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My living room looks like Darwin’s laboratory. A three-legged creature writhes on the floor. My daughter pulls off a leg and connects it to its face. My son teaches it to walk. It’s really moving now! This is how you play and learn with Topobo.

Topobo is part construction toy, part kinetic memory robot. By combining solid parts with active motor/brain hubs (learning servos) you can spend hours creating unlikely creatures with even more unlikely forms of locomotion.

My young kids immediately got how to record and play back the motion of their creations; press a button, perform a few poses, press the button again, and it’s alive! I wanted to save movements between sessions, but my kids understood before I did that Topobo is about exploring novel methods of movement, not reproducing past creations.

Our only complaints: the Lego Technic-compatible connectors are hard to remove, and we’d prefer batteries to being tethered to the wall with the power supply wire.

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works in CG animation at DisneyToon Studios and writes for Make, Boing Boing, and other places online and in print. You can find him at jpixl.net and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.


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