DRACUT -- They're not your run-of-the-mill dorks there to swap stories, idea and toys, Josh Bernard wants people to know.
"It's a different kind of fandom," Bernard said as he set up tents in his Dracut backyard for Saturday's East Coast Shogokia Summit, which drew dozens from as far away as Colorado and Florida. "It's nerdy, but it's a sociable nerdy."
Bernard, a graphic designer by day, is also known as the creator of Collectiondx.com, a sleek and professional website where fans of Japanese and other action-figure toys go to read reviews and talk about their hobby. Many who arrived Saturday, some bringing toys or beer or both, had met him before while others knew him only by name or through talking on Skype.
Toys either for sale or simply on display ranged from obscure Japanese shows from the 1970s and '80s to more American mainstream shows like Transformers.
But these aren't children playing with toys given to them as birthday presents. They're adults who can afford pricier and rare toys and who can appreciate the aesthetics behind what they display on their shelves in basements or offices, said Mason Fitch, a 38-year-old software consultant from Needham who was there partly to sell some of his collection.
"It's always a swap-meet kind of vibe," said Fitch, who was among an original group that began meeting years ago in a restaurant before the gatherings grew in size and scope.
Fitch, whose collection numbers in the hundreds, also addressed the nerd aspect of their hobby.
"It's not the socially awkward nerds who don't know how to socialize," he said. "It's pretty much the opposite of that."
Collectors milling around the backyard Saturday were in their 20s, 30s and 40s, some with girlfriends or wives, some wearing T-shirts related to their hobby and others in collared shirts or Ralph Lauren polos. Kids ran around and played on a playground and trampoline.
In addition to the collectors are the creators -- those who make the toys themselves. Among them are Ben Mininberg, who drove from Albany, N.Y., and David White, a freelance illustrator from Easthampton. Both create handheld Transformer-style robots that they design with computer software and then print in three dimensions using specialized printers.
White, who has done books for Hot Wheels and Lego, along with his own children's books, called Mininberg an inspiration for him picking up home-designed and -printed robots in the last few months. White also displayed prints of robots he drew with marker that looked exactly like something that could appear on Transformers.
Mininberg, who writes for Collectiondx.com and works in pharmaceuticals, takes about two weeks to go from sketch to digital blueprint to a printed product. It's a hobby he picked up within the last year with the help of a $1,000 printer that takes a few days to create an object from thin air.
"Most are loosely inspired by two or three things," he said of the robots, some of which he painted by hand.
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