Ever since it won the three-way fan vote over the TIE bomber and Nebulon-B medical frigate, LEGO has been teasing the next Ultimate Collector Series for almost 18 months, with a virtual press event we attended several months ago (where the design team showed off the cockpit canopy) and a social media tease as recently as yesterday. But today, LEGO is finally officially unveiling the UCS 75309 Republic Gunship, which will be released on August 1st. The set includes 3,292 pieces with two minifigures, and will retail for US $349.99 | CAN $479.99 | UK £329.99. Coming in hot from an orbital drop, we have your first look here on The Brothers Brick.
The LEGO Group provided The Brothers Brick with an early copy of this set for review. Providing TBB with products for review guarantees neither coverage nor positive reviews.
The packaging, instructions & sticker sheet
While not nearly as massive as the much-larger boxes for sets like the legendary 75192 UCS Millennium Falcon or more recent UCS Imperial Star Destroyer, the box for the UCS gunship is still rather huge, at least double the depth of regular sets.
The front of the box features the gunship alone, with the back showcasing the included stand and minifigs, plus additional angles and close-ups of working features. Keen eyes will notice that the Imperial roundel appears on the box rather than the Republic’s emblem. LEGO has already acknowledged this and issued a statement, and presumably, the error will only appear on the first batch of sets produced:
The dark side blurred our vision and we used the Galactic Empire logo on packaging and instructions for the 75309 LEGO Star Wars UCS Republic Gunship, while of course we should have used the logo of the Galactic Republic. However, the infiltration didn’t affect the actual model- which proudly displays the Galactic Republic logo. We are working to update the packaging and instructions.
Inside, an interior box contains the first nine groups of bags plus the package with the instruction booklet and sticker sheets, with the remaining groups of bags and an unnumbered bag with large parts loose in the main box. There are 17 groups of numbered bags, and several groups include as many as three large bags, for a total of nearly 30 numbered bags.
The thick instruction booklet matches the set’s high part count, as our resident minifig illustrates.
Instruction booklets for LEGO Star Wars Ultimate Collector Series sets are no less templatized than the new black packaging is at this point, with background about the set (focused on its selection via fan vote) and a brief interview with LEGO Star Wars set designer Hans Schlömer, who also designed the lovely UCS A-wing released last year. Interestingly, the instruction booklet uses artwork from the DK Incredible Cross-Sections series as a reference point for some of the background description.
Republic livery and technical details rely on a sticker sheet, which is printed on transparent plastic rather than white. The technical specifications are printed on a separate sticker sheet.
The parts & build
Other than small control panels common to many LEGO sets, the only printed parts in the set are the various transparent pieces used on the spherical composite beam turrets and the dual cockpit canopies. In case you’re building in a hurry like I was, do notice that there are two types of turret half-spheres, with the beam emitters printed onto the spheres for the wing turrets and without for the side turrets. There are a handful of recolored parts in the set, but no new parts (no new molds).
The build begins with a flat base consisting of various plates and wedges, with room to accommodate the beginnings of the Technic frame.
Compound curves abound on the gunship’s fuselage, so studs-out construction begins early with the nose area, layering stepped arches to achieve some of the vertical curve.
Technic framing as well as regular System bricks continue to build up from the base around the passenger compartment, leaving openings for multiple doorways on both sides.
The Technic frame continues step-wise up toward the rear of the vehicle, which will later accommodate the angled cockpit section.
Side panels cover the Technic frame, either attached directly or held in place by clips and hinges. (This particular photo shows some modules added later in the build, since for this particular review we built the vehicle and then partially disassembled it for photography. This behind-the-scenes TBB moment was brought to you by LEGO part 6280341, Animal #70, Left Arm.)
The cockpit section extends from the nose all the way to the top of the fuselage, with a curved edge only achievable at this larger scale.
This section then attaches to the fuselage with a Technic axle threaded through plates with holes on the frame. Wedge plates on either side hold the Technic axle, and thus the cockpit above, securely in place.
With the cockpit in place, the gunship really begins looking like the iconic ship first introduced in Attack of the Clones. Additional sub-assemblies complete the side doors, wing pylons, and tail section.
The builds for the mirrored wings go fairly quickly, mostly consisting of stacked plates, wedges, and wedge slopes. An inset section achieves a subtle slope up from the wing toward its base that attaches to the fuselage.
The wings attach with a connection similar to the Technic axle that holds the cockpit in place — modified plates with Technic pin holes interleaving to allow for a long Technic axle to hold them together. Triangular panels attach via hinge bricks under the wings to cover the wing connection.
The upper missile launchers complete the gunship, consisting mostly of stacked round bricks, secured internally by a very long Technic axle.
As always with UCS sets, the final group of bags include the two minifigs and the parts for the display stand, which as always is built in black and provides the base for the specification panel and spots to display the two figs.
The finished model
The Rothana Heavy Industries Low-Altitude Assault Transport/infantry (LAAT/i) or Republic Gunship is easily my favorite vehicle from the Prequel Trilogy. This is in no small part due to its inspiration from World War II airplanes like the Consolidated PBY Catalina, with which it even shares elements of a color scheme. First introduced in Attack of the Clones, clone troopers from the new Grand Army of the Republic swoop in on these glorious gunships to rescue the heroes trapped in the Petranaki Arena on Geonosis. I’ve enjoyed building each of the previous versions, but I have to admit that I wasn’t particularly excited when the gunship was chosen over the Medical Frigate or even the TIE bomber.
Admittedly, the UCS gunship looks great from any angle. It bristles with armament, from its nose cannons to the four composite beam turrets, enormous missile launchers along the top, and rockets carried under the wings.
The dark red and white Galactic Republic color blocking is accented with gray, lime green, and yellow details, mostly built from bricks but supplemented by stickers. Because the stickers are printed on clear plastic, they don’t stand out nearly as much as they would if the edges included the color of the underlying bricks. (Amazingly, LEGO has never managed to truly color-match their print colors with their brick colors, and non-clear stickers tend to stand out much more.)
The underside gets plenty of detail on the gunship. The beam turrets on the wings have full spheres rather than just half-spheres on top, plus the aforementioned rockets.
Similarly, the tail section features the rear cannon and ramp.
The side doors open rearward on Technic liftarms. The angle of the side doors is achieved simply with click-hinges, and the liftarms themselves are flexible enough that the side doors feel rather floppy.
Unlike the turrets on the wings, the beam emitters on the side ball turrets are brick-built, with interior detail featuring a seat for the gunner.
The dual cockpits also include interior seating details, but with a fairly basic control panel and no other cockpit details.
Looking more closely at the details on the gunship fuselage, most of the additional coloring is layered on top of the surface rather than built into it, and there are numerous gaps between panel sections. One of the most egregious design decisions was to place a white sticker on the light gray arch to achieve the white column behind the forward doorway. Because of the poor color-matching I mentioned earlier, and due to the otherwise excellent decision to print on clear plastic, the white sticker doesn’t really achieve the intended effect.
Galactic Republic and Imperial roundels have historically been printed, but at this larger scale on the new 3×3 round tile, the Republic symbol is another sticker.
A cool moment in Attack of the Clones features the exposed area between the missile launchers, showing the missiles on racks rolling into place prior to launch. The missile racks do spin counter to each other on a set of gears, but doing so is a manual process that requires reaching in and flicking them. This feels like a missed opportunity — perhaps a hidden Technic axle with a knob integrated into the rear could have spun them less visibly.
Finally, let’s discuss the overall scale. From photographs (even with minifigs on the stand for scale), the gunship doesn’t look particularly huge, but in person it’s massive. Clone Troopers in the movies and TV series fill the doorway to about the top of the forward angled section where it meets the archway over the forward doorway. Similarly, they fit comfortably inside the side ball turrets. In other words, the UCS gunship is not substantially larger than actual “minifig-scale”, at least based on minifig height.
In keeping with its appearance in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, the UCS gunship includes Jedi Master Mace Windu and an unnamed Clone Commander.
Mace Windu wears dark tan Jedi robes with a gloriously purple lightsaber blade. The Clone Commander wears Phase I armor in 212th livery, and we suspect he’s actually Commander Cody. His head is the same as the darker-skinned heads introduced for Clone Troopers with 75280 501st Legion Clone Troopers and 75283 Armored Assault Tank a year ago.
Conclusions & recommendation
At over 3,000 pieces, the long-awaited UCS gunship is built from nearly three times the number of parts as the previous non-UCS version released in 2013. Although it’s been eight years since LEGO has released a non-microscale gunship, and granting that the outcome was determined by fan vote, I was personally disappointed that we didn’t get a UCS-scale Rebel Medical Frigate — at the time of the original announcement 18 months ago, LEGO had never released the Nebulon-B, although they did so with a very limited release at nano-scale later in the year.
I’ve said many times elsewhere that my favorite LEGO Star Wars UCS set is the UCS Slave I, and argued as well that the UCS Falcon might be the best. The UCS gunship is neither, filling a gap in the UCS assortment without adding much new other than sheer size to LEGO Star Wars overall. I also suspect the width of the gunship will make it challenging to display except as a centerpiece on a table (if that’s how you want to decorate).
Nevertheless, fans of the Prequel Trilogy and Clone Wars TV series — and obviously, based on the fan vote, there are plenty among us LEGO Star Wars builders and collectors — will enjoy this large-scale build of an iconic vehicle. It’s just hard for us to recommend this as a universal must-have instead of even last year’s imperfect but lovable UCS A-wing by the same designer.