“Another year over, a new one just begun.”
It’s the last day of the year and when pressed to look back I gotta say that 2021 was an extremely mediocre year. Of course, this is just my perspective but at best it was slightly less annoying than last year and at worst it was just more of the same. With the downside that 2020 at least felt challenging and confronted us with situations never experienced before.
In terms of my hobby as a guy who takes pictures and videos of his anime figures this was yet another solid year. As usual I was able to realize a few major projects. While almost every other photographer is doing one of those collages with their (best) pictures from the year, mine would look so sad because of how few entries there would be. For the last couple years, I always made up my mind that the next one will be the one where I double or even quadruple my output, only to realize that each December I still look back to only a hand full of finished photos. I guess for 2022 I will not attempt such a thing and just keep doing what I do in my own pace. But if I had to rank the top three pictures of 2021 it would look like this:
Third place goes to Red Riding Hood Miku. Not my most original idea and the Halloween aspect looks kinda tagged on, but at least a solid composition. Second place is my latest picture of Kana and the New Years Matsuri. I was surprised how close this came to matching the vision I had in my head. And the first place goes out the Rize and the Rabbit House diorama. I had such a great time building the set and it was the only time this year where I was legit sad that I had to put it away after the shooting was done. By the way, if you are wondering what photo I liked the least it’s this one here. For all the time and effort, I put into this thing it just never looked quite right.
Besides my pictures I also managed to put together a second season of my figure review show “Scaled Affairs” on YouTube and I was able to constantly grow the channel. Sadly, even after two years the reviews don’t do as well as I want them to do and I get comments like “wow, I can’t believe how underrated this is” all the time. But for me it’s quite understandable that a channel, that’s posting one video per month, while focusing purely on b-roll footage with an extremely compresses runtime of like five minutes, is not everyone’s main source of entertainment. I also would only watch my videos if I was currently interested in the figure as some sort of in-depth showcase. I still like making videos in between my photos because it lets me put out stuff on a more regular basis. The reviews are not very challenging to make and mostly require only pure crunch time. Hopefully the channel will continue to grow and sometime in the future might host other interesting formats besides those reviews.
Last but not least I want to reflect on my year as a collector. In the first couple months, I did not buy or received much figures and since events like conventions are still mostly out of the picture, there are also a lot less spontaneous purchases. In summer I met an old friend of mine and managed to build my first Frame Arms plamo kit. It was a lot of fun but I still don’t know if I could ever paint such a model. Messing around with background props for photos is one thing but potentially ruining a little figure because you’ve bad skill doesn’t sound very appealing to me.
As far as big spending goes, 2021 was also the year where I bought my second Smart Doll. I basically treated myself for finishing a jobsite at work when they finally paid out all my overtime. Since I might not be able to visit the Mirai store in person anytime soon, I bit the bullet and ordered Envisage online. The whole process went super quick and I was so excited to have a new doll and also new apparels to shoot with. I’m also playing with the thought of ordering a third one next year but I’m also start to looking for other brands and systems like MDD, because the look of the newer released Smart Dolls doesn’t meet my taste as much as the older legacy characters did.
The last “big news” for me was the sudden shut down of Nippon Yasan. After their logistic partner in Belgium went under and during COVID the service became more and more unreliable and now they allegedly cut all ropes and ran away with the rest of the pre-order money people already paid. I used their service a lot for the last couple of years and I knew that lately it was super shady, but on the other hand I also never had any real issues with them. Compared to other retailers, especial the ones in my area I saved a ton of money over time and in the end, I just had to re-organize a few outstanding orders. Since I never pay my pre-orders in advance, I only lost a small amount for items I already paid, but were never shipped out and some of it I could even reclaim via my payment provider.
As stated previously I will approach 2022 without any ambitious goals. I still have a backlog of a few figures where I would like to make pictures with and I’m also looking forward to a few new ones I already pre-ordered. I’ve to admit that shooting has become much more challenging lately. Most new releases have such a high quality that I really struggle to provide a set that matches their beauty. So many of them come with extravagant bases and accessories that will already dictate the style of your setup and are also non-removable most of the time. Scale figures these days often have their own little diorama attached from factory. This makes them look great in a showcase but also jacks up the price so much. Not only for the model itself but also for shipping and eventually displaying them.
My only real goal for next year will be to make at least twelve somewhat decent doll pictures, so that I can incorporate them into a photo calendar for 2023. Since most of them will be outdoor shootings, I might also hit the road a couple times and go out on adventures. Discovering places, I’ve never been to with my dolls and figures sounds like a nice thing to do. Doing so I might also be able to make travel vlogs and host them on my video channel. As I said it would be nice to produce some other content besides a third season of scaled affairs.
Now that only a few hours of 2021 are left and since there is a big “drunk” lurking around the corner, I will end this blog entry by thanking you for all your support. I’m happy that you accompany me on my journey as a figure photographer. I’m also glad that we are living in a time where we can have all those cool plastic models and toys. As always, I’m fairly optimistic about the forthcoming year – let’s keep on moving to turn this wishful future into our reality!
With best regards
-Headmaster of Moe University