Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Urban Robots

Urban Robots by Jean-René Ménard 

This is a paper toy kit I found while looking for paper toy books online. Urban Robots is published by DJECO, a French toy company that makes children's toys and craft kits. This Djeco kit and the other paper toys kits they've just released appeared on my radar without any warning. Searching for these kits reveals no previews in English. Paper model collectors will be happy to know there is another kit now available, Hip Hop Tanaka, featuring five toys designs by Shin Tanaka!

"Urban Robots" is a die-cut paper toy kit, in the style of Papertoy Monsters or the Paper Toys tin. You'll  just need a bottle of craft glue to get started! The robot designs are by Jean-René Ménard, an illustrator who designs plastic toys for Djeco as well.

Contents of Urban Robots: 9 pages of parts + instruction booklet

A small, illustrated instruction booklet is included with the sheets of parts. Four of the robots have two pages of parts and the other is a single page. All five of the robots have bright colors and a common design scheme full of details like hex nuts, ear mics and grills and vents -- design touches that I myself like to use on robot designs! These are some of the best cute-styled robots out there.

Each of the two-page robots, Boombox, Polok, Twitter and CMJN also have an element of pose-ability or movement. Boombox and Twitter both have hidden speakers that can pop out. Polok has a sliding panel and CMJN has a paint nozzle head that rotates, slides up and down, and the head can tuck into place. The single-page Biclo robot can be placed in and removed from his little bicycle - sweet!

Biclo - his legs stick out through the seat

The quality of the materials in the kit are good; each page is die-cut with high precision and all parts are easily removed without tear or rip damage. The sturdy card stock paper is thick enough to last a long time, but be careful when folding the edges back and forth - some delamination and peeling can occur if you aren't careful.

The complexity of each robot is easy and approachable for paper crafters of an experience level just beyond "beginner". No part is too slim or fiddly. Each shape is robustly supported by glue tabs of appropriate size. The instructions will guide smoothly through the construction of each robot.

Twitter - with pop-out top speaker
Urban Robots are fun to build and fun to play with! I'm looking forward to getting the other paper toy kits in the series, especially Hip Hop Tanaka, Spacecraft and Dragons and Chimera. Search for these kits through Google, since they seem to have been distributed mainly through educational toy channels -- these paper kits aren't really books, so they don't all show up on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

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