Santa Rosa Toy Con 2016


Arthur Gonzalez-Martin

Some participants at this year’s Toy Con chose to cosplay.

Arthur Gonzales-Martin, Senior Staff Photographer

Toy Con is the newest convention to the North Bay, having just celebrated its fourth year sept 24. Its founder, local toy vendor Mike Holbrook, was tired of missing out on San Francisco’s comic con, which has a lottery system due to the overwhelming number of people who want to go every year.

“I’ve been to every major convention so I figured why not make my own?” Holbrook said. After calling some friends and Googling “the largest rentable building in Sonoma County” Santa Rosa Toy Con was born with about 2,200 people attending its first year and about 6000 attending its third year running.

The convention is a day long (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) event at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds across from the Veterans Building. It’s housed in four buildings on the fairgrounds property with about five food vendors, two serving dinner.

The first building of the con had live pro wrestling and free video games. “Once Upon a Video Game”, a vendor of old video games, provided most of the free video game stations scattered around the room. They had everything from the Xbox One to a “Scramble” mini game cabinet. you could find about any console to play on. The pro wrestling was OK, I was never a real fan, but if having two guys in spandex fake beating the living daylights out of each other is your thing, then it was a blast.

There was a LARP (live action role play) demo by “Amtguard” a fantasy LARP group with your classic sword and shield action, As well as a demonstration by a local fencing school.

The main building, Grace Pavilion, housed the majority of the toy vendors, artist booths and minor and major celebrities. Local comic artists attended like Alexis E. Fajardo, creator of Kid Beowulf, and artist Emily Martin of Princeless. Another interesting booth was “My Twin Me.” which scans your body and make it into a small statue off-site. The statues ranged from three inches of one person at $74 to a nine-inch family of 4 for $474.

The last building, the Showcase Café, was home for all of the Q&As wih the major guest of honor. Speakers included Veronica Taylor, the voice behind Ash Ketchum from Pokemon, Amelia wil Tesla Seyruun from Slayers, April O’ Neil from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Phil LaMarr, Known for his roles on a number of serious shows like Jack from Samurai Jack and John Stewart: Green Lantern from Justice League and JL: Unlimited, to his most famed comic role as Hermes Conrad the Jamaican beorocrat from Futurama. I went to two of the five Q&As.  There was a different feel between the two Q&As as Taylor was very shy while LaMarr was loud, social and was seldom in his natural speaking voice.

Overall, it was a great con, and I hope to attend the next year’s Toy Con for its fifth year as the founder “has something big in mind.” I hope to be there to find out what it is.Artur