Yooooo, this thing is a beast! I don’t know a better way to start this. I knew it was a big set, but the end product is, well, substantial! Welcome friends to my review of the UCS Republic Gunship (75309). I have been after this set since it was first revealed in 2021. When I think of the prequels, this ship and the Venator-Class Cruiser come immediately to mind. They have always been on my list of hero ships, and vehicles I wanted as LEGO®️ sets. Well fast forward 2 years and not only do I get the Gunship, but a reveal for the new UCS Venator-Class Republic Attack Cruiser as well! So it’s good time for a Clone Wars fan. Both of these ships are seriously huge. I’m already at a loss for space on this Gunship….but that’s my burden. Let’s take a look at this set.
NOTE: The LEGO® Group provided this set for review. However, the provision of products does not guarantee a favorable review. True North Bricks’ usual rating system applies (click here for more information).
- SET #: 75309
- THEME: Star Wars
- COST: $499.99 CAD
- BRICK COUNT: 3292
- COST-PER-BRICK: $0.15
- BUILD TIME: 651 minutes
- COST-PER-MIN: $0.77
- MINIFIGURES: 2
- BRICK/FIG: N/A
- RELEASE DATE: August 1, 2021
- VALUE: 86% (good values for a large UCS set overall, definitely seeing higher cost/brick for this IP)
- BUILD: 85% (top marks for accuracy, detail and construction. Ironically just a bit too big in the end)
- MINIFIGURES: 75% (well printed, but neither make a huge draw, nor are they all that exclusive)
- ENTERTAINMENT: 85% (a really fun build with amazing display appeal – if you have space)
- OVERALL SCORE: 83% (An epicly big set that makes a great addition to the UCS Star Wars line)
The Gunship Saga
Before the UCS set swooped in, it was preceded by a few other sets. And there’s even a newer gunship to add to the mix. The first gunship was in 2002 with the Republic Gunship (7163). That is an OG classic and features the hilarious inclusion of ‘Jedi Bob’. He’s a nameless, generic male Jedi. So instead of an actual character from the show or film, we got Bob. Say what you will, Bob is famous and fetches a ridiculous amount of money on bricklink.com – to the tune of $125 CAD minimum. Two other play sets followed with the last one in 2013. Ten years later and it’s time for an update. Here’s a list of prior (and current) Gunships:
|Republic Gunship||7163||2002||$89.99 (est)||686||$0.13||8|
|Republic Attack Gunship||7676||2008||$129.99 (est)||1034||$0.13||7|
|UCS Republic Gunship||75309||2021||$499.99||3292||$0.15||2|
|Coruscant Guard Gunship||75354||2023||$179.99||1083||$.017||5|
Even with an inflated UCS price point, this gunship is still a better statistical value than the latest play set. The Star Wars IP is one of the most expensive on the market. It’s only getting more expensive. So if you’re a stats person, and love a good display piece, the UCS Republic Gunship is the better of your two options on the market.
A Rocky Start
Before getting into the review proper, I just want to mention some of the wild reception this set received on reveal/release. Once chosen via fan vote, the ship was revealed to mostly high praise. But there was a printing error on initial sets. The Empire logo was used instead of the Republic one which was fixed for sets from December 2021 onward. Oops. And those minifigures, oh boy. I will get to those in the proper section, but there was no love for the chosen minifigures. Adding to that ire were comments made by the set designers about the selection process. That really set off the die-hard fans. Ultimately this soured the launch of what was (and is) a very impressive set. Fans are fickle at the best of times. And Star Wars fans are, well….let’s say passionate.
The UCS Republic Gunship is currently available and has an MSRP of $499.99 CAD, translating to a cost/brick of $0.15. For the Star Wars theme, this puts it right at the average value for the sets reviewed to date (80%). This is only the 3rd UCS set we have stats on, so that number is more an estimate. But as with many IPs, the average cost/brick has only gone up. For the 2017 UCS Millennium Falcon (75192) we see a cost of $0.11 per brick (which is excellent really). This jumps up to $0.14 for 2020’s Mos Eisley Cantina (75290), and once again for the upcoming UCS Venator Cruiser at $0.16. Since this is a 3 year old set, we still see some of that prior value.
My build time for this set clocks in at a very healthy 651 minutes, or just under 11 hours. I want a set to take as long as possible and I feel I got just the right amount building, which I did over 3 days. At this length of time, we get a cost/minute of $0.77 for a score of 91%. This is nicely above average in comparison to our other reviewed SW sets ($1.02 for an 80% score). I’m a fairly quick builder though, so in reality this set will get higher scores if you do take it slow(er). My final value score is 86%.
The UCS Republic Gunship arrives in a large box carrying the usual UCS printing and graphics: black background with greebling border and a solo image on the front. It’s as gorgeous as usual. The white of the ship contrasts beautifully and makes it all pop. Inside you will find 31 bags numbered 1 to 17, two sticker sheets and a hefty 538 page instruction book. Like many a UCS set, there are also some brand-new and (still) exclusive molded parts. In this case there are several canopy elements with pretty amazing printing. The weapon ‘domes’ have excellent printing and stand out quite nicely.
A quick shout-out needs to go to the colour scheme. In that, there actually is one. I love me a Star Wars ship but man do they tend to be on the monochromatic end of the scale. I love Star Destroyers, but they are gray behemoths. So is the Falcon. And the Razor Crest. And every TIE _____ that ever comes out. Getting a white ship is a nice change of pace. The dark red and lime green accents add just the right amount of pop. Our other fan vote options were the TIE Bomber and Nebulon-B Frigate. Both awesome and both gray. So I’m glad a prequel ship with some original design ended up the big winner.
Super Size Me
The sheer size of the UCS Republic Gunship allows for an incredible amount of detail. Smaller fighters done in UCS scale always look impressive. It’s a chance for super greebling and elevated construction techniques. A medium size ship like the gunship becomes extra big, taking advantage of better parts options. As a result you get a beast of a ship. One that looks suitably large and then only grows ginormous once the wings are in place. At that point we get a build with a 74cm (29″) wingspan. We need to acknowledge how epically big that is. Yeah it’s no Star Destroyer, but in my head I was not expecting this.
Despite that massive size and piece count, the build comes together in a fairly straightforward way. While there are plenty of technic elements, it’s surprisingly low in comparison to the system pieces. Plate stacking is found throughout, including the ‘belly’ and base of the ship. I have to give major credit to the design team for keeping the majority of the rear of the ship empty and still creating any semblance of sturdiness. It’s a VERY top-heavy model. And yet, it somehow keeps its balance AND feels secure enough to pick up. That being said, I did find certain parts were tricky to snap together. The spine over the open area with the bay doors is awkward to grip and therefore hard to know how securely you’ve clutched the pieces together.
My memories of this ship and how it looks come almost exclusively from the Clone Wars animated series. The in-show design is every so slightly different from the in-movie one. Gunship details are taken directly from the first appearance of the vehicle in Episode II. I forgot about those forward gunner globes and the bay doors not closing all the way (which is crazy btw). We get a really accurate model thanks to the larger scale. While a minifigure can sit inside the cockpits, it’s definitely not at a minifigure scale. It’s practically a 3 3/4″ action figure scale.
The bay doors very smoothly open and they don’t require any wild engineering. I think adding some tile parts to the exterior will make for a really nice look. Definitely an easy mod and worth looking into. The aforementioned gunner globes use quite a neat technique and turn out very well. An interior chair is very well realized inside the printed domes. A central ‘spine’ holds it all in place. Just a couple of plates, clips and hinges come together to make a semi-truncated circle. They can sweep back into the ship bay should you not want them in the way. The completed body is massive, but it only gets wilder once the wings go on.
What’s a Republic Gunship without a very wild and large wingspan? A truck basically. Each wing is identical with an assembly of large stacked plates and slopes. The end result is huge and quite heavy. I’m in shock that each wing attaches to the body with ONE long technic axle. That’s it. And as far as I can tell, that’s totally sufficient. It makes removal easy should you need some disassembly for storage – which I appreciate. Under each wing is a small triangular shaped panel to close up the interior. It was such a pain in the butt to get these on. Some angled levers (rocker bearings) make for the only point of contact. And for whatever damn reason, I spent a good two minutes on each one getting the angle right. Aside from that, everything else is a smooth and simple thing.
Of equally impressive size and build are the top-mounted cannons. Several quarter round (corner), 4×4 round bricks, half-cylinders and cone bricks create quite sturdy canons. A long axle holds it all together inside. Each one connects to the body with a few technic pins, and that’s more than enough to hold tight. At a gap in the roof of the ship is where you will find missile payloads. Six missiles per side on a technic belt wheel which turn in unison thanks to some gears. It’s a very simple bit of interactive play but it sells the idea well. And it’s a nice nod to a scene from the film where you see the missiles loading. Speaking of missiles, you will find them all over; in the cannons, under the wings and inside the bay doors.
Like every major UCS set before it, the Republic Gunship comes with a display stand and info plaque. The info plaque is the standard large sticker (biggest in the set) on an 8×16 plate. These are now printed tiles though (awesome) so you can have less anxiety attacks trying to place a massive sticker evenly. There are a decent amount of stickers, but being printed on clear sheets, they don’t stand out as much when applied. Consequently they add a good amount of subtler detail which I appreciate. But how is there not a printed Republic/Empire logo by now? I feel these stickers at least add a good level of detailing to the hull.
With a wide, flat base, the gunship can easily rest on a surface, but it wouldn’t be proper to omit a stand of some kind. In this case, it’s a very low and long design that cradles the underside. Just one 2×2 rounded slope piece in white actually connects into an opening in the base of the ship. So that’s your only point on contact. Then it’s four flat tile pads, the rear ones being on slight angles to tip the ship very slightly forward. You don’t realize it until you place the ship on the stand how much that subtle lean helps redistribute the weight. It honestly doesn’t look like it will support this huge build, but it works just fine.
So what’s the verdict on the build? Overall it’s really fun. And there’s no denying the sheer impression you get once it’s done. It’s massive and wonderfully detailed. The construction techniques are standard however. There were no “oh that’s how it’s done??” moments. Not that I require that in all my builds. But at $500 CAD it’s definitely a bonus. It feels sturdy when you pick it up – which you should do from holding the spine and/or underneath. Nothing is overly fragile but you do have quite a few elements that can break if you’re not careful.
Accuracy is all there from what I can tell so major credit goes to the design team. Rewatching the ship’s debut scene in the film really hammers home what a great success this is. But did it need to be that big? I honestly don’t think so. I think the added pressure of the fan vote and heavy demand for it caused a major push to go hog wild and ‘give em what they want!’ Literally every detail. The more I think on it, the more it’s just a bit too much. But the fandom is a tricky bunch to please. Not an easy task, but I for one am quite happy with the results. All-in-all I’m still giving the gunship high marks. My final build score is 87%.
Alright. Let’s talk about a major point of contention with this set. Some people really felt all the feelings when it was revealed which minifigures would accompany the UCS Republic Gunship. What everyone wanted (myself included) was not what we got. We wanted Commander Cody or Rex or any of the major characters. Who we have instead is Jedi Master Mace Windu and a Clone Trooper Commander. Many AFOLs were triggered. Far too much so for my liking. It was a case of expectations not landing. But honestly that’s not the fault of the designers or The LEGO®️ Group. That’s on us. Would I have loved other choices? Absolutely. But who knows what restrictions were in place to get there. And honestly, not having exclusive figures in a set isn’t the worst. It’s nice to not price out certain people from getting popular characters.
Mace Windu is currently an exclusive minifigure to this set. Sort of…A nearly identical minifig is included in a set before and after this one. And again, we can’t be mad at similarities, but a fleck of dirt printed on the torso doesn’t make something exclusive and desirable to most. There’s just the one expression (bald character), leg and torso printing. His one accessory is the customary purple lightsaber. Aside from the dirt specks on the body (and open mouth), it is identical to the 2018 version found in the General Grievous Combat Speeder (75199) set. Follow that up with another near-identical fig in 2022’s Republic Fighter Tank (75342). I prefer this one though as it includes some great arm printing. So it’s a good minifigure overall, but sadly nothing to be excited over.
The bigger star of the Republic Gunship show is the Clone Trooper Commander. While Master Windu has a few variations behind him, this is only the second such clone trooper design. The first was with the AT-TE (75019) in 2013 – ironically also with a Mace Windu. With this set, the commander gets much more printing, noticeably the legs. The arms are still plain yellow and the helmet print is only slightly modified. And we get the standard clone dual-sided expression. He comes with a small blaster pistol as his accessory. Today, you can find him in two other small sets (unchanged) including the Advent Calendar. It’s a nicely detailed figure and I’m pretty happy with it being included.
All that to say…
In the context of referencing Attack of the Clones, it makes all the sense to choose these characters. But even with both figures exclusive (in 2021) they don’t do much to drive up the appeal to collectors. Phase I troopers and Mace Windu are not the best draw. Bringing back Jedi characters into print like Ki-Adi Mundi or Plo Koon would easily fix that. They are overdue for some new minifigs. It’s clear that this approach didn’t work for the company so I feel like the opposite approach is happening with the next UCS set. Look at the excitement for the UCS Venator thanks to the inclusion of Rex and Yularen. I’m giving decent marks because the designs fit our scoring criteria. But I’m also dropping points for the lack of any collector appeal or exclusivity. My final score is 75%.
Let’s address the obvious – you won’t be playing with this set. It’s not aimed at younger builders and you’re definitely not going to be swooshing this thing around pretending it’s the Battle of Geonosis. UCS sets aren’t that kind of entertainment. All the fun is in the build. And I have already covered that it is an enjoyable one at that. Instructions have a few nice bits of background info on the actual model, the film and the design process. All great stuff for some value-add. Another big draw is the display. You can’t miss this model. It’s massive. Too massive for my current display set up actually. So it’s a pro and sadly a con. Moc makers will have a huge parts supply though if you’re so inclined. There’s a handful of interactive spots like the missile payload, the rear hatch, bay doors and weapon pods. Ultimately it succeeds as a big, impressive display set that replicates its source material expertly. My final score is 85%.
The UCS Republic Gunship is pretty great. I know I’ve thrown some nitpicks towards it and it’s not a homerun of a set, but it’s awesome nonetheless. It’s fantastic to get some love for the Clone Wars and Prequels in the UCS line. And that’s going to be continuing next month the the UCS Venator-Class Republic Attack Cruiser. It’s massive and it will take you a decent amount of build time. So much detail is packed into this scale, you will be impressed. But it’s not for those with any lack of space. It’s borderline too large. That feels odd to say LOL. Those minifigures aren’t the top choices for many of us, but they’re fine all the same. My final score is 83%.
|What I liked||What I didn’t like as much|
|– Epically large build|
– Very accurate design
– Great to see a set from the Prequels
– Amazing display piece
– Good catalogue of parts for MOC makers
– Stickers are pretty well done
|– Almost too big. Hinders displayability|
– Scale could have shrunk and still kept details
– Cost/brick is bordering on high
– Minifigures are fine, but not a big draw
– Construction is pretty straightforward
And that’s the UCS Republic Gunship my friends! It’s an amazing build that will make a big impression if you got the space. Objectively it’s not perfect (few sets are) but it’s certainly worth looking at. And if you are interested, act soon as this set is being retired at the end of the year. But what do you think? Do you own this massive set? Are you looking forward to more Clone Wars era sets? Is the minifigure selection a sticking point for you? Comment below and in all the usual places. Thanks as always for reading and until next time, keep on brickin’. 🧱
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