Ages 9-16+

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Take a peek inside automaton mechanics! Engineer a hand-cranked, wooden automaton that makes a marble climb stairs. Learn about other fascinating automatons in history and build your own.

Includes a step-by-step video tutorial link, illustrated blueprint instructions, all the materials, and a special-edition Tinker Zine magazine to discover the secrets of other machine toy projects.


  • Build the frame
  • Build the crank
  • Build the stairs
  • DIY Art Automaton
  • DIY Spinning Automaton
  • "Automatons" Tinker Zine magazine


  • Gears and Cams
  • Automatons in History
  • Art That Moves

Using charter school funds?

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14 reviews

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    Claudia, Oct 9, 2019

    Fascinating concept and continuous fun

    My 9 year old son enjoyed building it and still is fascinated by the concept and plays with it frequently.

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    Marc, Jun 9, 2017


    This was the first project my daughter did entirely without assistance. She is very proud of it. And she also had tremendous fun with the secondary project, turning the box into a simple automaton as well.

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    Joyce, May 9, 2017

    LOVE IT!

    My boys really enjoyed this project. We placed dots on the balls so that they could race and see who won. Lots of fun =)

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    Laynette C., Apr 1, 2016

    keep coming up with amazing projects!

    I love that the instructions are clear. My 9 yr old can build the projects herself. I usually help just because it is a fun activity for us both to do. They don't come too often so she is always excited when they arrive. The projects are unique and unlike anything she has ever built before. I also love that the pieces fit together well. So many other brands are difficult to build and just frustrating.

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    Amy J., Mar 6, 2016

    well designed fun

    I love that Tinker Crate is a good challenge for my son, yet he is always successful. This was a project that we didn't even quite understand what it would be when he first started. So it was brand new and exciting. I also love the booklet that's included. My son loves to read through them and share the facts that he learned. The box itself is wonderfully designed, the projects are so interesting and unique. The inserts are put together so nicely and are easy to read. The directions look very cool and are easy to understand and follow. I love that all of the supplies are included. That makes it so easy on me and it lets my children always start on their project right when it arrives.

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    Sarah M., Feb 28, 2016

    awesome learning opportunity

    We love being able to watch a video as well as look at the blueprint when putting together the crate. This crate gave us additional projects we loved doing with materials that are accessible to us. We all have cardboard, straws etc. I love the magazine. I like how you explain things in further detail in a comic book/fun way. I have especially loved the connections to literature lately. I have ordered many of the books suggested. Tinker Crate is a great service. I feel I get my moneys worth and enjoy having a special project to work on with my son. Thank you for the awesome learning opportunities you've brought to my home.

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    Annie Powell, Feb 23, 2016

    very cool toy

    This project was the first my daughter completed on her own. The instructions are clear enough that she only needed a touch of advice when it came time to put it all together, and it is a COOL toy! The automaton is our favorite project EVER! So fun to watch and really impressive engineering.

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    Efrem L., Feb 17, 2016

    LOVED the final product!

    There looked to be so many pieces that I was worried it would be too much. My son actually found it just he right mixture of challenge and ease to keep him engaged in building it. He love, loved, loved the final product! When we started to read through the Tinkerzine, we were even more excited to see the other project we could do! Once he is willing to stop playing with the automaton, we'll be working on those projects as well

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    Sharon A., Jan 20, 2016

    kids love this

    We loved the variety of project options. My daughter liked the art aspect, my youngest liked the motion aspect, and my eldest enjoyed the putting together. I really like the tinkerzine mag. it's very informative and makes the kit last. I also really like how everything is included. So far I am impressed with the historical & practical information in each. These kits are great. All my kids enjoy them and it promotes family time as my husband facilitates the projects with them. Anything to get them away from their "screens" is fantastic in my book.

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    Carrie L., Jan 16, 2016

    super fun!

    The wooden Automaton is fascinating to use. My kid loved building this project, and was able to do it with very little help from an adult. It is such a cool kit. Projects like this will keep us coming back for more!

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    Kim P., Jan 9, 2016


    The amount of thought and time used to assemble the piece was very appropriate. A great introduction to automation! I was impressed at how complex the machine was for all the material being rather light weight.

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