If you’re a regular follower of Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls, you’ve probably seen our popular LEGO® candy dispenser. It dispenses a little handful of M&M’s or something similar, and it has been a top favorite project on our site. Well, for this year’s candy consumption season, we’ve got a new project for you! Turn the handle, and this LEGO® candy machine dispenses one Starburst at a time. Or build a version that dispenses little chocolate bars. SO MUCH FUN. The mechanism is simple, and it’s a neat little engineering lesson.
This machine is so satisfying to use. Build the candy chamber larger if you’d like! Our version holds 8 Starbursts, but you can easily make the candy tower taller.
A big thanks to our friend Shawn who developed the design for this candy dispenser. It’s a very clever mechanism.
Want to see how it works?
Throughout the post, there are links to the key parts on Brick Link so that you can order what you need.
This post also contains Amazon affiliate links.
I can’t decide which version I like better. I prefer to eat the chocolate bars, but I do love how cute that little Starburst machine is.
Ready to Build One?
The exact design for your machine will need to be based around the size of the candy you are using. Starbursts are 3 studs by 3 studs, and the chocolate bars are 4 studs by 6 studs. I’m sure there are other candies that work, and you’ll just need to adjust the design to accommodate the candy size.
Step 1: Build the base. The blue and gray base is 10 studs by 16 studs. There are two layers of yellow bricks on top of the base. Then each side has a 2 x 12 plate and a 2 x 8 plate. The height of these sides is important.
Use tiles to make a path for the candy machine mechanism to slide on. Ours is 3 studs by 12 studs.
Step 2: Build the arm that will push the candy out.
The important pieces here are the gear racks. If you don’t have these, it’s totally worth ordering a few from Brick Link or Lego.com. In a minute, we’ll add a gear which stays in one place. As it turns, it slides the gear rack forward and backward, which pushes the candy out.
Note – if you don’t have the gear racks, I have a variation below that uses basic 1 x 2 grills (those ones that everyone has a million of).
Step 3: The arm should be able to slide on top of the tiles. We left a one stud opening in the back of our machine to accommodate the arm sliding backwards.
Step 4: Now add the gear mechanism. The bricks shown in this step are a Technic x-shaped axle (6 studs long), a 40 tooth gear, two 1 x 6 Technic bricks, one Technic bush. The handle is a Technic 1 x 3 liftarm with two axle holes and a pin.
The axle goes through the handle, then the Technic brick, then the bush, then the gear, then the other Technic brick.
Step 5: Add yellow bricks to make the opening where the candy will come out. Each side has two 1 x 4 bricks. Then (from left to right) there is a 1 x 3 plate, a 1 x 4 plate (across the front), and a 1 x 4 plate. There is a 1 x 3 plate attached to the underside of the front 1 x 4 plate.
Note that the center bar and the right side (right side of the photo) are not yet attached to each other.
Step 6: Add a 1 x 6 gray brick and a 1 x 3 gray brick.
Step 7: Add yellow plates to the back. It’s time to start covering the working mechanism.
Step 8: Add layers of yellow bricks until you can cover the top of the machine with a large plate (and not bump the gear).
Build a wall for the back of the candy chamber. Ours is 7 studs long.
Step 9: I wanted to be able to see the candy, so we used clear bricks and clear panels. Windows aren’t the best because the candy will catch on the edges and won’t drop down the way you want it to.
Clear pieces used – 1 x 2 clear bricks, 1 x 4 x 3 clear panels (choose color trans-clear), 1 x 1 clear bricks.
Step 10: Fill the candy chamber and attach a 4 x 6 plate for the roof.
When you turn the handle, it will push a candy out. Then when you turn the handle down again, the arm will slide backwards and allow another candy to drop down. Then you can dispense that one!
Don’t have the gear racks? Here’s a way to build this with parts that everyone should have. Okay, you might not have the gears, and those are absolutely necessary. But instead of the gear racks, try using grills. I will say, though, that the gear racks do work better. If you are doing this with a LEGO® club or a STEM club, I would order the gear racks. If you’re building this on a rainy day and don’t have all the parts – try the grills!
I modified the candy pushing arm as shown below. I also had to adjust the inside of the machine a little since the first arm was only one stud wide in the back.
The teeth of the gear fit into the grills and slide the pushing arm. Our friend came up with this idea, and it’s quite clever.
Now, please note that it’s impossible to get the gear at the perfect height above the grills. We tinkered with it for a long time, and the perfect height would be 1/2 plate higher, as in half the thickness of a plate (plates are flat bricks). Since that’s not possible, it’s either a tight fit or no fit at all! So we went with the tight fit. You’ll need to replace the handle with another 40 tooth gear. You can turn the gear to operate the machine, and it provides more torque than that handle so that it can overcome the friction of the tight fit.
Adapt the design for different types of candy! This machine has a 4 x 6 candy chamber to accommodate little Hershey bars. Yum!
I’ve had requests for printable instructions, so I’m trying something new!
You can build the project from the instructions in this post, or download a printer friendly PDF version for $1. The printable pages will fit in a 3 ring binder (I’d recommend page protectors). Please let me know if you like this idea! I can go back and re-format old posts this way so that kids can collect our instructions. I think it will also be useful for LEGO® clubs, library programs, classroom use, etc.
Click the “add to cart” button below to purchase the printable instructions. Please note that they are the same as the instructions in this post, just in a printable form. You will receive a digital file to either view on your computer or print.
Both books are packed with LEGO® building ideas! Don’t just keep buying more sets – inspire new creativity with the bricks you already have.