Theme: LEGO Ideas
Release Year: 2021
Cost: AU $329.99
Last week, LEGO announced the next addition to my favourite line – LEGO Ideas. We got the typewriter designed by Steve Guinness! It has honestly been on of my most anticipated sets to get, and it does not disappoint. I was able to get my hands on a copy early (thank you very much LEGO), so as soon as it arrived at my door, I started building.
Inside the box you will find 18 numbered bags across 11 build stages, an un-numbered bag with some plates and four large sand green axles, the instructions, the notepad of letters in 43 different languages, and a sticker sheet with two foil stickers.
Before getting in to the set, let’s take a look at the original submission. Some important differences to note here are the grey colour scheme, narrower profile, re-arranged keyboard, more exposed typebars, four of them at that, and a brick built sheet of paper. This model also didn’t actually function originally. One of the later updates that Steve made was to pair it with a large MINDSTORMS base that allowed the typebars to move up and down in succession, and the carriage moved. Unfortunately this happened backwards, so didn’t look quite right.
This release then, appears to be a complete reworking. This has gained a lot of criticism in the past, with sets like the Medieval Blacksmith being criticised for being too different (that review coming very soon!). I think what LEGO has released in 21327 is a huge improvement, and we can rest assured that Steve was involved in the design process along the way, as are all other successful designers.
Given the amount of keys included, this would seem to be a rather repetitive build at times. You’re right. It is. It’s not all that bad though. Yes, the keys are tedious to build, with an assortment of different types, depending on their row position, but the way the keyboard comes together is, while also repetitive, extremely interesting.
Running off a series of four large axles, the keyboard is stood up on it’s end, and the keys slid on one at a time, with appropriate spacers placed in between. If this is messed up at all, it ends up being bad news for your typewriter, so it pays to pay attention to this stage! After the keys are built, I took an inordinate amount of time to get the letters (which are incidentally very well designed) perfectly straight.
Once you’re happy with them (and have adjusted them for the 10,000th time – is that one out a little?) then the framework around it is built, followed by the carriage and typing mechanism. At this stage I knew the keys would work, and assumed that because of the unique typebar, it would move. The next large portion of the build is the cradle that neatly sits across the backend of all the keys. Thanks to a few cogs here and there, when any key is pressed, the cradle gets moved up and the typebar moves. It’s very clever. This was when I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the carriage moves across as well.
The mechanism here is incredibly complex, and I was in awe while building it. Using spring mechanisms, large saw blade elements, cogs and more, the carriage mechanism works oh so well. The use of springs does mean that the travel is not as great as it could be, with only a smaller column of text being able to be reached. Once the inner workings of the carriage are finished, the cosmetic work begins, to cover it all up. With a plethora of sand green – a perfect choice of colour for an item like this – SNOT abounds.
The platen is also brilliant, using two large low profile tyres as grip for the paper. It rolls so smoothly, using flags to guide the paper around. Like with all typewriters though, leave the paper in too long and it gets a semi-permanent bend to it. The final sections of the build come together, with the ribbon being one of the final details to add. I’m so glad they made a fabric ribbon – it just completes the look. It almost feels like you could roll it along! The typebar assembly is not simple to get aligned – it took me a lot of fiddling and readjusting to get just right.
If I had to add a few criticisms to the set, it’s that the typebar doesn’t actually connect with the paper – instead it rests on the shiny curved tiles, the spacebar doesn’t depress, the carriage doesn’t slide as far as I’d hoped, and the biggest one – it doesn’t go “ding” when it reaches the end! All that being said, however, this set is a masterpiece. It’s easily my new favourite set. It draws the eye, makes people second guess just what’s possible with LEGO, and is worth every cent of the AU $340. The build process was hugely entertaining and educational, and the end result is superb. Well done LEGO and Steve Guinness, and thank you! This is a cracking set.
A special thank you to LEGO for sending me a copy to review. All thoughts on this set are my own and are not influenced in any way, shape or form. The provision of sets for review does not guarantee a favourable review.