I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been a sucker for sci-fi vehicles with aerials and radio antennae on them for as long as I can remember. I think it just adds a gritty quality that I like, for some reason. Because of that, and also because I just fancy tanks in general, especially twenty pound Lego ones (see my Imperial Hovertank review), I’d wanted the Republic Fighter Tank for a while. As my parents have issued the ultimatum that any more Lego in the house will make them very angry, I was hesitant when me and my girlfriend stood in the Lego section of John Lewis before going to see Dunkirk (review of that here). But to be honest, I’d just been paid, and the set was rather cheap, so I thought I might as well. I remember saying to her after I’d built it that I was appalled I’d even considered passing it up.
The Republic Fighter Tank comes with the main build (a tank, what were you expecting?), a Phase 2 clone gunner which, as far as I’ve been led to believe, isn’t actually canon, Jedi Knight Aayla Secura with her blue lightsaber, two battle droids with a blaster pistol each, a wrench and rifle for the clone, and six studs to be shot.
- Lots to be said about this set despite it’s relatively small size and very affordable price point. That’s a positive in and of itself.
- First off, the lovely light green and sand-red colour scheme (I believe those are the official Lego colour names, but I’m not an expert expert) really pops. This isn’t so much a positive as a personal preference, but I do like it so what else can it be classed as other than a good thing?
- Lack of stickers, a major plus, but in turn no lack of detail therein. In fact, there are loads of little touches included which really add to the personality of the build, like:
- the printed control panel,
- the wrench, a lovely addition,
- the small transparent cheese slope pieces (official name) to make up the windscreen, a great piece of fine detailing that I’d like to see more of from Lego,
- and the control sticks inside the cockpit (in reality a Lego bucket handle piece) which, though barely seen, are wonderful.
- The clone figure himself is intensely good, with some fantastic leg-printing and a Phase 2 helmet to die for (in fact, he’s the first one I own!).
- Much to my surprise, I don’t actually mind the Jedi figure because she’s blue and I think that’s appealing to my better nature. Besides, now I can do some roleplaying that she’s stranded in the desert somewhere and this one lone grizzled gunner operating his tank pulls up on her, then they form a begrudging partnership to take down a battalion of droids. See? If my imagination can run that wild just by looking at two minifigures and considering what chemistry they may have, that’s an achievement on Lego’s part.
- I got, very pleasantly, a spare of the rapier pieces used as mock antenna on the back end.
- Stud shooters are actually integrated nicely, which Lego seems to be getting better and better at.
- The build process itself is very intuitive but is also very fresh; loads of techniques I’ve never used before and some great new pieces included along with some classic ones really make it feel modern and exciting.
- The wheels, even though they’re much different to the Hovertank’s big transparent ones, works exceptionally well and really make it roll like… Well, a tank!
To be Improved:
- This isn’t even an issue with the set, but rather with the design on the whole; it just looks a little piddly without a forward turret. In fact, even the original Lego version has a gunner position complete with cannon, and though the hatch does open up very nicely on this new model I’ve had to order a Brickarms Hotchkiss turret (and also heavy machine gun for the clone to wield just because I thought it would be sad only buying one gun).
- The biggest kick in the teeth has got to be the minifigures. One clone operating a whole tank? I get that it isn’t very big but it just seems like laziness on Lego’s part every time they include the flimsy battle droids, which most people don’t even count as minifigures anyway. To be frank, I am not among those people, and don’t really own enough battle droids myself, so in all fairness I’m not unduly upset, but perhaps replace the Jedi with another clone and this would be perfect.
- Lego still haven’t fixed their rifles, despite the fact that the tranquilliser guns from the Lego Dino range had the bottom of the stock flush with the minifigures’ arms, meaning they could actually hold it without it being bent at a funny angle. Why this has not carried over to the other lines is beyond me.
The majority of criticisms I’ve seen online for this tank cite the original version’s major size difference (that being the fact that it was way bigger) and the rubbishness of the battle droids. I, in case you hadn’t noticed, don’t whole-heartedly share these opinions, and believe this update to be far superior in nearly every way save for the lack of a second clone. It’s more streamlined, more fun to play with, there’s sort of an implied backstory and lore to it that wasn’t there before, and small though it may be it still took me the duration of a Usain Bolt documentary to build it.