s
s
Sections
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, nearly 1.5 million people used their mobile devices to visit our sites.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Wow! You read a lot!
Reading enhances confidence, empathy, decision-making, and overall life satisfaction. Keep it up! Subscribe.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
Until next month, you can always look over someone's shoulder at the coffee shop.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
We don't just cover the North Bay. We live here.
Did You Know? In the first 10 days of the North Bay fire, we posted 390 stories about the fire. And they were shared nearly 137,000 times.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Supporting the community that supports us.
Obviously you value quality local journalism. Thank you.
Already a subscriber?
iPhone
Oops, you're out of free articles.
We miss you already! (Subscriptions start at just 99 cents.)
Already a subscriber?
iPhone

Three-year-old Nakoa Throop inherited more than just dimples from his parents.

He picked up their love of all things "Star Wars," including the movie series' gleaming black villain, Darth Vader.

At a toy convention Saturday at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, the toddler got the chance to see the character in person.

"Hi Darth Vader!" he shouted at the towering figure, played by Redding costume enthusiast Dwayne Smith.

His mother, Delane Larson, stood nearby.

"His father is really into it, so he's been into it, too," she said. "He knows all the characters."

The two were among hundreds who turned out for ToyCon, held at the fairgrounds for the second consecutive year.

It featured dozens of exhibitors selling unopened vintage toys, comic books and things like metal lunchboxes emblazoned with movie and TV show characters.

Elizabeth Duque of Vallejo bought a "Star Wars" Ewok lunchbox, circa 1983, from seller Neal Van Keuren for $20.

"I have a small collection at home," said Duque, sporting an R2-D2-themed dress.

One of Van Keuren's most expensive lunchboxes, a "Flipper" TV show box from 1966, was offered at $175.

"The artwork on it is phenomenal," he said, taking it off a shelf. "The thermos is way cool."

ToyCon also served as a stage for costume players from across the West. Characters from "Star Wars," "Star Trek" and "Ghostbusters" milled among selfie-snapping fans and engaged in live-action role-playing outside the Grace Pavilion.

Two Hollywood actors — Ernie Hudson of "Ghostbusters" fame and Tyler Mane from the remake of "Halloween II" and "X-Men," signed autographs.

"For every hero you need a bad guy," said Guillermo Aragon of Santa Rosa, who posed for a picture and got an autograph from Mane. "The bad guys are also awesome."

Nostalgia was a huge part of the convention.

Matt Holdaway of Berkeley dressed as a life-sized G.I. Joe. He was part of a six-member group staging a battle demonstration.

"When people see the costume, it's like being an 8-year-old boy again," Holdaway said.

Jayme Melendrez, who dressed as a character from the 1989 movie "Ghostbusters II," agreed.

"I've been a big fan of 'Ghostbusters' since I was young," said the San Jose resident. "I see the joy it brings to young people."

Top-notch costume-making was also on display.

Masked Tusken Raiders from "Star Wars" shuffled through the room alongside zombies and action heroes.

Mel Hoppe, a costume artist from Reno, wore a form-fitting suit of leather and chainmail she made based on the "Elder Scrolls" video games.

"This one's actually pretty comfortable," she said.

Darth Vader looked every bit the part. Smith's costume featured the trademark helmet and face with cape, all in black. And he was big.

"I'm really 6-4 but I'm 6-8 in the suit," he said. "I gain 4 inches."

Other Star Wars characters were of the non-human variety. An R2-D2 builders club brought at least three full-size droids to the pavilion.

Brian Munger of San Francisco operated his from a radio-control as convention-goers gazed in wonder.

"If you were a kid growing up and loved Star Wars and always wanted your own, this is the club to be in," said Munger. "It's a club for adults and their toys."

(You can reach Staff Writer Paul Payne at 568-5312 or paul.payne@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @ppayne.)

Show Comment