Generations of comic-book fans, science-fiction geeks and cos-players celebrated their pop culture fandom and each other as Saanich hosted one of the largest hobby and toy fairs in western Canada.
Started by Biagio and Candice Woodward of Cherry Bomb Toys, Victoria’s Ultimate Hobby and Toy Fair celebrated its 20th edition on Sunday at Pearkes Recreation Centre by attracting several thousand visitors. (No final figures were available by deadline.)
B. Woodward said shows of this kind break down social barriers by attracting people of all ages and economic backgrounds. People who might never meet each other because of their jobs get a chance to share in their passions, he said.
“If you are a fan of anything, this is your home, this is your community,” he said.
Jade Braddock came channeling her inner Trekkie by dressing up as a Starfleet communications officer from head (beehive hairstyle) to toe (black leather boots).
She carries a replica-phaser and a replica hand-held communicator. A replica-tricoder – think of it as a scanning machine – hangs over her shoulder across the red tunic with the Starfleet insignia. These items are of course replicas of things that have only existed as props, but that is not the point. For Trekkies, they are the fine details that make all the difference.
Born in 1979, Braddock fell in love with the Star Trek universe thanks to her vintage-loving parents, who introduced her to the original version as seen in the original Star Trek series that features William Shatner as Captain Kirk and the late Leonard Nimoy as Spock, the Vulcan-born science officer of the Enterprise. Once hooked, she fell in love with the various series that followed. “I like vintage, so this works for me,” she said.
A writer and receptionist in her professional life, Braddock started cos-playing about a year ago, and her friends did not blink twice. “All my friends are super-geeky,” she says. Braddock hopes more people will get into it. “Cos-playing and costuming is so much fun,” she said. It is a chance to be somebody else, and enjoy it with others, she said.
Childhood and family also inspired Kyle Lancester to visit the show with his son Charlie. They came dressed as Ghostbusters. In fact, four-year-old Charlie was wearing his dad’s old Ghostbuster costume, from when he was growing up in the 1980s. Kyle said he always wanted to come to this show and re-create part of his childhood while spending time with his son, who has already been slimed, ahem, infected by the Ghostbuster bug.
As they were wandering the booths looking for Ghostbuster memorabilia, Charlie was already able to point out the characters Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore, said Kyle. “He knows all the characters, and he’s big into Star Wars.”
Ah yes, Star Wars. With a new movie coming out this winter, Woodward expects Star Wars- related items to be big sellers. “Whatever movie is happening at the time dictates sales,” he said.
The Star Wars franchise also helps explain the commercial potential of pop culture merchandise. When Disney purchased the franchise, it paid $4 billion. “That’s huge, but they are making their money back, no problem,” said Woodward.
Granted, Star Wars sits near or at the top of the pop culture food-chain. But it is a rich eco-system with plenty of room for expansion – Victoria will host the inaugural Capital City Comic Con in March 2018 at various locations around the city – that leaves room for the likes of Sun Khamunaki, a Victoria-based graphic artist, who set up her booth in what Woodward called artists’ row. Khamunaki, who specializes in cover art for comic books, says shows like Sunday’s are crucial for her business in the light of the potential audience that she can reach.
“It’s always worth coming,” she said. “I always make contacts, and meet new people, who are either interested in hiring me, or know somebody who would,” she said.
Khamunaki estimated about 50 per cent of her work comes through shows like Sunday’s and in the near future, she plans more shows in the U.S. But if Sunday’s show had a business side, its appeal goes beyond it.
“All of us are so passionate about the characters that we love, so we are here to celebrate that,” she said.
In fact, some are taking this passion a step further by creating a character of their own. Emmy Pert, for example, created a Rummy, a chipmunk-looking critter. As she walks among the 100-plus vendors, she poses for pictures with little children.
It is clear that she is having a fun time showing her own handiwork, which took her six months to make.
You get the sense, though, she sometimes wishes that she had made the mouth and eye-holes a little bigger. “It’s hot in here,” she said.