Inspire, Create and Learn.
One-Sixth Scale Adventures
Part of a Dads' job is to inspire; this started as one of those 'things to do with daddy' project.
One of the favourite toys of boys is the 12" model soldier (i.e. 1:6th scale).
Lets see what inspirational fun can be had with these toys!
These can be used to inspire art & craft, photography, story telling and desktop publishing, and just plain using ones imagination. Set then out in a scene and get down to their level to imagine the world through their eyes!
There are many different 12 " models available, some well-known brands such as 'Action Man', 'GI Joe', and 'World Peacekeepers'. But there are also many others which can be found in stores around the world, which are often styled to the ethnicity of the local region. These figures almost inevitably appear at boot sales, so they can be obtained for very little money. And for they look even better if mixed up rather than as a whole bunch of identical clones.
Photography & Camera angles.
Lets give some thought to how we see the world - and think about what makes a good photo. perhaps look at photographs and pictures in comics & magazines or scenes from films to see the composition and detail that make them really work. Often the best photographs are taken from the models' eye level, which means getting down on the ground, close up, and sorting out the balance of what is in the frame. Take a look at the photos on this page and think about if, how and why they work.
Use some image editing software to perfect the work! Serif PhotoPlus is recommended, and its free.
Building Scenery and Props
Toy soldiers look best when set against suitable background. So how about building some props to show them at their best. Just like the in film & TV studios and theatres, it is amazing what can be build with a little cardboard and some paint. My tip is don't be too adventurous, but pay attention to a few little details that just help add some realism. See my Guide to Prop Making.
Here we have some fun setting the toys in simple scenes and posing them as if they were real. The Lookout Post on this site was made from a cardboard box, with rolled up paper tubes for logs and papier-mâché for rock walls and corrugated cardboard for the roof. Extra realism comes from a including few details, like the blackboard, gun rack and bed.
Put some pictures together and tell a story! Make up some captions and dialog: what would one soldier be saying to another? Better still; draft a rough storyline, and basic dialog, than go and shoot it with the camera. Then make a storyboard of comic out of it! These are the skills for real filmmaking and publishing!
"Take it easy with the gas for the next 50 miles until the new clutch wears in"
"Better take the M16 just in case you run into some trouble.."
One of the best and easiest desktop publishing packages is Serif PagePlus. This is free and an be downloaded from the Serif website. This and PhotoPlus is all one needs to produce some impressive results. Spend a little time thinking about layout, get some examples and ideas to copy from the layouts of magazines and comics. Grab extra artwork and clipart off the web to finish it off. Believe it or not, it is not that difficult to produce some really good looking stuff!
Having built the lookout post from cardboard we took the toys out to the back garden and shot a load of pictures in some sort of story order. Then we sorted out and cropped the best ones into a clear story line and came up with names and dialog for each soldier. Next we laid them out across several pages in PagePlus and added the caption speech bubbles. Then we added clipart, boarders, special effects and fancy stuff to finish off. The document was saved and converted to .pdf using a free pdf conversion utility. Take a look at our 'Strike Force Dagger' magazine that my boys and I put together with this software.
A Command Bunker was built to give the action-man soldiers somewhere to go to, and with quite a different loo about it. This was built from foam blocks, with an assortment of different wallpapers to give texture. The story of how it was built is told in the Arts & Crafts page.
The original upper wall was replaced with sandbags because it was not quite right on the eye and was always inteded to be sandbagged. So here are some shots taken when the bunker was finaly sold on ebay.
Altogether quite a nice looking toy for something made from Polystyrene foam, PVA glue and wallpaper. When boys grew up the bunker and lookout hut were sold on eBay. And in both cases I suspect they were bought for grownups.