The 7163 Republic gunship set was released in 2002, and it is based on it's appearance in Star Wars Episode II. It was released as part of an Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones theme, preceding the 7676 Republic attack gunship, an improved version of this particular set.
It was first seen in Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, rushing in to save the Jedi from the droid army commanded by Count Dooku, and was used again in other episodes as a Jedi transport ship. The scene was very tense, and without the aid of the Republic gunship, Obi-wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, and Princess Amidala would of surely died.
It's LEGO appearance is very similar to that of the film, just a scaled down version. The ship detaches, the top part is detachable from the bottom, the front opens up to an on-site medical facility, and it also features shifting side doors and two adjustable pod-turrets.
The LEGO set features a wide variety of mini figures, including four clone troopers, two super battle droids, one destroyer droid, and one Jedi knight. Notably, not only is the entire ship well designed, but the mini figures themselves are as well. Both super battle droids in this set are blue, and the only way to get these rare LEGO mini figures, is to buy this set. Also, this is only one of two sets that contain the original Episode II clone troopers.
When it came out, the original pricing was 90$, arguably quite expensive. However, this is a very well designed set, LEGO did an excellent job in recreating the scene from the film by not only the amazing design of the ship itself, but by how amazingly detailed the mini-figures themselves are. It should be said again that the blue design of the super battle droids is only available in this set. Now, in 2009, the set itself can be found on Ebay for around 40-50$. This is a must have for not only LEGO fans, but for Star Wars fan too. This, in combination with the other Republic gunship set released later, make an excellent collection.