Category Archives: Lego

Theo Jansen’s Strandbeest

What are Strandbeest?

(Originally published on 2016/08/31.)

Theo Jansen invented the strandbeest. He describes them as “new forms of life” that “live their own lives“. That’s not accurate though. These aren’t alive by any scientific definition of the word.

Most of the strandbeest leg-bones share the same relative lengths. Mr Jansen calls these ratios “the holy numbers“. Trying every possible combination of ratios was an intractable problem, so Mr Jansen used an evolutionary approach, with a computer simulation, to get to the optimal ratios in a reasonable amount of time. 

There are many full-sized, strandbeest videos, but I am only going to post one here:


The remaining links will be to smaller strandbeest that you-too can own.

I Built My Own Strandbeest

I have three kits. I finished the first one (minus the propeller). Here are Adam Savage’s builds of the same three kits:

All three kits are available from multiple sources, at a wide range of prices. The links (below), are some of the more affordable versions.

Kit #1

My first build was a scale working model of Animaris Ordis Parvus. It’s the Vol. 30 Gakken kit. You can find it here:

Here’s another version of Animaris Ordis Parvus. This one is in English:

Kit #2

The second kit is Gakken’s “Biped Walking Robot”. It comes as a Japanese “mook” (model+book):

Kit #3

The third kit is Gakken’s scale model of Animaris Rhinoceros Parvus. The English edition is branded as “Jr. Scientist”, but it’s actually the Gakken kit:

Hexbug’s Motorized, Steerable, Strandbeest

Hexbug sells two sizes of strandbeest. They are four legged versions similar-to Animaris Ordis Parvus. They go forwards, backwards, and turn. They do this by using two motors and crankshafts instead of one.

The Animaris Ordis Parvus Gakken kit’s crankshaft is actually split-able in the center, so one could potentially create something like these from that kit.

Here is the larger version, called Vex Robotics Strandbeast XL, which is a kit:

Here is the smaller version, called Hexbug Tarantula, which is pre-built:

Lego Strandbeests

Jason Allemann from JK Brickworks has created a Lego steerable strandbeest. It’s web page is here.

Jason shares step-by-step PDF instructions on how to build the legs here.

This is my favorite Lego steerable strandbeest. It’s Lego Ideas page is here. Unfortunately Lego will not be releasing this as a kit.

Here’s a Lego version of Theo Jansen’s Animaris Rhinoceros Parvus. It’s Lego Ideas page is here. Unfortunately Lego will not be releasing this as a kit.

Here is OSchoe’s Mindstorms Lego steerable strandbeest. It’s web page is here.

Blender and Bullet Physics Engine Simulation by Phymec

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