The pin!
~ Smokey and Steamer

Smokey and Steamer are the Polar Express' fireman and engineer in The Polar Express. They are twin brothers.

They were originally voiced by the late Michael Jeter,[1] who passed away during production of the film before he could record all his dialogue, so his remaining lines were done by André Sogliuzzo,[2] who also voiced Dynomutt in Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Monty in Stuart Little: The Animated Series, Puss in Boots in the Shrek video games, and McSquizzy in Open Season 3.

Role in The Polar Express

Smokey and Steamer are first seen at the front of the locomotive, fixing its headlamp (while facing a bit of difficulty). While doing so, they leave Hero Girl in charge of driving the train in the engine room. After the headlamp is fixed, Smokey catches sight of a light ahead on the tracks. Steamer sees it too and calls out to Hero Girl to stop the train. Hero Boy and Hero Girl get the message, but have trouble finding out which controls were the brakes. They eventually figure it out and stop the train just in time. When the train finally stops, Steamer finds himself face to face with a caribou.

A giant herd of caribou is blocking the tracks, which Steamer points out would take hours for it to clear due to there being a hundred thousand to a million. Hero Boy, Hero Girl, and the Conductor get to the front of the train to try to help. On the way, Hero Boy slips and grabs on to Smokey's beard to break his fall, causing Smokey to scream in pain. It is discovered that the caribou understand Smokey's screaming, so the Conductor continues to pull Smokey's beard to try to communicate with them. They eventually manage to get them to clear the tracks.

Smokey and Steamer go back to the engine room and get the train moving again. However, Steamer suddenly finds the throttle jammed and tries to fix it, though he forgets to notice how fast the train is going and cannot hear Hero Girl calling out to them to slow down. The pin holding the throttle falls off and slips through the grate on the floor. As the train speeds down Glacier Gulch, the pin comes out of the grate and Steamer catches it in his mouth, but swallows it.

On the Ice Lake (where the ice had frozen over the tracks), Smokey gets the pin out of Steamer's mouth by hitting him on the back with a shovel, but pin flies out of the engine room and pierces the ice, causing it to crack. With no other option, Smokey decides to use the pin from his hair to fix the throttle, allowing Steamer to stop the train. Suddenly, Hero Boy notices the crack in the ice getting bigger, prompting Smokey and Steamer to get the train off the lake with the Conductor navigating. They find the tracks on the other side of the lake, head toward them, and escape the cracking ice just in time.

Other appearances

The Video Game

Smokey and Steamer appear in the video game, only in the third chapter. While Hero Girl is driving the train, something goes wrong, but Smokey and Steamer return to the engine room to fix it. They ask Hero Boy to help by catching the parts that fall off and tossing them back to them. Later, after the caribou clear the track, Hero Boy helps Smokey and Steamer get the train moving again.

Trivia

  • Smokey and Steamer are two of several characters from the film to not appear in The Polar Express book. While someone must have been driving the train, it is never shown who.
  • Smokey and Steamer are two of few characters to have their names revealed in the film, albeit in the credits. However, they mention their names, as well as themselves being twins (which is never revealed in the film at all), in the deleted scene, "It Takes Two".
  • While Steamer is the engineer and Smokey the fireman in the film, this is reversed in the video game.
  • Michael Jeter would have also provided the pair's motion-capture, but their exaggerated sizes and cartoony nature would have made it too difficult to motion-capture them, so they were instead keyframe-animated like the most of the animals in the film.[1]
  • Several ideas were created for where Smokey would get the other cotter pin to stop the throttle. In one of them, he would have used the pin holding up his pants, causing them to drop.[1]
  • A Lionel set in 2004 based on The Polar Express features a figure of Smokey, but he is lacking a beard, likely to save on production costs.

Quotes

  • "Stop the train! Stop the train!" - Steamer
  • "Caribou?"- Steamer
  • "I make that heard to be at least a hundred thousand. Maybe even a million. It's gonna be hours before they clear this track!" - Steamer
  • "A tough nut to crack." - Smokey
  • "And a jam." - Steamer
  • "Tight spot." - Smokey
  • "Up a creek. Up a tree. Lost in the grass. I'll tell you what's grass: our a--" Smokey and Steamer
  • "Jumping jeepers! The cotter pin's sheered off!" - Steamer
  • "The pin!"
  • "Oh, no!"

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Schaub, David (November 15, 2005). "'The Polar Express Diary': Part 4 -- Keyframe Animation". Animation World Network. Retrieved February 5, 2021.
  2. "Trivia / The Polar Express". TV Tropes, Retrieved February 4, 2021.

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