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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28 reviews

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    MMOm09, Jul 19, 2020

    Neat! Just a couple more materials would have made it perfect

    This was a really fun one for my son! He was even more excited about the additional projects from the TinkerZine - but in the middle of a pandemic, it would have been really nice to have gotten the few needed bards and minor other materials that would have been needed to complete the TinkerZine projects, since we're specifically trying to not run out for non-essential things :-/

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    Marie, Apr 13, 2020

    Great crate!

    Very neat! Enjoyable to assemble, fascinating to put in motion

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    Zoey, Mar 18, 2020

    Applying knowledge to hands on projects

    Learning about automans and then building one was so cool. Looking at the facts and information that the crate gave us made the project more interesting.

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    Nathan, Feb 27, 2020

    Growing up in STEM

    This challenging and educational project wa sperfect for my daughter to focus in and follow through on a project. I love seeing her get involved in STEM.

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    Shane, Feb 8, 2020

    So many cool facts!

    This crate was more than just the building itself, it also included history of different engineering projects. It inspired my son to learn more.

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    Sawyer, Jan 21, 2020

    Grasping new skills at a young age

    My son loved learning all about mechanics in this crate. He felt very accomplished after completing it.

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    Victoria, Jan 4, 2020

    Perfect indoor activity

    Having these projects to fall back on during breaks from school are so handy! It occupies him and helps him out on cold days inside. Building this automon was a fun activity.

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    Serena, Nov 20, 2019

    Educational value

    We found this crate very educational. I think it taught her new mechanical skills she didn't realized she had!

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    Rachael, Nov 13, 2019


    My boys are in awe of how this works- the tinker in them has been awoken and they are so excited to learn more how things work

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    Josh, Oct 31, 2019

    Great activity to do together

    Exploring "art that moves" was really fun. Building this automon was a cool project for me and my son to do together.

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    Vanessa, Oct 22, 2019

    Provides even more activities

    Not only was the project fun, but there were other DIY activities that Tinker Crate encouraged us to do to learn more about this subject.

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    Heather, Oct 20, 2019

    Goes beyond normal education

    We tend to read out of books or watch videos to learn, but having this hands on project goes past normal curriculum. We have found these projects so stimulating and exciting for our son.

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    Tyse, Oct 17, 2019

    Daughter surprised us with mechanical skills

    Creating this automaton was super fun and we found that my daughter has excellent mechanical skills. We're so excited to keep recieveing more Tinker Crates.

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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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    Mike, Jun 21, 2019

    Perfect combo of ease and challenge

    The idea for this project is superb! The combination of ease and challenge of assembly kept my child engaged and made my son think about the process of how it worked. I loved that he gained new knowledge and the innovation and engineering of this project was great!

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    Erin, Jan 15, 2019


    The long piece of the crank broke and once my daughter realized that it was the main mechanism for the whole project, she was disappointed and couldn't complete it.

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    Kara, Jan 12, 2019

    Magic climbing

    My son had so much fun putting this one together. He was giggling with excitement when he completed the project and loved watching the wooden balls "magically" climb the stairs. The additional project suggestion in the magazine just added to the fun and creativity.

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    Shani, Jul 20, 2018

    Fun, innovative, and exciting

    My daughter claimed this is the coolest thing he's ever built! He loved watching the balls raise up and the end product was something that can be played with over and over again. It offered the opportunity to problem solve and expand his knowledge, while also being environmentally friendly!

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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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