As further Star Wars films are released in the coming years it appears inevitable that the volume of products based on each one will be diluted. The prospect of seeing material from beyond the movies seems even more unlikely but 75182 Republic Fighter Tank is just such a set, having never appeared in any of the films or animated series released to date.
One might reasonably assume that this will reduce its appeal, although the inclusion of an Aayla Secura minifigure is bound to draw great interest as the popular Jedi has only appeared once before. In addition, the set costs just £19.99 in the UK or $24.99 in the US which seems very reasonable when compared with the piece count of 305 and typical Star Wars pricing.
Aayla Secura only features briefly in the material which now constitutes Star Wars canon but has made many appearances in video games, comics and books, thereby inspiring particular interest in the Twi'Lek Jedi. A minifigure based on Aayla's animated character design from The Clone Wars was previously included in 8098 Clone Turbo Tank but this is the first rendition based on Revenge of the Sith and it looks great. The lekku are decorated with dark brown straps like those seen in the film and the torso and leg printing is similarly accurate.
I like the angry expression on one side of the Jedi's head but think a smirk might have been more appropriate on the other given Aayla's cheerful personality. Nevertheless, this is an excellent minifigure on the whole and I am very pleased to see the character return, particularly since Quinlan Vos, with whom Aayla is often associated in Legends material, appeared in 75151 Clone Turbo Tank last year. A blue lightsaber completes the figure.
A wide range of specialised Clone Troopers are introduced during Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This Clone Gunner is not among them, although he did appear as an action figure in 2005 and that happened to be one of my first Star Wars toys! I am therefore indisputably biased in my excitement at seeing this character in LEGO form but beyond that he serves an important purpose as the driver of the tank. His helmet is printed with a unique design which includes dark tan padded areas while a black pauldron extends across both the front and back of the torso.
A standard Clone Trooper head is found beneath the helmet and he is equipped with a blaster rifle in case the weaponry on the Republic Fighter Tank is disabled. It is worth noting that gunners like this one are traditionally trained for the use of the mass driver cannon on AT-TEs but it seems logical that their skills could also be applied to similar equipment, as they are in this set. Hopefully some standard Phase II Clone Troopers will be released to compliment this specialised soldier in the near future.
The set includes two Battle Droids to challenge the tank. These figures have undergone little change since 1999 but I am not sure that any significant alterations are necessary. The moulded details on the front and back of the head look great and I like the straight arm which allows each droid to hold a standard blaster. It is exactly a decade since the arms were introduced in 7662 Trade Federation MTT and it is nice to see them still in use.
The Completed Model
The TX-130 Saber-class Fighter Tank does not appear in any current canon material so it is quite surprising that it has formed the subject of this set. Nevertheless, I think the vehicle looks marvellous, with a varied colour scheme and an attractive shape. I was surprised by the small size of the model while building it, although this is attributable to the relative scale of 7679 Republic Fighter Tank which was released in 2008. In fact, this 17cm long tank is more faithful to the source material than the original set and almost every aspect of the design has been improved.
The entire model is protected by angular armour plating and this is formed primarily using wedges and slopes, as at the front of the tank. I love the dark red and white colour scheme which extends throughout the structure and the lime green highlights look great too, due in no small part to the careful balance which has been struck between these colours. Republic insignia adorn either side of the vehicle and further stickers are used to represent rows of bolts running down the centre.
Mechanical systems line the edges of the hull and these are reasonably accurate in relation to the tank as it appears in comics and video games. Light bluish grey handles form fuel lines and this is only partly effective in my opinion, although the small scale does limit the possible alternatives. Stickers are used to create some detail towards the rear and there are clips for storing accessories such as the pearl silver wrench, shown in the image below, beneath the heavy laser cannons.
Wheels are hidden underneath the vehicle which allow it to roll across a surface with ease. They are almost entirely invisible when viewed from most angles, although I wonder whether castor wheels could have been used instead to better represent the swift manoeuvrability of the tank. There are a few brightly coloured elements found underneath but luckily these are not visible under usual circumstances.
Heavy laser cannons are situated on the sides of the cockpit and these can be rotated through an impressive arc of almost 180 degrees. The light bluish grey mountings look slightly out of place and I am not entirely convinced by the positioning of the two stud shooters, although they do offer some additional play value which is always welcome.
The vehicle is accessed by a door at the rear. Unfortunately the small size of the model has compelled the designer to leave this feature out but the space is still well used and includes a storage box. This contains some extra ammunition for the stud shooters and opens around hinges at the base, just like the door on the original vehicle. Moreover, communications antennas are formed using foil elements which is very effective.
Star Wars vehicles are not famed for their practicality but the TX-130 Saber-class Fighter Tank includes some fairly realistic features. The windows are very small, reducing the potential target for small arms fire but also restricting the pilot's visibility. I think they look great when viewed from the front and the low profile of the entire model is perfect in relation to the source material, contrary to 7679 Republic Fighter Tank.
A circular hatch on top of the craft opens on a hinge so the driver can survey the battlefield. This works well for display but a laser cannon turret is usually placed in front of the hatch and it is a shame that this has been left out, presumably due to the limited parts budget. It would also have been nice to see a tighter fit around the circular hatch as there are some gaps left at the edges. The new 2x2 diagonal corner tile might have been useful here.
Accessing the interior is quite difficult without the removal of the entire roof structure. This has not been designed to be taken off which is a shame, although the detailed interior makes up for that in my opinion. A single minifigure can slot into the tan seat and there are plenty of controls for the pilot, including a yoke represented by a black bucket handle. It is unusual to see quite so much detail in a Star Wars set but I welcome this change and hope to see a similar trend in future.
This is one of my favourite Star Wars sets of the year so far. The vehicle is highly detailed and looks brilliant in relation to the source material, although I would have preferred to see the dorsal turret included. Furthermore, the minifigure selection is excellent and it is particularly pleasing to see Aayla Secura included given the exceptional popularity of the character and her prior exclusivity to a much larger set.
Ultimately, the relative unfamiliarity of the TX-130 Saber-class Fighter Tank may limit the appeal of this set but it is certainly a worthy purchase in my view, particularly given the low price of £19.99 or $24.99 which seems very reasonable. Hopefully we will continue to see occasional sets from the period of the Clone War like this one even as additional movies are released in the coming years.
I hope you have found this review informative. Let us know by liking this article and share your thoughts on the set in the comments below.