Fair promises to be a paradise for the young at heart

Victoria’s Ultimate Hobby & Toy Fair returns to Pearkes Recreation Centre on Sunday

B. Woodward of Cherry Bomb Toys

Whether you’re a Trekkie, a gamer, a band geek, a comic book guy, a dungeon master or something else entirely, Victoria’s Ultimate Hobby & Toy Fair will have something for you.

On Sunday, the 16th annual convention takes over the Pearkes Recreation Centre, featuring more than 250 vendors selling everything from vintage and collectible action figures to classic Hot Wheels to rare vinyl records. The twice-a-year fair – which has door prizes, special guests and a variety of games – was started eight years ago as a family-friendly response to the typical collectible culture show.

“We wanted to do a toy event where it’s more family focused and charity-based,” said B. Woodward, who owns Cherry Bomb Toys with his wife Candice.

“There was another show, but it was out in Sidney – it was more of an older crowd. It was more of a diecast and tin toy scenario, which is still amazing and awesome, but they weren’t really focusing on the family scenario. That’s something that we really wanted to bring.”

Since its inception, the fair has grown to attract about 5,000 people per show, with people coming from as far away as Germany and Japan. The show has expanded to include carnival games, which Woodward said added to the charitable aspect of the fair.

“You’ve got to have a reason for the kids to play games, so we said, ‘Hey, let’s do it all for charity,’” he said. “All the money that the kids pay to play the games goes to B.C. Children’s Hospital.”

Over the years, the fair has raised more than $33,000 for local charities. This year, there will also be a silent auction with proceeds going to the MS Society of Canada, and a number of the guests are dedicated to helping people locally, such as Heroes Inc.

“They’re a group of people that dress up as superheroes and they go out and do things to help kids,” said Woodward, noting they volunteer and make appearances at all kinds of community events. “They help run the games in the back.”

Other guests include the Angels Chopper Bicycle Club (AC/BC), which teaches underprivileged kids how to build bikes; the Victoria LEGO Users Group, who inspire kids with their LEGO creations; and the Star Wars 501st.

“They’re the folks that dress up as Star Wars characters – Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, Boba Fett and so forth,” said Woodward. “We’ve always had them at the show and they do this for the community, for charity, just using the Star Wars venue to dress up and have fun and get kids involved.”

The fair will also feature some mouthwatering food trucks from Empire Donuts, the Crispy Fish and a host of others.

In addition to being family-friendly and giving back to charity, Woodward said the fair also teaches kids important social skills through collecting – like how to barter – and opens them up to hobbies they never knew they’d like.

“Collecting is not just about yourself,” he said. “It’s about sharing, it’s about looking at a new thing altogether. You get to see all these new things – models, trains, baseball cards, comics, knitting.

“This is a mom and pop show. Toy shows and hobbies – it’s all about family.”

The fair runs Sunday, Oct. 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Pearkes Recreation Centre, 3100 Tillicum Rd. Admission is $5, but kids 12 and under get in free.

 

Early bird VIP tickets – which get you into the fair an hour early – are currently available for $10 at Cherry Bomb Toys, 1410 Broad St. On the day of the fair, early bird tickets can still be purchased, but for $15. For more information, check ultimatetoyfair.com.