Written by | Exclusive Shoot

Exclusive shoot by guest creative Daniel Sparkes.

Daniel Sparkes is the next guest creative to debut a brand new shoot across the Exclu Platform and he has chosen a genre within Toy Photography thats not all too often seen – Boxing.

‘It doesn’t matter how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward’


Firstly I would like to thank Jack and the Exclu Team for the opportunity to share some of my Rocky pictures for this excellent magazine and of course, this fantastic community. This is an opportunity I have wanted for a long time so thank you for this chance!

When I was asked to do a theme of my choosing, I wanted to do a theme and genre that hasn’t been attempted before. Rocky came straight to mind. Apart from me who else does these shots? I couldn’t think of one single account.


Most of the toy photography is centred on Star Wars which will always be my first love, but I do enjoy doing these Rocky shots which is different from the rest of toy photography I see on Instagram. In this article I will explain my setup with some behind the scenes pictures to accompany it, a list of the gear I used as well as my camera settings and what I try to achieve with these.

As a lover of the Rocky films, yes even Rocky V, instead of doing one theme from one of the films I thought I would focus on my favourite Rocky figures from the NECA line to give a bit more variety.  Doing action shots with these figures are a bit difficult as they lack the necessary articulation to do some great boxing poses. The figures are much like most of the NECA figures with the legs not giving much articulation at the hip etc. The shorts on these figures do restrict them which doesn’t help. My favourite NECA Rocky figure is without doubt the Apollo Creed from Rocky IV, the head sculpt is superb so I did focus on this one a bit more.


I always try to make my shots movie accurate with backgrounds which is quite challenging with boxing backgrounds. I never thought I had a particular style but what I always set out to achieve is the shot being clean, crisp and with the figure dominating the scene with the background blurry yet recognisable. With these shots I put the film on and simply paused the TV on certain scenes.


With my boxing shots I tend to spray with figures with water to give them some sweat effects. Digirama is something I have been doing for a while and feel comfortable doing it. It’s trickier than people appreciate with accounts like @workmoreorless, the daddy of digirama work, making it look easy when it’s not. Where people tend to go wrong in my opinion is lighting. What I use is two-three LED desk lamps (links down below to Amazon) as well as two LED Video lights for additional lighting. With some of the shots I am using a wrestling ring which isn’t ideal for scale with 7” figures so I have to be creative with the angle I shoot to make it look convincing.


I hope you like these pictures and also inspire someone to also get involved in doing some Rocky pictures!

Camera settings

I use a Nikon D7200 and with these collection of shots I’m using my Nikon macro 40mm lens. All of the shots where shot in manual mode; ISO 100, f.3 – f.4 and between 1/40- 1/80 second.  Wherever possible I shoot with ISO 100.



Lights – LED Desk Lamp, 8W Table Lamps, 7-Level Brightness Dimmable, Eye-care Touch Sensitive Control Foldable Bedroom Reading Lights ( I highly recommend these lights, 7 levels of brightness but the best thing is it’s 270° rotatable lamp head, 150° adjustable arm and 340° revolvable base, which allows you to reach almost every position you can imagine, so really ideal for toy photography!

Additional lighting – Rechargeble 96 LED Video Light,Ulanzi Porcket Mini on Camera Led Light with 2500mAh Battery and Magnet Filters (


  • NECA Rocky Series
  • Fight damaged Rocky and Apollo; the first NECA rocky figures.
  • Rocky 3 – Rocky gold trunks.
  • Rocky 4 – Apollo Creed and red trunks Ivan Drago.
  • Wrestling Ring


Be sure to check out the rest of Daniel’s creative portfolio via his Instagram handle @rebel_jawa and for all the latest from across the toy community, stay tuned to Exclu. 

Last modified: May 25, 2018

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