Thursday, 11 June 2015

When Fanon Beats Canon: JaAm

This is Hot Shot! He was one of the main characters in the Transformers Armada, Energon and Cybertron franchises from about 2002-06. He was the Bumblebee style character - a kid-like soldier who matures into a confident and capable leader, taking over from Optimus Prime when he's busy being dead.

When Armada was being developed, people had high hopes. This was the first vehicle-based Transformers show made by Hasbro in years. (The previous one, Robots in Disguise, was entirely Japanese-designed, and so full of repaints of old figures and insanely complex new ones). Hasbro had been designing and developing these toys for years. We were convinced we would get the pinnacle of Transformers.

Then we got this:
Yes, the Hot Shot toy was pretty horrendous. He had a face fixed in a baffling grin, arms that only flapped side to side, and horrible misshapen limbs. His elbows rotated on a little hinge offset to edges. It was really, really weird! Apparently, the original design which looked far better had to be scrapped at a really late stage and this was rushed in as a quick alternative. (For the record, the Armada figures for the most part were actually brilliant and actually fun unlike the overdesigned stuff foisted on kids today, but I digress).

The toy came with a minicomic, which was written simultaneously in three languages. As a joke, I rewrote the comic so that Hot Shot, instead of being a brave but brash warrior, was in fact an insane drooling idiot who complained about his lack of articulation and lusted after jam (or 'JaAm')
It was funny at the time, though in hindsight it's not that funny. If you really want, you can read the whole thing here:

It seemed to strike a chord though. Suddenly my site was getting hits. Lots of hits. Hundreds of thousands of hits! (Currently the comic is hosted on a different page than the original). People were talking about it everywhere! Every time Hot Shot appeared people would comment "yUm jAaM" or "wHy mY sHoUlDeRs hUrT?" It reached an insane memeic saturation where it literally penetrated the entire Transformer fanbase. One of the big sites decided to change their review ratings to pictures of Hot Shot being happy about jam (for good toys) or crying about his hurting shoulders (for bad toys).

It goes to show you can never work out what will be a hit. That comic took me about 20 minutes to do. I've slaved away on other things for months and years with barely a mention. Such is life.
Anyway, time marched on. In 2009, Hasbro released a new Hot Shot toy! It was the first Hot Shot in about three years, and the first Armada Hot Shot since 2002. Brilliant!
What was the bio on the back though? Did Hasbro use their existing characterisation as detailed in all their cartoon shows, comics and previous literature?

Uh, no. They used mine. Hot Shot is now no longer a heroic leader-type, he is a drooling fool who loves 'jAaM'. And what's this on the toy?

Look at his numberplate!

Fanon successfully beat canon. The insane saturation of my jam comic pretty much made it impossible for anyone to think about Hot Shot without also thinking about him as a lovable crazy jam loving robot. I got not one, but two nods to my comic on the actual figure and packaging! How cool is that!

Of course, the downside is that there was never any official thanks. No, "Hey Blue, this thing you did was cool, and packaging our toy like this shifted a load more of them because everyone was talking about. Have a free one!" I can totally understand that, because legally Hasbro aren't allowed to take fan-submitted ideas. They did in this case, but they're not supposed to. Not officially allowed to. That's fine. I'd rather have the nod than not at all!

I just would have liked them to at least reply to my email, or sneakily post me one. The figure was only released in America, so I had to pay crazy import fees to get hold of mine. Oh well!


  1. A true tragedy for the modern age. ;_;

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