The origin of Rescue Labors dates back to 1998, when both the Tokyo fire and police departments were called out for a high risk job when a fire broke out at the Tower City skyscraper under construction in Tama.
As the fire fighters dealt with the fire, the police's AV-98 Ingrams carried out a rescue of the personnel and dignitaries trapped high in the tower. The impressive potential of the Labors in this scenario led city officials to publish a tender for a dedicated fire-fighting Labor.
In 1999, a design competition was held, with three contenders. These were the ARV-99 Rescue Labor by Shinohara Industries (based on the AV-98 Ingram chassis of the police Labor), the CRL-98 “Pyro-Buster”, produced by Hishii Heavy Industries, and the SEE (Schaft Enterprise Europe) Type-8FF Rescue Labor.
The latter was a civil adaptation of the military Type-8 “Brocken” labor for the German Bundesheer (Army Forces). All designs offered sophisticated solutions and equipment for the fire-fighting job: Because the Rescue Labor works in high heat environments, the units were designed to be fire and heatproof to protect the pilot. To fulfill its main role of extinguishing fires, the Rescue Labors were to be equipped with a pair of water cannons, one on the forearm and one on its shoulders, fed by an internal tank and/or by an external source.
Additionally, the competition’s rescue Labors were to deal with hazardous chemical situations. A respective protection system had to be provided, too, as well as precise manipulator fingers for delicate handling.
Detecting life under harsh conditions, in any weather and at day and night, necessitated a complex sensor suite, including a telescopic camera boom.
Schaft Enterprise Europe’s Type-8FF was the most impressive design, standing more than 10 metres tall. It was also the most powerful – but also the most bulky type, since it was originally developed for more spacious European cities.
Beyond the standard requirements the “Florian”, how the Labor was unofficially dubbed (after the Christian patron saint of firefighters), offered a huge array of extra equipment, including an extendable hydraulic crusher, an extra CO2 tank, a high performance water pump (the Type-8FF could be operated as a water manifold when it was not directly involved in rescue duties), a powerful searchlight array and a winch.
Two prototypes were delivered to Japan and took part in the evaluation process, which encompassed both clinical trials as well as field tests that would prove the concepts and uncover strengths and weaknesses of the three designs.
In December 1999 the ARV-99 was chosen as primary Rescue Labor for the Tokyo Fire Department – and the rejection of SEE’s Type-8FF was even more bitter as the CRL-98 was ordered into production, too – only as a supportive vehicle, but it was also promoted to private/industrial fire-fighting units in the Tokyo region.
The “Florian” did not enter production for Japan, since it was deemed to be too large for the Japanese urban environment – but it was developed further for the European market, eventually entering rescue services in Germany, France and Great Britain.
A final, rather disturbing note is that it is uncertain where the two Type-8FF prototypes ended up. SEE took them back into custody after completion of the competition process in early 2000, but there has been no official record or documentation that the vehicles actually left Japan. Rumor has it that they are still on private SEE ground in the Tokyo region.
• Code name: Type-8FF "Florian"
• Unit type: fire emergency labor prototype
• Manufacturer: SEE (Schaft Enterprises Europe)
• Operator: SEJ (Schaft Enterprises Japan), proposed to the Tokyo Fire
• Rollout: April 1999 AD
• Number built: 2
• Accommodation: pilot only, in heat- and ABC-insulated cockpit in front torso
• Overall height 10,50 meters
• Overall width 5.40 meters
• Minimum revolving radius: 6.0 meters
• Standard 7.05 metric tons
• Full 8.81 metric tons
Maximum weight lifting capacity:
• 4.00 metric tons
Equipment and design features:
• Visual and acoustic sensors, range unknown
• Highly articulated manipulator hands
• White and IR searchlights
• 2x water cannon, mounted on shoulders and on right forearm
• Extendable hydraulic crusher on left forewarm
• Auxillary CO2 tank, mounted on backpack
• Autonomous water turbo pump for in- and external operation
• Winch (2.00 metric tons)
Fixed or optional armaments:
This model is a thorough conversion of a 1:60 "SEE Type-7 Brocken" IP kit from Bandai, and it is part of a Group Build at whatifmodelers.com under the theme "De-/Militarize it" (which still runs until the end of August 2015).
The mecha belongs into the Patlabor anime TV series. Anime is certainly not everyone's business, but it has a lot to offer.
The charm of the Patlabor universe is that these vehicles exist (these are no robots, except for rare cases there's a pilot inside) in everyday life. When the series was conceived in the 80ies it was a near-future setting in the nineties - SF, but VERY down to earth and "realistic".
The 'Labors', how these more or less humanoid vehicles are called, are special duty heavy machinery, e. g. for construction, loading, hazmat handling. They are also employed by the police (hence the title of the series, Patlabor, which circles around a police unit which fights labor crime) and by the military. The Brocken is one of the dedicated military designs. It actually comes from Germany, hence probably the plate mail armor design. I am not certain if its name, Brocken, is the German word for hulk, or the mountain close to the inner German border in FRG/GDR times, because the Brocken was designed to patrol and protect this border - the Cold War was still part of the series' script!
There are actually firefighting Labors in the TV series, and the background story is built around the two types I am aware of. And in order to de-militarize the Brocken and change its look so far that the kit appears like a different vehicle, a lot of things had to be modified.
The head is completely new and supposed to remind of typical firefighter helmets. The cockpit section (in the breast) was changed, too, as well as the knee sections and different hands. Parts from other mecha kits (e. g. from a 1:72 Battroid VF-1 , a 1:100 Gerwalk VF-1, a 1:100 Destroid Phalanx, a 1:144 Gundam Zaku and even from an NGE EVA) were intergrated, but a lot of details were scratched. For instance, the head with its sensor booms and the complex shape consists of ~30 pieces and putty, and the flashlights were completely scratched from clear sprue, styrene sheet and parts of PET toothbrush head protectors!
Having a dedicated duty, a lot of special equipment had to be integrated - in a fashion that it looks plausible and as an integral part, not just an add-on. Therefore, several light installations were added, two water cannons (one on the shoulder, one on the right forearm), a scratched winch, plus several protection bars all around the hull. A CO2 tank was added on the back, plus a turbo pump installation that would drive the two water cannons and allow external water supply. An extandable hydraulic crusher on the right forearm was added, too, when knocking on the door simply does not meet the situation. Integrating the stuff into the hull meant much body work, and all the devices were meant to appear plausible and functional.
The paint scheme was simple: an all-red livery, inspired by typical German fire engines which wear RAL 3000 as official color. With some shading this eventually turned into a rather orange hue, but the Florian still looks like a fire fighting vehicle.
The yellow trim for a more international look was created with decals from several HO scale firefighting vehicle aftermarket sheets. Finally, after a black ink wash and some dry-painting, the kit received a coating with semi-matt acrylic varnish, and some pigment dust around the legs.
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