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Updated LEGO Sisyphus kinetic sculpture

Jason Allemann is well known for his very interesting and engaging LEGO models, particularly his kinetic and motorized creations. Jason also freely and happily shares instructions for most of his models, so other LEGO fans can build them, display them, and learn from the techniques used. 🙂

One of Jason’s most popular LEGO sculptures depicts Sisyphus pushing his boulder. The model was inspired by a fascinating video by Disney Research on Computational Design of Mechanical Characters. The video features character models with realistic motion, which is achieved by using mechanical links and gears (check it out, it’s really cool!). This gave Jason the idea to build a LEGO version of the mechanism, as well as Sisyphus (one of the examples featured in the Disney Research video).

Since building Sisyphus a couple of years ago, Jason used the same mechanism in other creations, refining and perfecting it along the way. And recently, he decided to revisit the old Sisyphus project to see if he can improve it with updated techniques and newly introduced LEGO parts. He was particularly bothered by the black rod that supports Sisyphus’ body, as well as the issue of LEGO no longer producing some of the parts, making the model challenging and expensive for others to replicate.

Jason ended up redesigning Sisyphus pretty much from the ground up. And, even though the overall appearance and functionality of the model haven’t changed, there are some significant improvements to both the mechanism and the efficiency of the parts used. In the video below, Jason discusses many of these changes and how they compare to the original solutions. And, you can also find some additional notes and tips on building the model on Jason’s website at JKBrickWorks.com.

As usual, Jason kindly created building instructions and parts lists for both the motorized and manually powered version of Sisyphus. The only difference between the two instructions is that the motorized version includes the steps and parts needed to build a motor assembly (using a LEGO Power Functions M-Motor and LEGO Power Functions Battery Box) that can be inserted inside the base. The motorized version can also be powered in the same way as the manually powered version, by disengaging the motor and using the crank at the back. If you don’t have the LEGO pieces needed to build the models, and you don’t want to bother with purchasing them on BrickLink, Jason also provides full building kits, which includes both the parts needed and the instructions. You can find the building kits here.

If you already have the first version of Sisyphus, or you haven’t built it yet but got the parts for it, Jason gives some guidelines on his website about how to convert the original project to the new one. Basically, changing the clear support rod and corresponding mechanics is what requires the most changes, but they are mostly isolated to the top of the center section of the model. For the rest, you can use the parts and instructions from the original project, or pick and choose what you want to upgrade.

Building complex mechanisms out of LEGO bricks – like kinetic sculptures and motorized models – is a fun, fulfilling, and educational experience. They can both challenge and elate a LEGO builder who wants to push their skills further. LEGO themselves provides some interesting examples, particularly in the LEGO Technic line and robotics kits, however, these sets tend to stick with vehicles and robots. What I most like about Jason’s creations is that they are not just mechanically complex but also look quite beautiful.

What do you think? How do you like the new version of Sisyphus? Have you built (or did you consider building) the original model? Are you happy with the updates? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

And you might also like to check out the following related posts:

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • brickmaster March 19, 2018, 10:28 AM

    Very impressive. I really appreciate that Jason freely shares instructions and tips. Watching the figure moving is mesmerizing.

  • LEGOJeff March 19, 2018, 12:35 PM

    Gosh, I love this! The movement is so realistic! I have seen the previous version before, but I didn’t know that it was based on mechanical characters! The disney video is super interesting!

    • admin March 19, 2018, 1:00 PM

      Yeah, I thought so too! Really cool mechanical creatures! 😀

  • BigShawn March 19, 2018, 8:40 PM

    I would love to build this one day! Just to see how the mechanics work. Looks really good.

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