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Transformers Fans Hail the arrival of Japanese Headmasters

After pulling in over 260 million dollars, the latest Transformers film – “Dark of the Moon” – has proven that the classic toy franchise has a very avid fan base. These fans are also buying the toys; enjoying a new series on Hub called Transformers: Prime; and old-school TF fans are thrilled to hear that Transformers: Headmasters -the Japanese version of the show – is getting an official DVD release in the U.S.

Now to get a real handle on how big a deal this all is, I decided to call on the founder of the popular TF fansite Seibertron.com, Ryan Yzquierdo.  Ryan and I discussed his fandom, his Transformers toy collection, his take on the films and how to give away a set of the Transformers: Headmasters DVDs from Shout! Factory.  (Yeah, I’ve got a couple sets to give away!) Read on:

 

Transformers super-fan Ryan Yzquierdo

Geek To Me: When did you first become a fan of Transformers?

Ryan Yzquierdo: I’ve been a fan since 1984. I caught one of the very first episodes of the Transformers cartoon one fateful early Saturday morning, back when Saturday morning cartoons were something to look forward to. I swear it was the first episode. Later that day, I begged and begged my mom to take me to Toys“R”Us to buy me a Transformer. Bumblebee was my first.

G2M: Who is your favorite Transformer bot?

Ryan Yzquierdo: Soundwave without a doubt. There’s just something very awesome about him, despite the fact that he transforms into an outdated Walkman that plays cassette tapes. His toy is still my favorite after all of these years. He’s just a classic character and a classic toy. I think the fact that Hasbro has had such a difficult time updating Soundwave to modern times has helped maintain the appeal of this character to me.

G2M: How many TF toys do you have in your collection?

Ryan Yzquierdo: I currently own around 3,500+ Transformers toys. I’ve been collecting since I was 7 years old in 1984, and haven’t collected much outside of Transformers, so I’ve amassed quite a collection over the years. My collection includes every Transformers toy Hasbro has come out with over the past 27 years MINUS about a half dozen oddball repaints. I also have a very large collection of Japanese and European exclusive Transformers as well, including prized items like Metalhawk, Road Caesar, Turbomaster, Skyquake, all but 2 BotCon exclusive toys, and many others.

G2M: Of the many series that have been produced featuring the TF, which is your favorite?

Ryan Yzquierdo: The Japanese exclusive Masterforce series from 1988, a series that never aired in the US, is my favorite. I didn’t discover it until I came across a bootleg tape of it at a comic book convention back in 1995 (before my Internet days). I was fascinated that the toys I grew up with after the American cartoon series had ended actually got their own cartoon in Japan. I still find it exciting to watch cartoons that for many years of my life I had no idea existed. The Internet has forever changed that. The beautiful anime artwork and unique storyline really stand out amongst other Transformers series.

As for the American cartoons, I think Beast Wars is the best simply because it had great writing, great characterization, and continued the stories from the 1980s G1 cartoon from my childhood.

Device Label BLASTER (2010), which transforms into a functional USB Hub, battling Music Label SOUNDWAVE (2007), who transforms into a functional MP3 player

G2M: Have you caught the new Transformers Prime animated series? How does it measure up to past shows?

Ryan Yzquierdo: I watch the new Transformers Prime show on the Hub. It’s not my favorite series, but it’s still pretty good. The show looks great, the voice acting is some of the best since Beast Wars (kudos to them for casting Peter Cullen and Frank Welker, the original voice actors for Optimus Prime and Megatron respectively), but there seems to be something lacking in the story department that I can’t quite put my finger on. It’s a darker show than we’ve seen in previous Transformers cartoon series. If you haven’t watched Transformers in a while, I’d recommend that you watch it. Maybe I’ll feel more connected to the show once the toys come out in the fall.
G2M: How long ago did you start Seibertron.com?

Ryan Yzquierdo: I started Seibertron.com eleven years ago in 2000. It has since grown into a massive Transformers fan site that averages 250,000 to 300,000+ page views per day, over 600,000+ unique visitors per month, and over 5 million unique visitors during the past year. We have everything a Transformers fan could want from toy galleries, daily news, a very active forum community, a podcast, toy sightings section, and many other features. If you’re a Transformers fan, you’ve got to check it out. Seibertron.com is more than meets the eye!

G2M: Michael Bay has gotten a lot of criticism for how he’s handled the live-action Transformers movies, and yet they all make millions and millions of dollars! How do you explain that?

Ryan Yzquierdo: I don’t think all of the criticism Michael Bay gets is fair. He directed a multi-billion dollar live action film franchise that came out of a children’s action figure “puzzle” toy line that has survived since 1984. I loved the first Transformers film and the third is better than second. Any problems I’ve had with the films are the lack of characterization of the Transformers and not taking the Transformers themselves as seriously as I think they should. With the exception of Ironhide, Ratchet, and Bumblebee, Optimus Prime leads an army of idiots who battle a group of stereotypical bad-guy grotesque monsters. That’s not how the Transformers actually are. It’s a shame that most of their personalities got lost when they entered the live action arena.

As for why the movies are so successful? They are amazing movies. Computer animation has become so advanced that they can seamlessly (and effortlessly) make it look like a car has transformed into a robot or that people are standing alongside 30′ tall Transformers. I think everyone knows that the Transformers films weren’t made for the Oscar audience, this isn’t Gone With The Wind or Shakespeare. People just want to be entertained. I think any of these 3 films provide a high entertainment value.

Just because something makes a lot of money doesn’t mean that there’s not room for improvement. There is always room for improvement. Maybe one day they’ll enlist me to be a “Transformers consultant” or something. Ah, wishful thinking.

G2M: Why is it such a big deal that they’re releasing the Japanese version of Transformers on DVD in the USA?

Ryan Yzquierdo: It’s not just the Japanese version of Transformers, it’s the 3 seasons that aired in Japan in 1987 (Headmasters), 1988 (Masterforce), and 1989 (Victory) that we never got to see here. It’s basically the continuation of our series after it ended in 1987. If someone was a fan of Transformers during the late 80s, a lot of our toys made it to the cartoons, just not in cartoons we could watch here.

I never thought I’d see these series released in the States, but they’re finally here for everyone to enjoy!

G2M: If I were to have a contest for Geek To Me and Seibertron.com readers to win a copy of the DVD, what would you suggest? How could someone show that they are a true TF fan?

Ryan Yzquierdo: We could have them go to http://www.seibertron.com/geektome, sign up and they can post one of their favorite childhood memories that involves Transformers or they could tell us why they like Transformers so much. We’ll pick the best stories for the winner!

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And that’s the way it’s gonna work. Now, you have two choices on how to enter: either comment below* with your fave childhood memory about the Transformers, or you can share your story on Seibertron.com. Ryan and his staff will pick the winner from his site and I will pick the winner from this blog.

The Geek To Me/Seibertron.com  “Transformers: Headmasters DVD Set” Sweepstakes starts at 11:00 pm (Central) on (Monday), July 11, 2011 and ends at 12:00 noon (Central) on Monday, July 18, 2011. See complete contest rules by clicking HERE.

Good luck!

(*All comments must be approved by the blog moderator.)