Guides

DC Collectibles photo
Science or art?
DC Collectibles has posted a rather handy guide regarding action figure articulation which discusses joint terminology as well as showing joint placement. While not an overly precise guide, it addresses many of the basics. Ap...

GSC photo
An opportunity to display your Nendoroid's alignment
A guide has popped up for the recently released Nendoroid More After Parts 01... the only problem is that it's in Japanese and the auto-translate doesn't help much. Thankfully the photos clarify at least some of the uses. The...

Miku 2.0 photo
All while highlighting the features of the new figure
The latest figma incarnation of Hatsune Miku is now here and the last thing Max Factory wants is for you to not get the most out of her newly redesigned body features. Or even worse, break her! MF has posted yet another posin...

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With news of a new Moon Stick on the way, here's a look back at all the weapons released
It's been a great time to be a Sailor Moon fan! With the celebration of their 20th anniversary, there has been news of new action figures, phone cases, makeup, plushes and even a new anime. Now there has even been news that ...


Max Factory once again schools you on posing

Jul 09 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Posing guide photo
A little twist goes a long way
Remember those posing guides that Max Factory brought back in June? They've decided to not wait so long in getting the next guide together and have posted their fifth guide over at figma blog. Once again they're using Archety...

Industry jargon part 3 photo
Now with a difficulty rating
The ever-helpful Mikatan has once again graced us with another installment of her ever-growing guide to industry jargon. This time around she's added a star system that rates each entry from one to five. I don't know if I ent...

figma posing photo
Get the most out of your figma with this nifty posing guide
figma are great. For my money they're the premiere posing figure. But as fun as they are to pose it can be a little tricky to get them looking juuuust right. Well worry not as Max Factory has returned once again with their fi...

Industry jargon part 2 photo
An even deeper look at the vocabulary used by Good Smile Company and the rest of the figure industry
Just last week Mikatan posted a handy guide to some of the jargon being tossed around in the industry for figure development. She hasn't wasted any time in getting a second guide posted to her blog that goes even deeper ...

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Learn the names for every step of the figure making process and then some.
Ever wonder just what they call the different phases of the figure production stage? Curious how many steps a figure goes through before it's ready? Don't know the difference between PVC and ABS? Mikatan has posted a great gu...

Tomopop Review: Cobbanii's 1/12 wooden desk and chair

Apr 15 // Jeremy Emerje Crocker
Figure Name: 1/12-scale wooden desk and chairFigure Maker: CobbaniiRetail Price: ¥1,200Available at: HobbyLink Japan So this review is going to serve a dual purpose of not just exploring this set, but also as a beginner's guide to building this. I've never built on of these before, so it's foreign territory for me as well. I've always wondered just how these were designed and built and saw it as a golden opportunity. I would imagine anything I've learned here will carry over to any of Cobbanii's sets. This is how it looks in the package. It's a pretty simple, nondescript plastic bag that contains everything. I was surprised to find there was actually a pair of desks and chairs in there. Good deal. Of course, this is also where things start to get intimidating.  There's four basic components here: thick pieces, thin pieces, the desk top, and that thing in the middle is a template. The template probably has a better name in Japanese, but I don't know what that is so we'll just go with calling it a template. It's made of very thick, rigid paper and not only does it make sure you're putting the right pieces in the right spot, but also has enough strength to hold them together. That last part is key because this is by no means snap model. Despite what it says on some sites, this kit does require glue to assemble. Super glue works just fine, but make sure it works on wood. They all don't, and liquid is probably a better choice than gel.  Instructions are much more simple than you'll find with any plastic kit. If you can't read Japanese, then that's fine. Like with plastic models, the images are really all you need. It's not entirely without problems. For example, one of the desk legs is shown with the holes for the cross sections at the bottom rather than the top. Unlike with plastic kits, the numbers are on the sheet rather than the pieces, so plan on doing a lot of comparing along the way.  From a distance, it might look like these are just sheets of wood with black outlines to show where to cut, but fear not; these are all pre-cut. I'm guessing a plasma cutter is used to precisely cut out the pieces. A burn smell still lingers on the pieces which I find pleasant, but more importantly the burns give an appealing depth to the pieces. The little triangles indicate the one tiny little spot that wasn't cut out to keep it on the sheet. We're going to start with the chair because it has fewer parts. I should point out now that if you want to stain this a different color, you'll want to do it now since the glue is going to get a little messy and you won't be able to stain over the glue. And believe me, you'll want to make sure you're working on a surface that you don't mind getting glue on because you will. In this image, you can see the template in action. As I mentioned before, it's not just positioning the parts right, but it's also putting some pressure on them to hold them together. I'm really amazed by how well the pieces go together. I've assembled my fair share of plastic models that aren't this precise. The little nubs from where the pieces come off the sheet can be troublesome so always remember to remove those.  If you've done everything right, then the parts should come together looking like this. The only thing holding that together is glue, so make absolutely sure it has dried before handling. Chances are you'll find you didn't use enough glue when you pull it out of the template, so be prepared to re-glue often.  Once you've done this for both sides, it's simple to apply some glue to the cross-sections and insert them. Make sure they go all the way through; they should stick out the other side just a bit.  Next, the supports for the seat portion are added. This is where I'm once again impressed by the precision engineering as they fit in place perfectly, neither too big nor too small. You probably don't even need to glue them in place, but they probably should be.  Finally, it's just a matter of adding the two seat pieces and there you have it, a completed 1/12-scale student chair. Not the most comfortable looking thing in the world, but for many people like myself who grew up with wooden chairs in school like this, it's a familiar sight. Like I mentioned before, the burn marks from the cutting process does a lot for the look. I really don't think staining is needed.  Time to move on to the desk. For the most part, the desk goes together the same way as the chair, so we'll just touch on the bigger points for this part. One thing you have to keep in mind when assembling the desk is that unlike the chair the desk has an inside and outside. The key here is to make sure you swap the position of the two legs so that they line up properly when you put them together.  This is probably the easiest part because it's just a matter of taking the three cross supports and sticking the two ends together.  This, however, is the most frustrating part of the build, the bottom of the desk. There's no support for it or grooves to hold it in place so you need to eyeball it to get it in there right. But once again, to their credit, the engineering is amazing and the fit is very precise. It's actually held in place simply from the pressure of the surrounding sides, no glue required. Unfortunately, in the process of trying to move it into place you'll likely end up with something unglued. Yeah, not fun at all. And since it's a thin piece there's a lot of fear of the part just folding in half on you. Took a ridiculous amount of effort, but I managed to get it just right. Also remember that there's a front and back, but they were nice enough to put a tiny "f" on one end. Scratch that, this might be the easiest part of the desk, the top. Just put a little glue on the tiny squares and put the desk upside down on it. There, done.  And that's it; two or three hours later and you've got yourself a pair of desks and chairs. When you look at them like this it's hard to believe they're only being held together by glue. I find it easy to look at the pictures and forget they're not the real thing held together by screws and nails. They're pretty sturdy and can take a little abuse if you've used the right glue, while at the same time being feather light. But now that you've got them is there anything you can actually do with them? That depends on what you want to do with them. If you're hoping to use them with your figma then you're probably going to be out of luck. Even the fairly petite figure like Nagato here towers over the set. Being 1/12-scale means they're designed to be in scale with a 6-inch male figure, assuming they represent a 6-foot-tall person. That means a student using this would be considerably smaller than that. At over 5 inches, Nagato is much larger than 1/12-scale and therefore too large for the set. However! For a middle school or elementary student-sized figma, the fit isn't bad. The hardest part is getting the legs underneath, but a lot of the trouble in that comes from figma having issues with sitting well in the first place. In reality, these are probably best used for scenery and not as functional desks. That aside, wooden desks went out of style with the Sh˘wa period, as modern Heisei period desks are made of metal and plastic. If you truly want a desk set to fit with you figma, then go plastic.  That's not so say you can't have fun with them at all. You just need to be a little creative.  [Thanks as always to HobbyLink Japan for providing the review sample!]
Desk and chair photo
Yeah, that's right, wood.
Plastic is over rated. No, really, it's good at a lot of things, but no matter what you do with it it's still plastic. Sure, it can be sculpted and detailed using every trick known to make it look like wood, but you don't get...

How to Suck at Photography as Well as I Do, Part 1: Lighting

Feb 17 // Jason Millward
My first project at Tomopop was an introductory blog of sorts. Knowing that my good friend Tom Ruffo was a shutter bug, I came to him for help. He's spent a ton on his camera and equipment. He loves getting out and photographing nature, and he's flown from Austrailia to China with that SLR attached to him like a new appendage. Shooting indoors in a studio-type environment, though, was a completely new thing to him. Somehow we made it through using only the lamps and lightbulbs that he had in his basement. The shots looked alright, but the lighting was the sore spot. Everything had a yellowish cast to it. The warm color temperature that a standard incandescent bulb produces tends to make photos come out very orange.For my next project, I hit up the local not-Walmart and gave myself a budget of $50 to come up with a makeshift lighting kit that would give us better results. I ended up coming significantly under budget. I've refined it a bit since then and I'd like to share with you the results. Keep in mind that while I did have Tom shoot some of the equipment pics with his fancy expensive Canon SLR, all of the figure pics are using my not-fancy Kodak M340 point-and-shoot digital camera. And unlike most of my work, I didn't manipulate a single image in photoshop aside from adjusting the sizes.Here is the equipment that we used. Some of this stuff you'll already have lying around your house. What you'd actually purchase shouldn't run you more that 30-35 dollars, and possibly much less depending on what look you're going for.This is a super cheap work-room light. They run about seven bucks at my local Meijer. They have a decent cord-length (15 feet, long, I think) and a spring loaded clamp. They can essentially be mounted anywhere (backs of dining room chairs are a good spot), and have adjustable swivels. Incredibly versatile, and incredibly cheap. Any desklamp would also work just dandy, as well. I generally keep three of these on hand, though you could manage pretty well with just one if you work it right and use reflectors.GE's daylight temperature compact fluorescent bulbs: the key to eliminating photographic jaundice. These guys give off the same color temp (6500 degrees Kelvin) as the daylight, bringing much more cool, blue light to the party. Those yellow tones go right away and your other colors will get some extra pop. Right now, I go with 40 watt equivalent bulbs for my fill lights and a 60 watt equivalent for my main light source.By equivalent, I mean that they create as much light as a 40 or 60 watt incandescent bulb. Since fluorescents use much less electricity, they only really use roughly a quarter of the wattage. And since wattage is a measurement of power not light intensity, CFL's are labeled by the equivalent wattage number. That big "40" in the top right corner is what you're looking for there. This 2 pack of forties ran me a little over a fiver. The 60 watt was roughly four bucks. A big side-benefit is that they produce much less heat. This is important. I'll explain later. It involves the aluminum foil.A cheap tripod with expandable legs and a pivoting head could set you back at least $20. I have one. They're great. You will want to have a tripod. Fortunately you won't need that specific kind. This guy here is perfect for figures. It will hold the weight of a tiny camera like mine, and it's legs are flexible allowing you to get many great angles.They're better for shooting figures than a standard tripod because of their size. You can put it right up next to your subject much easier than a large, bulky tripod. Oh, and I should mention the best part: this little fella ran me under 3 dollars. Not even on sale. Worth every penny!So, that foil I was talking about. Cover the lamp with a layer of foil and evenly punch tiny holes throughout it's surface. This is going to help to help diffuse your light. It may seem counter-productive to do this. After all, isn't more light better? Technically, yes. But too much focused light is a very bad thing. It will cause hot spots on reflective surfaces. It will also create very harsh shadows. This tends to make your toys appear small and plastic-y. Sometimes that can be used stylistically for effect. Most of the time it's to be avoided. I want to spell something out before you attempt this at home: DO NOT TRY DOING THIS WITH AN ORDINARY (NON-FLORESCENT) LIGHT BULB! The trapped heat from a standard bulb could prove to be very dangerous. Don't do it. Period. I do not want your house-fire on my conscience. Even while using these low-heat florescent bulbs, NEVER LEAVE THEM UNATTENDED. Just don't. No Freddy Krueger-looking corpses in the Tomopop community, comprende?!Let's put it all together and see what we come up with. First let's check out some pics using only a single light source.These pics were all taken using a single lamp. This is going to give you a cool film noir look with heavy shadows. I'm a big fan of this effect. Maybe too big of a fan. Moving the distance between the light and subject, as well as the angle will give you different looks. See the difference between the first and third pics in what was essentially the same angle?Throwing a less powerful light directly into area where the shadows fall will help to balance things out. It softens the contrast between the highlights and shadows and brings out more dimension and detail from your figure. It also make them look much less like a Frank Miller drawing.Instead of using a second light, you could also use a reflector to bounce light back from a single lamp. Sometimes I'll use the glossy side of a sheet of poster board or foam board. It's a cheaper alternative to a second light and can be more versatile on occasion. I brought in a third light for these last pics. In the first photo, that extra lamp casts some nice rim-lighting along the edges of Yotsuba's shadowed side, giving her nice separation from the background. In the second photo, I used it to further reduce the shadows and to help illuminate the background.I'm still learning myself how to get the best results from my lighting, but I am liking the results that can be achieved by simple, cost-effective solutions. You don't need to spend an arm and a leg to make pretty pictures. Nor do you need a super high-tech camera. I hope that you'll use this guide as simply a stepping stone. I also recommend looking into online references on manipulating the light in your photos. I hear that libraries are good for that, too. Hopefully, you see that toy photography isn't really that far from your grasp. Now get out there and play. Maybe even enter a contest!
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First a quick word of warning. The information contained within is very likely to be incorrect and nonfactual. I am going to straight up admit to being a novice in the world of photography. That being said, let's begin.Prior ...


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