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Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels in Wood

Formerly published under the title Whacky Toys, Whirligigs & Whatchamacallits, this book is consistently one of my top recommendations. The automata and mechanical toy enthusiast will find great value in this book because it contains information that you will not find anywhere else in written form.

Lots of Projects

This book features fourteen projects. Each project has a bit of text, a photo, and many nice vector illustrations detailing the project's construction. I wouldn't call them formal 'plans' - they are too colorful, assorted, and playful for that name. People determined to build an automaton, but short of ideas, are sure to find a project in this book that speaks to them.

Aesthetics to Die For

The author, Rodney Frost, has a truly enviable sense of style. He manages to create a vintage feel in each of his automata that seems natural - as if each of his creations has existed for one hundred years. The use of form and color, the right amount of roughness, and even the choice of subject matter are all right on the mark. The projects detailed in this book speak to Mr. Frost's considerable talent as an artist. I find it inspiring to see his work, and am grateful to receive any instruction from someone so skilled.

Visual, Not Technical

This book isn't technical. Depending on your approach to automata-making, and perhaps life in general, this is either a blessing or a curse. For a visually oriented person who doesn't need every step spelled out, this book is a gem. The drawings -- on nice glossy paper -- are very clear and complete and there is some text to help you through the tricky parts.

In Sum

In sum, if you have even a little experience working with wood and would like to build automata, this book will be invaluable. It doesn't dwell on theory or give you a detailed history of automata. This book delivers a bounty of detailed color drawings that should help you make beautiful automata - something to you'll be proud to display in your home or to give as a very special gift.

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