There is something strange.
In the Newbury School.
Who you gonna call?
That’s why I’m here reviewing the biggest set of Hidden Side’s first wave, 70425 Hidden Side Newbury Haunted High School, from a toy photographer perspective.
Apparently this theme can inspire a lot of scary or creepy stories, and a school itself is filled with tales of such a kind (Surprise class assignment! Tons of homework!).
But how can you represent these tales, in this set, through the lens?
The building process
Just a side note: this set is more a sticker album than a toy. I’ve not placed every sticker, just those fundamental for the details in the building (almost all).
It is the most difficult part. Just a few studs deep on the first floor, something more on the ground, but overall is very thin. This is an issue when comes to posing the figures.
Also, the environments are not separated at all, so when you shoot in the class, you can see another room sneak in the frame, and it can be even the room where you are shooting in.
Fortunately, there are a lot of windows through which you can make the light pass.
The classroom is really bad. Apart from the stickers quantity, you can barely fit the minifigures in the desks (which are only chairs, actually), but only those who have bendable legs.
You have to use a lot of your macro lens if you want to give the shots some dignity and frequently use the light from the windows.
And don’t forget to take care of the bear, hidden behind the board. Here I’ve used some backlight and smoke, placing an ectoplasmic presence to declare the weirdness of this class (stickers needed for details).
This is easily recognizable as the best part of this set. You can shoot a lot of stories using this facade, and the most frequent ones having a creepy component in it.
Backlight and smoke are surely your best friends.
Unfortunately, you can’t shoot from any angle because it can reveal some stickers related to the monster side, like this shot of the entrance.
The monster side
As you surely know, this school is haunted by the spirits of old grounded students.
The set has even a quiet monster-bench that scares the lazy students (stickers needed for the scary part).
Once transformed, the school reveals all the monstrous details, but only if you placed all the stickers and only if you shoot from the front.
With the transformation of the school comes the changing of the figures. Here i’ve placed some trees on the foreground for a natural framing and a two light setup, one on the back and one on the side.
Once transformed you can play a lot with the amazing figures, making good use of the roof and the shape of the bell tower.
I tried to think about some stories to shoot inside the school, using every piece that comes to my mind, but probably I was not so inspired and surely the interiors of this set did not help me.
The only shoot I made was this “school of rock” band, but it can be done anywhere, the background was not so relevant. But how cool is a School of Rock shot inside a school??!?!
Going further with the experimentations, I tried some shots with batman, and all came out on the funny side.
In this angled shot I had to work a lot with lights to hide the mouth sticker and then I’ve placed trees on the back to fill a bit the emptiness of the background.
The Victorian-inspired facade can be also used for some mid-800-century story, like the classic housekeeper who is hired in a haunted house.
The monster version, instead, can guide you directly to who ain’t afraid of no ghost.
This is the last test for the set, the zombrickfication.
I didn’t even try to change the interiors, focusing only on the facade which has already some elements of decay, like the broken windows (stickers needed).
Since we’re talking about a school I should place it in a timeline where some modern things happened, so here’s a creature attacking a couple of unidentified soldiers patrolling the area, classic scene from every movie of this kind, where the unnamed soldiers die while revealing the creature.
But since LEGO is creativity, I’ve put a couple of baby raptors in this post-apocalyptic environment, just because, why not?
It was very difficult for me to shoot this set thinking “outside the box”. Of course you can use the facade for a lot of shots, but every one of these could end up looking almost the same, because the only angle that can surely work is frontal.
The minifigures are extremely good, but the interiors are bad. Period.
Buy it if you are in love with the look of old style schools, but wait for some important discounts.
Last thing: if you have the bus you can notice that the proportions are totally wrong. The school is a bit wider than the bus. I suggest to place some wheels under the building and use it directly as a bus.
Until next time and don’t forget: never cross the streams!