How-To: Fold Dustin Wallace’s “Mini” Robotagami

Fun & Games Robotics
How-To:  Fold Dustin Wallace’s “Mini” Robotagami

It’ll be no secret, to our regular readers, that I am a giant fan of Dustin Wallace’s Robotagami products and the concept behind them. Dustin, whose work I’ve covered here many times, just recently added a mini version of his original humanoid Robotagami figure, water-jet-cut in 0.035″ stainless steel, for $25. I ordered one immediately. Making these is a side-line for Dustin, who works full-time as a mechanic, and so far hasn’t had time to put together proper instructions for the “mini.” So I thought I would help him out, promote his product, put together my new toy, and try out my fancy new light tent at the same time.


Step 1: Fold the shoulders down


The body of the figure is symmetrical, so it doesn’t matter which side is “up” when you start. I examined mine pretty closely trying to figure out if one side was better-finished than the other, and couldn’t tell a bit of difference. If you do find a “preferred side” for your figure, then you should decide if you want that side to present on the figure’s front or back. The side towards which you fold the shoulders corresponds to the figure’s back. I was able to use my fingers for this step, but eventually you’re going to want a pair of pliers.

Step 2: Fold the legs in


Make sure that when you fold the legs you fold them in the opposite direction to the way you just folded the shoulders. Again, I used my hands to make these folds, but I would use pliers if I did it again. I was concerned that my pliers might mar the finish, but this turned out not to be a problem at all.

Step 3: Fold the arms in


The arms fold in the same direction as the legs. Note the two little “clavicle” tabs that will fold back as you bend the arms in.

Step 4: Fold the tail up


Easy-peezy to do with your fingers. You can add a sinuous “curve” to the tail later. For now, just get it up and out of the way so you can fold the feet and get the figure standing upright.

Step 5: Fold the feet up


Here’s where pliers become absolutely essential. The feet fold up to present a doubled thickness of material for the figure to stand on. Note that they are intended to fold toward the outside of the figure’s stance.

Step 6: Attach the head


The head is a separate piece that slots onto the body. It includes a little tab that locks into a corresponding hole in the torso, and I found that it really helped to put a slight forward bend in the torso before “slotting in” the head piece. Then the torso can be straightened out to lock the tab into the hole and secure the head.

Step 7: Pose it!


“Detail” folding consists, first, of folding the fingers in, for which pliers are essential. The other bends–giving the tail a curve, bending the elbows, adjusting the angle of the hips and knees–were easily done with the hands. There was no strict method or formula. I just grabbed it and bent it like I wanted it to go.

I love this little dude. It’s like the wicked offspring of a pair of surgical scissors and an X-acto knife, just hangin’ out on my windowsill.

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I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c't – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

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