Diorama dreams come true!

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The Ubiquitous ALIEN

I’m well-known on certain online forums and social networks for my large and varied action figure collection (which began with Star Wars in the ’80s, expanded to Star Trek in the ’90s, and exploded once I moved to Japan).  Local media have published estimates of over 10,000 figures, but nobody’s bothered to actually count — least of all me!  A comprehensive list would be an impossible pursuit, but the following product lines represent most of my figure collection:

  • Acid Rain
  • Action 18
  • Akira
  • Alien
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Ant-Man
  • Appleseed
  • Armitage III
  • Astroboy
  • Attack of the Living Dead
  • Austin Powers
  • The Avengers
  • Back to the Future
  • Bambi
  • Batman
  • Battlestar: Galactica
  • Biohazard
  • The Black Hole
  • Black Lagoon
  • Black Magic M-66
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula
  • Bravo Team
  • Breaking Bad
  • Bubba Ho-Tep
  • Bubblegum Crisis
  • Captain America
  • Captain Harlock
  • Child’s Play
  • Clerks
  • Code Geass
  • Corpse Bride
  • Cosmo Warrior Zero
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • The Crow
  • Cutey Honey F
  • Cyborg Kuro-Chan
  • Cyborg 009
  • Darkman
  • The Dark Knight trilogy
  • The Dark Knight Returns
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Day of the Dead
  • Diebuster
  • The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya
  • Doctor Who
  • Dragonball
  • Dune
  • Edward Scizzorhands
  • Elite Force
  • Escalayer
  • Escape From New York
  • Eureka Seven
  • Evangelion
  • The Evil Dead
  • Fate/stay night
  • Final Fantasy
  • Finding Nemo
  • Fist of the North Star
  • FLCL (Fooly Cooly)
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Frankenstein
  • Friday the 13th
  • Frozen
  • Future Boy Conan
  • Galaxy Express 999
  • Gatchaman
  • Ghostbusters
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Giant Robo
  • G.I. Joe
  • Godzilla
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Gremlins
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Gunbuster
  • Gundam
  • Gunslinger Girl
  • Halloween
  • Hand Maid May
  • Harlock Saga
  • Harry Potter
  • Hellraiser
  • Howl’s Moving Castle
  • Iczer-One
  • Ikki Tousen
  • The Incredibles
  • Indiana Jones
  • Interstella 5555
  • Iria: Zeiram the Animation
  • The Iron Giant
  • Iron Man
  • Jeepers Creepers
  • Jurassic World
  • Justice League
  • Kiki’s Delivery Service
  • King of Braves GaoGaiGar
  • Land of the Dead
  • Laputa
  • Lilo and Stitch
  • The Lion King
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Lupin III
  • Macross
  • Maetel Legend
  • Mahoutsukai Tai!
  • Marmalade Boy
  • The Matrix
  • The Maxx
  • Megazone 23
  • Armored Hunter Mellowlink
  • Metropolis
  • Monsters Inc.
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail
  • Mospeada
  • The Muppets
  • Nadesico
  • Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water
  • Nausicaa
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
  • Oh My Goddess!
  • Onegai Teacher
  • One Piece
  • Panda! Go Panda!
  • Mobile Police Patlabor
  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Planet of the Apes
  • Porco Rosso
  • Predator
  • Queen Emeraldas
  • Ranma 1/2
  • Ratatouille
  • Reservoir Dogs
  • Resident Evil
  • The Road Warrior
  • RoboCop
  • Robots
  • Record of Lodoss War
  • Sakura Wars
  • Sailor Moon
  • Saw
  • School Rumble
  • Sentimental Graffiti
  • Shaft
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Shrek
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Sin City
  • Superman
  • Spawn
  • Speed Racer
  • Spider-Man
  • Spirited Away
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Stellvia
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
  • The Terminator
  • The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
  • 30 Days of Night
  • Thor
  • To Heart
  • Tortured Souls
  • My Neighbor Totoro
  • Toy Story
  • Transformers
  • TRON
  • Urusei Yatsura
  • Armored Trooper Votoms
  • The Walking Dead
  • WALL-E
  • Watchmen
  • Winnie the Pooh
  • Wonder Woman
  • World Peacekeepers
  • Space Battleship Yamato

There are numerous others I’ve likely forgotten, but you get the idea.

Anyway, I was approached by a toy company called NOVA early last year, with plans to establish a line of action figure diorama sets.  They wanted my help with photographing and promoting their product online, recognizing that I represented their target consumer.  However, I had little interest in the generic, unfocused concept they presented to me, so they asked for my input instead.

I provided them with some rudimentary 3D models of my own concept:

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I then quickly put together some paper craft models to illustrate how I envisioned the product could be adapted to various scales and action figure lines:

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Inspired by my suggestions (and some iconic science-fiction film images I provided), their designer came up with this awesome 3D rendering:

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By the end of the year, they had a prototype to send me, and it was way beyond my expectations!

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I’ve been very proud to have the opportunity to photograph what is now known as The Ubiquitous, a modular sci-fi diorama system with USB-powered LEDs, numerous display options, and a myriad of different possible configurations:

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I couldn’t wait to start experimenting with different set-ups and action figure lines, to demonstrate the potential of the product.

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It even makes a convincing-looking spacecraft hangar!

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I used a humidifier to create the smoke effect visible below:

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…and a fluorescent tube for the “forcefield” effect behind the TIE Fighter here.

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I spent some time on this particular configuration, imagining it to be a temporary staging area in a war zone on some remote planet:

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I filled it with divisions of Clone Troopers, with a Jedi General to advise them.

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Of course, since over half of my action figure collection are anime figures, I was anxious to photograph some of them, too:

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With the product now shipping to retailers worldwide, I’m looking forward to getting a set with working LEDs as well.  The Ubiquitous comes with various options for colors and pulsating light effects, all accessible via remote control.  Here’s what the other colors look like:

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The great Tony Bacala has posted an in-depth review of The Ubiquitous at The Toyark, with some stunning action figure photography as well.  The sets themselves can be ordered through online retailers like Big Bad Toy Store, ShishiOhGreat Toys Online, RakutenHobby Link Japan, and many others throughout the world.  For further details (and tons of awesome photographs!), check out NOVA’s Twitter feed, their Instagram, or their Facebook page.

 

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