Star Wars Lego photos take action figures to a whole new level

Illustrator and designer Vesa Lehtimäki, of Finland, started to photograph his son's Star Wars Legos in July 2009. The pictures went viral after he posted them on his Flickr page.

He started to photograph his kid's toys as a way to document them, because he realized they wouldn't last. "Originally, I just documented the toys, you know, put one on the a table and shoot it just like that," he said. "With Star Wars action figures something just snapped and I started experimenting with them in July 2009."

He uses a variety of material to make it look like a frozen planet. Vesa Lehtimäki
He uses a variety of material to make it look like a frozen planet.

While shooting he decided to stick with 'Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.' I love winter in Finland and I had loved the snowy Hoth scenery from the first moment I saw it in 1980," he said. "I had not seen a falling snow photograph done with miniatures and I wanted to see if I could do it." 

Lehtimäki can even make the tiny aircraft look as if they are flying. Vesa Lehtimäki
Lehtimäki can even make the tiny aircraft look as if they are flying.

The challenge of photographing the tiny models is what pushes Lehtimäki to come up with creative ideas. "I think the limitations of movement on the (mini-figures) is actually a richness," he said. "One has to work a little to figure out a way to make the best of them." 

Over the past year, he hasn't had a chance to shoot as much as he would like to, because he has been busy doing repairs on his house. Once he finishes up with working on his house, he will be back at negotiating with his son to let him shoot again. "You see, I borrow them for photography and return them afterwards to the kid's toy piles," he said. "It's his stuff, free to fool around with." 

  • Slideshow Photos

    Star Wars Lego photos take action figures to a whole new level

    An illustrator and designer's incredible Lego images — using his son's toys — have gone viral online.

  • Star Wars Lego photos take action figures to a whole new level

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    Star Wars Legos create new scenes -

    Illustrator and designer Vesa Lehtimäki, of Finland, started to photograph his son's Star Wars Legos in July 2009. The pictures went viral after he posted them on his Flickr.

    TODAY's multimedia editor Lance Booth asked him about his inspiration, and his methods for creating magic.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Tauntaun revisited -

    He uses a variety of special effects to give his photos a frozen world feel. "I experimented with gypsum powder in water tank, powdered sugar, talcum powder, baking soda and finally baking powder, which is just perfect for the scale," he said.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Y-Wing engine probs -

    He has been a Star Wars fan since he was a child, but thinks of himself as a reborn fan. "After over two decades I have discovered the original Star Wars trilogy again," he said. "I haven't watched them repeatedly, but rather dug deep into some extensive background information I have found from various sources, information that wasn't there before."

    Vesa Lehtimaki
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    Powered! -

    He considers himself a Lego fan, but not a fanatic. "I don't think I necessarily qualify as an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego) because I do not build," he said. "I definitively have the deepest admiration for the product. It is an endlessly fascinating subject for photography"

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Ski Trooper -

    "I really connected with some snowtrooper minifigures from 'The Empire Strikes Back,' he said. "I love winter in Finland and I had loved the snowy Hoth scenery from the first moment I saw it in 1980. I just wanted to push photographing the little Lego figures on snow."

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Moonlight shadow -

    Snowtroopers warm up from a fire under an AT-AT.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Living in the dark side -

    A tiny Darth Vader Lego stands waist deep in snow, shrouded by fog.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Last ship to Rendezvous Point -

    A Y-wing looms on the frozen set. "The research on the original miniature spaceships I found online by some model builder enthusiasts is nothing short of modern pop culture archaeology," he said. "It's unbelievable! I just love those X-wings and Y-wings."

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Kneecap mission -

    "I started all this in the summer of 2009. I had bought a Canon DSLR for an illustration project and once the camera was there, I started pointing it to things," he said. After his hobbie went viral he has received work as a professional for Lego. "Today, photography has become a part of my work. So far I have worked for Lego ('Hobbit,' 'Lord of the Rings') and Marvel ('Iron Man 3') and I loved every moment of it."

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Ka-Boom! -

    Lehtimäki does a variety of actions shots with the Lego figures.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Falcon and the snowman -

    A snowtrooper poses with a tiny Millenium Falcon.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Derelict on Hoth -

    "The idea of photographing the kids' toys comes from the realization that the toys won't last," he said. "I want to save them in photographs and make a book of the photos someday."

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Briefing on Hoth revisited -

    Lego figures stand in a frozen wasteland.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    Bossk's cool day out -

    The photographs are entirely Lehtimäki creations. "I began to shoot the photographs as if they were about events before, during, after and around the events we know from 'The Empire Strikes Back,'" little one-frame "beside-the-scenes" plays, if you will," he said.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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    A pilot's dream -

    Lehtimäki would like to keep on photographing the Legos, but is has slowed down in recent months. He is busy repairing his house, but will be back at it once he finishes.

    Vesa Lehtimäki
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