Poe’s Point > PGPoA Needs Your Photos

Reflector (alt mode 1)

Reflector (alt mode 1) by frenzy_rumble, on Flickr

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about how I can generate more reviews for the site, and I’ve struck upon what I think is both a novel and old-fashioned solution.

Taking photos has become the hardest part of working on this blog. There was a time I enjoyed it. But eventually I reached a point where I wasn’t quite happy with the photos I was taking. To take better ones, I’d have to invest in better equipment, and I simply don’t like taking photos enough to do that. I’d rather spend that money on toys to review for you. Beyond that, taking good photos can be almost as time-consuming as writing a good review, and often the process of taking the photos is so enervating my creativity in the review suffers.

This is the untold story of the Great Poe Ennui of 2011. Starting early that year, I began putting off opening toys because I needed to take packaged photos first. Then I started putting off taking packaged photos because I didn’t want to take photos at all. The result is an unprecedented pile of unopened toys, which depressed me, and many unwritten reviews, which dragged on my love for the hobby like a legless zombie. And each new toy made the urge to procrastinate that much worse.

So here’s my solution: I want you to take the photos!

I’ve come up with three methods that could work in tandem:

Method #1: Recruiting photographers who collect certain toy lines for reviews of that line. For example, I’ve already enlisted a photographer for my MOTUC photos (you’ll find out who soon). Right now, the only lines I would love to find photographers for are S.H.MonsterArts and Ultra-Act, as I have a lot of those to review (in a relatively short amount of time, too – again, you’ll find out why soon enough).

Method #2: Making use of the PGPoA Flickr Group contributors and Poesters at large to “crowdsource” photos for reviews. Here’s how it will work: each week, I’ll post the name of an action figure I want photos of for a review, and members can submit their photos of said toy to the group or, if they’re not a Flickr fan, email them to me directly. The following week (or maybe two weeks, if it turns out to be necessary), I’ll choose the best shots and use them in the review, with full credit back to the photographer. Any submitted photos I don’t use will be linked to at the bottom of the review. [Update: On second thought, I think what I’ll do is just maintain a page with a list of all the items I need photos of, and then people can submit photos and once I have enough, I’ll write the review.]

There will be some guidelines, i.e., I’d like to get at least one standard full body shot, one face shot, etc., but I’m also going to encourage more stylish shots, with backgrounds and so forth to show off the figure (think Ed Speir IV and MatthewK).

I can’t possibly afford to offer money or toys in compensation right now, but I’m hoping eventually I can come up with some sort of reward system. I’m open to suggestions!

Method #3: If I can’t get enough pics via Method #2, I’ll just trawl Flickr for cool photos of the toy I want to review and use those (as long as they have the right permissions, of course).


I really like this idea, because it does a lot of things at once. It immediately removes the one obstacle that has made it so easy for me to procrastinate on toy reviews. It also allows me to focus on the actual writing, which is what I really enjoy. It makes the site more interactive and allows readers to participate in more ways than just commenting. It will allow for much more interesting photos in addition to the usual standard shots (I’ll be sure to include those too, though, because I know everyone likes to see them). And if this works, I’m thinking I may be able to bring back features like Figure It Out and perhaps even taking another shot at a Poe-themed webcomic.

However, one thing that concerns me is whether this will be perceived as – or forget perceiving, whether it is – extreme laziness and/or exploitation of other people’s work on my part. I mean, I suppose part of it is laziness, but really it’s a question of how much time I want to invest in taking photos versus, well, doing everything else I have to do in life (including writing reviews).

And the truth is, if I can’t find a solution for this problem, I’m worried it will eventually end in PGPoA going into “indefinite hiatus.” That’s not meant to be a threat, it’s just a statement of fact, as some of the Power Pals who have heard me talk about this before can attest.

So, what do you all think? Are you game?

If so, and in case anyone wants to get a head start, here are some of the figures I want to review in the near future:

Fall of Cybertron Shockwave
FANtastic Exclusive Scarabus (standard, dormant, or Anubis version)
Square Enix Play Arts Art Asylum Batman
Square Enix Play Arts Halo Master Chief
Square Enix Play Arts Jack Skellington
Figma Robocop
NECA SDCC Exclusive Evil Dead II Hero from the Sky Ash
NECA Claptrap
NECA Brain Gremlin
G.I. Joe: Sci-Fi, Hazard Viper, Low Light
McFarlane Monsters Sea Creature (the small version, and the big one)
Diamond Select Creature from the Black Lagoon
DC All Stars Red Robin
Ben 10 vinyl Vilgax
Sci-Fi Revoltech: Gamera ’95, Gamera ’67, Gyaos ’95, Gyaos ’67, Gigan, Anguirus, Rodan, Baragon
Godzilla Tokyo Vinyl Godzilla, Mechagodzilla


Pic of the Day > Untitled by Joe Amaro


So, S.H.MonsterArts King Ghidorah is…kinda big.


  1. Well, I am a professional photographer, and I would love to contribute. However the only lines I can really afford to collect right now are my MOTUC and DCIE (and Watchmen) subs and Ninja Turtles. If you want any pics/reviews of these, I would be happy to help. If I pick up something else, I can certainly let you know. I tend to get my sub figs later than others, though, as I live in Alaska.

  2. rookjones

    Re: FoC Shockwave

    I did a shoot with this figure a couple of weeks ago. Here's the post on my blog; you're welcome to use the shots so long as you link back to 'em.

  3. Kenneth

    You know what? This sounds like a pretty cool idea. If it results in more PoeGhostal content, then I’m all for it.

    Had a thought though. Maybe you want to work in some method for specific shot requests? In a lot of toy reviews, people take a photo or two to point out specific issues with paint, joints, features and whatnot.

    • I'm still working out the details. Specific shot requests won't always work because the photos won't be of my specific figure. So if my figure has major QC flaws, I'll presumably have to suck it up and take a couple photos of my own.

    • Kenneth

      Fair enough. But I'm assuming there may be cases of general design problems / flaws. Joints that are designed to be thin, and are consistently thin across the entire line, or such. Those are closer to what I was thinking of.

  4. Doo-Wop Apocalypse

    I can do Hazard Viper. When would you need it by?

  5. I've got Vilgax! Should I take some appropriate pictures of him?

  6. Izdawiz

    Smart! You didn't go to Harvard for nuttin'…

  7. Nick

    Damn, I was gonna offer to snap some pics of Low Light and Sci Fi, but the 'Joe photo maste Monte has beaten me to it! I love your Sigma Six work, dude! (I'm Dreadnok Rocksteady on the 'Tank!)

    • Monte

      Hey, thanks! I frequently wonder how many 'Tankers read this site.

      Honestly, you should contribute, especially considering I never take indoor photos!

  8. This is a clever idea. I'd love to do something like this, but I also know I'd never get enough contributions to make it work.

    I began putting off opening toys because I needed to take packaged photos first. Then I started putting off taking packaged photos because I didn’t want to take photos at all. The result is an unprecedented pile of unopened toys, which depressed me, and many unwritten reviews, which dragged on my love for the hobby like a legless zombie. And each new toy made the urge to procrastinate that much worse.

    This is me. SOOOO me. My backlog of toys to review because of the slow process of taking photos (and then usually being unhappy with the photos anyway) and the whole process is slowly crushing me. I've got some stuff I've sat on for YEARS now, because I want to take a ton of really good photos for it. It ends up being awesome toys I can't enjoy. Not quite sure what I plan to do about it, though.

    • From what I'm reading, it seems like this may be a common problem among toy bloggers of a certain level of experience. Perhaps there's a joint solution we could all work toward.

  9. Let me know if you ever need a Figuarts or Transformers guy!

    I may jump on board with MonsterArts and Ultra Act at some point, Ghidorah is looking AMAZING.

  10. Monte

    I know I have photos of Sci-Fi and Low Light, but they're most likely using gear from other figures in those photos, and I know for a fact I didn't keep all their gear.

    This raises a question:

    You will of course discuss the accessories in the review… is it then okay for us to submit photos of a given figure with accessories from other figures, or are you afraid that would create confusion?

    Also, I propose that, with the obligatory photography taken care of, you set aside a wee bit of time to focus on fun photography; I hope that, if a bunch of geeks take care of the kinds of photos that have become a drudgery for you, you might go back to producing the occasional photo like you used to; Two-Bad reclining, Deathstroke or whatever his name is looking all menacing, etc.

    • I think photos of a figure with different accessories could work, but I'd have to mention it in the caption.

      And I've already noticed I seem to have a slightly increased interest in photo-taking as long as I know I don't have to be taking all the photos – i.e., I can take longer working on a more staged photo like this.

    • Monte

      Yes! That's the one I meant; I knew it wasn't Trap-Jaw, but I'd forgotten his pre-Trap-Jaw name.

      I love that photo. If it means more potential for photos like that, then I endorse the plan!

  11. clark

    I know exactly what you're talking about, and I think this is a great idea. When we still had articulated discussion going, I had a good 6 month dry period where I didn't get any reviews done. At time I was in school, and did not have time to dedicate to the photos. They were such a beating, and really it made it feel more like a job than just a fun thing to do for a hobby. I still have several written toy reviews on my hard drive that I just never took photos for.

    I would offer to do the Scarabus photos for you, but I've never been satisfied with the photos I took, and they're all in a box and we're getting ready to move, the last thing I need to do is pull out a bunch of toys that my wife only recently got me to put into storage.

  12. 3B_

    I think this is actually a great idea! For me, photographing toys (not just the set-up, but the editing) is very time-consuming and holds me back from writing more reviews, too. I've been trying to get a friend of mine to handle pics for awhile now, but he's been busy with his new house.

    I certainly wouldn't call it laziness. I'm sure you're eager to share all the cool stuff you pick up as soon as you get it, but the hassle of photographing and then organizing and writing the review ends up taking a lot of the fun out of it until you get to a point that it feels like a chore.

    I've dialed back reviews on my blog because I noticed that after personal commitments and reviewing, I never had enough time to actually enjoy my toys. And if you can't enjoy the things you're writing about, what's the point?

  13. Nick

    It is possible to get some equipment very easy and cheap if you know how. You can use a point and shoot camera, a cheap tripod, and make your own light box out of a cardboard box. Tripod is about $30, box is free, and lights for the box about $15 for all 3 lights.

    Though I do think that allowing users to submit their photos is a very good idea. I look forward to see the results.

    • I've actually got a very nice light tent (that my wife got me years ago), which came with two lights, and also a ringlight.

      Really, the issue is that for whatever reason, I find the whole photo-taking process saps my creative energy these days.

  14. HatRabies

    I'll have to take a bunch of pictures of FOC Shockwave. Not that my pictures are very good, but its a nice excuse to go snap some more!

  15. It's not lazy at all! In fact, i look forward to seeing more photos from more people!

  16. Fengschwing

    I don't collect a wide range of toys and I'm often behind the curve being in the UK, but if there is anyway for me to help, I gladly will.

  17. This is a great idea! I'm the opposite–I love taking pictures but don't care to actually write about the figures. I probably wont have any of the figures you mention, but this might be the catalyst for me to hit the stores. 😉

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