Elenco Jr. Scientist Series “Strandbeest” Model Kit

Have you ever seen videos of Dutch artist Theo Jansen’s series of kinetic sculptures known collectively as Strandbeest? If not, have a look:

These wind-powered “beach animals” walk a fine line (heh) between wondrous and creepy, but no matter what you think of them, they’re undoubtedly marvels of engineering:

All of [Jansen’s] models are based on a system of triangles and connecting links which convert the rotation of an axle into a stepping motion of six or more legs. This allows the strandbeesten to travel over sand much more efficiently than if they were to travel on wheels. What was at first a rudimentary “breed” has evolved slowly, with the help of evolutionary computation techniques, into a generation of kinetic sculptures that can react to their environment to some degree.

“I make skeletons that are able to walk on the wind. Over time, these skeletons have become increasingly better at surviving the elements such as storms and water and eventually I want to put these animals out in herds on the beaches, so they will live their own lives.”

If you have a young builder in your life who might one day create such works of art, then they’ll love building their own strandbeest with this model kit from Elenco, makers of “Snap Circuits” and “Smartivity” kits.


Just like the real sculptures made by Jansen himself, the fully assembled kit will actually react to fast-moving air and start walking, even if it’s just you blowing on the blades (although you’ll get better results from a fan or a strong breeze).

See it in action here:

You can get this charming, educational, and oddly hypnotic model kit for $35 on Amazon. If you and your kid enjoy putting this one together, then you should also check out their Rhinoceros Mini-Beest kit ($25).