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Warning: Stikbot Stop Motion Animation is Addictive!

Zing Stikbot figures

At least that’s what I saw from my 9-year old son, Jem. And get ready to part with your smartphone if you got your kids these stikbot figures unless they have their own smartphones that they can use for the stikbot animation.

“Stikbots are cooler than you think, Mommy!” Jem claims and continues on saying that “They don’t have a power button to make them move but they have rubber and bungee cord to make them move and suction cups for their feet & hands. You can put them in a certain position like sitting, bowing or whatever you want. You can animate them using the stikbot studio app to create stikbot stop motion animation videos.”

Stikbot animation

Jem got a red dinosaur, StikBrontosaurus named Jeremy, for his birthday and right at day 1 he managed to download the Zanimation app and create his very own stikbot stop motion animation – all by himself. From then on he was persistent in asking to buy more stikbots characters and more stikbots dinosaurs. His reason? He wants to make more stikbot stop motion animation videos!

See below for his very first attempt at creating a stikbot stop-motion animation video.

At first, I thought those stikbots are lame, poorly constructed with cheap transparent plastic with bungee cord inside to connect the parts together. Totally un-appealing to my kids compared to the sophisticated toys they already have. Jem was so persistent so I finally gave in.

We bought him a Stikbot Studio Pro Toy Figure set that comes with a tripod, blue/green screen, prop box, yellowbot, babybot, and a pet named Red. We also got him a green dinosaur, StikCarnotaurus named Corny.

StikBot Zanimation Studio

Since his birthday, when he had his first stikbot, up until this day, more than one and a half months now, there’s not a day that he was not playing and creating stikbot stop-motion animation! I have never seen him consistently play one set of toys this long until these stikbots came. This made me curious about this stop-motion animation.

What is a stop-motion animation?

According to Wikipedia “Stop motion is an animated-film making technique in which objects are physically manipulated in small increments between individually photographed frames so that they will appear to exhibit independent motion when the series of frames is played back as a fast sequence. “[1]

To put it simply, stop-motion is an animation technique to create an illusion that lifeless objects are moving on their own by taking pictures on the object’s every movement and playing the series of picture in a fast pace. It typically takes 10-15 photographed frames to create a 1-second animation video.

When did it start?

Stop-motion animation has been around for over 120 years. It is used for entertainment by putting objects to life as if there is magic behind it.

In 1897, for the first time in history, Albert E. Smith and J. Stuart Blackton used the stop-motion technique to create Vitagraph’s The Humpty Dumpty Circus; a toy circus of acrobats and animals comes to life. [2]

Disney’s Mickey Mouse stop motion animation was produced later in 1978. Through the years between 1897 to 2000’s there were lots of well known stop motion animators all over the world, like the French trick film maestro Georges Méliès, the great European pioneer Wladyslaw Starewicz, Willis O’ Brien the creator of The Lost World and King Kong, Art Clokey the creator of Gumby and the list goes on and on up to the present day.  Stop motion animation is possible using a wide variety of media such as multi-jointed dolls or figures, clays, construction paper, sand-coated puppet, etc.

In today’s modern era where smartphones and apps are easily accessible by 8year old kids or even younger, stop motion has grown a lot in popularity. It doesn’t take photography skills or sophisticated equipment to create a stop motion animation video. All it takes is a smart device, a stop motion app & imagination to create one, not necessarily to create Oscar’s award-winning film but to create entertainment to technology-hungry minds of today’s generation and to share their creation in social media, like YouTube and Face book. I think being able to feed this need is the reason why these stikbots are a real hit today. Stikbots are multi-jointed figures which enable increment adjustment in the position to create a more fluid movement in the stop motion animation.

What can stop-motion animation do to kids learning?

I was amazed at how patient Jem became in taking pictures on every small movement of his stikbot to create a couple of seconds’ animation video. He used to be very impatient who gets very frustrated easily on things he is working on. Now he can easily take 75 frames in order to create a 5-sec animation video. Even his cousins take part in the fun as they play together for hours almost every day. They even create their own stikbot stop motion animation videos.

It’s amazing how a 9-year-old is able to put his imagination into reality through this stop-motion animation. I’ve seen a stikbot man figure doing a cartwheel, dancing the floss dance, walking and petting a pet dog, dinosaurs fighting and a whole lot more with props and awesome background. Jem is using paper cut-out for the stikbot man’s costumes, shredded tissue paper for smoke, clay for rocks and all sorts of stuff you can imagine. With the 2-in-1 stage green and blue screen, he can digitally recreate the background of the scene he created. There are tons of backgrounds to choose from to suit each scene, like desert, space, mountains, plains, forest and just anything you can think about.

Since it was Easter Sunday yesterday, Jem created his very own version of Easter Sunday to remember Jesus, featuring a yellow stikbot as pretending Jesus, who rode a donkey going to Jerusalem, revived a dead man, crucified on a cross, buried in a tomb but rise up again and will forever live. See the video below. 🙂

With stikbot stop motion animation, the use of smart devices is not just limited to watching movies or playing games, it also provides an avenue for kids to be creative and imaginative. It also builds confidence in their abilities as they are able to show off the fruit of their labor by sharing their videos with family and friends and through social media.

I can see stikbots all over the internet now, in our house and around me. Last week, in the church I saw a pre-teen boy who was fiddling on his stikbot man. In our local library, there is a once a week drop-in program for stop-motion animation that runs for 4 weeks. In the program, materials are provided for whoever wants to create stop-motion animation videos. You knew it, Jem participates in the program every week and he even volunteered to offer assistance to co-participants who are struggling to make a stikbot animation video.

Jem is so proud about his video creations that he shows them off to everybody and even wanted me to post them on YouTube, which I did. See below.

So next time your kids really want something so bad, don’t dismiss it right away. Look further into it as to what it is all about and how can it benefit your kids. You might just discover your kids’ passion and if nurtured could lead to being the best at it!

Would you let your kids play these stikbots? Share your thoughts below 🙂

References:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stop_motion
  2. http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/first-animated-film/

 

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