There isn’t anyone on the planet who can deny watching a good Rube Goldberg machine. For those of you who don’t know, Rube Goldberg was an American cartoonist, often referred to as the father of invention, for his series of comics depicting complicated, deliberately over-engineered contraptions that perform a very simple task. One step triggers the next in a chain reaction until the final task is complete. Once it starts it’s practically impossible to peel yourself away from the anticipation of what’s coming next. From Japan to the U.S., Goldberg contraptions have flooded cultures around the world in commercials, contests, movies, and TV shows. We’ve compiled the best Rube Goldberg machines, apparatuses, inventions, and devices for your visual entertainment.
“Cog” Honda Commercial
Six hundred and six takes later, this Honda commercial titled “Cog” first aired in the UK in 2003. Hoping to boost car sales, Honda got a team of engineers, car designers, and even a sculptor to design the machine — made up parts from two disassembled Honda Accords. The two minute commercial, which only aired on TV a handful of times, cost over $1 million and seven months to film. That said, it proved to be money well spent. The commercial’s popularity skyrocketed in the UK, hitting the highest web traffic records for the Honda UK domain in its history the day after the commercial aired. “Cog” has also nabbed the most awards of any commercial in history to date. No graphics or digital tricks were used in the making of the commercial, despite what YouTube commenters would have you believe.
Ok Go Music Video: This Too Shall Pass
The Chicago band OK Go first became known around the water cooler for their music video featuring artistic treadmill dancing. To break ground in the music industry for a second time in 2010, the band needed the help of an elaborate Goldberg contraption. The video, cleverly titled “This Too Shall Pass” raked over 50 million views on Youtube and took over four months to shoot. The enormous contraption flows over two stories of an LA warehouse making the video’s single, unbroken camera shot quite impressive. The beat and lyrics of the song perfectly synch with each step of the contraption from a falling piano to swinging pledge hammers and everything in between. The team even got the help of NASA scientists for the video that induces some serious gasp-heavy moments.
MythBusters Christmas Special
The idea of a creating a Goldberg contraption was so tempting for the famous MythBusters duo, they didn’t even need a myth to build it. Hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hynema do it big and this Christmas inspired machine is no exception. Fire, an oversized nutcracker, a Mentos explosion, and the remaining 31 working parts make for a must watch MythBusters moment. If you want more MythBusters/Goldberg, the boys came out with a series called “Unchained Reaction” in 2012, pitting two teams against each other to build Goldberg-like machines. But for now, enjoy the OG of MythBusters’ Goldberg creations.
Who’d a thunk that your everyday Post-it notes and Scotch tape could make such an eye-catching machine. The people at 3M collected over 25,000 Post-it notes, 300 feet of reflective sheet, 200 pounds of steel, 75 rolls of Scotch tape, and a whole lot more to create this intricate machine made entirely of its own products. It took over 1,400 hours and multiple scientific disciplines from physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, and energy to complete. “The Brand Machine” as 3M refers to it, like most Goldberg machines, illustrates a larger point: that we might overlook the small things like a Post-it Note that simplify our lives. So after watching this 3M Goldberg machine, you better appreciate your Post-its.
Humans aren’t the only talent behind Goldberg machines. Puppies can do it too. In this Beneful commercial, the contraption is 100 percent doggie powered making it irresistible to watch. Beneful CEO Ian Schafer collected over half a dozen dogs of all ages and sizes to complete the dog-themed contraption, saying, “I’ll put it this way, it wasn’t easy. It was a very long day.” However many takes, all we see is an overload of cuteness and some ridiculously well trained dogs.
Red Bull Kluge: The Athlete Machine
Red Bull is the king of epic content so to kick off its Goldberg invention a skydiver, decked out in red bull gear, is dropped from a cargo bay helicopter. This human chain reaction called “Kluge” is powered by a star studded athlete cast including Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, bmx rider Danny MacAskill, and pro skateboarder Ryan Sheckler. Pros or not, the athletes couldn’t do it alone, it took over 45 GoPro cameras, a 75 person crew, 12 different machines, and 3,433 man hours to complete. The man behind the video, Adam Sadowsky founder of Syyn Labs, said, “It’s like watching a NASCAR wreck in slow motion, it’s physics in action.”
Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure: The Breakfast Machine
The breakfast machine in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is just as awesome today as it was back then. Pee-Wee starts his day by releasing his retraceable sheets before stepping into his bunny slippers, then sliding down his fireman pole and finally lighting a candle triggering one of the most memorable creations on the big screen, the breakfast machine. We can all assume Rube Goldberg would have been a huge fan of the 1985 movie along with that breakfast that looks so darn good before Pee-Wee pours Mr.T cereal all over it.
“Entertain your brain” is the slogan behind this promotional video by National Geographic and that it does. In hopes to pry people away from their smartphones and back to watching TV, the British Nat Geo team built a four ton Goldberg machine. Using a human loop-the-loop and the entire solar system makes this apparatus the most massive Goldberg on our list.
A-Track and Tommy Trash’ Music Video: “Tuna Melt”
Another music inspired Goldberg machine was designed this time for A-Track and Tommy Trash’s techno tune “Tuna Melt.” The video is among one of the more elaborate Goldberg creations with thousands of small working parts. The video is rumored to have been helped with hyperrealistic 3D effects, but who cares about authenticity when it’s so cool and such a catchy tune. The exploding apparatuses were created by Lunatic Rex, AKA “Kinetic King”, a Guinness World Record holder for his stick bomb configurations. Every eagerly awaited step comes together to make, you guessed it, a tuna melt.
2D House: Photo Booth
2D House is a Toronto based photography company that’s becoming well known for its Goldberg photo-themed contraptions. After eight months of grueling work, the photo team debuted this one complete with camera bags, camera, umbrella’s tripods, caps, and lens. 2D also offers a back stage “How it’s made” video in combination with the photo finish.
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