Review: #21345 Polaroid OneStep SX-70 Camera (LEGO Ideas)
From a distance this set almost looks like a real camera, but does it look good enough up-close to deserve a place in your collection? Let’s find out!
At first glance sitting on a shelf it is easy to mistake this LEGO model for a real camera, highlighting some of the amazing detail that went into this set. This set came to life through the LEGO Ideas program, tailoring to the growing intersection of fans from both the LEGO and Camera fandom.
About the Polaroid OneStep SX-70 Camera
The Polaroid OneStep SX-70, invented by scientist and inventor Edwin H Land is a instant film camera renowned for its portable design while utilizing SX-70 film to create instant photographs. Introduced in the 1972, its compact structure allowed easy portability while its unique film automatically developed images upon exposure to light. Innovative for its time it supported an autofocus system and required minimal adjustments, making it user-friendly. Its iconic retro design and retro white color scheme made it a beloved tool among both amateur and professional photographers, revolutionizing instant photography.
About the set
#21345 Polaroid OneStep SX-70 Camera will hit shelves on January 1st, 2024 and retails for $79.99 US. The set itself is very compact, with the camera itself sized at 3.5 inches (9cm) by 3.5 inches (9cm), mirroring the size of the real camera. Don’t let the small size deceive you — the build is dense and the completed model weighs in at 502 grams.
This set came to life through the LEGO Ideas program and is the 53rd set released by the program. The build itself is based on a model by Minibrick Productions. While detailed and compact this is a pricy set, especially factoring in that there are no minifigures and is a small build. Whether this price point feels aligned to your expectations is for you to decide but I anticipate this set to hit a sale price as LEGO tests the waters on set pricing. Here at BrickArchitect we look at more than just price per piece when evaluating value and will share our thoughts as we go through the review.
- LEGO Parts Weight: 502 grams
- Price per piece: $79.99 / 516 pieces = $0.155 per piece
- Price per gram: $79.99 / 502g = $0.159 per gram
Packaging, instructions and stickers
As you would expect from LEGO Ideas sets targetting adults, this box comes with the iconic black color scheme. Interestingly, unlike other sets in this line the packaging uses push tabs to open the box, this unfortunately can damage the box which is a downside to those who opt to keep boxes. For me this is not a detractor as post build it goes straight into recycling. While not really adding value to this set I wanted to point out that all the numbers in the set number when rearranged are sequential, with only the first two numbers out of order. As a fun fact, there is no LEGO set that has been produced with set number 12345.
Of all the sets I have built over the years this was the first set I built that came with paper packaging rather than the convential plastic packaging we have been used to over the years. Although the main bags are made out of paper, You will still find smaller plastic bags to group certain parts within the larger bag. I also noticed that the paper bags have a plastic film lining the inside of the bag. I’m not a material scientist, but am curious about the environmental savings this shift has.
A notable difference in piece usage is also noticed with the Polaroid pictures included in this set. They are made of a hard backed flexible plastic card rather than a printed plastic piece which can feel a little flimsy. I wonder if this was done to prevent the printed tile from scratching when playing with the completed model. The prints on the film include a photo of inventor Edwin H Land, a photo of the LEGO designers’s sister daughter at La Rochelle harbor, and a photo of the LEGO House in Billund Denmark.
While it may be a matter of bad luck it is worth pointing out that a handful of pieces included in this set came with scratches and knicks that I have not seen before with new sets. Whether this is a symptom of the change of packaging cannot be confirmed but is something worth keeping an eye on.
Despite being a small set this does come with a variety of details that recognizable. This set comes with 3 stickers to help highlight these details. While stickers are becoming more commonplace as a cost saving measure compared to printed pieces this set confuses me. The set itself comes with a number of printed pieces and sticker pieces. I wish there was consistency and LEGO had just opted for all pieces being printed in this case as there clearly was a capability to do so.
As the build commences you start off by building the base of the camera housing. Immediately you can see that there is a lot packed into such a small size with dense piece usage covering up most of the space. While many sets use gaps in the build to make a set feel larger than its piece count suggests this does the opposite to stay true to the size of its real life counterpart. The designers use a variety of curved pieces to ensure that the smooth texture of the camera is felt, minimizing the number of exposed studs that can be visible. While this is a great decision for builders, the reflective 26Black color means that finger prints can easily be noticeable. At the base of the camera we build the mechanism that will later be part of the film ejection feature.
Aside from the camera itself this set also comes with a SX-70 film catridge. Something we build in this first bag. Unlike the stickers we will use in the latter part of the build all text on pieces in this build is printed. The build itself is a rather straight forward box but due to its use of colors it stands out. These iconic colors of the Polaroid brand will be commonplace in this set as the interior of the build leverages this colors to accentuate the build experience.
When building up the camera we see a plethora of colors line the interior build of the camera. This contrasts heavily against the 26Black exterior providing an aesthetic juxtaposition. The build makes use of a variety of curved and angled elements to capture the smooth metallic surface of the camera. To ensure that the designers are able to get the curves desired a variety of clip and bar pieces are used and resting against interior bricks. This allows for angles that otherwise would not be achievable solely through the use of LEGO bricks.
From the front you can see how the angles come together and the pieces are used best. At the base of the camera the film compartment is built up further, allowing us to see the mechanism that will lock the film in place. On the interior of the camera we see that the designers used a series of modified 1×4 brick with groove pieces to ensure that the film can slide in and out. Wedged in this groove is a sliding piece that connects to mechanisms that we will build later that can help push out the film upon ejection.
In the third bag everything starts to come together and wow is this build a beauty. The attention to detail whether it be the focus dial, the lens or the viewfinder are all immaculate. Even simple design decisions utilize the pices the in a beautiful way. The 1White of the top of the camera contrasts against the 26Black of the base, as it does with the real build. A combination of SNOT (Studs Not On Top) building techniques and smooth surfaces continue to accentuate the realistic nature of this build. The set comes with two stickered pieces that can be used to change the model number for the camera. Whether 1000 or OneStep, this customizability allows you to build the camera in the way you please.
When you flip the camera around you can see all the inner workings of the camera in action. As with previous sections the interior continues to use the colors of the logo, these being 322Medium AzurMedium Azure, 119Bright Yellowish GreenLime, 24Bright YellowYellow, 106Bright OrangeOrange and 322Bright PurpleDark Pink. Due to the nature of the varied colors a lot of the technic pieces are rather rare in the colors included, many of which are new to my collection. The interior mechanism leverages both elastic bands, hard LEGO plastic and rubber pieces to allow you to insert a film and lock it in place, then click eject it again on the press of the front shutter button. As a builder who uses mostly System rather than technic I always enjoy the creativity that technic can bring to builds, especially when adding motion.
When all put together you can truly appreciate the details that went into this camera. From the angles to the colors to the details and the smooth edges this camera almost doesn’t even feel like LEGO. If placed next to a real Polaroid OneStep SX-70 Camera from a distance one could easily mistake the two to be the same. Although there is a lot of detail this set’s completion highlights how small it is, fitting easily into one hand. It is important to remind that although small this build is dense and heavy. While I am a big fan of the smooth surface, the glossy colors fall victim to fingerprints being exposed when viewed in the right light. At the base clips hold the opening to insert the film in place allowing for a snug fit. As mentioned earlier, the film is made out of a flexible plastic card rather than solid plastic. This concession was likely done to protect the LEGO pieces as the narrow opening for the film means the film is very difficult to insert. If this piece were a regular printed LEGO piece we would likely see this scratch against the surface damaging the print. On a positive note, because the space is sized for card, fans can create their own pictures that they can print on card and insert into the camera to add a personal touch.
While the designers did a great job to add realism to this set, I really wish they did not have exposed tiles at the back of the camera. While this may have been a design decision to allow for better grip when holding the camera, it feels out of place when compared to all the other smooth surfaces on the camera. On the other hand, the viewfinder at the back of the camera is a fun addition and is more than just cosmetic. It utilizes a 40Transparent Trans-Clear pane of glass at the end to refract the light ever so in combination with reflecting light in the chamber creates an vintage look when peering through. A minor standout addition, the accessory port at the top of the camera helps add realism, a detail that LEGO’s designers could have skipped. It is a shame that this camera cannot be opened to showcase all the details inside which are now hidden by the 26Black exterior.
The detail and realism in this set is unrivaled — this is exactly the level of detail I expect to see in sets aimed at adult builders. The attention to detail on both the outside and inside makes for a very enjoyable build experience. It includes a large number of pieces available in different colors should you wish to take it apart for your collection. For all the positives #21345 Polaroid OneStep SX-70 Camera gets a respectable Recommended (4/5 star) rating. The only shortcoming for me is its price and decision to use stickers. Were this set priced $20 lower, that would be enough to bump this up to a perfect score.