21327 Typewriter – Should you buy it?

When the LEGO Ideas Typewriter was first announced I have to admit that I was not particularly interested in it. I’ve never used a typewriter. They are just one of those things that exist outside of my bubble of interests and experiences.

Was that disinterest misplaced? Read on to find out as I answer the question – should you buy it?

Coming in at 2079 parts the LEGO Ideas Typewriter falls towards the higher end of LEGO Ideas sets. I personally don’t think this would have worked at any smaller scale than what they have gone with here, and coming in at $329.99 any larger would have pushed the cost too high to be justifiable.

The build for the typewriter is actually something that is going to be very polarising, and it is going to come down to your tolerance or appreciation for Technic. Why? Because this thing is packed with technic. PACKED.

The reason for all the technic is that the typewriter has some seriously sophisticated internal mechanisms. As somebody with just a passing familiarity with typewriters it seems like they have managed to recreate all of the movement and functionality that you would expect to see. Please note the following segment of this review uses novice terminology. I apologise in advance to typewriter fans.

Pressing one of the letter keys will bring up the bar in the middle that hits the paper. On a real typewriter each key will make a different bar strike, but here each key triggers a central bar. Obviously there are some limitations to what is possible in a LEGO set and having the single central bar still gives you the motion that you expect.

Each keystroke will also move the carriage along until you reach the end of the line. From there you can push the cartridge back to the other side and start typing again.

I am making all of that sound less interesting than it is. It’s awesome to get those mechanisms built and working and you can’t help but want to tap away on the keys.

The main keystroke functionality is fairly easy to get in place – at most a little fiddly and slightly repetitive. Where I found things a bit tricky is getting the carriage movement working. This requires building a large technic contraption separately and then slotting it in to place. This mechanism worked fine when it was outside the body but every time I put it in my gears were getting stuck. It took several attempts to get it in and working and I honestly can’t tell you what was different about the time that it worked versus the times it didn’t. There just seems to be very low tolerances on the gears engaging. It might sound crazy but I kind of like being frustrated during a build. It makes it more rewarding when it finally starts working.

Once those two main mechanisms are in place the paper feed wheel bit and the ribbon are a bit less technical.

My biggest issue with the build would be two arch bricks. They get added to the body super early in the build and they just kept getting in the way, particularly when trying to get gears working. It sounds nitpicky but they were super annoying.

Once completed the Typewriter is an absolutely fantastic set to just play with. Not in the playset kind of way but in the “oh wow this does cool stuff” way. I kind of feel sorry for all the LEGO typewriters that are going to end up locked away inside a display cabinet. The tactility of this set is what sets it apart from other display pieces. Then there is the sounds. This set has no sound brick or connected app faking the sounds, and yet the noises are perfect. There is a click-clack to the keys that is iconic. I have never used a real typewriter and I still felt nostalgia when I typed on the LEGO typewriter. It’s that good. The only sound missing is the ding when you get to the end of a line. I’ve seen that in TV and movies. The ding is a real thing, right? Anyway, there’s no ding. Not sure how they could have possibly added a ding.

Overall this set is a fantastic celebration of a simpler, analogue time. If you are getting the typewriter I suggest that you unplug when you build it. Use it as a chance to step away from gadgets and screens for a little bit. I think it will make you appreciate what it represents.

The LEGO Ideas Typewriter is currently available for $280 from Toys R Us or $296.99 from Myer as part of Black Friday 2021.

This set was provided to me by The LEGO Group. Opinions are my own.

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