Five years of Moe University

“Half a decade and I’m still an undergraduate.”

Another year, another recap but this time with a bit more glamour, since the figure project that is all about cuteness awareness celebrates its first five years in service. Now that we count down the last hours of 2022, it’s time to take a step back and evaluate what has been accomplished.  

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Just another awful year?

Ever since the start of the new century the baseline at the end of each lunar cycle was, that it can’t possibly get any worse. Still, each year of the new twenties manages it to hit us over the head like a brick. The outgoing 2022 brought us an energy crisis, a conventional war in Europe, record high inflation and ongoing climate change – only to name a couple of awful things. Therefore, it’s all the more important to, at least manage your personal environment to a degree, that you can once in a while look back and see some positive results. Even though the recent turmoil in economy also affected such mondain things like buying or collecting figures, I was able to close out the year with all my planned projects cut and dried.

In fact, I can’t recall a year where I was able to shoot twelve different figures, while also doing at least one episode of Scaled Affairs and still finding some spare time to take my dolls out for a photo op. I’m particularly relieved about the latter, because now I have enough nice Smart Doll pictures to make a photo calendar for family and friends. I’m not a crazy good photographer, especially if it comes to things like posable figures or dolls, but I think that the combination of Danny’s girls, the beautiful landscapes and all the different outfits, that are partly sewn by my mom, make for a great combo. And besides the pictures that are for everyone to see, I also can keep the memories of how fun it was to travel across the county in order to capture those moments. 

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This year I also broke the triple digits when it comes to numbers of articles on this site. I know this doesn’t sound like much and I guess that’s right, because at least half of them are just reposts of my figure review videos. Nonetheless, I still enjoy writing about my photo journey and hope that it gives someone valuable insights and motivation for their own projects. Sadly, there is not a dedicated blog entry for each of my pictures because sometimes the idea/making is so simple, that I can’t bring myself to write a 1000+ words essay on how to threw a few items onto a table.

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End of the year is of course also when content creators, especially photographers, group together their annual creations and/or highlight their best work once again. As always it would be laughable to repost my puny output and even narrow it further down to a “best of”. Therefore I want to try something different this year and show you three pictures of mine from 2022, that mostly went unnoticed by the community.

The first picture on this list is Altair, a Re:Creators figure by Good Smile Company. It’s a quite nice figure and I wanted to do her justice with a cool looking setting, but in the end I really had to push myself to make this photo. I bought some metal keychains shaped like swords because I wanted to recreate the blade she holds in her hand. When this figure was released there was also a special version that already would have come with several sword but I cheeped out, thinking I would be able to recreate those weapons on my own. And indeed I was able to have them look almost like the original. I even managed to find a solution to mount the figure without her strange looking base, but in the end I guess the whole composition was simply to uninspiring and not really what I had in mind. If I had to redo it, I would also scrap those dangling swords because the motion blur looks rather silly. 

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The second photo on my “no love” list is this rather recent one of Megumi from Saekano. Unlike the previous entry I still very much like the composition. I think the picture turned out well and I was even satisfied with the pun title but apparently not many other people beside me did get into a wintery mood. For some reason portrait pictures with a dark background also tend to do poorly when presented online – at least that is what I experienced when uploading my photos. Of course it also doesn’t help that this is just a prize toy not many people had on their radar and for a Saekano figure this might simply be to prudish in presentation to peek anyone’s interest. Still, I’m glad that I made this photo, even if it was just so that I can have a new background on my phone that fits the season. 

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And the final entry of work that went mostly unrecognized is this picture of the famous Shaohua Miku by manufacturer Myethos. A truly beautiful figure that was and is very popular among figure enthusiast. Sadly, when I was able to make this picture most of the initial hype already died off and therefore this photo did not find it’s audience. Or perhaps people got bored of seeing so may great photos of her in such a short amount of time. Nevertheless this was one of my more ambitious projects this year  where I had to handcraft all the furniture and also the miniature bouquets. I also got a bit more experimental with the framing, hoping to bring something fresh to the table. Well, at least one person seemed to like it and whenever something like this happens, I always have to think about that end scene of the Simpson episode “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy”.

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Another trend I didn’t take part in this year was letting an AI interpreted my figure photos. AI generated items threw some big waves in the art community this year and those text-to-picture programs, where you just describe a motive in a simple sentence and a computer generates an image from scratch (most often by using/stealing things it finds online) are quite striking and often yield some truly funny results. But this one app everyone used to make their figure photos into anime pictures didn’t impress me at all. For me it looked like a thing a Snapchat filter could do in real time a few years ago. Besides taking a motive that is already anime styled like a photo from a figure and turning it into an anime artwork didn’t feel like rocket science to me. But maybe I’m just ignorant, and in a few years, I can simply write some tags into a machine that makes better photos than mine, freeing me from the shackles of painstakingly crafting props and long hours of shooting.

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Until then I still have to come up with my own ideas and of course I’m already using the down time between holidays to brainstorm my next projects. My goals for 2023 in regards of figure photos are vague as always and since some aspects in my personal life took an unexpected turn last summer, I really can’t say how may time and money I can dedicate to my hobbies for the foreseeable future. I will just move on from project to project, making every photo as best I can.

Sincerely

Edi Edhutschek
-Headmaster of Moe University 

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