The man himself: Ryan Yzquierdo
Editor’s Notes: Crave got the amazing opportunity to interview the owner, founder, and supreme brain stormer behind seibertron.com, Ryan Yzquierdo. Not only is Ryan responsible for keeping one of the worlds greatest sources of all things Transformers afloat, but he is also the man behind almost all of the photos in the figure galleries on the site (seriously, when I say almost all, I mean like he didn’t take 2 of those photos!). Ryan was gracious enough to take some time to answer our questions. AND to be EXTRA awesome (because that’s the kind of guy Ryan is) he sent along some of his favorite photos from the site. Read on and enjoy!
Q: Do you remember the first time you ever encountered Transformers? If so, tells us about it. Where were you? What caught your interest about them?
A: The first time I encountered the Transformers was one fateful early Saturday morning, way back in 1984 when cartoons were something to look forward to. I swear I caught the first episode. Later that day, I begged and begged my mom to take me to Toys R Us to buy me a Transformer (which she did at the Toys R Us in Southfield, MI). Bumblebee was my first. My brother got Windcharger. I still have my original one somewhere, though he’s definitely seen better days. Another early memory I have was in a Perry Drug store … my Dad bought me Marvel’s Transformers #4 comic.
Q: How many figures do you have in your collection? Are you focused on collecting any particular series or character these days? Do you collect other TF-related items?
"UNICRON OF LIGHT" is a Japanese exclusive "Lucky Draw" figure (2004) - a $4,000+ figure of which only 10 were ever produced, one of the members of Seibertron.com loaned this figure to Ryan for him to photograph.
A: I’ve been collecting since I was 7 years old in 1984, and I haven’t collected much outside of Transformers, so I’ve amassed quite a collection over the years. My current estimate is that I own around 3,500+ Transformers toys. My collection includes practically every Transformers toy Hasbro has come out with over the past 27 year. I also have a healthy collection of Japanese and European Transformers as well, including prized items like Masterforce Overlord, Minerva, Greatshot, Action Master Double Punch, all but 2 BotCon exclusive toys, and many others. Grand Maximus and Action Master Omega Spreem are at the top of my current want list.
As for other TF related items, I try to keep it mostly to the toys themselves, the comics, and the DVD releases. I’m slowly, yet surely, working on completing my collection of original Marvel UK comics to compliment my complete collection of Marvel US comics, Dreamwave, IDW, and convention comics that I own.
Q: Do you remember the first TF you ever bought/received? Do you still have it?
A: Bumblebee. I’ve long since replaced him several times over with an original and various reissues, but I won’t get rid of my original. Like I said, he’s seen better days. The poor little guy’s falling apart. His rubber tires have even rotted! I’ll have to dig him out and send you guys a pic of him.
WINGBLADE OPTIMUS PRIME (Japan, 2010) and MEGATRON (US, 2008) from the Transformers Animated series
Q: You are the founder and owner of Seibertron, which is an amazing resource for Transformers fans and offers not only news and forums, but also provides a toy database with some of the best photos of TFs anywhere. Can you tell us how it got started and what went into getting the site off the ground?
A: One of my lifelong dreams ever since I was a little kid was to be a Transformers comic book artist. From as early as I can remember, I was drawing Transformers and Transformers comics from 7 until around when I started Seibertron.com back in 2000. I had this great storyline for a G1 cartoon universe based comic that I called “G1: The Lost Years” (which basically bridged the gap by telling some key stories that happened between the end of the 2nd season’s 1985 and the animated movie’s 2005). The original cartoons had just started coming out on VHS around 1999 or 2000 from Rhino. In order to match my art style as close as possible to the cartoon series, I started making thousands of screen captures from the VHS tapes so that I could have a library of images to reference.
After I had around 7,000 or so images, I thought it’d be a great idea to share all of the images on a website since there weren’t a lot of screen captures around back then. Seibertron.com was born and the rest is history. It’s been a blast over the past 11 years. I still have hopes that I can see my artwork grace the pages of a Transformers comic book one day!
Q: How did the initial idea grow and change over the years? How big is the team behind it these days?
BRUTICUS reissue from the Japanese exclusive Transformers Encore line (2009)
A: Seibertron.com kind of “transformed” based on the interests that its loyal fanbase expressed over the years. I developed many features that users said they wanted. The content and focus of the site switched in 2004 from being centered around the cartoons and comics to being more focused on the toys. Seibertron.com is now home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive Transformers toy galleries with over 2,400 galleries comprised of over 200,000+ photos.
The staff has grown tremendously over the years. For the first couple of years, it was just me doing everything. Slowly yet surely, more and more people joined our volunteer staff because of their love for the hobby. We have dedicated staff members for our message board, news section, rpg section, as well as other areas. We even have a dedicated podcast staff now! We currently have over 30 staff members who help daily volunteering their time to keep Seibertron.com running. Many of the staff members have become really good friends of mine over the years. It means a lot to me that they help me out so much. I think it’s great that Seibertorn.com has brought together so many Transformers fans and that so many friendships have been forged from our association with it.
Seibertron.com itself has grown into a beast. It averages at least 250,000 to 300,000+ pageviews per day, over 600,000+ unique visitors per month, and over 5 million unique visitors during the past year.
Q: The site is known for its inspiring photos. Do you take all of those? Are they all from your collection or do people loan you some of them? Can you share some of your favorite photos?
A: I hear a lot of people who think that there’s a team of people behind these photos but truth be told… it’s just me. Of the 2,400+ galleries that are currently on the site, only about 6 galleries were not taken by me. I take great pride in the galleries as well as actually owning all but about a dozen of the figures. I’ve had the opportunity to photograph some very rare Transformers such as the Beast Wars green Ramulus (thanks to Glen Hallit and Jon Hartman) as well as the Micron Legends Lucky Draw Unicron of Light figure (thanks to jrfitzpatrick7) who loaned me these figures to photograph. I like to own the figures in the gallery not only because I collect them all, but also because it always makes me nervous if something were to happen to someone’s really rare item. It’s one thing if I drop one of my rare figures, but it’s a whole other story if I drop someone else’s rare figure they lent me. Each gallery, on average, takes about 5 hours to complete from start to finish. It’s definitely a labor of love for me.
As for some of my favorite photos, I’d be happy to send you some to spotlight in this article if you’d like. Some of my favorite shots that I take are when the figure is backlit to make the light piping for their eyes “glow” or when I bust out a relatively rare or expensive figure for comparison shots. The galleries give me an opportunity to introduce newer fans to the vast array of Transformers toys that are out there. I love when I read or hear someone asking who a particular figure is in the background of a gallery. Another fun shot that I do with just about every gallery is a photo of the figure laying down on its back so that I can photograph its feet. Those pics get made fun of a lot and most people probably have no idea why I take that shot … it all started because one of the Transformers comic artists commented that it’d be nice if there was a photo of the bottom of their feet for them to reference. I’ve obliged ever since.
Henkei HOT RODIMUS (2008), G1 HOT ROD (1986), Animated RODIMUS (2010), Animated BLACK RODIMUS (2011), Tokyo Toy Festival BLACK RODIMUS (2001), Henkei WILDRIDER (2008)
Q: What do you enjoy the most about running the site? Where do you see it going in the future?
A: That’s a great question. I guess it’s the sense of community, a sense of belonging to something bigger than any of us, the friendships and bonds I’ve made with other fans from around the world. As a fan, it’s great to be near the beginning of the information train. We get to find out things first before the masses do, but that has become an added benefit being a collector and a fan site owner.
As for where I see the site going in the future, I’m hoping that we get a year break from the live action films which has been a major focus on Seibertron.com, and inherently in my life, ever since we found out about the live action films 8 years ago. The movie franchise has really kind of forced our focus to be more about the news, the galleries, toy sightings, and which fansite can get content posted first. I hope that I’ll get a chance to go back through older sections of the site that have been neglected over the years because we’ve been too busy working on other things. I hope we can get back to the “basics”, if there is such a thing any more with how big this hobby has gotten since 2000. I’d love to bring back some old favorite features like the “Ultimate Caption Contest” that fell to the wayside a few years back as well as working on the screen capture galleries once again, which are a fan-favorite feature.
Q: As an uber fan, you are probably more than aware of the split between fans who like the live action Michael Bay films, and those who think it drifts too far away from traditional Transformers lore and mythology. What side of the fence do you stand on in this debate?
G1 WARPATH (1985), Generations WARPATH (2011), and Universe WARPATH (2008)
A: Hold on a sec, let me grab my shield and sword before I give that answer! Kidding aside, I still don’t know what fence I’m on. I think it’s less about “lore and mythology” than it is about the general look or aesthetic of how the Transformers look on the big screen versus the cartoons we’ve all grown up with. I’ve learned to like the designs and such (or at the very least have a great appreciation for what they’ve done), though I think they could’ve stayed a little more true to the look of some of the robots particularly with their head designs. Optimus Prime DOES NOT need a mouth! The Decepticons don’t need to look like monsters. Bumblebee doesn’t need a gas cap for a mouth. Hasbro always mentions trying to maintain the recognizable “silhouettes” for characters like Optimus, Starscream, Megatron, Shockwave, etc. Too many of these characters simply don’t have the “look” that they’ve always had over the years. I’m not arguing for them to look like they did in the cartoon, but small things like the general shape of Megatron’s head or him having a fusion cannon attached to his right arm.
Fanboy comments aside, I can look at it from a business perspective also and I think they’ve done an amazing job of bringing a children’s toyline to the mainstream movie going audience. A lot of people bitch about Michael Bay but I have thought since day one that he was a perfect choice for Transformers. He delivers! And that’s what Hollywood needed to see with Transformers. Now that Bay’s done his thing and proven that Transformers can be a major blockbuster, it opens the doors for so many things in the future.
Put me in the “fans who like the live action Michael Bay films” category (but think there is room for improvement).
Q: Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I just want to say thanks to everyone who has made Seibertron.com their online home for everything Transformers. If all of you keep believing in my dream, Seibertron.com will keep cranking out awesome content on my end. I also hope that the volunteer staff knows how much I truly appreciate their time and hard work.
Till all are one!
Device Label BLASTER (2010), which transforms into a functional USB Hub, battling Music Label SOUNDWAVE (2007), who transforms into a functional MP3 player