Thursday, August 28, 2014


My good friend James has produced another incredibly pose-able and playable Netroid paper toy, "Mach-Kaw."

This aerial interceptor is very bright and will certainly make a scene. Maybe the Mach-Kaw you build is a trouble-maker (like most parrots), or perhaps your Mach-Kaw does swoop in to save the day.

Download and Build your own Mach-Kaw from Netroids Universe (

Poco Bot Out for a Walk

Robots tell different stories when they have different bodies. The new Poco Bot custom by Herbert K now finds itself outside, exploring the wide-open world.

"It's scary standing up this tall. I could fall down any second!"
"But I'm going to do it! I know I can walk tall!"
See? I can step up on this rock now. Couldn't do that before.
Okay, this is kinda fun. I'll see you guys later!
Thanks Herbert, for sharing more excellent photos of your Poco Bot Custom! More to see soon!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cool Custom - Poco Bot Tall

This fine Poco Bot custom is by Herbert, who added even more pose-ability to thw little guy. Poco Bots of this size may need to be renamed "Alto Bots". Along with adding knees and elbows, Herbert also modified the face, the feet, and even included the Screw-in Axle Disk Joints from Sweet Robo and Facebot. Nice!

I've re-examined Poco Bots pattern and was shocked to see how much empty space there is on the page. In a new revision, I've gotten Poco Bot's parts to be enlarged to 110% scale and it all still fits on 8.5x11 and A4! I intend to make the new version of Poco Bot easier to modify for all of you enthusiastic builders! Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

More Free Forms at Durham Arts Council

Ah, the end of Summer Camp at the Durham Arts Council... but we were able to have a great blow-out Poplocks event, with new pieces for building and a bevy of new creatures, robots, and vehicles.

This was the first event where I brought larger Poplocks panels for young builders to use. Frequently, many builders try to make a larger creature or vehicle, and it can be tedious to cobble together many small pieces to produce one ugly, prickly piece that is hard to decorate with markers.

You can find some of the pieces in the Poplocks Free Forms downloadable PDF - just click on the big "Free Forms" icon to the left. Print them out and card stock, and make sure to buy a 5/8" circle hole punch from your favorite art supply store.

As always, I learn so much about how young builders choose to create with the blank pieces, and it's always amazing to see how much imagination goes into the decoration. Thanks for sharing all of your great ideas!

I've also learned a lot about what is easy and what is difficult. My future designs will take age and ability into consideration, and I'll be sure to create ideas and instructions that are geared towards, beginners, skilled builders, and master builders. I already know that everybody will have fun with Poplocks, but I want to be sure that frustration is knocked away to make way for the excitement of building anything one wants to.

Thanks again to Ms. Willa the munificent educational TV star and Christina King, DAC Summer Arts Camp Manager. This was yet another great opportunity to see creative kids make surprising things!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Engineer's Day at Life and Science

So many builders!

Yesterday was a great day at the Durham Museum of Life and Science. Robots, Snap Circuits, 3D printers, and all sorts of great technology for kids to try out for hours on end. Oh yeah, Poplocks too! I was able to run the biggest Poplocks Free Forms building table ever, over 14 feet of space for all sorts of building and creativity. Thanks to Joe Diver, Allison and the museum volunteers for making this a great event!

Along with the standard paper Poplocks, I was able to have a stack of plastic-laminated Poplocks to build the "Dodeca Ball", made from a new geometric-friendly piece design (which I also had the the Raleigh Maker Faire).

Dodeca Ball Instruction + a real-world build-progression.
So many young builders came by, so it's no surprise that there were a bunch of supremely creative builds. Just take a look:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Free Forms at Durham Arts

Well, this is the fourth post in a row where it's a gallery of kids creations from the Summer Campers at the Durham Arts Council. Today, I re-introduced Poplocks Free Forms shapes a new set of campers. The goal today was to give each artist the means to create whatever they could think of.

My expectations were met and then surpassed, as each camper became a skilled builder in minutes, and showed how much of a creative builder they could be in just an hour and a half!

Each camper was given a pack of parts and some Poplocks to start, though I told them right away that they could go to the big pile of parts and pull as many as needed to build as big or as strong as they wanted. Permanent markers were also supplied so that decorating could proceed straight-away.

I must say that today's decorated Poplocks explored territory I never considered - thank you so much to the creative campers for showing us what you can make! Some very young campers came up with a novel boomerang design that I will be sure to try out in future sessions!

See some of these images below:

So many different people!

Cute critters and cool flyers

The intermediate steps before color addition

Some campers made quite a collection!

Thanks to Christine and Brother Stafford for helping out!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Super Saucer Fun at Durham Arts Council

I brought a new toy design to the Campers at the Durham Arts Council, one I knew would be a surefire hit - an easy-to-assemble Flying Saucer that really flies. This was a prototype kit, one that I plan to have on sale, and the campers eagerly helped me test the instructions, playability and customization properties. I could not have expected a better test-flight session!

This particular group was already made of seasoned building pros, having worked hard to master the E-motibot robots from Friday last week. The two piece Flying Saucer turned out to be less of a challenge, but hands raised in the air early on proved that my instructions were more confusing than helpful!

Thankfully, I was able to show the volunteers how to assemble both the saucer and the astronaut. Pretty soon, saucers were flying across the room  or were being decorated to the umpteenth degree. Take a look at some of these impressive builds!

Thanks again to Christina, Sara, all of the Volunteers and the Campers themselves for helping me test this design. Everyone had so much fun and I couldn't be happier!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Robots at Durham Arts

I had an amazing time at the Durham Arts Council today, and so did 22 Summer Camp artists! I brought prototype builds of Compass, Antenna, and Hammer to the afternoon session. Armed with an instruction sheet, I let the kids get to the building.

After some struggle (and hard lessons about making good instructions), the volunteers got everybody a finished robot to play with, even for the younger campers. Sadly, I didn't get a photo of every bot - my camera setting got tweaked and there were too many blurry shots - my apologies campers!

Once the bots were built, I was surprised, yet again, by how fast the robots got decorated with unique characteristics, patterns, and even names. Thank you campers - you helped to make this very fun!

Thanks also to Willa Brigham, Christina, Janet (for Sharpies), the volunteers and everybody else for their help making this a fun session.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Summer Art Fun at the Durham Arts Council

Last week, I had the privilege of presenting as a guest artist again at the Durham Arts Council's Summer Arts Camp. A giant crew of children were participating in various artistic activities. I brought them pre-cut patterns for my Draw-On-It Poplocks Pattern, "Muglee", specially designed for live events.

After teaching them how to pop out the parts, how to assemble a Poplocks connection and how to build the toy, the campers proceeded to make each Muglee their own. Just check out these mugs (and click on "Read More" to see the rest!):

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Maker Faire 2014 - 01

Setting up at Maker Faire NC 2014

Maker Faire happened again at the Raleigh Fairegrounds, this time in the much larger exposition center - just big enough to contain the crowd that came through to see all of the great inventions, crafts, gadgets, DIY-projects being shown and shared for many to see and play with.

Poplocks were there as well, along with my friends from Splat Space, Durham's hacker and maker space.

So many parts and colors
A large group of children and adults came by to make some really impressive original designs. It was "make and take" so everybody who built could bring their creation home with them, no charge! As you can see above, the chaos was controlled with some handy parts organizers, made from double-side laminate paper I was lucky enough to find at Scrap Exchange, Durham's giant warehouse of upcycle-able materials.

Thanks to Joe, Sarah, John, Cate, Geoffrey, Shaw, Jeff, and everybody at Splat Space for their help! In addition to Poplocks, we also had a ton of fun stuff to show off, including the Bullitron Indie-Game Arcade Cabinet, a glowing rainbow-lit cloud, Squishy Circuits, Moog music, a tech-junk Dissemble station, vinyl stickers, 3d printing and a giant silver Poplocks Flying Saucer. Check out @splatspace on Twitter to see more pics.

Below is a small sample of the creative builds that took shape (more to come in a second post):

Best Dino
A Delightful Dolphin

This figure came stomping through when done

A mechanism of supreme complexity

We ran out of Dodeca-spheres early!