Automata have fascinated generations from the Ancient Greeks to the present day.
This short video by Stuart King called ‘Catch Me If You Can‘ illustrates the humour, design and craftsmanship that is required to make an automaton.
If you want to buy a toy which is a little different, look no further than Etsy.
Here’s a selection of the best toys I could find. Just click on the toy you are interested in to view full details.
Many books have been written about creating automated toys in wood…..here are ten of the best.
1. Making Moving Toys and Automata
Lots of different construction methods are explained including oscillating shafts, links and linkages. levers and fulcrums, balance and movement, springs. shafts and cams, momentum and control.
Many illustrations, including how to make this dragon on a stick.
2. Automata and Mechanical Toys
How mechanisms work
The history of automata
How to get started
Tools, materials and techniques
Step by step instructions
3. Making Simple Automata
How automata developed over the centuries
Discussion about materials and mechanisms
How to design and construct small scale, simple mechanical devices,
Illustrated with step by step instructions
Take a look at this amazing automata by Keith Newstead
4 How To Make Animated Toys & Whirligigs
Full size patterns and step by step instructions
for making 20 unique automata projects
5 Action Whirligigs
Easy to follow instructions and measured drawings
to create 25 wind driven toys.
Excellent woodworking projects, which are straightforward to make, inexpensive and fun.
Over 90 illustrations with step by step instructions
6 Wood Automata…….Tips and Tricks
Descriptions of most of the common movements and how to put them to use.
Project design considerations are discussed.
Tips on how to make each of the mechanical movements out of wood.
Detailed instructions on how to build your first wood automata.
7 Making Mechanical Marvels In Wood
The projects are designed to perform mechanical stunts with marbles that move, wheels that spin and pistons that pump.
Step by step instructions, many detailed illustrations and drawings.
8 Creative Kinetics
Teaches the basic techniques of kinetic art….art that moves.
Fun projects like weather vanes and mobiles powered by air currents
Simple toys you manipulate with strings
Art mechanised by levers, cranks, cams and cogs.
9 Making Mad Toys & Mechanical Marvels
Full size schematics and drawings plus detailed written instructions.
Make Grandad’s Night Out and Mr Muscles and Little Miss plus many more…….
10 Making Animated Whirligigs
How to make more than two dozen traditional and original models.
Patterns include animals with spinning wings, people with waving arms and much more….
Here is another video which demonstrates how to make an orca using a Dremel and turning it into an automatum.…..The Mechanical Orca
All of the books are available through Amazon. Just search by the name of the book.