Steve Benson, a lawyer living in Colorado Springs, CO (and a JAG officer in the Army Reserves), poses with two of his 1:6 scale grunts training on his backyard obstacle course. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Super Soldiers— Benson’s action figures are realistically outfitted, down to the smallest details including ARMY t-shirts and reflective belt. Some even sport 1:6 scale cloth PT patches from Patches of Pride. (Photo: Steve Benson)
Customizer Puts “ACTION” Into 1:6 Scale Action Figure Photography
We’ve been admiring and following the work of 1:6 scaler, Steve Benson, for quite a while now, and thought that this would be a good time to share some of his recent figure and diorama photography with the rest of the world. In the following exclusive series of images, Benson utilizes a superbly hand-picked and hand-customized squad of soldiers; each carefully selected, dressed and prepped for the day’s main activity—outdoor PT.
Playing with GIjOEs and other action figures in the great outdoors is one of the most enjoyable activities fans can participate in AND capture in their own photographs. After all, GIjOEs are TOYS and they were meant to be played with in largely outdoor-based action scenarios, settings and environments. As a result, backyard play allows our imaginations to run free (see Tom Razooly, HERE).
Steve Benson’s action figure photography stands apart from others we seen by (somehow) putting LIFE into the figures themselves. You can almost feel their muscles straining and hearts pumping as they tackle various obstacles put before them in Benson’s backyard training course. We asked Steve if he would share some of his “secrets” for creating convincing ACTION photos with GIjOEs and he kindly replied:
“My secret is a lot of patience, a lot of swearing, and a weekly therapeutic massage! I use figures with stiff joints and continue to work with them until they are posed exactly how I want them. Balancing them takes a lot of time and they try to fall over a lot in these gusting Colorado breezes. I hate setting up formations because if one falls down, half the company goes down with him! My back is usually plenty stiff after a detailed session like the ‘Tough One.’ Fortunately, I have two (10 and 14 year-old) daughters to assist me.”
Fall in! Eyes Front! Benson’s eager squad of 1:6 scale soldiers prepares for a rigorous session of PT led by their (mohawked) paratrooper drill sergeant. Notice the diversity of characters and their accurate attention to detail. Out-STANDING! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
“My 17 year-old son has refused to participate until we switch to male soldiers engaged in combat operations. That will be coming reasonably soon, but I have to get O’Mara and Devereux (the two women) through Ranger School first, which I plan to have done by the end of July. After that, it will start getting rough with operations in Afghanistan, Ukraine and Sudan. I’m looking forward to it.”
Hit the dirt and gimme 25, maggots! Benson’s Army drill sergeant wastes no time in getting the other soldiers warmed up and working hard. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
“I only photoshop to change facial expressions (eyebrows usually) and to remove imperfections like dog hairs from my beagle or stray uniform threads that sneak into the photo. So far, I’ve never had to use any wires or special posing aids, except for the Littlebird chopper and the deployed parachute. I did use wires to hang those pieces and photoshopped them out of the pictures later.” —Steve Benson
Here then, is a sample sequence of some of Benson’s recent action figure photos. Enjoy!
All the way up, and all the way down! According to the Drill Sergeant, there’s no substitute for proper form when doing push-ups the ARMY way. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
Leg scissors work the abs and turn wimps into warriors! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
Learning to work as a team is essential in the Army. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
“Sgt T” instructs Chief Warrant Officer Devereux how to do a proper Army chin-up. And no, they’re not going to be easy, soldier. So… GET UP THERE! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
CWO Devereux show Sgt. T she’s got what it takes and maxes out each rep. HOOah! You GO, girl! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
Devereux’s determination is clearly making her “ARMY STRONG!” (Photo: Steve Benson)
Hit that Wall! Devereux continues to the next obstacle of her “Tough One” training (taking place in Benson’s backyard). Note the realistic stride in this pic. WOW! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
This is a perfect example of the athletic and physical realism we were describing earlier. It’s very easy to believe this figure is actually jumping onto this obstacle. You can almost sense and FEEL her musculature making the effort. Such moments in time are VERY difficult to pose and capture in a way that convincingly “fools the eye.” Excellent work, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge (and STUDY).
Get over that obstacle—NOW! Devereux struggles but refuses to quit. (Photo: Steve Benson)
Almost over…Don’t Stop! Get off that obstacle! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Success! (Was there ever any doubt?) HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)
If you build it—they will TRAIN. What’s next, Drill Sergeant? Benson’s handcrafted climbing tower obstacle is an ominous 1:6 scale masterpiece. (Photo: Steve Benson) Click to enlarge.
Heads up! When the Drill Sergeants go over the basics of rope and net climbing, you’d better be paying attention—they will NOT be repeating themselves. (Photo: Steve Benson)
Not ready? Too bad. Get up that rope NOW, maggot! (Photo: Steve Benson)
If you slip or fall, it’s a long way down (and embarrassing). So keep going! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Excellent! Devereux continues to excel on the course. Go! Go! GO! (Photo: Steve Benson)
What’s next? Failure is NOT an option, soldier! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Look out! One misstep and you’ll pay for it in a field hospital for weeks. (Photo: Steve Benson)
Up the slanted ladder obstacle. Don’t look down! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Yes, you’ve reached the top! What do you want? A medal? Get over yourself and climb down off of the obstacle, soldier. MOVE IT! MOVE IT! MOVE IT! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Watch out, “Spiderwoman.” If you get tangled up in THIS web, it’ll make an easy target for an impatient Drill Sergeant to “pick you off” like an enemy sniper! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Good job, soldier! Now jump off and MOVE OUT to the next obstacle. Notice the natural, realistic posing of the action figures in Benson’s photos. He clearly has a GREAT “eye” for this type of 1:6 artistic pursuit. (Photo: Steve Benson)
That’s right, soldier— You’re going to learn to rappel—like a RANGER! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Sgt. T’s eyes bore holes into Devereux’s skull as she prepares to step off the obstacle. Remember what your Drill Sergeant taught you soldier—and get off of this obstacle—NOW! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Rappelling requires training. And the Army trains its soldiers to LEAD and to WIN. Anytime, Sweetheart. We’re losing daylight. Now, MOVE!!!!! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Devereux and O’Mara move over the side and begin a series of short hops, working their way down the obstacle. We love the upward angle Benson chose for this shot. (Photo: Steve Benson)
Letting out lengths of line, the soldiers carefully focus on keeping correct rappelling postures so as to quickly and safely descend the obstacle. And take a good look at their highly accurate and realistic 1:6 scale harnesses and gear. Superbly staged photo, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Good job! Soldiers always “have each other’s back” in the Army and are trained to keep a sharp eye out in case someone needs help. It looks like these two soldiers did just fine. HOOah! (Photo: Steve Benson)
1:6 scale photo Wiz, Steve Benson, poses next to some of the equipment he’s built for his backyard “training” photos. This shot helps give a sense of scale. He’s even installed a RANGER plaque at the very top to provide inspiration to his rope climbing soldiers. Fan-TASTIC work, Steve! (Photo: Steve Benson)
Bottom Line: Who knew that an Army JAG lawyer would also be a natural photographer of 1:6 scale ACTION? If you’d like to see more of Benson’s work, we highly recommend the new Facebook page he’s created for his miniature heroes found HERE. It’s chocked FULL of great pics and adventures. Our sincerest thanks go out to Steve Benson and his daughters for their generous contributions to this article and for sharing these exclusive and wonderful photos. Go, ARMY!