Somewhere in a classic, run-of-the-mill backyard, a collection of action figures assemble. Their distinctive personas painted over skillfully sculpted plastic, their arms and legs constructed with the perfect amount of articulation. These figures belong to a world all their own, one unencumbered by real-life consequences, but with endless possibilities and outcomes.

 Paul Panfalone Toy Photographer G.I. Joe Action Figures

It all started on a trip to a drug store back in 1982. My mom was there to pick up a prescription, and I was busily scanning the small toy aisle for Star Wars figures. Then, hanging in a field of empty pegs, I saw a single G.I. Joe Cobra Soldier. I immediately snatched it up, without even knowing what it was ... an involuntary reflex triggered by the shear awesomeness of the card art. And so began an obsession that's lasted well over three decades now.

One of my favorite things about G.I. Joe growing up was that every vehicle box contained a cross-sell catalog filled with all the offerings for that particular year. I would stare at them for hours on end, dreaming of the figures and vehicles I'd yet to acquire. The catalogs were illustrated with jaw-dropping photography and set in gorgeous dioramas. My imagination would go wild thinking up ideas a canaries for my own setups.

Inspired by the photography in those inserts, I began shooting my own photos, albeit primitively, using my mom's Polaroid camera. Unbeknownst to her, I'd carefully smuggle it out of the house with my Joes as we embarked on top secret missions all around my neighborhood. 

Fast forward to today, the passion for photographing my Joes has been reignited; this time armed with modern photographic equipment and a better understanding of how to use it ... but still possessing my 11-year-old self's imagination.

Please join me as I document my action figures on their all-new adventures from backyards to pizza boxes to famous locations. There's no telling where they'll take us next...


by Paul Panfalone