On our trips to Japan I always seem to come back with a couple of paper craft kits for these magical automata and I’ve just discovered that they’re called karikuri からくり which means “mechanical”. They’re probably a modern version of the Japanese animated dolls and puppets kamikuri ningyo からくり人形 that were popular back in Edo times.
This one is a robot kit I bought at Ito-ya, a great stationery store in Tokyo. When you turn the handle his legs go up and down and his body and head wobble around. It required a 10 yen coin as a weight for the head – luckily we had one in the bundle of coins we brought home.
And I will never again complain about IKEA instructions. Assembling a Billy bookcase is a snap compared with constructing this little guy.