News Center

News from the Reed College public affairs office

Reedies Kickstart a Scuttling Wonder

By Miles Bryan '13 on July 24, 2012 02:54 PM

The last wooden walking machine we saw on Reed's campus was a six-foot tall plywood behemoth trundling around the student union. Now David Lansdowne '09, one of the instigators of that project, has teemed up with fellow Reedies Dano Wall '09 and Hannah Monshontz '10 to make coffee-table size toy versions of that crawler.

The Reedies call their venture Small Wonder Toys, and their walking toy, named the Humble Velocipede, is minitaure version of Dutch artist Theo Jansen's Strandbeest. Lansdowne says that they built the first velocipede on a lark during the construction of their Strandbeest, but quickly realized their work was more attractive than other miniatures on the market. Aesthetics is a major reason why Small Wonder choses to use bamboo as the material for their toy, but the choice is also conceptual. "A plastic velocipede would just blend in with the rest of your house." Lansdowne said. "We use bamboo because it stands out as natural in an artificial environment."

The Humble Velocipide is currently available on Small Wonder Toy's Kickstarter page. Small Wonder does not think about their multi-leged gizmo as a copy of Jansen's design, so miuch as a descendant of it. "The velocipede is an evolution of the Strandbeest," Lansdowne says.