First, the technical information:
TITLE: LEGO Star Wars: Small Scenes from a Big Galaxy
AUTHOR: Vesa Lehtimaki
LIST PRICE: $24.99
First, let me say that if you're looking for a reference book of any kind, this is definitely not the book for you. There is no set information, random minifigures are thrown into situations and sets that were not released together by LEGO. The intention of this book is to show you minifigures and LEGO sets as art. As we all know, art is highly subjective, so some people won't perceive the value in this type of book.
A lot of reviews of this book hit on how dark many of the pictures are and how you're not shown the large number of dark and largely obscured images contained in this book. Initially I agreed that this was a problem. On my second look at this book, I started to see something new. Each of the shots in this book was taken and chosen specifically by the artist. He highlighted exactly what he wanted the viewers to see and obscured the rest. Each was a conscious artistic choice.
For example, take a look at the Chrome C-3PO portrait that the publishers put on the net. The direct lighting on the upper right of the head creates a look at this figure that many of us have never attempted. This is probably the most well lighted of the portraits. The artist chose to put the spotlight on textures and details that might go unnoticed in better lighting
He creates his own settings and lighting to provide ambiance. Throughout the book, he provides commentary on the pictures, giving some information on how he achieved the shots or his thought processes behind them.
The action shots are spectacular, and the way that he uses common household stuff to lend atmosphere is truly inspired
Apart from bits of commentary throughout the book, he has a large behind the scenes section where he shows off sketches, alternate shots, unedited shots, etc.
For a fan of Star Wars, you see someone else's take on the sets that you love. I loved shots of 9493, 75049, and 9492 in action.
The more I think about this book, the more I appreciate it. I might not agree with how obscured some of the shots are, but then again I am not an artist. I desperately wished that I could create pictures that lived, the way that his do. Each time through, I feel inspired to try taking similar pictures. It also really makes me want to play with my own LEGO sets.
The action shots in this book are dynamic. He creates real motion in a static image. The atmosphere shots are at times hit and miss. Sometimes I felt that as he tried for atmosphere, he just wet a little too far. There's a shot of Boba Fett coming out of the sand, and it looks more like a blurry sand sculpture in the middle of a blurry sandstorm. Sometimes less is more.
I am more than happy that I got this book. It's definitely going to be one of those books that I pull out from time to time just to immerse myself in this world.
This is the place where I talk about the investment potential of whatever I am reviewing. So let me say off the bat, I don't think it's a wise idea to buy a bunch of these and hope to make money later on. DK is well able to keep this in print until demand wanes, and might be more than willing to do a new print run or publish a new edition if aftermarket demand escalates. I have seen reference books increase in price. When word of mouth gets around and the original printing disappears, the price can escalate quickly. Though investing in new books is probably a slightly worse plan for making money than writing books.
The true value of this book for investors is what it does to collectors. A collector might look through a book like this and get nostalgic for a set that they missed out on. Most of the sets highlighted in this book are retired now. If enough new collectors pick up this book and see how amazing some of these sets and minifigures look, they'll be more tempted to go ahead and buy those retired sets. If they have those sets, they may want to purchase additional copies to do some of the setups that the artist created.
I do recommend this book for any fan of LEGO Star Wars sets or minifigures. My kids both loved looking through it, forcing me to lock the door to the room where all of my Star Wars LEGO sets reside.
Amazon has this book for a very reasonable $13.84 right now. Go buy it on Amazon