Anti-theft measures, inspired by Home Alone

If you haven’t seen the Home Alone movies, then you’re probably from another planet.

But do you remember the specific setup from this image?

Home Alone Movie Extract Train with Cardboard figure
Home Alone Movie

In this scene, Kevin McCallister has gone through some effort to make the bandits believe that he’s not home alone.

The cardboard man with the train especially intrigued me. Would it really be possible to make this?

As it turns out, it is!

We used a mix of Duplo train tracks, Lego Technic parts and a Lego Mindstorms kit. And of course, a cardboard man. Well…cardboard kid actually. I used the contours of my son to make it. But it should still be enough to scare the bandits away.

Anti-theft measures, inspired by Home Alone from Baruman on Vimeo.

Home Alone Cardboard Guy
Home Alone Guy
Home Alone Guy motor details
Home Alone Guy motor details

However, this project wasn’t without challenges

  • We started off with the Lego Duplo train. On top of it, we built a heavy tower of bricks, and we’ve put the cardboard guy between them.

    When we tried it, it was way too heavy for the Duplo train.

  • In our second plan, we still used a Duplo train. But instead of a heavy tower, we used the absolute minimum amount of bricks. However, this was still too heavy for the Duplo train (and not very sturdy either).
  • Next plan: replace the Duplo train by Lego Mindstorms. With the necessary gears in place, we got a working version, going at a descent speed.

    But it didn’t do that for a very long time: the descent speed caused it to fall during turns. Next to that, there was so much strain on the gears that the whole construction broke down.

  • Final plan: reduce speed by adding more gears. Make the wheel base broad enough for stability. And reinforce the whole construction wherever possible.

    Now we have a working version! (even though it is terribly slow)

My respects to Kevin McCallister. He did all that in just a few hours, knowing that bandits were close by. For me, it took multiple days…

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