Build your Own Model Robot | ModelSpace

Do you have a favourite robot you’d like to build? From the 20th century until now, there have been countless examples of innovative and exciting robots to get our imaginations racing. There are the terrifying T-1000 Terminator and the more friendly R2-D2 from cinema. Or there are the quadruped creations from Boston Dynamics and our very own Robi. With a world of possibility for the robot-loving scale modeller, follow our blog below and you’ll be building your own model robot in no time!

Image of ModelSpace 1:2 scale R2-D2 replica, as part of a blog about how to build a model robot.


Choose your favourite robot

Before you start gluing, welding or wiring, the first step is deciding what model to build, and how. To help you get started, here is a quick list of some popular robots:

  • Johnny 5 (Short Circuit)
  • Marvin the Paranoid Android (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
  • Optimus Prime (Transformers)
  • T-800 and T-1000 (Terminator Series)
  • Robot B-9 (Lost in Space)
  • Sonny (I, Robot)
  • R2-D2 (Star Wars Series)
  • The Mars Rover (NASA)
  • BigDog (Boston Dynamics)

This is not an exhaustive list but should give you an overview of the wide variety available for you to sink your scale modelling teeth into.

BigDog in action:


Static or moving?

There are two major options to consider when building a robot. Do you want it to be a static model, which captures the essence of your favourite robot in fine detail? Or are you looking to build something that moves, lights up, or can even talk? Both options have their merits but require vastly different approaches.

If you’re going with the static option, we recommend checking out our scale modelling guides. Here you’ll find guides to help you with every step of your build, including Working with Plastic, Kit-Bashing, Model Painting, and Model Weathering.

If you’re building an automated, active robot like our Robi or R2-D2 scale models, you’ll find some more top tips below.


Scratch building

Scratch building is a more advanced process, and the complexity of your model robot will determine the steps you need to take as you move forward. If you are just diving into robotics, we recommend starting small and simple until you’ve honed some of the key skills required. A simpler project like a robotic arm can help familiarise you with components and teach you about the basic mechanics required.

If you are building your model robot from scratch, below are some of the components you may require:

  • Microcontroller
  • Continuous rotation servos
  • Wheels
  • Caster roller
  • Solderless breadboard
  • Distance sensor
  • Button switch
  • 10kΩ resistor
  • USB A to B cable
  • Breakaway headers
  • Battery holder with power jack (based on required battery size)
  • Hot glue
  • Double-sided tape

For some more detailed instructions on scratch building robots, check out the excellent advice at Society of Robots.


Robot model kits

One of the benefits of building a robot model kit, such as R2-D2 or Robi, is that a lot of the guesswork is gone. Each step of the build process is provided within detailed instructions This allows you to learn as you go with less risk of project-ending mistakes. Another benefit of these kits is that they allow you to create a more complex robot straight away, instead of cutting your teeth on easier projects first. 

In addition to the instructions provided, you can also access excellent advice via the ModelSpace forum or get step-by-step instructions in the Video Build Diaries.

Robi Build Diary:


Robotics is a brilliant hobby, which teaches you a range of skills including programming, engineering and electronics. No matter which model robot you hope to build, we’re certain that you’ll find the process deeply rewarding! If you’re working on a model robot now or in the future, share your progress via our social media channels!