THE force was strong among comic book fanatics packed into a sci-fi fair in Bolton.

Scores of superhero fans on the hunt for a rare comic, T-shirt or toy poured over stalls at the Holiday Inn at the weekend.

Star Wars, Dr Who, Marvel and Superman were just some of the most sought after collections.

Stall holders said the wave of new superhero films had sparked a renewed comic book craze.

David Crawford started off as a collector of Star Wars and Dr Who paraphernalia but is now a dealer.

Mr Crawford, aged 42 from Preston, said: “I had loads of Star Wars toys when was a kid. It was when I was in my 20s that I got back into it all again.

“I think it’s because comics and toys tap into nostalgia and your childhood memories.

“Dr Who is one of the most popular on my stall. It used to be more of a cult thing. But now more and more people love it because of the television programme.”

Fair organiser, Ken Hampson, added: “Events like this have become much more popular and I think it’s because of the recent influx of superhero films. Younger people especially are taking much more of an interest in it.”

Darth Vader had been due to make an appearance on Sunday but was unable to attend due to sickness. It was unclear whether he had a sore throat or breathing problems.