Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lord of the Rings Battle of Pelennor Fields

One of my favorite scenes in the Lord of the Rings' Return of the King was the epic battle of Pelennor Fields and the city of Minnis Tirith. The best part was when the army of the dead showed up and massacred the bad guys. Also, when Eowyn destroyed the Morgul Witch with the help of Merry. The Lord of the Rings action figures from Toy Biz were so well detailed. I really had fun with this one, including sprinkling dried grass on the field and scattering weapons and arrows throughout the scene, just like a real battlefield.

Northern Virginia GI Joe Club Diorama

There are G.I. Joe collector's clubs all over the world. I happened to discover one in Northern Virginia where I live. Back in 2006, a bunch of us gathered our collections at a rural farmhouse and set up a World War II battle diorama which consisted of over 1000s figures and over 100 vehicles. Additional diorama elements included a full scale village, bridges and guard gate.

Forget the gentleman that set this portion up, but the marching column of US soldiers was fantastic. Once again, it fell right into the many soldiers wearing the same uniform makes for a challenging jigsaw puzzle.


I was always a big fan of the Jawas in Star Wars...not sure why. I was always bummed growing up that Kenner didn't come out with a Sandcrawler. Well, Hasbro manufactured one in 2004. It was awesome. I had a large collection of the new Jawas that were released since 1997. Also stocked up on some cloth robed vintage ones from the 70s. Added a very large collection of R2 units from over the years, and once again hid a few "interesting" objects into the mix.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Eisenhower and the 101st Airborne Before D-Day

My second diorama was based on the famous pre-D-Day invasion photo of General Eisenhower speaking with paratroopers prior to the Normandy Invasion. Eisenhower was a figure offered by Hasbro in the early 2000s. I purchased a case of 21st Century - Ultimate Soldier 101st paratrooper uniforms to get a good number of troops in the right uniform. Once again, the idea of several soldiers in the same uniform made sense to be used as a jigsaw puzzle


Marvel Legends Character Ensemble

Using about 50 of the current figures (2006) along with four Build-A-Figure (BAF) Sentinels and one BAF Apocalypse, the arrangement was a standard cast of characters set up on the marble counter with a background painting I had done for another project. Using a few pieces of thin lumber to build some stairs so more figures could be visible, it was all a matter of standing up the figures. I tried to put some humorous actions into the photo. Iceman and the Human Torch with their arms around each other. Nightcrawler hanging off a sentinels head. Spiderman sitting on the shoulders of a Sentinel. Black Widow sitting on Ghost Riders lap on his motorcycle. Overall, a fun first project. Grabbed a few old ToyBiz figures as well who had not been done in the Marvel Legends line for some added fun.

The Idea Simmers

Over the next year or so, I would spend some time during weekends here and there, building fairly crude dioramas. Sand is a great canvas to build action figure dioramas. I also "had" a grass back yard...another story to tell later. So I could build a variety of diorama settings with grass and sand. I had a lot of fun setting up the dioramas, placing the figures in the right poses, and firing away with my camera. I always had three hobbies...photography, toys, and military history. Being a veteran also helped. So I started snapping away whenever time permitted.

So having fun, and getting good feedback from friends and family, I wondered how I could share and even sell my photos. Who is going to buy a photo you can publish on a website? Could I frame them and sell them that way? Sleepless nights finally provided an answer...jigsaw puzzles. The idea made sense. Photos of armies typically have many soldiers in the same uniform so if placed together in a photo, it would be a fun puzzle to make. Or the number of characters could make for an interesting puzzle.

With that, the first photo shoot to be turned into a puzzle was using Hasbro's Marvel Legends line.

How It All Started

I have collected toys and action figures for a long time. I rarely kept them "in the box" for investment purposes. My childhood was filled with battles of Star Wars figures and G.I. Joes. Having spent 10 years in the Army, and having finally settled down, I was home alone in my new house one Saturday when I decided to build a D-Day diorama in the background. I had probably just seen Saving Private Ryan for the 100th time. Anyway, I grabbed some Normandy Rangers and some figures of the 29th Infantry Division. This was the first one, with many more to come afterward. Nothing terribly great about this, just liked the close up of the concertina barb wire.