“If there is one skill you need to have maxed out for an outdoor figure photo, it has to be luck.”
About the figure:
This scale figure of Yuusha was originally released in late 2019 by Amakuni and Hobby Japan. Since I’ve already made a video review about her back in 2020, I will keep this section brief. The figure itself is absolutely fine, with enough details and a solid paint job. Also, prices from just four years ago always look like a bargain. Back then you could buy the standard edition for around 15.000 yen. Luckily, if you are a fan of the character or series, her aftermarket prices appear also relatively low. I bought her only because I’m a sucker for this pastel moe-style, despite knowing nothing about the source material.
My only complaint about this figure would be the weird base design. In my opinion the mix of diorama elements like the shrub or the stone doesn’t mix well with the plain white plate. It’s a bizarre hybrid and I would have liked it more, if they either committed to a full diorama base, like the one I build for her (but of course smaller) or a highly stylized base with only the pet dragon floating on a pole and maybe a bigger version of the spell card on it. I know that the intention was that all the four bases are build similar and maybe it would have looked nice together, but here I have to address the elephant in the room: The main cast of Endro~! consist of four characters. Two got their release and the other two are stuck in “draft-limbo” for years now, with Seira apparently not even having a pre-production painted model. I have to assume, since so much time has passed and this was certainly a pretty niche show, we will never get the full cast on our showcases.
About the series:
Like I said I did not watch this when it aired but I did watch a couple episodes in the leading up to this project, to get an overall feeling about the world Yuusha lives in. Suffice to say, it was pretty much what I expected it to be. Sadly, the art style in regards of the backgrounds and the buildings in general is a bit blend.
Originally, I wanted to build a scene similar to the one old town alley in the opening but given the bigger scale of the figure and the lack of details in those buildings I was afraid that it will come of lackluster. I’m not sure how popular this show was back when it was relevant, but I assume it was one cute romcom in a sea of many. Similar on how there is always half a dozen Isekai shows competing for your attention.
About the photo:
You might be able to tell from her date of release and also based on when I uploaded the video review, that this cutie sits in my collection for a while now and at no point could I come up with a satisfying idea for a picture. The only part that kinda interested me was this one scene from the intro with the white castle of princess Rona in the background while the main characters run up a hill. But I thought that it would be too cumbersome to build a convincing background prop and I didn’t want to reuse the location where I shoot my Raphtalia photo. I even looked up the exact location of Neuschwanstein Castle, realizing that it’s actually pretty far away from where I live and that I won’t drive there just for a silly figure photo.
After weeks of procrastination, I eventually pushed myself to start working on this project. First, I printed out an image from the castle front that had approximately the size of what I was about to build. I knew from the beginning that the scale would be much, much smaller than the figure itself and that I would have to heavily rely on forced perspective. As an inspiration I not only used the official artwork from the show but also pictures of the Disneyland castle and even some larger Hogwarts LEGO MOCs.
After I had a rough outlay, I started building random castle walls and towers, made out of paper rolls and polystyrene sheets. For the rooftops I used corrugated cardboard, folded into a cone and some of the round elements are made out of foam rubber. With each part the size of the castle grew and soon it had a footprint of almost 550 square inch. But despite all my efforts and decent model work I wasn’t really satisfied with the end result. It only came together once I added some acrylic paint, a couple more windows and the rock substructure around it. With all the added fields and fauna it suddenly started to look really good, to a point that I might use it as a decorative element in my office, now that the shooting is done.
In addition to the backdrop, I also had to build an alternative base for Yuusha. I documented the making of this side build in a separate blog entry on MFC. Once everything was ready, I still had to wait a couple weeks for a sunny day with no wind and warmer weather. I guess it simply is not wise to start building and planning for an outdoor shooting in the middle of winter. Luckily even in my neck of the woods you can look around the country side via Google Street view. Thanks to the virtual exploration I found a good spot for the picture that was not too far way from my hometown.
Once on site, I snagged a couple of wood logs from a barn in order to lift the castle and used a tripod with a wooden plate on it for the figure base. The setup was a bit tricky because in order to get the right angle I had to align two “moving” elements against the background instead of just one. It took me a few attempts to find the right spot but with all the effort I took so far a few more moments of diligence seemed like a good investment. The final picture received a fair bit of touchup in Photoshop. For example, the clouds are added digitally, since the weather on that day was not 100% ideal.
Sony Alpha 7R II, 55mm Sony lens / ISO 100 /exposure time 1/160 sec. /aperture: f/11
Time and effort: Not gonna lie, it took a very long time to build the castle as well as the base. From the first tweet about starting the project, until the day of shooting a whopping 10 weeks went by. Of course, not every day was spent building, but it gives you an idea of why I wanted to have this endeavor in the books by the end of March.
Costs of the props: Compared to the time investment the hard costs of this project were minimal. I was able to build the whole castle and the base from scrap materials still in the workshop. Of course, if I had to buy all the materials it would have been also a quite cost intense project.