Action origami is origami that can be animated. The original traditional action model is the flapping bird. Typically models where the final assembly involves some special action, for instance blowing up a waterbomb, are also classed as action origami. More rarely models like paper plane and spinners which have no moving parts are included. Some traditional action origami involved cuts but modern models typically are built with no cuts. Action origami are normally toys built to amuse but some are designed to inspire wonder.
Action toys include birds or butterflies with flapping wings, beaks that peck, and frogs that hop, as well as popular traditional models like the fortune teller. Paper poppers or bangers are models that make a noise when flicked down hard.
Some action origami is designed to accompany a story whilst it is built.
Some models are far more complex than can be classed as toys. They are built to amaze and astonish. For instance Robert J. Lang's Bassist, Pianist, and Violinist is a set of action models where each one plays an instrument when pulled on appropriately. Jeremy Shafer has made a number of extraordinary action models including a Swiss army knife with tools that open out, a slithering snake skin, and flashers, one of which he demonstrated on The Carol Duvall Show.
Flashers are models with a regular pattern that can be folded up small and rapidly expanded. The miura fold is a similar idea that has been used in commercial applications. Versions on a regular pattern can for instance be used to make a human figure when folded up or a maze when opened.
- Robert J. Lang (1997). Origami in Action: Paper Toys that Fly, Flap, Gobble and Inflate. St. Martin's Griifin. ISBN 0-312-15618-9.
- Robert J Lang. "Bassist, Pianist, and Violinist".
- Jeremy Shafer (2001). Origami to Astonish and Amuse. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-25404-0.
- The World of Geometric Toy, Origami Spring, August, 2007.
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