Nostalgia mixed with obsession at the sixth annual Transformers Toy Convention at the Doubletree International Plaza Hotel in Etobicoke last weekend.
Lovers of the 80s action figures, most of them young men in their 20s and 30s clad in Transformers T-shirts and caps, queued in the hotel foyer around a 10-foot-tall Optimus Prime (fictional commander of the heroic Autobots and most recognizable Transformer of all time) for the chance to get in the dealers room and spend hundreds of dollars on the toys.
The convention's 30-something director, Colin Douglas, estimates he's spent $10,000 on Transformer merchandise in his lifetime. But he's no big spender compared to others he knows who've had to rent storage space for their collections.
Says Douglas, "Now that I'm grown up and have a good job, I can afford to buy those toys I always wanted."
To Phil Gervais, a 19-year-old self-professed fanatic from Brampton who stayed over at the hotel the night before, "Transformers aren't just blank machines. They have emotions."
Josie Thurman, a vendor who goes by the nickname Sunstar, is one of the few women at the event not looking bored to tears. She writes Transformers fan fiction and does artwork.
She talks excitedly about her favourite character, Starscream, and points to a glass-encased box on the table filled with pristine Transformers toys. "This is my pride and glory," she says.