09 June 2021

LEGO® Ideas reveal: 21327 Typewriter

The LEGO Group has just revealed the new LEGO® Ideas set, 21327 Typewriter, and on top of the details from the press release we also have additional information for you from the team behind this thrilling new set! It measures 27 x 26 x 12cm, contains 2079 pieces and will cost £179.99/ US$199.99/ €199.99/ AU$329.99/ CA$269.99. Availability to LEGO VIPs is from Wednesday 16 June 2021 and general sale is from 1 July. When the time comes we’d appreciate if you would consider using our affiliate links, New Elementary may get a commission: UK LEGO Shop | USA LEGO Shop | Australia LEGO Shop, for other countries 'Change Region'.

One of Steve Guinness' prototype LEGO typewriters

The original submission was designed by LEGO fan (and New Elementary 2018 parts festival guest!) Steve Guinness, who says: “I wanted to create something totally different from anything that LEGO has ever done before and showcase that you really can make anything out of LEGO. I bought a vintage typewriter for my research and then played around with bricks and the mechanism until I was happy with the design. I hope it will bring nostalgia to adult fans like me, and wonder and curiosity to younger fans who might not have ever seen a real typewriter!”

One big difference between the set and the original Ideas submission is that the set actually “works”. Or at least it partially works… it doesn’t actually type of course, but all the letter keys will move the carriage as well as a solitary typebar (the little rib-like hammers that strike the paper).

Images ©2021 & 1957, The LEGO Group


Steve's design was inspired by this old black and white photo of LEGO founder Ole Kirk Kristiansen with a typewriter in the back. For this reason the LEGO Group involved Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, current chairman of the LEGO Group and a fourth-generation member of the family!

Thomas Kirk Kristiansen at his great-grandfather's desk

This is the first time he has interacted with the community via an actual LEGO set: the typewriter uses real paper, A5 sheets because of its size, and there are pre-printed sheets in the box of a letter written and signed by Thomas in 43 different languages. 


During the recent online Fan Media Days in Billund, the New Elementary team led by Francesco Spreafico heard a presentation by the team behind this product: Samuel Johnson, Designer; Monica Pedersen, Senior Marketing Manager - Marketing Adults; Wesley Talbott, Design Master; James May, Designer; and Hasan Jensen, Engagement Manager, AFOL Engagement.

About the new LEGO Ideas Typewriter set

The set does not reproduce an actual existing typewriter in particular as this would have required an intellectual property partnership, but they did use two or three different models as reference. They have a person in the company, Matt Boyle, who is a typewriter fan and collects them, so they used his models to study internal mechanisms. They tried to give it a 1930s vibe, with details like the rounded keys.


They tried to reference how real typewriters work, so a lot of the mechanics are very similar and there's a big structure that goes through the back. Of course the inside is a lot more bulky than the thin steel pieces you find inside a real typewriter. The model is quite Technic-heavy; essentially a Technic model inside a System shell. There are a couple of very visible studs on the model that could have easily been tiles but the general LEGO aesthetic would have been lost, so they decided to keep them. They didn’t really consider any Powered Up functions, because typewriters like this are mechanical anyway.

The keys sound very realistic and the resistance is apparently also close to reality – a bit lighter because of course they’re not made of metal. They are dampened by rubber Axle Connectors Double Flexible (45590).


The shift keys don't do anything; in real typewriters they make everything literally shift, but there was no room to do that here. Backspace and space keys also don’t move the type bar, of course. There is no letter on the (only) pinhead; there wasn’t enough space and since it would always be the same letter anyway, it wouldn’t have been very useful.

New parts in set 21327 

Of course here at New E we’re interested in the new parts and we get a few recolours because as you will have no doubt noticed the colour chosen for the final set is Sand Green, after Steve made a prototype in this colour. 


As is common with LEGO Ideas sets, we don’t get any new moulds this time but there’s a new textile element: the ink ribbon made in two colours; black and red. Those of us old enough to have used typewriters like this will remember that you could change the text colour by pressing a button which shifted the ribbon position.

And of course - perhaps the best detail for AFOLs - there are 31 2x2 black rounded tiles printed with letters. The typeface was designed specifically for the model. They tried to keep the letters as symmetrical as possible, so as to be more MOC-friendly. There are no numbers though: in three-bank portable typewriters - the sort reproduced here - numbers are positioned on the same keys as the first row of letters. If LEGO had followed this route, those parts would have been less useful for MOCs, so they opted not to feature numbers at all.

They did consider making stickers for the 31 letters, but it would have been excessive to subject people to that. So while most of the parts are printed, there are two stickers; “System” on the front of the typewriter and “System in Play” on the back and both are chromed. These are of course references to the LEGO System and its founders. A further Easter Egg is on the back sticker: the initials of the fan designer Steve Guinness and his birthdate. It also says “NGUOYD”, which stands for “Never Give Up On Your Dreams”.

Focusing on those exciting recolours, both the left and right variations of the “Porsche Bow” Slope Curved 10 x 2 x 2 with Curved End (Design IDs 77180 & 77182) appear here in Sand Green for the first time. The recent 1x1 Brick with Axle Hole (73230) also debuts in Sand Green. However there are no 1x8 Sand Green bricks, if you’re wondering. (That’s one of the rarest parts needed to recreate 10185 Green Grocer; very sought-after by fans.)


There are some of the brand new 1x5 plates as well as shiny drum-lacquered parts. During the session, a general question was asked about the apparent increase of drum-lacquered parts lately.

The team answered as follows: “Every LEGO piece in every different colour has a different value, so, a different price that it costs to add that to a LEGO set. The more you do to a LEGO element, the more it costs. So for example, the more printing you put on it, the higher the price of that piece becomes. In this case, we know that it is supposed to be metal, so we wanted to add as much silver as possible. It has some, but we did not want to overdo it and just do everything. And also we can't, because there is actually a limitation on what's possible, to paint with this drum lacquer we are talking about here. So it's mostly tiles that have this effect on them. It's also because when another model changes a bunch of colours to be drum-lacquered, that then makes them available for other products to use. So it's easier for everyone to use more when some more are made, basically. But that's not always the case and we always have to delete them, sometimes pretty quickly in order to make room for new colour changes elsewhere in the company. So it's always a flow.”


READ MORE: New LEGO® pieces for June 2021

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Text © New Elementary. Images ©2021 The LEGO Group except where attributed.

6 comments:

  1. Oh wow... this is gorgeous. If my late Grandpapa were still alive, I bet he'd love to see a set like this as a former newspaper publisher. I'm thrilled that they managed to work in more realistic functionality than the original submission had. I remember seeing people complaining when it was confirmed that a set like this would just be able to sit on a shelf collecting dust, but having had a "working" typewriter toy as a kid, I knew that Lego could probably make the carriage move and the typebar swing up like it did on that cheaper plastic toy.

    Partswise, I'm glad they managed to print all of the keys. I'm generally pretty good with stickers but lining up round ones on round parts so that the patterns are aligned correctly can be a challenge—not an insurmountable one for one or two stickers, but definitely one that would be frustrating if I had to do over 26! The simple letter prints look gorgeous and I can already think of other uses for them—for example, to mark different station platforms in a train station build.

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  2. Stunning, they did a REALLY good job with this one.

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  3. Can somebody call Tom Hanks and tell him about this📞

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  4. I wonder how they chose which punctuation marks (? and :) to put on the keys.

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  5. Bohrok eyes still going strong after all these years.

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