Hands-on with LEGO’s new 3,300-piece UCS Star Wars Republic Gunship

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After first being announced earlier this fall and subsequently selling out right at launch, we’re now going hands-on with the new LEGO UCS Republic Gunship. But is the 3,300-piece build actually worthy of the Ultimate Collector Series namesake, let alone its staggering $350 price tag? Head below for a deep dive on the newest addition to the LEGO Star Wars collection.

Hands-on with the LEGO UCS Republic Gunship

The journey of the LEGO UCS Republic Gunship is just as unique as the build itself, having gone from a fan-voted idea to official set. Starting out as one of three potential models that builders could vote on, the Prequel Trilogy set quickly picked up traction as the Gunship Gang and other fans emerged to show the LEGO Group that there really was a market for a collectible set based around Attack of the Clones. Now after the better part of two years, we’re taking a hands-on look at how the long-awaited creation actually stacks up.

Entering as the largest LEGO Star Wars set of the year at this point, the UCS Republic Gunship assembles the fan-favorite vehicle from the Clone Wars. It has been quite some time since we’ve seen a set from the collectible theme that isn’t focused on the Original Trilogy, and that 11-year wait has paid off big.

Stacking up to 3,292 pieces, the Republic Gunship is larger than your average LEGO UCS set and puts those extra pieces to good use. The model itself isn’t minifigure-scale like the Millennium Falcon, but it manages to deliver a footprint that’s as awe-inspiring as its larger counterpart. Which is to say, this new set is absolutely massive by pretty much any account. There’s also a fitting price tag, clocking in at $349.99.

It stands 13 inches tall once fully assembled and delivers an even more impressive wingspan of 29 inches to go with its 27-inch length. So while the gunship isn’t the largest in any single dimension of a LEGO Star Wars set, it certainly manages to push those boundaries for its size overall. And in true UCS fashion, there’s also a display stand that the build rests on, complete with an information plaque and place to store the minifigures.

Now for the actual specs aside, the model itself is even more of a sight to behold in person than it is on paper. All of those measurements and part counts really don’t give you a sense of just how big the model is, which makes for a really enjoyable building experience as you’re actually piecing the set together. The techniques used throughout the LEGO UCS Republic Gunship aren’t necessarily the most sophisticated or intricate given the more streamlined look of the ship.

Even without the kind of greebling that I, like many other fans, have come to expect, the build has an overall polished look that nails the overall design of the vehicle. The front section of the ship and its more unique design could not have been done better, which is a sentiment that carries over to most of the build otherwise. The angle of the wings is spot on and the printed cockpit pieces really go a long way toward a display-worthy final model.

My personal favorite aspect of the set has to be the ball turrets on either side of the ship that have a novel design. The large transparent canopies really add a unique looks to the otherwise utilitarian form. There’s also some additional highlights like closing doors on the back and a detailed missile section on the top.

Not quite so ultimate

For all the things that I love about the UCS Republic Gunship, there are certainly some areas both in the design process and execution that leave more to be desired. To say that this is the most controversial LEGO Star Wars set in recent memory is almost an understatement at this point. Even from the very beginning, the build was something that the community was excited to see become an actual kit. And once it became official that the LEGO Group was more than happy to match that fanfare, the expectations were set that this would be a creation made by fans for the fans.

That’s normally what we expect to some degree from the UCS lineup, but the hype leading up to the official unveil was hampered by the some bad press straight from LEGO themselves.

I’m just going to get the debacle with the minifigures out of the way to start, as this is arguably the biggest issue with the LEGO UCS Republic Gunship overall. The inclusion of Mace Windu is quite notable for the most part, and the exclusive printing makes for a pretty neat figure. But then there’s the Clone Trooper Commander. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a slick design on its own, though the minifig does end the ongoing pattern of including a pilot with its UCS sets.

Of course, then the LEGO Group had to distract from an otherwise solid inclusion with condescending comments about how Star Wars fans won’t know that the Clone Trooper Commander isn’t a pilot minifigure, since they’re “both yellow.” I’m not alone in nitpicking the commentary as being counterproductive to pushing the narrative that the UCS lineup is in fact supposed to deliver ultimate collectibles, and saying fans won’t care about the details makes me less likely to give the set the benefit of the doubt in some areas. Especially considering this is in fact a $350 LEGO set.

I mentioned that there are plenty of aspects of the ship that are well-executed, though that doesn’t carry over to the whole build. Areas like the rear ramp, closing doors, and cannons on the top all take away from the otherwise near-perfect design. Throw in the fact that the box art for the set has the Imperial logo instead of that of the Republic emblem, and it’s clear that the normal polish we expect from the display-worthy sets is missing.

9to5Toys’ Take

At the end of the day, $350 is a lot to spend on anything, let alone a LEGO set. Which is why it’s a bit disappointing that the LEGO Group got in its own way. Despite those flaws and some of that bad press surrounding the set, the UCS Republic Gunship is still going to go down as one of my favorite Star Wars sets of the year, and probably of all time. It’s a really solid build that has an even better presence in my collection.

As a kid, I always wanted one of the play-scale models that had come out in the early 2000s. So now getting to assemble an even more display-worthy version of the vehicle has been quite the fulfilling experience. It’s also a rare chance to get a UCS Clone Wars set in the first place, as if the build itself wasn’t already notable in its own right.

I’m sure most of this will all just be preaching to the choir and many LEGO builders who were interested in picking up the UCS Republic Gunship would have scored this one at launch. But if you happened to miss out the first time around as the set went out of stock, or you’ve since been convinced, the set ultimately receives a seal of approval from this fan. It might not be the most straightforward recommendation, but even the LEGO Group themselves, for all of its efforts, can’t ruin a set that is this good.

Buy the LEGO UCS Republic Gunship

Other LEGO Star Wars summer 2021 reviews at 9to5Toys:

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