Below is a short video showing a glimpse of the book in a quick flip-through. It gives you a rough idea of the book's overall content. A more detailed review can be read in the following paragraphs. As with my previous YouTube videos, please select the HD option for best viewing.
First the good. Sideshow Collectibles have one of the best, if not the best, set of figurine collectibles in the market. (In my opinion, its closest rival is the Hong Kong-based Hot Toys which focuses on sixth scale figurines.) So the book already had excellent subject matters. It was just a matter of doing the figurines justice. In ways the book did just that. Some photos showcased dynamic closeups of brightly coloured and well detailed figurines while others captured creative poses in a diorama setting. There were also great shots of some of the bigger pieces' facial features with Thor being a prime example. Moreover, there were instances of good usage of space within a two-page spread which displayed both zoomed in closeups of the face and the figure as a whole e.g. Daredevil.
|Dynamic shots of figurines|
|Creative use of the Sideshow Collectible figurines in a diorama|
|Superb closeup of Thor's face, showcasing the fantastic sculpt and paint job|
|Wolverine is captured in a bright enough lighting to show his details in all its glory|
|Photographs of Daredevil show good use of both sides of the page|
But there were a lot of bad photos too, infuriatingly so. My biggest beef was with the extremely dark lighting used, shifting photos from the realms of artistic to just plain bad. Chief candidate for worse photo was that of Gandalf (see below). I get and respect the artistic slant the photographer must have been aiming for. However, in such art/photography books my main wish is to see eye candy in the form of highly detailed figurines. Encasing Gandalf in near total darkness is a no-go for me. Another example was Harley Quinn which in my view should have had brighter lighting. Other complaints I had was the lazy usage of a two page spread which featured a blank page with a quote next to one with a photo of a figurine. At times, this seemed like a missed creative opportunity.
|My least favourite photograph in the book; only Gandalf's back is visible ... oh wait it's too dark to see|
|I love Sideshow's Harley Quinn but here the lighting is way too dark and ends up obscuring her details|
|This page arrangement is just plain lazy that does not do justice to the brilliant photograph on the right|
|Poison Ivy is a slim figure and the blank page on the right just looks like wasted space|
That being said, it's worth noting that a black background can still work. When a figurine has many details as in Star Wars Boba Fett, a black background serves to focus ones eye to the figurine as well as highlight its many details. Notice however the figurine is brightly lit in this case. In addition, closeups where the colour scheme is predominantly white (Marvel Black Cat) a black background is the only way to go. Again the figure was brightly lit. And there is also always a case for dark and gloomy lighting depending on the subject matter. In the case of The Lord of the Rings characters such as Gollum and the Black Rider, the dark setting did not in any way take away from the figures.
|A detailed closeup of a figure with many things going on works wonderfully with a black background|
|A predominantly bright and white colour scheme on Black Cat means only a black background will do|
|Both Gollum (left) and the Black Rider (right) look suitably great in dark lighting|
And then there are the grey areas where a photo borders between art and bad lighting. This was the category in which I felt Mystique's spread fell in. On the right page she looked great artistically while on the left the darkness started to diminish the qualities of the figurine (see below).
|Mystique looks mysterious in the dark (right) but at the same time it's too dark to see details on her back (left)|
Volume Two was recently released but I have yet to get my hands on it. Hopefully they will address the overall too gloomy look of the photographs. I'm a huge fan of black backgrounds. But when coupled with too many instances of low lighting, it can be a huge turnoff. So in the end it all boils down to whether I would buy a copy of this book for myself. Well, yes and no. As a fan of art books, I would love to have this book in my collection. But only at the right discounted price. There are enough flaws in it that makes the book not worth its retail cover price. For many of us, owning a Sideshow Collectibles figurine is just too expensive so the book becomes the most viable alternative.