sheet full of sand on standby for just such a shot. The distant sand dunes were made from some cardboard I cut and placed on top of a blue poster board for the sky. These had to be clamped to a table I stood up since the wind was strong. When standing a figure in sand, the feet tend to sink too deep. It was hard to get figures to look like they were standing naturally on the sand until I invented my own way. I cut 3"x 3" acrylic sheets and drilled small holes for wires. The wire can loop through and over a figure's foot and twisted tightly below. This also works well for keeping the wind from blowing a figure over.

Again, because of the wind any normal bounce board I might use for added light would have blow away, so I brought out a white trash can and set it opposite the sunlight. It worked great.
The figure didn't come with the poncho we see Qui-Gon wearing on Tatooine, so I made a simple one for the shot out of some scrap fabric. When using cloth on a figure that size, it seems to billow unnaturally. I figured out that spraying the cloth with a little water helps to weigh it down for a more natural draping look.

For some extra depth and authenticity to the shot I added the Micro Machine Naboo Cruiser which rescues Qui-Gon in the movie. It was set on a wire in the background for some forced perspective. I also used a can of compressed air to kick up some sand for a dramatic flair. The lightsaber effects were added in Photoshop where I also removed the wire holding the Naboo Cruiser.

Are there any Easter Eggs or surprises in this shot that fans might miss?

The only Easter Egg might be the Naboo Cruiser flying in for the rescue. The focus field is really narrow in the shot (f1:2.8) so it's hard to make out exactly what it is, but anyone who's seen the scene should know.

What do you hope this photo conveys to fans?

I hope my shot evokes the same sense of fantastical adventure I feel when watching any Star Wars film.Thanks again for the opportunity!

Many thanks to David for his passion and fantastic work on this project.

This is Part 4 of an 8-part #HasbroToyPic/Star Wars series covering the epic battles of the Star Wars saga.