We found "Action Jon" when he commented on this post about Patrick Boivin's "Ninja Unboxing," a video that employs action figures and stop motion to thrilling effect. We checked out Jon's action figures blog and admired how passionate he is about action figures. In this post, which he wrote just for the Creator's Corner, Jon distills his vast knowledge into advice for anyone interested in making a video starring figurines. Thank you, Jon!
Have a sense of what you're going to do: Are you just posing the action figures and putting them in a video, are you doing a review for other Youtube users, or are you creating a story somehow or using them for stop-motion videos? It's only when you want to create a story or do stop-motion animation that there are more things to think about. You can even use Lego figures or statues if animating them isn't the main focus, but as a general rule you would want action figures or dolls that have some degree of articulation.
Think about form vs. function: do you want a better looking figure or a more articulated one? It all boils down to what you need. Some people think articulation points on a figure are ugly. A simple solution would be to cover them with clothes so that their joints can't be seen.
Accessorize! A seemingly boring figure may turn out great when you dress it differently, so don't get too attached to what your figures are wearing when you buy them. Experiment with changing their clothes or creating your own. For example, Boivin's "Ninja's Unboxing" video features three 12-inch action figures playing the role of ninjas. They look the same, but they're different figures. The clothes not only hide their joints and add to the coolness factor, but they also mask the face. Would you have guessed that they were Bruce Lee and Michael Jackson action figures if I haven't told you just now? These are Hot Toys figures. Hot Toys is a Hong Kong company and they only sell to retailers. Refer to where to get Hot Toys action figures for more information.
- eBay is a good place to get figures, plus their accessories, props or clothing, but you should have a clear picture of what you'll be doing with them before you buy them.
- One of the most popular figures for stop-motion videos are Stikfas. They're 3.25-inch action figures that are very flexible and all of their articulation points are ball-socketed joints, giving excellent possibilities for poses. They're reasonably cheap, but not very realistic looking.
- Hot Toys TrueType figures are another good choice. These have 38 points of articulation while still providing a reasonably realistic look for your characters. They have male and female versions and different skin colors. If you can't find these, other Hot Toys figures will do just fine.
- G.I. Joe action figures also have very good flexibility and lots of points of articulation (and look cool). The problem with the Joes is that they don't stand very well on their own, so you would have to use some wires to get them in position or even temporarily glue their feet by using some sticky substance to get them to stand and stay in certain positions.
- If your videos include cars, I'd recommend Hot Wheels because there's a lot of variety of cars and other vehicles.
- You can also use clay figures, as they allow you to create characters to your liking. (For example, the popular "Chicken Run" and "Wallace & Gromit" use clay figures.) Creating them may involve some technical work on your part, but they can be useful if you're having trouble finding the right figures to work with or if you want to have a greater degree of control in how they look like and how they're animated. [More on clay-mation in a future post! - Ed.]