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Brian's Toys

Firespeeder Pilot

The “Coruscant Wave” of figures this year delivered one of the more desirable mixes of new figures. Commander Cody had fan demand behind him if not a bit of a letdown in the actual figure from Hasbro, and Lushros Dofine didn’t scream “interesting” to most but he is definitely all-new with some positives. Even the repacks seemed to have something extra to them to make you want them.

This week’s review is of the surprise hit figure from the wave though, as we take the old magnifying glass to the Coruscant Firespeeder Pilot. Who the hell is that? Well he has one fairly prominent, but short, moment in Revenge of the Sith, however it’ll surprise many people to learn that the Firespeeder Pilot gear was also apparently what the Republic Technicians/Engineers wear aboard their cruisers. This is an army builder you maybe didn’t even know you’d want a handful, and Hasbro doesn’t miss much with this one thankfully. Read on and check it out, as he’s a real surprise, even to me.

PROS

-Sculpt: In the modern line I think we’ve come to simply expect the best with a figure’s sculpt. Hasbro is a master at hiding the articulation points within a figure’s sculpt even, making it even better, and the Firespeeder Pilot is no different in its details.

The Firespeeder Pilot’s uniform is a bland grey color with straps/harnesses on it, and a unique helmet and cloth hood piece covering the neck area. This figure looks almost alien in nature, and yet there’s a “functional” look to it that reminds you of the heroes of our own fire departments here on Earth. It’s a very “Star Wars” look when it blends our own visual reality with that sci-fi touch like that.

The grey jumpsuit is big and bulky, with lots of room to it. There are a whole lot of folds, wrinkles, and excess cloth. The sculptors noted that and it bunches up in the right spots (at the top of the boots for instance, and around the harness straps as well). There’s light texturing sculpted into the fabric as well to give it some life, but what you maybe don’t notice without close inspection is that there are zipper pockets sculpted into it as well at various points. For example look JUST above the boot tops on either leg. There’s definitely pocket lines there with zippers even. Similar pockets can be seen on the chest as well. That’s some fine detail that you can’t even tell is there really till you eyeball this figure closely.

The harnesses are smooth and as noted they sort of look like they’re bunching the cloth uniform up together at various points. The harness straps and belt feature buckles and various details. The figure’s boots and gloves are similar too in that they feature little straps sculpted on them to seemingly seal these items off so the character can withstand the deadly fumes and things he could come in contact with. That’s a whole lot of impressive little detailing just for his clothing accessories.

The figure’s head/helmet is a nice sculpt itself, and full of detail. There’s a separately sculpted hose that is glued to the back of the figure’s neck, and it wraps around the head and each end of the hose is glued to one side of the “mouth” piece of the helmet. The helmet’s details include raised ridges and sunken lines galore, especially at the “mouth” portion. There is what is obviously a visor sculpted to the helmet top just above the eyepieces. It isn’t moveable though, unfortunately, but it definitely is intended to look as though it should move to cover the eye lenses incase of explosions or whatever. That’s a nice little touch on the part of the sculptors I think. One of many on this incredibly detailed figure.

-Paint Aps/Decoration: At first glance the paint applications on the Firespeeder Pilot seem like they’re a bit on the bland side, however a close inspection reveals a number of unique paint colors used to bring out a lot of details on this figure. I think the figure could’ve used a bit of dirtying up with a wash to highlight some of the sculpt’s finer details but that is only a minor wish ultimately.

The pilot’s jumpsuit is limited with paint applications. It’s mostly just the simple grey color it is molded in, however there are a couple small brown patches on his arms, and you can just make out a hint of similar patches on his upper torso, and this patch of brown is more noticeable on the back.

The figure’s harnesses, boots, and gloves are all painted/cast in basically the same brown. The clips/buckles on the harness aren’t painted but it’s a minor complaint really and my figure’s harness is pretty evenly painted so that’s good. The boots feature some bronze armor pieces on them that are nicely painted and the gloves are simply brown.

The figure’s helmet is the most colorful with a mix of bronze, silver, and black. The bronze highlight’s the center ridge on top of the helmet as well as the molded-on safety visor and the mouth area. The eye lenses are a glossy black and shine nicely and stand out nice on the duller metallic colors of the helmet. The other details of the helmet are painted a contrasting silver with a blue-grey color, and there’s a lot of separate paint aps there that are all smooth and even despite how small and intricate they get in some places. The figure overall is more colorful though than you’d think at first, and it looks really good putting out the fires your Clones and Jedi start.

-Accessories: The Firespeeder Pilot doesn’t pack a lot of accessories, but the one he does come with is more complex than a single-piece blaster or lightsaber, and that’s a major plus for it. The single accessory he comes with is a backpack with a fire extinguisher gun on it. What more could a fireman need, right? Well I’m sure we could’ve asked for more but this pack is cool.

The backpack fits securely to the figure’s back, and features several pieces that make it up. Or at least it’s a couple parts that make it up. The pack itself is a block of plastic, cast in a bronze-ish color. It’s washed with silver-black paint and only a couple bits of the original “bronze” color show through on some panels and sculpt details. The sculpt of the pack is fantastic though, and features lots of little details that look like read-out screens and things, and it’s just nice to get something that looks like it took some effort to make.

The hose and extinguisher stick out the upper right side of the pack over the figure’s right shoulder. The hose and extinguisher have a nice sculpt, and to me they look like they’re a separate sculpt and plugged into the backpack, however I could be wrong here and they could be actually part of the backpack and all one sculpt. I’m just not sure on that one despite how hard I’ve examined this. There is a second hose that runs from the lower part of the pack to the left top area, and it is definitely a separately sculpted hose plugged into holes in the pack and glued in there. It looks great though and the hoses being cast in bronze stand out on the silver-black color of the pack.

Now, this is the only accessory that the Firespeeder Pilot comes with (that counts anyway), and as such you may feel let down by that, but the pack is really the only one you need. It’s like a Jedi and his lightsaber. Without it you’d feel ripped off, but with it you could only wish for more but not expect it (well, with a Jedi you should get a hilt and lit saber, but I digress). So for me, I’m content with this multi-piece backpack and hose accessory for the Firefighter here.

Other pack-ins are then the usual suspects that have come with figures in 2006. There is an embossed stand featuring the film the character appeared in raised on its surface and a silver name of the character painted on the one edge. There is also a randomly packaged holographic miniature figure snuck into the packaging as well. While the stand and miniature are nice, both required molds and effort to be produced and it’s my opinion that the money put into these “gimmick” accessory pack-ins would be better put into the figure itself. I prefer quality toys over gimmicks.

-Articulation: The poseability on the Firespeeder Pilot is above Hasbro’s norm for this year, and that’s a major plus to me. This figure is actually one of the better articulated figures we’ve seen all year, comparable to the AT-AT Driver or Cody, however the sculpt of this figure isn’t inhibiting its articulation like Cody’s unfortunately did.

The articulation on the Firespeeder Pilot is:
- 2 ball/socket shoulder joints
- 2 angle-cut elbow joints
- 2 standard wrist joints
- 2 standard hip joints
- 2 ball/socket knee joints
- 1 ball/socket neck joint
- 1 standard waist joint

That’s a total of 12 points of articulation on a figure with about 2 seconds (at best) of noticeable screen time. Now, I’m a fan of articulation on even the dullest of figures, so I love the fact we get it on the Firespeeder Pilot here, which really wasn’t a big character in ROTS... I honestly had to re-watch the film to recall this guy even. So the fact he comes with 12 points of articulation and his sculpt makes it all versatile is really great to me.

The poses I can get this figure in are lots of fun too. He looks good running to squelch an inferno on Coruscant during the opening battle, or I have had him up on a Jedi Fighter trying to help extract a Jedi who crashed his ship. He can’t kneel terribly well but he can sit down alright. I have a little squad of these guys currently set up running alongside some Clone Troopers to some unknown skirmish in the streets of Coruscant, and they look fantastic all in slightly different poses running along there.

The articulation on this figure is fantastic, and it’s everything that the line’s MINIMUM standard level of articulation should be for ALL figures. Boring or not, the fact we pay $7 a figure means we need something better for these toys I think. Articulation went up for the past couple years and then down this year, and it’s been my biggest disappointment of 2006 obviously.

-Packaging: The Saga Collection packaging for each figure is an interesting mix of styles. You can definitely see some elements of the ROTS line mixed with elements of the OTC line, and that makes for a unique package on the shelves. I really enjoy the black cardback with silver lettering, and I hope it’s something Hasbro is willing to stick with for a long time to come.

I also highly enjoy the unique backgrounds for each figure. Pulling an element from the OTC line, the new Saga Collection packaging uses a film shot that pertains to each unique character, and really individualizes the figures. This is drool-worthy for the carded collector and it makes even the die-hard openers want a figure here and there to keep carded just because of how special the backgrounds are.

The bubble is a little closer to the ROTS line in its overall size and shape, but should lend itself more to staying mint for the carded guys. There’s also an insert depicting the specific character and the character’s name, packaged into the bottom of the package just as the Revenge of the Sith figures had. The insert features the bold blocky silver lettering of the Saga, and lets fans know that this is the universal collection of figures encompassing the entire Star Wars universe.

There’s a lot to like with this packaging so I hope it stays as the standard for a while. I would say that The Saga Collection and Original Trilogy Collection will go down as some of the most liked packaging by collectors for quite some time if Hasbro gives it a while, and this is coming from a guy that rips almost everything off its card at some point or another.

CONS

-Non-Functioning Visor: As I noted up in the sculpt portion of the review, the Firespeeder Pilot actually has a visor on his helmet that has like a built-in blastshield or some such. To look at it, it would come down over his eyepiece/lenses to protect them from heat, or blasts or whatever. I didn’t even know this till I got the figure and began examining it for my review here actually. The films don’t give you impressions of this feature, so it’s nice that they sculpted it into the helmet.

What would’ve been a lot nicer though would’ve been Hasbro making the visor flip up/down on the face of the helmet ala the Clone Commander’s binocular things. It’s a gripe I only formed after examining the figure in great detail though, and nothing that makes me hate this figure, just something I would’ve enjoyed having now that I know it’s part of this character’s outfit. I don’t have a flip-up visor on Biker Scouts either though and it never bugged me, so I think I’ll live.

-Flimsy Plastic Accessory: A gripe I have with the backpack/fire extinguisher piece is that the plastic for the pistol-grip extinguisher is really cheap. This is good and bad though. The plastic on the hose needs to be flexible to move with the figure’s poses, and since the hose and the extinguisher are the same piece, the extinguisher is subsequently flimsy and bends in the figure’s hands.

Posing the figure holding the extinguisher by the barrel for instance is difficult because it’s prone to folding over and bending in unnatural looking ways. It’s kind of goofy. The other problem is that the backpack actually has 2 little clips you should be able to clip the extinguisher into by its barrel. Unfortunately because of the plastic’s flimsy nature it pops right out of its little sheath feature. It negates the purpose of it totally.

My solution to the problem would’ve been sculpting the hose and extinguisher separately. Cast the hose in a flexible plastic as it should be, and cast the extinguisher in a rigid plastic so that it holds in the clips on the pack without folding, or it doesn’t bend in the figure’s hands when you pose him fighting fires with it. Again I’m not terribly upset by the outcome of this (this time) accessory, it’s just a bit of a nuisance really, and let’s face it, they could’ve avoided this if they’d done a little better designing it I believe. I mean, hell I just gave a solution, how hard can it be right?

-Price Hike: Star Wars figures have taken a jump in price at most all retailers in 2006, and while we paid $5 - $6 for most of our Revenge of the Sith figures throughout most of 2005, figures are up to $7 after tax at most retailers, even the usually stalwart for cheap prices, Wal-Mart. Hopefully Hasbro and Retail will see the light that price increases in this day and age means that people may become more tight with their spending.

I know a price hike will affect my buying habits, and I’ll buy fewer extras of any figure I maybe wanted extras of. I’ll cut back on army building, custom fodder buying, and other areas that I otherwise maybe would have spent more freely. That $1 or $2 starts to add up over 60 or so figures though. With no retailer seemingly wanting to budge on their standard price, things aren’t looking good for a decrease anytime soon. So keep your eyes peeled for sales because when they happen I’ve noticed that figures that were sitting suddenly fly off the pegs.

The price hike sucks, and what really is tough to accept is that in 2006 we’ve seen many fewer figures with “great” articulation like we saw in last year’s line for ROTS. This decrease in overall “quality” coupled with the price increase just hasn’t sat well with me about this year’s line-up. Though those nicely articulated gems like the AT-AT Driver or whatnot do sneak in there.

OVERALL

So my final thoughts on the Coruscant Firespeeder Pilot are pretty positive overall. The gripes I had were minimal really, and the irony is, to me at least, that the wave with Commander Cody wound up having him become one of the stinkers and the Firespeeder Pilot here became the wave’s real surprise highlight figure. Everyone loves and underdog, and this guy was one to me, and he really turned out to be a winner thanks to some good articulation and details.

The problem now is finding him in abundance because you WILL want more than one. How do I know this? Well I don’t I guess, but besides all the positives I listed, this figure actually appears twice in Revenge of the Sith, though his second appearance really is tough to see. The best place to see, actually, is the background on Commander Cody’s cardback of all things! Look to the left... yep, that’s this guy standing around working on a fighter with a cool looking astromech.

So not only are these Firemen on Coruscant, but they apparently are also technicians or engineers aboard the giant Republic Cruisers in the film. Clones? Well you decide that for yourself. To me they’re just average schmoes helping out the Galactic Republic’s military, but they’re cool nonetheless, and apparently they’re right there with the troops in the field helping out too, as the film shows us.

The figure has pretty nice articulation, great sculpting, fantastic paint, fun poses, a good accessory, and if you can find enough of him they look cool in teams rescuing the citizens of your collection. I think that’s reason enough to nab a couple anyway. Put them around your Jedi Fighters maybe even.

Good work to the folks at Hasbro for this surprise hit because it took the sting of Commander Cody’s craptacular outcome away... somewhat. This wave needed a winner and got it.

 

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