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Firespeeder Pilot

SWIII: Revenge of the Sith
by yo go re

How do you create a rich sci fi setting? Either you take the time to carefully consider the implications and ethics of a spacefaring society, or just recycle everyday things ...in space! Here's Star Wars' space fireman.

As the massive aerial battle over Coruscant comes to an end, Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker pilot General Grievous' flagship to a dramatic crash landing. A raging fire breaks out once the ship hits Coruscant's atmosphere, but lucky for the jedi heroes, this brave firespeeder pilot and his crew are ready to put out the flames and help the ship land.

We're not saying that you wouldn't need firemen in space - in fact, given that breathable atmosphere would be more precious than potable water, the guys in charge of fire prevention would be the rock stars of the crew. But what they wouldn't be is guys in fireproof uniforms with fancy water guns strapped to their backs. I'm no futurist, but I could probably pull a better idea than that out of my ass by the time this review is over. [Gentlemen, we have a challenge! --ed.]

No one can seem to agree on what these guys should be called. Hasbro called the toy a "Firespeeder Pilot," but if you're looing for this guy on Wookiepedia, you won't find him there - instead, you need to dig down through about a dozen pages before you find the Coruscant Rescue Ops. The official StarWars.com Databank, meanwhile, says he's just a Coruscant fire fighter. Since a simple name is always best, that's what he shall be!

The Coruscant fire fighter uniform is a light cream-colored body suit with brown gloves and boots, a dark harness and a bronze helmet. That, coupled with the silver and bronze backpack, creates a look that's decidedly less "outer space fireman" and more "steampunk Ghostbuster." Which is, in itself, a pretty cool idea. The clothes are big and baggy, with a bit of extra detailing on the patches on his upper arms and boots.

Like all good soldiers of the Empire, the Coruscant fire fighter wears a helmet that covers his entire head. It features a single large black lens, silver detailing on the temples and a bronze plate over the brow that then extends over the top of the head. The mouth is covered by a nozzle, and two small hoses run from that around to the back of his neck. The tubes are permanently attached to the toy, so even though you can pop the head off the joint, you can't actually remove it.

The figure's head is a ball and socket joint, and the tubes are flexible enough to not really mess with the range of motion. The shoulders and knees are balljoints, and the hips, waist, gloves and elbows are all swivels. Yes, swivel elbows, the bane of every action figure collector. Oh well, at least they have a decent angle, so you can approximate a bend.

We've mentioned the fire fighter's water pack, and the toy of course has that as his accessory. It plugs into his back just as you'd expect, and the water gun part is connected by a flexible hose. Like we said, steampunk Ghostbuster. There's good sculptural detail on the pack, and there are even small clips on the side so the gun can be stored away when not in use. So overall, a nice design - it's just the idea of a firefighter ...in space! that's silly. But hey, we promised you a better idea, didn't we? Time to pony up.

On a spaceship, the problem with fire isn't that it burns things, but that it consumes oxygen. So suppressing it with water (or any other physical retardant) would be too long a process. If you're going to the trouble of setting your story in space, why stick with the low-tech solutions? A sci-fireman would need something that would immediately pull the air away from the core of the fire, but still keep it available for the use of the ship's occupants - so while sealing off a room and then opening it to the vaccuum would kill the fire, it would do just as much damage to the air supply. If you want "hard" science fiction, arm them with cannons that use soundwaves to extinguish the fire; if you're going for more "sci-fantasy," then some sort of portable force-field generator that will surround the core of the fire, force the air out away from it, and let the fire burn out in less than a second. But water? That's just lazy. Bad idea. As a toy though? The Firespeeder Pilot isn't bad.

-- 05/09/09

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