by James Shaw
To be that good Anglican boy, I should’ve attended eucharist at Christ Church Cathedral Sunday morning. Instead I was attending what one may consider a religion of its own.: a toy show.
Victoria’s Ultimate Toy and Hobby Fair happens twice a year at the G.R. Pearkes Recreation Centre and the first of 2013 is bigger than the last of 2012. To be there early on May 5th at 8am was a delight. When the doors opened for the early bird crowd, I was rewarded with two IMAX passes, good for a discounted group rate at the National Geographic IMAX theatre, located next to the Royal B.C. Museum. The first thousand attendees were awarded with these coupons. Before entering the show floor, I had already came away with goodies. But what was awaiting for me to see out on the dealers’ floor?
Cherry Bomb Toys took their usual prominent spot right at the entrance. Other dealers like Jiggly Pig Comics took 2nd place while Skyhaven Games populated their usual corner. Normally Skyhaven Games dominates the dealer’s floor at Gottacon. And Dick de Ryk, the owner of Island Fantasy (a haven for many a comic book nerd back in the 80’s), was spotted wandering the floor. I don’t recall him having a table at this show.
Groups and charitable organizations were on hand to balance out the dealers. The Victoria LEGO User’s Group occupied a back spot with plenty of fun for everyone. At another corner were carnival-styled games to play and center back stage was a massive silent auction display to look at. AC BC (Angels Chopper Bicycle Club) were showing off some really cool chopper bicycles while raffling off some fantastic looking children’s pedal cars. I bought 3 tickets for $5 just for the chance to own one.
And you don’t have to be a Star Wars not to have a photo taken with one of the members of the 501st Legion. They just look awesome as it is! Plenty of work went into their costumes to make them look as authentic as possible. I could only guess the stormtrooper I had my photo with was feeling very uncomfortable on that hot day. Was he smiling for the photo? He said he was.
I wasn’t sure about what I would buy among the dealers and nor about what I would find. Ed asked me to keep an eye out for Shockwave from the Transformers Prime Beast Hunters line. Shockwave is a hard toy to get a hold of because he’s currently only available in the States, and he looks nearly as good as his 1984 predecessor. The only difference is that he transforms into a tank than a gun. And my dad asked me to find him a small vintage toy. Bearing these in mind, I wondered if I would have the time to look for what I wanted. After much pacing of the floor, I wasn’t able to find Ed’s Shockwave and nor was I able to see his other requests. Nothing from the How to Train Your Dragon series was around.
However, I located a vendor table selling soaps by Parallela Products. I can best describe them as cult soaps or if you will, cult cleanliness. I purchased a soap bearing a striking resemblance to the soap from Fight Club (Paper Street Soap). Other soaps displayed celebrated cult TV or film. The owner of this operation, Sabine, said she plans to work on a HAL-9000 soap. And this talented lady is also the hostess of a radio show Fiji Mermaid on CFUV 101.9 FM. But don’t let your need for beauty products stop at soaps, she also handles bath fizzes, hand salves and lip balms to name a few. Perhaps one day she’ll make a Southern Culture on the Skids oatmeal pie soap.
Despite the fact I was finding plenty of DVDs at the last toy fair I was finding a handful of them at this event. I love my optical disc collection and with that in mind I thought the show could really use an appearance by Audio Video Replay. I can usually find great titles with them for the same price or cheaper than what I can purchase on the internet. I know recently I’ve made off with some sweet titles such as original Thundercats, Shout release of Transformers, The Star Wars: Clone Wars Series 1 and the special editions of Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline. But here I was happy enough finding She-ra Season 1 vol.2 and a Disney’s Caballeros Collection.
And there was a lot to buy at this show. I’m not talking about the normal North American creations. I was viewing toys from Great Britain’s Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett to Belgium’s Smurfs right down to Japan’s Mazinger Z and Gundam. One vendor even had the Gobot Command Center. Had he a badass looking Thruster I would’ve paid gold for it. Cy-Kill always knew how to get around in style.
But with every hobby & toy show one can’t go without comics and there were plenty of boxes crammed with comics from the independents as well as the big three—Marvel, DC and IDW— to go around. I found a a few boxes of fifty centers or 3 for $1, and … well, say no more. To name a few, I picked up the classics like Little Lulu, Dennis the Menace, Cops, Chili and Blondie. I’m now looking forward to reading my newly acquired G-Man from Image Comics.
My last purchase of the day came at a table populated by vintage toys dating from the early 70’s and back. The one thing that caught my eye among the die-cast vehicles was a Tommy Talker ventriloquist dummy. I was told by the people behind this table that they believed the dummy was made in the 50’s. But at a $45 price tag, I bartered them down. In retrospect, the only dummy sold that day was myself. If only I had a cell phone or blackberry. I should’ve done the research before sealing the deal. Even though the doll was from the 70’s, my dad was happy as a boy on Christmas day. Ventriloquism was one of his old hobbies and I learned this exact puppet was among the professionally built ones in his collection.
A check-in with Ed later, and he said didn’t do too badly either. Apart from grabbing a few other harder to find Transformers Prime figures, he came away from the show like a bandit. He found a die-cast toy robot from Super Dimension Century Orguss (an early 80’s anime series), a battery operated Wall-E missing its treads (which didn’t bother him since the battery operated mechanics were still functional), and a Lilo & Stitch commemorative poster. His face was filled with an evil grin to let me know that we were not done yet with our day’s activities. Noon had not yet hit. I was hungry for food and hungry for used videos at Hometech Games Plus. To the Geekmobile! The question is would my soap last long enough in the hot trunk of his car.