When people look at pipes at a hardware store, they see materials used for home renovations. Dave Ratte sees them as blasters, phasers and light sabres.
“Nothing annoys my girlfriend more,” says Ratte, with a smile. “There we are at Home Depot and I’m laying parts on the floor saying stuff like, ‘oh there’s the gun from The Terminator, or there’s the gun from Alien.’
“We’re supposed to be house shopping for renovations and I’m building blasters in the piping aisle.”
Ratte is the president of the Costume Alliance (CA), a cosplay charity group. Cosplay is when people dress up as fictional characters and often role-play.
CA had a booth set up at Central Canada Comic Con at the RBC Convention Centre over the weekend. The event ran from Friday Oct. 30 to Sunday Nov. 2.
Ratte was dressed as Boba Fett from Star Wars, a costume that took him three years to perfect.
“I did the backpack six times before I was good with it, everything I’m wearing was made from scratch,” he says, removing his helmet.
Ratte has been creating props and costumes, and collecting toys for 27 years. He started off building model kits when he was 12 and now builds large-scale costumes, as well as realistic looking props.
He walks towards the Costume Alliance booth, set up outside of the main room at Comic Con, showing off some of his group’s creations. A giant statue of the Silver Surfer from Fantastic Four, a model of Han Solo entombed in “carbonite” from Star Wars, elven armour from Lord of the Rings and weapons from different sci-fi movies.
His pride and joy though, is his 7-foot-tall “Big Daddy” costume from the video game BioShock, which he didn’t bring this year. It took him seven months to complete the project. He debuted it at last year’s Comic Con.
“Every day for seven months I’d come home from my job and work on it until I passed out,” says Ratte and he picks up a picture of the Big Daddy. “Everything you see here is custom made. We try to avoid anything store bought unless it’s a starting point. It’s not authentic.”
Ratte keeps the Big Daddy in his house, though he has to remove his living room windows to move it in and out. His Boba Fett costume sits on a mannequin in his bedroom and his Han Solo hangs on the wall between his living room and dining room.
His day starts earlier than most Comic Con goers because he has to set up his booth. On Saturday, he’s busy working the booth, and also walking around and taking pictures with fans, and working a photo booth with Jeremy Bulloch, the first actor to play Boba Fett.
For regular attendees though, Ratte says the event is simply about reconnecting with things from childhood and passing them down to future generations.
“At the end of the day, it’s about seeing all the stuff you enjoyed as a kid,” he says, putting his helmet back on. “A lot of people grow up and forget about that stuff, but here you walk in and you see that transformer or that G.I. Joe you played with as a kid. It’s a pretty special feeling. I love it.”