updated 6/13/2012 4:48:43 PM ET 2012-06-13T20:48:43

Some combinations of material and machine just don't sound right, such as a wooden airplane the size of a jetliner (the Spruce Goose) or an airship full of extremely flammable gas (the Hindenburg). Until recently, you might have added "cardboard robot" to the list.

But a project called Kinetic Creatures on the crowd-funding site Kickstarter shows that it's a perfect combination. A designer-artist couple from Portland, Ore., figured out how to create walking robotic animals — an elephant, a rhino and a giraffe — using nothing but paper. The $30 kits come with video instructions to show kids (or adults) all the folding and bending required to convert flat pieces of cardboard into one of the adorable contraptions. [ Top 10 Gadgets on Inventor Site Kickstarter ]

A hand crank on the side puts the creature in motion. Or you can upgrade by adding a $20 kit with an electric motor and a set of wooden gears.

Lucas Ainsworth, an industrial designer working at Intel, and Alyssa Hamel, a public-school art teacher, took their inspiration from Dutch artist Theo Jansen. His Strandbeest (beach animal) creations are giant mechanical contraptions — in part made from waste, including plastic bottles — that harness wind power to walk on their own.

Jansen also offers toy kits, such as the plastic Animaris Rhinoceros Parvus, a creature that walks when the wind, or a house fan, spins its propeller. (It sells for $75, plus shipping).

But by going with cardboard, Ainsworth and Hamel have given their creatures a special low-tech, old-timey charm.

The  Kinetic Creatures  project has already well exceeded its crowdfunding goal, though it is still taking contributions through Sunday. A pledge of $30 gets ELLY the Elephant or RORY the Rhino. $40 gets GENO the Giraffe. Higher pledges buy combinations such as adding the motor-and-gear kit to one of the animals or getting all three creatures, with or without motors.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily


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