After having such a great time making the Gakken Inchworm, we decided to try the Gakken Mechamo Centipede. It’s nicely packaged, too, and also comes with its own tools; it just needs 6 batteries.
This kit only had directions in Japanese – there was no English version included. Since we had experience with the Inchworm, we decided to see if we could put it together just using the pictures, but we found it helped a lot to look at the English instructions periodically. (If you decide you need the text in English, it’s available as a PDF through the Maker Shed Centipede link – you do need to download the Japanese font to view any text at all, even the English, which is odd, but it only took a minute.) There was an errata page in the kit that had corrections for steps 5 and 7, but the errata page looked the same as the page in the Japanese instructions. The online illustrations for steps 5 and 7 were missing some little spring washers, so we assumed the kit had come with updated instructions.
The little cranks are numbered; take care to assemble them in the correct order. They also have to be aligned in a specific configuration for the leg movement to work correctly.
This was definitely a harder build than the Inchworm was. So many legs! There were just more parts in general, you had to keep track of the numbered parts, and it was a more complicated build. But again, it’s a forgiving kit, you can backtrack easily if you’ve put something in backwards. One battery pack wire came loose during the build, but it just took a quick solder to fix it and we were good to go. When we put the batteries in for testing, we found that one of the leg cranks kept getting hung up on a nut that was sticking out just a hair too far – we had to take out the spring washer behind the nut to fix that.
All in all, it was a fun build – it might not be the best kit for a first project, depending on the kid and their level of patience. The motion is totally awesome! I lived in Korea for a while when I was a kid, and one morning there was an amazing many-legged bug that kind of flowed across the bathroom floor – this reminded me of that bug, the motion is very realistic (but mechanical, and slower!).
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