Extreme Sets have been putting out cardboard diorama displays for wrestling figures for a while now. They allowed folks to easily, and cheaply, create ring and crowd environments, locker rooms and props. They’ve recently got into the non-wrestling game, and their offerings are on fire right now. The first wave consists of the Deranged Alleyway, Sewer, Sector 9 (alien techy), and Dojo environments.
All are in scale for 6-7 inch figures and are HUGE. Each set comes with 6 panels, and each panel is 20 inches wide by 12 inches tall. They have slots and tabs on each end so that you can combine them for a long running display, or fold them at a 90 degree angle to create corners and rooms. We’ve got our hands on all of wave 1 and will be taking a look at each, starting today with the Deranged Alley. Read on to check some additional thoughts and over 75 images showing what it can do!
Extreme Sets Deranged Alleyway Pop-Up
Awesome. As a toy photographer, and for my shelves. I saw these for pre-order before they dropped and thought it could be cool. But there weren’t many real life examples floating around so I held off. Now that they are out, Instagram in particular is flooding with toy shooters using these. The fine folks at Extreme Sets reached out to us right around the same time we reached out to them, and here we are. I really didn’t know what to expect but hoped for the best.
As a backdrop for your shelves, it’s great. Especially if you have longer bookcase or floating shelves because they can extend up to 10 feet continuously! So that wasn’t really up for debate, they kick ass at filling out shelves.
What I was concerned with was using them to shoot toy photos. How would the light bounce off them? Would they hold up being bent into cornered rooms repeatedly? Would they look “real” in the shots? And they passed the test for all those questions. Nothing is going to beat a full fledged diorama done by an artist, but those are expensive and take up space when not in use. These are a flat piece of cardboard and can be stacked no thicker than a text book when done. Most times, you won’t use more than 2 at a time for a shot, so each set gives you 6 panels to mix it up with. You’ll have to get creative with flooring since these do not come with any, but that’s not normally a problem. Hit Home Depot and you’ll find something that can work, glass/tile/wood/metal etc. The artwork is well done on all of them, and the edges are all designed to flow together. So aside from some slight raised edges at the connection point, walls carry through. In this set, it’s brick, and there is a ton of graffiti all over the place, giving some spice to your setup or photos, and helping break up the repeating patterns.
Each came with 2 accessory pieces, in this set they were dumpsters. All cardboard, comes flat, designed to be folded and tucked into it’s final form. These were cool, but not my cup of tea. I’d prefer to fill in my environment with physical objects, as these looked too “cardboardy” up close. For what they are though, they’re well done.
Some nitpicky notes:
These are sturdy, but be careful. Getting them in and out of the connection slots the first time is tight. If you aren’t paying attention, it could result in a bend or a tear. And of course, generally keep them flat – it’s cardboard so it can bend.
Photography wise – I love the fact that it can extend 10 feet – BUT – in most cases, for me, that will never be done, even on the shelves as display backdrops. On top of this, for upward angled shots, they are a tad short unless the figure is right up against the piece. So, a 1.5 foot or 2 foot tall set would be nice. If that means reducing the panels from 6 to 4 or 3, I’d be ok with that. But really, I’d love a 2 foot tall 6 panel setup. For straight on, or downward angled shots, they’re perfect as is though.
There is some slight banding that shows through depending on how the light hits the piece due to the nature of cardboard being corrugated. It’s not really a big deal in any case, but for super picky folks it should be noted. You can see it in some shots below if you look hard enough. The awesome artwork helps hide that, it’s only really noticeable in blocks of solid colors.
In all, these things are great. Having these environments available and easily moved, changed, rotated, playing with lights bouncing off in different directions, it immediately livens up photo shoots. I plan on getting some additional sets to use as shelf displays. The Alley will work for my DC stuff. The Sewer will work for my Turtles area. They have more coming, including some “Transforming Robot” themed ones that will work perfectly. But I want sets out and ready to go for shooting figures without needing to break a display shelf down so I’ll be doubling up on some.
Disclaimer: Extreme Sets provided these pieces for review purposes.