Republic Cruiser (Limited Edition)
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
The Consular-class starship is used primarily as a diplomatic vessel throughout the galaxy. The red coloring alerts all that sees it that the ship and all aboard are to be unharmed due to its full diplomatic immunity. As Consular-class ships were used primarily (though not exclusively) by the government of the Republic, being fully covered in red denotes it as operating exclusively from the capital planet of Coruscant. Frequently serving as meeting places during political conflicts (as open war had not been felt in the galaxy for over 1000 years), the salon pod beneath the cockpit can be swapped out to support a wide variety of life-forms up to 16 beings at a time. And in an emergency, the salon pod can be jettisoned as an escape pod with its own sensor suite, sub-light engines, navigation, and life-support. Two additional escape pods amidships can alternatively carry eight each. Lacking commonly-used communications before the Clone Wars across the galaxy, the Consular spotted a wide variety of dishes and antennae to be able to pick-up both distant and short-range signals, in addition to equally secure coded transmissions for privacy. Because it was expected at the time that ships dressed in red would remain unharmed, most Consular-class ships were manufactured unarmed, though they still had capable armor and deflector shields. However, their modular internal/exterior design allowed them to be customized if the owner so-wished, and so sometimes they spotted retractable or hidden weapons for the element of surprise or leverage in more-difficult situations which words alone could not deflate. To ensure the tightest of security control in a diplomatic dispute, the Consular-class vessels operated with a proportionately-small crew of 8 which was then supplemented by a larger variety of droids. Like the Corellian CR90 corvette Tantive-IV from “Star Wars Episode-IV: A New Hope” (1977), which was the first vessel to be seen by audiences in a dramatic entrance (followed closely by a gigantic Imperial Star Destroyer), the Consular-class Republic Cruiser Radiant VII has the equally-distinctive honor of being the first vessel to appear- chronologically- in the Star Wars universe, immediately seen after the opening scrawl fades into space in the prequel film, “Star Wars Episode-I: The Phantom Menace” (1999). This was the last attempt at a peaceful negotiation to the shipping dispute between the slowly-faltering Galactic Republic and the Trade Federation’s protesting blockade of the innocent & peaceful planet Naboo. Unfortunately, just minutes after delivering the Supreme-Chancellor’s negotiation team (two disguised Jedi Knights) to the Trade Federation’s Lucrehulk-class flagship, Saak’ak, the unprepared Radiant-IV and her skeleton crew of two would become the first casualties of what would be the beginning of the end for the Old Republic, the fall of the Jedi, the rise of the dominating Galactic Empire, and the long-awaited revenge of the Sith.
The Ultimate Collector’s Series of sets from Lego can number in thousands of parts, and unusually-large proportions, weight, assembly time & difficulty, and number of special features; targeted specifically at older and more experienced Lego-maniacs. The Republic Cruiser set- while not a UCS- seems to occupy the area between play set, scaled vehicle, and detailed display model. While it is shaped and has detailed surfaces & features resembling the real filming model from the 1999 movie, it is also designed to support the regular use of minifigs as well. And so, some of the proportions are slightly off, though certainly not outrageously-so: the front 1/3rd is a little taller from the bottom of the salon pod to the cockpit, and the two outboard engines are portrayed as the same size as the center one (whereas they would actually be slightly bigger). The winged segments between the three engines in back are solid here- whereas the back half of the wings on the model is split horizontally to form two smaller support wings with space between them, and then the larger triangular section in front. The other thing about the back-third of the ship is that the underneath surface is rather neglected detail-wise compared to the rest of the set; the only reason for this may be the need for ease of reaching the rounded gear which activates a feature above (which I’ll get into later). And while many of the surface details must be skewed because we’re dealing with Lego bricks here, some details remain which can be distinguished when compared with the filming mode: behind the cockpit is a long rectangular hole lined with white bricks, a black stripe just behind the cockpit, a sensor strip along the front of the salon pod which lines up with the main sensor strip beneath the cockpit, and dark radiating vanes along the top [and bottom] of the wings between the engines. Now, because there is not nearly enough room for two minifigs to sit side-by-side in the cockpit, only one can be seen through the small thin darkened transparent window. However, there aren’t windows to wrap around the bridge like the real model does because the bricks would have been too small to be practical. (In other words, if they had been single 1x4 plates, you couldn’t have seen through them because the brick beneath them would obscure the view.) So instead, a black vent beneath the bridge (also surrounded by white paneling detail like on the real model) has been converted into a side window for the Lego set. It’s too low for the pilot minifig to see out of it, so you can only see the pilot’s arm instead.
The Republic Cruiser rests on four triangular landing pads which extend out from the mid-body. However, unlike the film version in which two extend from the mid-body and two from the back engineering section directly beneath the antenna arrays, all four landing gear in this set extend from the mid-body. (It should be noted that to cushion the landing, the Consular-class ship has four small thrusters it uses in its final moments of flight. While neither the thrusters- nor the extra two escape pods- are represented here, the landing gear occupies the same spaces as the former.) The landing gear easily holds up the set with no balance issues whatsoever even when the salon pod is released (more on this later), and when set on a slightly uneven surface, each pad has a simple independent ankle joint which can adapt by twisting side-to-side 180°! And while lacking the complex mechanisms seen in the film, or any significant detail on their own, the four landing gear are capable of being retracted up against the bottom of the hull! Now, you must realize that this set is pretty big and heavy, so while retracting the gear is an option, I would advise against resting the Republic Cruiser on the ground when they are like this because it puts upward pressure on other areas not meant for that kind of treatment.
Along the more-detailed outer sides of the mid-body section are two small black-&-brown tabs that- when slid forward- deploy two pairs of hidden laser cannons from the front! The doors that the cannons are hidden behind turn freely on their joints, but- in reversing the process- do not retract on their own. And so, after the cannons have been pulled back completely, you have to also slide the doors shut. (Online stats indicate that the Radiant-VII had one retractable laser cannon turret installed, though they don’t specify where it was located, and we obviously never saw it used in the film.)
As mentioned earlier, there is a rounded yellow Technic gear located between the mid-body and center engine on the underside of the engineering section. This is attached to a Technic rod which goes through the center of the Engineering section, and up into the communications array on top. When the gear underneath is twisted to either side, the mast with three various-sized dishes positioned around it turns accordingly all the way around! There are no gears or locking mechanism involved here, so it turns quite freely; or you can ignore the gear beneath, and just push lightly on the dishes themselves. (It turns a little too easily for my tastes, even though it’s a great little feature.) The double-cone-shaped salon pod hangs beneath the front third of the Republic Cruiser from some thin Technic pieces. It obviously can’t do anything when attached to the ship. But when you pull forward on the front of the ship, the forward part actually slides on three internally-built Technic rods… and when extended far enough, the salon pod will literally drop away! (I’d advice that you put your other hand under the salon pod to catch it when it falls since it’s not really built to withstand a hard-landing…) A rubber band keeps the front half from completely separating, and so when you let go, the rubber band simply pulls everything back together sans salon pod. The top section of the salon pod is not fixed in place, so you can simply lift up on it, and revealed inside are seats for the provided Jedi Knight minifigs, Qui-Gon Jinn and Obi-Wan Kenobi!
(If you’re like me, and you don’t like that rubber band in there, keep on reading at the end of the review and I’ll tell ya about an alternative I came up with.)
The simplest and easiest-to-access feature internally is the cockpit. Just flip up the roof, and you can see inside. Now, even though it’s designed to seat just one minifig, the floor is all smooth and there’s nothing to fit a minifig’s legs onto. So when you have the Captain in there, he’ll just slide all over the place! To access the rooms in the mid-body, the entire top paneling is lifted forward and then completely removed to reveal the interior spaces! In the left room, there are spaces set down with flat panels for:
- a lockbox, which has doors on both sides which hold two minifig blasters and a pair of binoculars; and
- a tiny space flyer with folding wings and control sticks, which can hold a single minifig
In the right room, on the other side of the ship:
- a control console at which another minifig- usually the Republic Pilot- can be seated; and
- a wide slotted socket which an[y] astromech droid can be plugged into
In both rooms, you can obviously see where the hidden laser cannons are stored when not slid forward, and how they operate- they simply slide along two light gray Technic rods through a twin-hole brick. (Yes, I know there appears to be extra space for the cannons to slide backwards when stored, but trust me, they’re not supposed to slide all that way back. I suspect- though I have no way of confirming - that a last-minute change in the length of the rods used is responsible for this gap.) Also, this may seem confusing, but the top paneling is not designed to snap, lock, or otherwise remain secured when attached to the Republic Cruiser- it just rests there due to gravity only, and is meant to be removed without a fuss. Equally-so, the top panel assembly is not designed to support any weight, so resting the full weight of the set on them when upside-down is ill-advised. The morale of the story? Don’t turn this set upside down, or it’ll fall apart!
Lego Set #7665 comes with five minifigs:
Republic Captain, and Republic Pilot
Dressed in the same uniform- blue flight jacket with printed black belt and black legs- they both have the same basic Lego smiley-face on their pale head piece(s). The only difference between these two characters is the Captain has a blue flat hat, and the Pilot has a black men’s hairpiece. (The captain of the Radiant-VII- who did not wear a hat- was actually female, while the co-pilot remained male.)
Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn, and padawan-learner Obi-Wan Kenobi
Both minifigs are dressed identically in traditional tan Jedi robes with brown belts, and brown hooded cloaks. The faces are different- Qui-Gon has a serious expression with a brown mustache & beard printed on his head; while Obi-Wan has a lighter expression with the hint of a thin smile. While the hoods are brown ABS plastic, the brown capes come in a small cardboard box, and are stored flat- to get them to curve, you place the two holes over the neck of each minifig. Both carry a single lightsaber which have a light-gray handle- Qui-Gon gets the transparent-neon green blade, and Obi-Wan gets the transparent-light blue blade. Unlike earlier Lego sets- where they were standard in place of the hoods- neither Jedi has a replacement hairpiece provided.
An astromech droid minifig provided as an exclusive with this set, its legs are friction-jointed at both hips only, so it can tilt either forward/backward, or look like it’s walking. (Gonk droid, anyone?) While a third leg is not possible to extend/retract on a figure so small, there is a hole on the bottom for which you can provide a substitute of your own. Additionally, though the head dome is a separate piece, it cannot turn, so you have to take it off and reattach it at whatever 90°-angle you wish. There is no other detail or feature on this figure that is different from any other astromech droids in the Star Wars line save for its white & green coloring. (And so far as I can tell,”R2-R7” is just a random droid that Lego came up with.)
In 2001, Lego released the Ultimate Collector’s Series’ Rebel Blockade Runner (#10019), which is of equivalent size, but was far more detailed, and lacked the interior detail & ability to interface with minifigs (as almost-all UCS sets do) like this set does. But even though it was jaw-droppingly detailed, I didn’t want it. Call me insane if you must, but the Corellian CR90 corvette- despite its high praise- has never been one of my favorite designs from Star Wars. (Too many engines is one reason.) But even though the Consular-class ship was specifically designed by the concept artists at Industrial Light & Magic to be the direct predecessor to the Blockade Runner, I like it a lot more. Perhaps because it looks sleeker, made the entire theater rattle as roared past the camera, or was the first vessel I saw from “Star Wars” on the big screen. (I was, like, not even a year old when “Return of the Jedi” came out in late-spring ‘83!) This set was also a record-setter for me on many levels: the most parts in a Lego set (919), the longest assembly time (3hr 44min), the heaviest (easily 10lbs), the most-expensive (came out to $102 w/ tax), and- really- my first collector‘s model which focused more on detail rather than being a more-basic fighter, airport, robot, or space monorail. (Well... maybe the monorail was over $100, but my parents bought that for me, so that doesn’t count!) For me, this was less about the gimmicks, even though the gimmicks are typical. (I mean, why else would they include a small one-man flyer in this set!? Because it is Lego!) The pop-out cannons were cool, as was being able to detach the salon pod. The landing gear being able to retract, let alone support all that weight, was pretty awesome despite their very simple construction. And I love how they attempted to recreate the chaotic arrangement of dishes & antennae on the back. Let-downs? The biggest was that the top paneling assembly doesn’t snap into place. I would also have liked an option to keep the largest comm dish pointed forward rather than so easily twisting side-to-side. (The dishes on the real ship couldn’t turn at all.) There’s also an unusually-large gap between the salon pod and the mid-body which could have been filled-up somehow. And some equal respect for the details under the wings, as well as a bigger thrust effect from the main engines. (I mean, all they have are some really tiny flat domes, which is kinda lame considering what they do with other sets.) Oh, yeah- putting those three engines together took some careful planning on my part- the first one literally exploded in my face because they’re not very well supported internally. (Treat ‘em like eggs when you build ‘em, folks!) But, I really think that this is an awesome set to have. It’s definitely for older Lego-maniacs because it’s so large, though I won’t discourage the younger ones from attempting it if they have help from their parents. But keep in mind that this really isn’t meant to be banged around like smaller sets are- this belongs on a shelf to be admired, and pulled down once in a while to dust it off, and fiddle with the features. So, I bestow my full approval on the Lego Republic Cruiser- go get one!
|Posted 1 January, 2009 - 03:25 by EVA_Unit_4A|