Dropping out of the Geonosian sky, with its characteristic hum-thrum heralding its arrival, the first glimpse that the Star Wars fans had of this soon-to-be-iconic troop transport came at 1 minute and 42 seconds into the Attack of the Clones trailer, which was first shown on March 15, 2002.
Making its debut as a LEGO set in early April, fans had to wait another six weeks before the full nature of 7163 Republic Gunship‘s presence was revealed to them, when the second Star Wars episode opened in theatres on May 16.
If you grew up in the 80s and saw the third movie in the Rambo franchise, or remember the news coverage of the attempted annexation of Afghanistan by the Soviet Union you’ll know exactly where Lucasfilm drew inspiration from when they designed the Republic gunship – the Mil Mi-24.
Conceived by concept design supervisor Doug Chiang, and was referred to as a “Jedi attack helicopter” during the pre-production of Episode 2, who modified the double canopy, large crew compartment, angled rear and sloped wings to give it a more appropriate appearance for the movie.
Utilized by the Grand Army of the Republic to rapidly ferry troops in and out of hot spots, and provide aerial assistance to them while they are on the ground, the Republic gunship (or Low Altitude Assault Transport/infantry to give it its military designation) was the troop transport that put boots on Geonosis when the Clone Wars first broke out following the attempted execution of Obi-Wan, Anakin Skywalker and Padme Naberrie.
Throughout the Clone Wars, the LAAT/i became a common battlefield site, frequently getting personalized with graffiti and modified to better suit its assigned role.
Previously available eight different forms – three in the larger System-scale and five smaller-scale sets – the Republic Gunship has now been added to the Ultimate Collector Series subtheme, making it the third Prequel Trilogy set in this class (according to the introduction the instructions, which missed out 10186 General Grievous and 10026 Naboo Starfighter).
The set’s development history has a unique place in the history of the LEGO Star Wars theme. Over a year and a half ago, an official poll was held on the LEGO Ideas website to determine what would be the next UCS set. Given the choice between a TIE Bomber, Nebulon-B Frigate, or s Republic Gunship most adult fans thought the numbers would fall with the Original Trilogy.
When, less than a week after the poll closed on January 30th, the news that the Republic Gunship won the day shocked the Original Trilogy fan base and gave Prequel Trilogy fans a rare opportunity to claim victory.
I’m incredibly excited to reveal, the winner of our UCS Star Wars Fan Vote!
We received an incredible amount of votes, so thank you for your support!
But enough thanking, let’s go ahead and reveal the winner!
1st Place – Republic Gunship
That’s right, over half of you who voted, voted for the Republic Gunship! Who’s excited?!Jake McQuillan – LEGO Ideas team
Although speculation continued to stir up the LEGO Star Wars fanbase, except for a few interview questions , it was near silence from LEGO for over a year. Then, in March of this year, a Recognized LEGO Fan Media roundtable was held which finally shed some light on the model. Any questions about minifigures – including those expressing a hope that Jedi Bob would be resurrected – were ignored.
It was on July 14th that LEGO sent a circular out to all those who voted for the winning set (though plenty of general subscribers also received the email too) with the news that the grand reveal was only 24 hours away.
Getting its official debut on July 15th, the set became available to order on August 1st – a date that will also be remembered for the first time that LEGO.com didn’t falter under the waves of fans who had been anxiously waiting for this big-ticket set assaulted the website as D-Day arrived in their timezone.
Begun, this review has!
75309 Republic Gunship
Spark memories of the epic Battle of Geonosis in Star Wars: The Clone Wars with this Ultimate Collector Series build-and-display model of a Republic Gunship (75309). Authentic features of a Low Altitude Assault Transport (LAAT) vehicle are beautifully reproduced in LEGO® bricks, including the pilot cockpits, swing-out spherical gun turrets, 2 cannons on top, super-long wings, opening sides and rear hatch and interior details. Voted for by LEGO fans to become an Ultimate Collector Series set, this awesome buildable model has a display stand with an information plaque, plus Clone Trooper Commander and Mace Windu LEGO minifigures. Step-by-step instructions are included so you can immerse yourself in the building challenge and enjoy the fun, creative process.
- Enjoy quality time creating the first-ever Ultimate Collector Series version of a Republic Gunship (75309), just like those seen during the Battle of Geonosis in Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
- This build-and-display model is packed with authentic features including 2 pilot cockpits, swing-out spherical gun turrets, 2 cannons, super-long wings and opening sides and rear hatch.
- The display stand has an information plaque and spaces for 2 included LEGO® Star Wars™ minifigures: Clone Trooper Commander with a blaster and Mace Windu with a lightsaber.
- The Star Wars™ Republic Gunship was voted for by LEGO® fans as their top choice to become the next Ultimate Collector Series (UCS) set in an online poll. So, by popular demand, here it is!
- This premium-quality set offers an immersive, rewarding building challenge and makes the best birthday or holiday gift for yourself, a devoted Star Wars™ fan or passionate LEGO® enthusiast.
- Measuring over 13 in. (33 cm) high, 27 in. (68 cm) long and 29 in. (74 cm) wide, including the stand, this is a LEGO® Star Wars™ collectible you’ll want to photograph and share with others.
- This 3,292-piece building kit comes with illustrated, step-by-step instructions so even a Star Wars™ fan who is a newcomer to LEGO® sets can take on the complex build with confidence.
- This LEGO® Star Wars™ set for adults is part of a collection of building kits designed for you, the discerning hobbyist, who enjoys hands-on, creative DIY projects to unwind in your spare time.
- LEGO® components comply with stringent industry standards, meaning they are consistent, compatible and connect securely for robust builds.
- LEGO® bricks and pieces are dropped, heated, crushed, twisted and analyzed to ensure that they satisfy rigorous global safety standards.
When the first element – the roll-off-your-tongue 50986pr0001 trans-black 10x6x3 double tapered windscreen canopy from 7256 Jedi Starfighter and Vulture Droid – of this set was revealed during one of the many Recognized LEGO Fan Media roundtables earlier this year, the true scale of the model was demonstrated.
Yet no matter how many pictures you see of this set, nor all the size comparison graphics produced really delivers home how large the final build is going to be until you pick up the box. It’s heavy – remarkably (in the real sense of the word) heavy.
And no wonder, because inside are over 25 bags of elements, stickers, and instructions that all contribute to the set’s final weigh-in at 12.6 lbs (5.7 kg). Don’t be put off though, because each of the 17 stages takes an average of 20 and 25 minutes (with some only needing 10 minutes while others require 45 minutes of build time), and the whole model can be easily assembled in around 7 hours.
Development of the set wasn’t easy, explained primary designer Hans Burkhard Schlömer, who described that the model was a nightmare. The primary challenge (aside from meeting fans’ expectations of course) was the large void space in the middle, a feature that no other Star Wars vehicle has. Building around this caused Schlömer considerable stress.
“As a LEGO designer, you have to deliver a very stable model, obviously. So the best thing you can do is grab a big plate and start sticking pieces on and it’ll have a solid foundation. What you don’t want to do is build on empty air or build overhangs, and looking at this ship, it is one giant overhang.
Structurally speaking, most of the weight is really just hanging over empty air, so it’s kind of a nightmare for a designer to deal with.” he explained to a gathering of RLFM representatives.
Surprisingly, given that LEGO has been keen to use Technic elements in their larger model’s structure, it is a very traditional build, with lots of regular elements – like plates, bricks, tiles, and slopes – being utilized. Even though the model has bilateral symmetry, the repetitious build sequences aren’t overly arduous, and aside from the four triangles that fit under the wings (positioning the first one is tricky but each one gets easier), 75309 Republic Gunship is a straightforward and rewarding build.
Addressing the selection of minifigures that were included in the set, Schlömer and Jens Kronvold Fredericksen (Creative Lead on the LEGO Star Wars team) said that they opted not to include any highly sought-after characters or rare minifigures because forcing fans and collectors to buy an expensive high-end set to keep their minifigure collection complete wasn’t something LEGO wanted to do.
Two minifigures – which come as accessories with the display stand and aren’t meant to represent either scale or add play value to this display set – are included with 75306 Republic Gunship: Mace Windu and a Clone Commander, both of which are new to the whole gamut of LEGO Star Wars minifigures.
Selected on the merit that neither were “super-rare collector’s items”, as Fredericksen put it, and had universal appeal. Schlömer attempted to point out that at the time of Attack of the Clones’ release the cult of the clone trooper had not yet evolved and a clone trooper with a yellow-accented was just that; no name, no identity, and no mythos. Just a generic and faceless clone, like the Kaminoans intended.
In trying to avoid one problem, the inclusion of minifigures created another. Despite re-iterating that minifigures were only meant to be decorative accessories, LEGO received a number of complaints that the model wasn’t to scale with the included characters. Confusion was sowed when the first reviews revealed that the minifigures fit comfortably inside the cockpit seats and the side gunner turrets. Proving that you can’t satisfy all the fans all of the time, a portion of the community decided that unless a squad of clone trooper minifigures filled the troop compartment then the set was a failure.
The fact that the set flew off of LEGO brad store shelves and LEGO.com took so many orders that they were still fulfilling them two weeks after launch proves that 75309 Republic Gunship is a success.
This new UCS set is available at LEGO.com now for US$349.99/CA$479.99/UK£329.99/DE€349.99/AU$579.99/NZ$599.99 now (when it is in stock) – or you can wait until December when the second production run – which will fix the incorrectly applied Imperial roundel that is on the box – delivers the set to general retail.
Fervent documentarian, effusive AFOL and founding partner, Jeremy manages the daily news content and set reviews.
Having enjoyed playing with LEGO from his earliest years, Jeremy started collecting LEGO Star Wars in 1999 when the theme was first released. He has shared his thoughts and opinions on LEGO via a number of websites – including starwars.com, rebelscum.com and brickset.com – contributed to the LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary series and served the LEGO Ambassador Network as a Recognised LEGO Fan Media representative.