Clackity Crocodile

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Did you think I forgot?  My 30-day pseudo-commitment to a better toymaking Mike?  Possibly.  :)

Unfortunately, with everything going on this past week, I kinda lost track of time and got a really late start on this week’s toy.  Regrettably, for the same reason, I think I’m going to take a break from toymaking.

With summer on the verge of passing me by, I feel I’ve procrastinated more than enough on designing and building my garage, so that’ll be my next focus.  At the end of the day, I am lazy, so the daily “Power Tool Shuffle” moving tools to my patio workshop is taking its toll on my body.  :)  I will continue to make toys and other wooden clutter for my house, but on a much less regimented schedule.  Perhaps I will also make posts on projects of past; in particular the music videos because, let’s face it, iMovie is where it’s at.  :)

Anyway, I had originally started this blog just for Ryan’s sake, but it turns out many hidden Net-stalkers have been keeping a mindful eye on my progress. :)  Making the toys and videos and blogs have been a lot of fun and I’ve REALLY appreciated all the feedback and support everyone has been giving me!

So without further ado, Clackity Crocodile!

Based on a design by one of my favourite toy-making companies, PlanToys (www.plantoys.com), Clackity is a simple pull-toy with cam-based wheels that cause a noisily slinking movement with the accordion-esque body.

Being a prototype, my attempt to reproduce this design didn’t work nearly as well as I’d envisioned, but it was an excellent learning experience for next time.

Lesson #1:  Cams and Rubber!  I retrofit my cams with rubber bands from the vegetable aisle at the grocery store.  This is good enough for a prototype, but for a production-ready toy, this won’t cut it.  The’re not thick enough, nor are they grippy enough, for anything other than carpet.  Also, the cams might need to be larger such that the oversized croc belly in its expanded state doesn’t drag on the ground.

Lesson #2:  Better Ribs!  I think the accordion ribs could be longer to allow for more clackity movement.  I also think the number of ribs is important, less often being better than more.  I had originally made this to have 8 ribs, but it turns out crocs don’t move so well with the aforementioned beer bellies dragging on the ground.

Lesson #3:  Use heavier wood!  I just used whatever scraps of pine I could find on my shop floor, but, it being a fairly light wood, it’s lack of weight didn’t encourage the erratic movement I was hoping for.  This is particularly important for the head and tail that cause it to crunch up at the bottoms and make the noise.

Ha!  I just realized that I’m writing this particular blog entry as if they are my design notes for future reference.  You probably don’t care what I would do differently next time!  Well, I hope you enjoyed your super-secret gaze into the babbling brain of the toymaker.  You’re welcome!  :)

Song:  Crocodile Rock
Artist:  Elton John, 1972
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2 thoughts on “Clackity Crocodile”

  1. Hi Glen,
    Sorry, I didn’t use any plans, just a picture of the original from PlanToys and a bit of trial and error. :)

    But if it helps, the main components are:
    - 4 body pieces, maybe 1.5″ x 2″ x 0.5″
    - 3 dowels for the separators
    - 4 wheels with offset axle holes
    - elastic string (any craft store should have this)

    At 0:07 seconds of the video, you can kinda see how the body pieces and separator dowels are drilled. But basically, you want to drill the body pieces closer to the top than center. (I think) That causes more action when the cam’d wheels move the front/back pieces to move up and down.

    You can also see in the fourth photo how the black elastic is looped around the body piece just behind the head.

    The rest is kinda cosmetics. I tried this again back in January with the post “Puppy Love”, if you interested in a different style with a couple improvements.

    You can also buy the original toy this is based on from PlanToys. They make awesome toys and serve as a great source of inspiration for me and my wood hackery! :)

    Anyway, I hope this helps. Good luck, Glen!

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