These 12 Kinetic LEGO Sculptures Will Inspire You

From the mechanically operated Sisyphus sculpture to a sensor operated printer, here are 12 amazing kinetic sculptures to inspire you.
Kashyap Vyas

How did humanity happen? It all started when we began using tools and distinguished ourselves as a species. We were no longer mere monkeys. This simple act of fiddling is what led us here. Therefore I must argue that LEGO are not to be taken lightly. LEGO toys help a child discover the most fundamental attribute of intelligence, the ability to create. They also have the power of bringing out this quality in adults and like the saying goes, rediscover their childhood. 

That being said, let us take a look at these LEGO structures that are no child’s play.

Sisyphus LEGO Kinetic Sculpture

Sisyphus was a king in ancient Greece punished by Zeus to repeatedly push a boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll down. This piece of engineering is a befitting depiction of the curse. Jason Allemann of JK Brickworks designed this phenomenal kinetic sculpture. The video explains how the device works in detail and if you’re interested in building one of your own, you can download the guide and parts list from the website.

 Skating penguin LEGO Kinetic Sculpture

Another amazing kinetic structure from Jason and Kristal at JK Brickworks, the piece makes use of The Tramell of Archimedes, an ancient mechanical device to achieve the motion. It is an essential part of several new toys and novelty items, also known as ‘Do Nothing Machines’. It can also be used as a drawing device to create perfect elliptical shapes. You can find the instructions to build one here.

 Dragonfly LEGO Kinetic Sculpture

This piece uses an interesting contrast of colors. The exterior is monochrome grey while the dragonfly on the inside is transparent with a detailing of pond life on the black base and a little splash of color on the interior. The motion itself is pretty complex and uses a single crank for the hands to open, the dragonfly to be lifted up and then for the wings to move. Rotating it in the opposite direction makes the dragonfly lower back down and the hands to come back together.

LEGO Galloping Horse Kinetic Sculpture

The fluid motion of a galloping horse is pretty difficult to achieve. All the subtle movements of galloping have been nicely achieved.  Like the slight rocking of the body, the forward thrust of the head and a little flick of the tail.  All this is achieved using the single axle in the base that can be moved using a motor or even cranked by the hand.

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 The Pianist - LEGO Piano Player Kinetic Sculpture

The pianist is a two-piece model made entirely out of LEGOs. The first is the hand with the fingers playing the whites alternately and the other is the piano with movable keys of the entire octave. The sculpture is operated by a 9-volt motor or even manually using the crank on the side. It is a beautiful piece, if only it actually played sounds.

 Telegraph Machine and Printer

This geeky sculpture from Jason uses LEGO Mindstorms EV3 set (31313) to form both a telegraph and a printer. With a touch sensor, users can tap out a sequence of letters using Morse code that can be printed. The gel pen mounted on a carriage inks on the paper and the device can accommodate standard sheets of letter paper cut in half. The video explains in detail about how the model functions.

The Engineer

The Engineer is one of Kristal’s famous kinetic sculpture that’s made up of a human head with one of its sides open to reveal the inner working of the mind. All the complex mechanisms along with the light are powered using a single crank that's located on the side of the model. The LEGO motor acts as a generator and produces electricity for the light. The entire behavior is achieved with a series of 29 gears and 4 gear racks.

Mini Chocolate Machine

The mini chocolate thrower machine makes use of a touch sensor to activate the feed system, pushing the chocolate onto a conveyor belt and delivering it to the skeleton hand attached at the front. There’s also an interesting feature that can be activated using the EV3 remote control to close the skeleton hand or make the spider to jump forward when kids reach out for the chocolate.

Lawn Mower Man

Lawn Mower Man is a “modern day Sisyphus”. It uses the same walking mechanism used in the original popular Sisyphus model, called a Hoeckens linkage. The two conveyors consist of tall and cut grass at the front and behind respectively. The lawnmower is held down by gravity to allow the conveyor belts to turn the freely spinning wheels.

Clockwork Heart

The steam-punk inspired LEGO Clockwork Heart can be operated manually using the hand crank or can even be motorized using an M-Motor to the back. It is also possible to customize the clock by adding more gears at specific places. The model can also be developed using a 3-stud long Technic axle instead of the new long Technic axle pin.

Mechanical Beaver

Built to celeberate the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation, the mechanical beaver is a kinetic LEGO sculpture of the country’s national animal. The mechanism consists of a single drive shaft with a cam that slaps the tail along with a piston-operated crank that opens and closes the teeth. The sculpture can be operated manually or by using Power Functions M-Motor.

Earth, Moon and Sun Orrery

While the sculpture might not accurately represent the actual rotation of the Earth, Moon, and Sun, it forms a great example of building incredible things out of LEGO. The Moon in the model orbits the Earth every 28 days, while the Sun takes 25 days for full rotation and Earth 375 days to orbit the Sun. The model can be operated manually and can also be motorized by replacing the gear and crank mechanism.

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