Added to the Ultimate Collector Series (UCS) subtheme in the third quarter of 2021, the release of 75309 Republic Gunship was significant because it was the first time that the prequel trilogy had been visited in the UCS line since 10215 Obi-Wan’s Jedi Starfighter in 2010. It’s one of only a handful of sets in the theme that aren’t based on the original trilogy – the sequels haven’t had a look in at all, aside from 75192 Millennium Falcon (which could be configured as either the classic or sequel version of the ship).
So why has the UCS focused on the classic trilogy so exhaustively? Will prequel or sequel-loving LEGO Star Wars collectors get more love going forward, and does the release of 75309 Republic Gunship represent a pivot of the spotlight?
The lack of prequel representation is definitely part of the reason that fans came out in droves to vote for the Republic Gunship in the Ideas poll that saw the defeat of the Nebulon-B frigate and TIE Bomber – but the real reason that those who fell in love with Star Wars during the early Noughties have been underrepresented is that they only now have a decent amount of disposable income, and the recent fan vote gave them the opportunity to tell LEGO that they want expensive, high-quality Star Wars collectibles to spend it on.
Meanwhile, Gen-Xers have been treated to the majority of the high-end Star Wars collectibles for years because they enjoy both a larger and more established fan base and have more cash to spare.
Coming of age at a time when employment was more secure, the economy was booming, and getting on the housing ladder was more achievable, they are further along their life’s road – and as a result, have more opportunities to spend money on elective purchases like enormous LEGO Star Wars sets. Targeting this group has certainly paid off for LEGO, as the Original Trilogy sets always seem to sell.
When it comes to the Gen-Y prequel generation though, it has taken longer for them to get a secure financial footing thanks to the economic crash of 2008 and inflated house prices. Now though, many from that generation are in a position to start shelling out for large-scale Republic Gunships and whatever enormous, impressive sets the LEGO designers dream up to add to the Prequel Trilogy collection, that has so far been seemingly marginalized.
If anything, LEGO has been a bit slow off the mark with this. You can see the love for the prequels in how excited nostalgic 20-somethings are for the April 5th arrival of LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga, as they fondly recall hours spent playing the LEGO Star Wars: The Video Game series since 2005. The way that Disney+ television shows are making the most of prequel trilogy actors who are still willing to reprise their roles – Temeura Morrison, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen – illustrates that the creatives understand a fan desire to see those faces on screen again.
For sequel trilogy fans who belong to Gen-Z though, the picture is bleak – it’s going to be another decade or two before they have the money and dominant voices to ensure that ‘their’ Star Wars is front and center. In some ways, it’s perhaps for the best, as the children and teenagers who are most invested in the Sequel Trilogy collection can probably better afford the smaller scale sets. For those who do want something bigger and impressive, the way the prequel trilogy has been shunned until recently suggests that the sequels are in for a long wait.
Clearly, now is the time for the prequel fanbase, because, much like Gentle Giant and Master Replicas did in the early years of the new millennium, premium LEGO Star Wars sets are finally starting to be offered – alongside Hasbro Pulse‘s crowdsourced projects – to the newest wave of grownups who are looking to the Adult Collector subtheme in order to recreate their childhoods through this new medium of fan expression.
What do you think about the current lack of large-scale Prequel Trilogy sets? With the 20th anniversary of Attack of the Clones approaching, do you think that it’s time for LEGO to begin to move the UCS collection away from the first three Star Wars movies? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Guest author Graham Hancock has been collecting LEGO Star Wars since the first sets appeared in 1999, and has since served as the editor of Brick Fanatics and currently heads up the writing staff at Blocks Magazine; you can follow him on Facebook and Twitter, where he shares more of his thoughts and opinions on his favorite construction toy.