Saturday, April 24, 2010

El Toro - motorized bullfighter and bull tin toy

El Toro - motorized bullfighter tin toy automaton
Here's an unusual -- and perhaps a somewhat grim -- vintage tin toy depicting a matador and bull. I'm not entirely sure in what ways the figures move, but it seems like it has some interesting possibilities.

From the eBay item description:
This El Toro snorting bull and matador is in totally unused condition and has its original box. No paint damage at all on this and no corrosion within the battery compartment. This toy was working perfectly when I put it in store with rest of the collection some 25-30 years ago. I put a battery in it but it’s not responding. I guess this is an easy fix but I don’t want to force anything. The box is a little stained – please see pictures – and the base has some damage but, apart from a little creasing, the lid is fine with great graphics. Assembled, the toy is around 6 inches high.

Here's the eBay listing with additional photographs of the El Toro - motorized bullfighter tin toy automaton


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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hands-free bird puppets by Axtell Expressions

Check out this amazing "hands-free" remote-controlled puppet. A very small remote control is used to open and close the bird's mouth. Another button turns the puppet's head to face the audience or the ventriloquist. It even has a sort of "cruise control" mode in which the bird moves about in a subtle but lifelike manner, allowing the puppeteer to focus on other things or to work with multiple puppets at the same time.

Here is a link where you can learn more and see a full show featuring the Axtell Expressions hands-free bird puppet.


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Monday, April 12, 2010

Robots secretly living among us as stuffed animals

Robots secretly living among us as stuffed animals
I posted not long ago about an artist who refits stuffed animals with metal exoskeletons. Industrial designer Matt Kirkland has created an excellent photo set in which he uncovers the robots hidden beneath plush toy exteriors.

From Matt Kirkland's site:
I've always been curious about stuffed animals that sing, dance, light up, or talk back. There must be a fascinating robot underneath the fur and fluff, right? Surely the robot hiding in the bear's clothing, vestimentis ursum, is impressive. So: armed with my childish curiosity and the spurious excuse of 'product design research,' I set out to discover what, exactly, these creatures are hiding.

Here is a link to the photo set of the robots beneath the fluff.

[ Thanks Bob! ]


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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Solar Powered Kinetic Animal Sculptures

Enjoy this mesmerizing mechanical sculpture inspired by the large scale works of Theo Jansen.


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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Wind-up Meccano bird sculpture by Aaron Ristau

Check out this automata sculpture by Aaron Ristau made from Meccano toy parts! The bird bodies are parts from antique hair curlers and the wings made of Mylar. A crank allows you to wind-up the device which will run for about a minute.

See more great sculptures by Aaron Ristau at aaronristau.com.


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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

An ancient mechanical genius you may NOT know

We have all heard the great inventors of antiquity such as Archimedes and Hero. Here is another name worth knowing: Al-Jazari. Al-Jazari was an scholar, inventor, engineer, craftsman, artist, mathematician and astronomer from Mesopotamia, who lived from about 1136 to 1206. He wrote The Book of Knowledge of Ingenious Mechanical Devices, which describes some fifty sophisticated machines.

The video clip shown here from Ancient Discoveries covers Al-Jazari's elephant clock -- a fantastically elaborate device which employed automata. There are a working reproductions of the elephant clock in Dubai and Switzerland.

Here is the Wikipedia article for Al Jazari. Here is the article on the elephant clock.


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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artist skins toys in beautifully handcrafted metals

Cathy McClure gives toys beautifully handcrafted metal skins


Artist Cathy McClure gives mass-produced toys finely crafted exoskeletons made from various metals, including silver. The toys often still work mechanically after they have been enhanced by the artist.

Here is an article on Cathy McClure’s Playthings on the Texas Tech University School of Art Alumni blog. Here is a link to some video of Cathy McClure's creations in motion.


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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brass Pegasus by Keith Newstead now available

Keith Newstead made his first Pegasus automaton about 20 years ago. This, his latest creation, has been laser cut from his original artwork. Each one is signed and numbered and measures about 30cm high.

Here is where you can order your own Brass Pegasus by Keith Newstead.


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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Scientific automaton of a young T. Rex in motion

This is a longer than usual video post, but if you have the time, it is fascinating. This 45 minute episode of National Geographic Explorer documents the construction of a sophisticated scientific automaton depicting a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex in motion.

Here is where you can learn more about the project: T. Rex Walks Again at the National Geographic web site.

[ Thanks Dean!]

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Monday, March 08, 2010

Incredible animal sculptures by Ron Pippin

Incredible sculptures by artist Ron Pippin
Take a look at the astounding sculpture by artist Ron Pippin. Shown here is a piece entitled Solar Deer. Below is a detailed photo of the same piece. Wow.

Solar Deer by Ron Pippen
See more sculpture by Ron Pippin on his web site.

[ Thanks Aaron!]


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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Sargent Paints Hemy automaton by Newstead

Take a look at the many subtle and organic motions in this fantastic automaton by Keith Newstead. There are some great views of the mechanism in the video also.

See more automata by Keith Newstead on his web site: www.keithnewsteadautomata.com


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Thursday, March 04, 2010

King Kong automaton by Keith Newstead

Here is a recently completed automaton by the ingenious Keith Newstead. This automaton is one of two made for a cruise liner. It is a wonderful example of organic motions created by using articulated joints within a figure.

See more automata by Keith Newstead on is web site.


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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Bernie the Wine Taster" Automaton

Here's an automaton designed and built by Stuart Chalmers depicting a wine-tasting Bernese Mountain Dog. Check out the great shots of the mechanism.

Says Stuart:
The model took me about 60 hours to design and build and is my most complicated one so far, with 5 separate mechanisms. The box is made from walnut. The mechanism is a mixture of oak, cherry and birch plywood. Brass rods are also used as well as one piece of mono-filament.


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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Beautiful motorized mechanical wooden fish

Take a look at the lovely construction and motion of this mechanical wooden fish. Very nice work, indeed.


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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Amazing animatronics and mechanical costumes

John Nolan Films
I urge you to pay a visit to the John Nolan Films web site where you can see a gallery of amazing special effects projects including animatronics and mechanical costumes.

Here is the gallery of images showing various animatronics and here is their demo reel showing video of animatronics in action.

[ Thanks Bre! ]


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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Sky scene automaton with ducks and biplane

Here's a clever hand-cranked automaton that features a sky scene with ducks flying toward the viewer. A biplane does circles around the birds and the sky. Take a look at the beautiful wooden gear works when the video shows the back of the piece. Very nice!


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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Realistic dachshund clockwork automaton

Made in Paris around 1900 by Roullet & Decamps, this is a life-sized paper-mâché automaton dog. The clockwork mechanism housed inside the dog's body makes it nod its head and open and shut his mouth -- as if panting -- for about 20 minutes.

Visit AutomatomaniA to see more images of this very realistic dachshund automaton.


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wooden mechanical remote-control dinosaurs

Wooden mechanical remote-control dinosaurs
I've seen wood dinosaur models, and even wood dinosaur models with a motor and simple movements. This pair takes it a step further with the addition of a infrared remote control and three different operating modes.

From the model description:
The R/C Wooden Puzzle Dinosaurs go one better and add movement and sound to this classic dinosaur format. First you must assemble of course, but once you've jacked in the included motors and electronics you're ready to rumble. Not only can you control your dino's movements via remote, he (or she) roars and reacts to sound.

Here is the link to these two wooden mechanical dinosaurs with remote control.


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Friday, October 09, 2009

The Dog Ate My Homework paper automaton

The latest fun paper animation kit from Rob Ives: The Dog Ate My Homework.

Like his other offerings, this model comes as a downloadable file that you print onto thin card-stock with your printer. Once printed, you then cut out the parts and follow the illustrated instructions to make the animated model.

The color version can be purchased now for a modest price. A free, uncolored version will be available on October 20th.

Here's the link for The Dog Ate My Homework paper automaton.


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Sunday, October 04, 2009

Video of antique walking peacock automaton

I posted last month about an antique walking peacock automaton by Roullet and Decamps that was on eBay. I'm happy to report that the peacock has found a good home and will soon be getting a new coat of feathers.

Visit the AutomataMania Workshop to see more pictures of the walking peacock clockwork automaton.


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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Reindeer Ride paper automaton kit downloads

Here is the latest paper automaton creation by Rob Ives, called Reindeer Ride. There are two versions of this one. The colored version costs the usual £2.50 GBP (about $4 US dollars). The uncolored version is a completely free download! This could be a great holiday project for you or the kids.

Also, be sure to check out Rob's Workshop Notes blog in its new home of http://www.robives.com/blog. He posts to it most days about the fascinating process of creating paper automata.

Here is where you can get the Reindeer Ride paper animation kits.


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Monday, September 21, 2009

Jacaranda - sculpture by Jim Jenkins

Here is a video of the latest mechanical sculpture by artist Jim Jenkins. He's programmed the Arduino microcontroller to control the choreography of the mechanical birds.

See more from artist Jim Jenkins on his web site.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Roullet & Decamps walking peacock automaton

Roullet & Decamps walking peacock automaton
Here's a cool antique automaton from the famous French automata-makers, Roullet et Decamps. This spring-driven peacock from the turn of the century walks forward while moving its head from side to side. The tail feathers (missing at present) move too.

From the eBay description:
This is a nice "PAON MARCHANT...."WALKING PEACOCK"....MADE BY ROULLET-DECAMPS, PARIS, FRANCE C.1890-1910......The body is made of mache paper it is in regular conditions with details. It doesn't have feathers...... The mechanism is in good conditions and it is clockwork and working, it walks to the front and moves the head from one side to the other side and the tail too...... the measures 6.5 inches large by 8 inches tall.

Here's the full listing with 12 different photographs of this walking peacock automaton.


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Friday, September 04, 2009

Tippoo's Tiger - automaton and organ

Tippoo's Tiger is famous life-size carved wooden tiger shown attacking a man. The automaton makes sounds for the tiger and the man and also has a basic playable organ built in. A one-of-a-kind piece with a remarkable history.

From the Victoria and Albert web site:
Concealed in the bodywork is a mechanical pipe-organ with several parts, all operated simultaneously by a crank-handle emerging from the tiger's shoulder. Inside the tiger and the man are weighted bellows with pipes attached. Turning the handle pumps the bellows and controls the air-flow to simulate the growls of the tiger and cries of the victim. The cries are varied by the approach of the hand towards the mouth and away, as the left arm - the only moving part - is raised and lowered.

Another pair of bellows, linked to the same handle, supplies wind for a miniature organ of 18 pipes built into the tiger, with stops under the tail. Its structure is like that of European mechanical organs, but adapted for hand operation by a set of ivory button keys reached through a flap in the animal's side. The mechanism has been repaired several times and altered from its original state. It is now too fragile to be operated regularly.

Here is a link to more on the history of Tippoo's Tiger.

Here is a link to a 26 minute video on Tippoo and a bit about the Tiger.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Monday, August 24, 2009

Swine Flew paper automaton kit

Swine Flew paper automaton kit
This little play-on-words is the latest downloadable automaton kit available form Flying Pig Paper Animation Kits: Swine Flew.

Here is where you can get the Swine Flew paper automaton download (for just over $4 US Dollars).


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Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Crocodile paper automaton kit video

This funny and macabre automaton is available as a kit from the folks at cool4cats.

Here's the page where you can order The Crocodile automaton kit (scroll down to near the bottom of the page).


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Monday, August 10, 2009

German-made 2 bird singing bird automaton

German-made 2 bird singing bird automaton
Here is a vintage 2-bird singing bird automaton made in Germany.

From the eBay description:
It stands approx 10" tall and the base is 6" across....When wound the birds move as they should (1 moves up and down, moves his tail and his beak moves, the others tail and beak moves)....HOWEVER they are not chirping....I understand that the bellows will need replaced and from research its a fairly easy task if you know what you are doing but I dont !...........Other than no chirping it is in very nice condition...Has a 3 position switch on the bottom as shown.

Here the eBay listing for this German-made 2 bird singing bird automaton


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Friday, July 31, 2009

Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton

Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton
There is something charming in a mechanical rabbit automaton playing the Maracas. This one was made in France circa 1910 the by the famous French manufacturers ROULLET & DECAMPS .

From the eBay description:
When wound, the rabbit hops up and down as he shakes the maracas and his ears go up and down. He is covered with real rabbit fur and has glass eyes. His maracas are replacements that are made of hard plastic just like the original ones were, but they have been painted to simulate the originals (the one original maraca that still remains is included in the auction but is no longer attached to the toy, as you can see it is laying next to the rabbit in the last two photos). Though the replacement maracas are not original to the toy, they do make noise just like the original maracas would have and are just slightly smaller than the originals. The rabbit's fur is quite dingy from age and has been patched up here and there, but he still looks pretty good and is very amusing to watch! The rabbit measures just over 10" tall to the top of his head (ears laying out flat), and his ears are over 4" long!

Here is the full eBay listing with a ton of photos of this Roullet & Decamps rabbit with maracas automaton.


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stunning posable mechanical cheetah sculpture

Stunning mechanical cheetah sculpture
I guess this made the rounds on some of the big blogs a few weeks ago, but I missed it. Maybe you did too. This is a mechanical, posable cheetah made of steel and various recycled parts. The creation of artist Andrew Chase, the cheetah took 60 hours of time to create. That's fast work if you ask me!

From the Wired article online:
'She's constructed out of electrical conduit, used transmission parts, disemboweled household appliances, 20-gauge steel and a lot of fender washers," says Chase.

The 24-inch tall cheetah measures about 50-inches nose-to-tail and weighs about 40 lbs. It also mimics the joints and movements of a real cat.

The cheetah is part of an ecosystem in a six-year art project called the 'Timmy universe.' The project has, so far, led to a mechanical giraffe and an elephant. Chase who has shown the giraffe at crafts fairs earlier had priced it at $6,000. No word on how much the cheetah will cost.

Here is the full Wired article on mechanical cheetah with lots of additional photographs.


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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Uncanny life-sized horse puppets

I am thrilled to share with you this video of these amazing -- absolutely astounding, actually -- life-sized horse puppets. Intellectually, I know there are three people (and a rider) operating these large metal horses. I can even see the puppeteers much of the time. Even so, my brain insists that these are real, living, horses. It's a wonderful mind-bender and a testament to the artful mastery these performers have achieved.

[ Thanks SC! ]


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Saturday, July 11, 2009

King of Magic automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO

King of Magic automaton by Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO
Anatoly ZAYA-RUZO, mechanical doll maker, has announced his new creation entitled 'KING OF MAGIC'.

From the artist's description:
The King is a classical automaton about 2 feet high with 9 movements and music mechanism. The action is operated by specially designed heavy duty winding motor 36 lb-in torque. The King makes his magic with street monkey-gambler, and monkey-gambler makes his own trick with dice.

More about this automata -- including video -- will be posted soon on Anatoly's site.


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Friday, July 10, 2009

Plans for mechanical flying goose on radiator cap

Plans for Mechanical flying goose on radiator cap
The folks over at the always interesting Modern Mechanix Blog recently posted this great set of plans for an animated mechanical hood ornament originally published in 1932. Like a reverse-whirligig, the air speeding past the car's hood powers the motions of this mechanical bird.

From the original article:
While your car is standing still this wild goose isn't so wild. He perches sedately upon the radiator cap surveying the world with a glassy eye. But as soon as you start up and shift into high he flattens out his tail, stretches his neck forward and begins to flap his wings as if he were going somewhere, and going there in a hurry.

The article has been converted in to text and scanned as three large images -- everything you should need to make this project yourself.

Here's the article on the Mechanical Flying Goose Decorates Radiator Cap.

[ Thanks deanS! ]


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Sunday, July 05, 2009

'MAN EATING SHARK' automaton!

Artist Michael Jacobs created this playful automaton using recycled wood and tin, a rebuilt plastic doll's head, copper and steel wire, screws, nuts and bolts, pop-rivets, paper mache, molding paste, and acrylic paints

From the automaton description
When you continuously turn the crank at the lower right, the man uses his arms and hands to raise the shark, his mouth opens hungrily, his legs move up and down and back and forth, and the shark's tail and mouth wriggle up and down furiously.

See many more nice photographs with captions for the Man Eating Shark automaton.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Vintage automaton of rabbit eating a cabbage

Vintage automaton of rabbit eating a cabbage
Here is a classic vintage automaton motif -- the rabbit eating a head of cabbage from the inside out. This one (like many) is of French manufacture and is currently up for auction on eBay.

From the eBay item description
Clockwork windup mechanism that when wound activates both the movement of the rabbit and the music box inside. After winding just pull the activation rod and the music begins. Rabbit emerges from the cabbage with a slight turn to the right, chews a small piece of cabbage in its mouth, raises and lowers its ears while chewing, quickly makes a slight left turn and drops back into the cabbage. Rabbit fur covered metal skeleton with glass eyes.

Here is the eBay listing with many additional photographs of the rabbit eating cabbage automaton.


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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Video of vintage automaton cat restoration

Here is bit of video from the folks at Automatomania showing the inner workings of a antique cat automaton made by the famous makers Roullet and Decamps.

From the YouTube description
This is an automaton of a fur covered papier mache cat by Decamps of Paris Circa 1900. The film shows the restoration at the stage where all the parts have been repaired and the cat is tested prior to re-assembly.

Note the tail curl, it is a realistic action achieved with wooden balls wedged along a tapering spring within the tail, the cord pulls on the last ball only to curl it. This is a fragile part of the cat and is always broken in antique examples I have seen.

The restored cat is now for sale and can be seen at the Automatomania shop online shop.


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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mxykikker mechanical wind-up crawling critter

Mxykikker mechanical wind-up crawling critter
A clever new spring-powered stainless-steel beastie that can even climb over small obstacles.

From the Amazon description
Mxykikker is a tongue-twisting, multi-legged, multi-purpose commemorative wind-up celebrating the 15th year of Kikkerland Design's founding. Mxykikker loves to climb over objects and it sometimes enjoys galloping upside down, with its eighteen fidgety feet. At 6.5" long and 3" tall, this is one buggie that is sure to impress. An occasional bit of spray lubricant is recommended to help keep Mxykikker fit and trim. Designed by Chico Bicalho. Assorted colors, randomly selected.

Here's the link to Mxykikker Mechanical Wind-up Critter.


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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects

Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make
I don't have this book myself (yet), but it looks like it could be a lot of fun. Making Moving Toys offers instructions and templates to make 30 different types of moving toys out of common materials. The projects range from spinning tops, wind-powered figures, paper airplanes, a carousel, a climbing monkey, a zoetrope, and many more. See? Fun!

Here's the link to Making Moving Toys: 30 Quick and Easy Projects to Make.


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Monday, June 01, 2009

Galloping dinosaur vintage mechanical toy plans

Galloping dinosaur vintage mechanical toy plans
The folks over at The Modern Mechanics blog have scanned and typed up the plans for this animated wooden dinosaur pull-toy.

From the original article:
A TOY saurian from the far-away past proves to be a refreshing novelty to the youngsters. The toy is extremely simple to make, as there are only six major parts. In addition to these, four wheels and some wire complete the whole thing.


Here is the article with photographs and drawings of the dinosaur on The Modern Mechanics blog.

[ Thanks deanS! ]


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Sunday, May 31, 2009

K.G. Griesbaum singing bird automaton video

video
Here is a nice singing bird automaton by K G Griesbaum from Germany.

From the eBay description:
This 12 1/2" tall automaton is in excellent working condition, comes fresh from an estate, with no damages, just a little tarnishing on brass cage, bird sings and moves so beautifully. The on off works perfect (some one put a little magic marker near the switch, nail polish [remover] will take it right off, I don't have any). There are no issues to report at all other than the a little dust that will need to be cleaned.

Here's the full eBay listing with many really large photographs of the K.G. Griesbaum singing bird automaton


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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wooden camel toy driven by a cam mechanism

Wooden Camel toy driven by a cam mechanism
This is a cam-actuated camel toy designed by John Hutchison. The plans for the toy were part of an article in the Woodworker's Journal December, 2000. This particular one was built by a gentleman named Mike for his grandson. A cam is attached to the back wheel axle which drives a dowel that in turn causes the humps, head, tail and legs to move up and down when the toy is pushed.

Here is a page with the builder's notes and several pictures of the wooden camel cam-driven toy.

[ Thanks Charles! ]


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Monday, May 25, 2009

Aquio Nishida cow automaton with sound effect

A few days ago, we featured a nifty cow automaton with an integrated sound effect. Here another by the late Japanese automata maker, Aquio Nishida. This one has an added feature: you can add or remove the sound module at will.


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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Roullet and Decamps smoking monkey automaton

Here is a good video of a smoking automaton -- once a popular theme. This one, made by Roullet and Decamps, features a monkey puffing away on a cigarette.

From the YouTube description
This monkey has been trained to smoke cigars and cigarettes. He was made around 1900 by the Parisian firm of Roullet and Decamps and is made of Papier Mache covered with real fur. His enigmatic green glass eyes show just how much pleasure he gets from a fine tobacco.


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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cow automaton with integrated sound effects

What a clever idea! This contemporary automaton by artist Dominique Corbin uses a bell and a toy sound-maker to really bring this creature to life. I wasn't able to embed the movie here, but I encourage you to follow the link below to see and hear the cow automaton in action!

Here's a link to the video of the cow automaton with built-in sound effects.

[ Found via http://manivelles.unblog.fr ]


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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Reader Contribution: Dog with Ball automaton

We haven't posted any reader-made automata in a while and it's time to remedy that. Here is a first attempt by Automata / Automaton Blog reader Gary Brown.

From Gary's YouTube description
Inspired by *The Invention of Hugo Cabret*, I built this automaton from scratch, using information I found around the Internet. The dog moves his head and tail while a ball bounces next to him. Though simple, the mechanism uses a cam, a crank, a crank slider and linkages. It was the most difficult craft projects I've ever attempted, and the result hardly shows it. But it was a fascinating endeavor.



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Monday, May 04, 2009

Robotic woodpecker simulator sound sculptures

Here is a short video on a innovative kinetic sculpture that uses sound to great effect. A set of motorized robots mounted in trees effectively simulate the sound of woodpeckers tapping on trees. Very clever.

[ Thanks Falk! ]


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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Eclectic flying metal horse kinetic sculpure

I don't know much about this sculpture other than it is by artist Grigorev Viktor. That it is a wonderful assemblage of gears, metal, screws, wheels, propeller, motion, and sculpture is enough for me; I hope you feel the same. Enjoy!

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Remote controlled underwater manta ray toy

Remote controlled underwater manta ray toy
Here's a novel twist to the remote control toy: an underwater manta ray. The really cool thing about it is that you can perform tricks and moves in three dimensions (like a plane) but with much less concern for crashing the thing into the ground at high speed!

From the product description:
Forefinger triggers on the underside of the remote enable independent pitch for each thruster, providing control for steep, powered dives to the bottom of pools and rapid ascents. Thumb toggles on the topside of the remote allow for independent thrust operation of each shrouded propeller, providing the ability to move forward, backward, make left and right turns, barrel rolls, or complete underwater loops--even intricate submerged Immelmann turns.
I have no idea what "Immilmann turns" are, but the range of motion sure sounds like a lot of underwater fun.

Here is a link to more info on the Remote Controlled Manta Ray.


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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gears + Monkeys = Incongruous Mechanical Fun!

 Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys set
The various Gears! Gears! Gears construction sets have won awards and seem to get great reviews on the whole. I have found the big robust gears make good templates for wooden gears.

This 136-piece set in the series involves a jungle theme. With Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys you can either build the scene shown here or invent your own mechanical-jungle configuration.

The monkeys hang from various appendages to assorted parts of your contraption. I wouldn't necessarily have put gears and monkeys together, but I have to admit the gears and cranks DO look even more fun with tropic foliage and primates all around them.

Here's a product page for Gears! Gears! Gears! Movin' Monkeys from Learning Resources.


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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

BlueBell Folk Art Gallery featuring wood automata

BlueBell Folk Art Gallery featuring wood automata
Michael and Marlene Forte create one-of-a-kind wood and fabric folk art -- mostly featuring animals -- from their studio in rural Vermont. They also have a few automata on display in their online gallery.

Here is a link to the BlueBell Folk Art Gallery page with wood automata.

[ Thanks philsing! ]


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Thursday, April 02, 2009

'The Twittering Machine' - metal automata birds

Check out this huge hand-cranked automata bird installation made from stainless steel vegetable steamer baskets, machine screws, nuts, threaded rod, water pipe, couplings, steel, wood and a crank. Excellent!

[ Thanks philsing! ]

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Antique leaping tiger clockwork automaton

Roullet et Decamps antique leaping tiger clockwork automaton
Shown here is a fine example of an automaton by the French firm of Roullet et Decamps, made around 1890.

From the eBay Listing
When wound, the tiger turns his head slowly from side to side as if sniffing out or stalking something, he crouches down (his rear legs go forward under his body and his front legs stretch out in front of him), and then he leaps into the air and moves forward about six inches! This is amazing to see, and it'll startle you every time he does it! In the center of the tiger's tummy is the brass on/off pin. The pin should be pushed in before winding, and then pulled out once the tiger has been placed on a hard surface. He works best on carpet since he has short metal pins that protrude from the bottom of his rear paws that give him the traction to leap forward.

The eBay listing for this jumping the tiger automaton offers more details as well as 12 photographs from every angle.


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Friday, March 13, 2009

Carved wooden cuckoo clock with moving figures

Carved wooden cuckoo clock with automata figures
We don't normally feature cuckoo clocks here on The Automata / Automaton Blog. But...why not? Carving, mechanics, historical tradition, wood, automata figures...it's all there as far as I'm concerned.

Here's a rather grand cuckoo clock I found listed on eBay. This clock already has many bids on it with a fair amount of time left. I don't know much about cuckoo clocks, but this suggests to me that this is a good one. Those of you who know more about this sort of thing: please comment!

This listing features many nice detail photographs.

Here the eBay listing for this large carved wooden cuckoo clock with automata figures.


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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Roullet & Decamps - rabbit drummer automaton

Roullet & Decamps rabbit drummer automaton
Here's a charming antique by the famed French automata makers Roullet & Dechamps.

The eBay listing has a long description of the piece and a dozen nice photographs of Roullet & Decamps rabbit drummer automaton.


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Thursday, February 26, 2009

The automaton who saved the world!

According to the YouTube description, we all may owe this drinking bear automaton a lot!

An automaton bear that was played with by Gromyko at an important UN meeting during the Cold War, after a frosty start, the automata were produced, and this one melted his heart. The result was he took his finger off the red button. I have the pictures to prove it!

From our friends at www.automatomania.com.


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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

'Oceania' kinetic art by Casey Curran

Take a look at the amazing hand-cranked automata of Casey Curran. The artist uses twisted wire of various materials to create very original and organic forms. There is no welding or soldering involved -- just twisted wire! Kudos all around!

Casey Curran's work can be seen in person at Gallery IMA in Seattle, Washington.


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Monday, February 23, 2009

Wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic cats

Wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic catsHere is a wall-mounted wind-up automaton selling on eBay today. The scene depicts performing acrobat cats. The cat figures are printed paper applied to wood. As an integrated music box plays, a few of the cats perform flips on the high wire, while others below dance.

The listing has additional photographs, including a few of the back of the piece in which you can see the mechanism.

Here's the full eBay listing for the wall-mounted automaton of acrobatic cats.


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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Brachiating solar robot orangutan kit by OWI

Brachiating solar robot orangutan kit by OWIYou will need a screwdriver and about 20 minutes of time to assemble this solar powered brachiating orangutan. Robot Orangutan climbs hand-over-hand across a horizontally mounted string when exposed to light (either the sun itself or a strong light bulb).





At right, is a photograph of the kit's various pieces. The kit includes the climbing string, but will you will need to provide the screwdriver. No batteries required -- a favorite phrase of mine.

Here is the link for the climbing solar robot orangutan.

This kit, known as OWI-MSK675 can also be ordered from The Automata / Automaton Store.


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