Gakken Otona no Kagaku kits!
A long time ago I saw kits on japanese sites for mechanical karakuri and phonographs that record on plastic cups, but very cool things is now selling them with english instructions.
They are not impossibly priced, but I do wonder as to their quality. Has anyone tried any of these kits?http://www.verycoolthings.com/vct/Neo_getpage.cgi?page=listtype&contentgroup=97
I also found some videos of these dolls in action on youtube
is a good place to start, and of course there are related links (including one of the above mentioned kit dolls, I think...)http://fogonazos.blogspot.com/2007/01/writing-automaton.html
I was sad to find that the famous europen automaton wasn't as cool as I had imagined, but the workings look neat.
oohboy I also stumbled upon this sitehttp://www.karakuricorner.com/servlet/the-Otona-No-Kagaku-Kits/Categories
that has mooks that make me wish I read japanese! updated phono kits, steam car model toys...