Lego’s Vintage Typewriter Is A Work Of Art

The perfect gift for a Lego-loving writer in your life, hint hint

Before mechanical keyboards, we had these.
Before mechanical keyboards, we had these.
Photo: The Lego Group

From a distance Lego Ideas set 21327, Typewriter, doesn’t look very Lego. With printed pieces for each of its 32 keys, a working typebar mechanism, and a new cloth Lego element replicating a typewriter ribbon, it looks every bit the vintage writing tool it’s meant to emulate.

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Originally conceived by Lego Masters UK champion Steve Guiness as a Lego Ideas project in 2018, the official Lego Typewriter set differs from his concept in that instead of using bricks to emulate paper, you can feed real sheets of bleached, pressed wood into the brick-built machine. The set is meant to pay homage to the modern typewriters of a bygone age, including the one used by Lego Group founder Ole Kirk Christiansen. Between that soft green color and its distinctive form, it’s instantly recognizable as what it’s supposed to be.

No Dvorak layout? No sale.
No Dvorak layout? No sale.
Photo: The Lego Group

Again, aside from the studs on the ribbon holder and a few along the frame it barely looks like Legos at all. This is the “computer” my journalist ancestors used to type up their primitive pseudoblogs before carefully sealing them in envelopes to mail to the ancient internet gods along with an appropriate sacrifice. It’s a celebration of putting words on paper for the world to see.

Press a key and the little typing bars rise. The carriage advances. The platen roller can be fed sheets of paper. I imagine if you swabbed the small Lego pieces with ink, it might even type some dots.

Perfect if you want to type colons, not great for much else.
Perfect if you want to type colons, not great for much else.
Photo: The Lego Group

It’s an amazing feat of Lego engineering which, as it often does, translates into a relatively pricey set. Lego Ideas set 21327 goes on sale July 1 (earlier for Lego VIP members) for $199.99. As someone who recently spent $300 on the Lego Marvel Daily Bugle set, the timing couldn’t be worse. But the value seems excellent. Purchasers get 2,079 pieces that can be assembled into a nearly 5-inch-tall, 10-inch-wide typewriter. They also get a signed letter from Lego Group chairman Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, translated into 43 different languages. Said letter can be fed into the Lego typewriter for display, which is all sorts of clever.

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“Call me Ishmael.” Come on, it’s not that hard.
“Call me Ishmael.” Come on, it’s not that hard.
Photo: The Lego Group

As a Lego fan I think I’ve spent enough money on sets this year. As a career writer, however, I might have to type up a sternly worded letter to my wallet. I know just the machine for it.

Kotaku elder, lover of video games, keyboards, toys, snacks, and other unsavory things.

DISCUSSION

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Youngsters may not know this, but back in the day, most people’s only mode of transportation was a typewriter, and in the winter months, you had to sleep with the ”motive ribbon” to keep it warm so it would start in the morning. The upside is that typewriter gas, which contained real cocaine back then, only cost 12 pence a quart or “four cunts for a doozy” as we used to say.