Stop-motion animation isn’t just for old Christmas specials. Many of the movies and shows your kid enjoys today are made with stop-motion techniques. And these techniques are easy enough that even a kid can make short stop-motion movies with the right equipment. This list will help you select the best stopmotion animation kit for your budding moviemaker.

Our Top Picks

Stopmotion Explosio Animation Software

Best Overall

Stopmotion Explosio Animation Software

How to Pick the Best "Animation kits" for kids

1. Recommended Age

Even with the best kit, making stop-motion animation is a painstaking process that requires patience. It’s unlikely that younger children will have the attention span to stick with it, so make sure you buy a kit that matches your kid’s age.

2. Props/Sets Included

Some of these kits include figures, props, backgrounds, and other toys your kid can use in his or her movie-making. Others are just software, a camera, and/or instructions on how to do stop-motion animation. Having additional props can make it easier to just jump into movie-making, and they still have toy value even if your kid gets bored with stop-motion. But they also tend to cost more.

3. App Included

Most of these sets are designed to allow your kid to film with a phone or tablet camera. However, not all of them include apps that can be used to capture stop motion, so it’s up to you to provide your own. While having an app supplied takes some work out of the process, there are many excellent animation apps available for every OS, and if the kit uses a proprietary app it can be annoying if the manufacturer stops supporting it. Note that in the case of kits that provide software licenses, these usually cover only one installation of the software; if you plan to install the software on multiple devices, that will mean paying more.

4. Camera Included

Some of these sets include a camera, while others require you to provide your own, either a webcam or a phone/tablet camera. While having a separate camera does make it easier to film, it also adds to the cost of the kit, and most cameras require a laptop or desktop to work. Even if the set doesn’t include a camera, a good webcam shouldn’t run you more than $20-$30.

5. Software Requirements

If the stop-motion animation set does include software or an app, it’s naturally important to ensure that it works with your hardware.

6. Sound and Special Effects

Just filming toys moving around is all well and good to start with, but eventually your kid is going to want to add dialogue and video effects. Unfortunately, not all kid-focused stop-motion apps include this level of editing capability, so if you think your kid is going to want to go deeper, pay attention to what the app lets you do.

The Winners

#1

Stopmotion Animation Software

Editor's Choice

The Stopmotion Animation Software includes a CD of proprietary animation software (which can also be downloaded online), a 1080p HD camera with mic and USB 2.0 connection, and a nearly 300-page guide to making stop-motion animation and special effects. Having separate camera can make focusing and framing shots much easier than having to depend on a phone camera. The book is extremely detailed and helpful as well, with links to video tutorials online for further instructions.

  • You'll love: Book is amazingly helpful for both animation novices and more experienced filmmakers.
  • Watch for: The density of the book can scare off younger kids.

Recommended Age: 13+
Props/Sets Included: No
App Included: Software CD (also downloadable)
Camera Included: Yes
Software Requirements: Windows 7, 8, 10 / Mac OS 10.7.1 and later
Sound and Special Effects: Requires additional software.

#2

Hue Animation Studio

Upgrade Choice

The flexible gooseneck 720p camera that comes with the Hue Animation Studio set is the best designed on this list, making it a snap to get exactly the angle you want for each shot. It’s accompanied by a CD of animation software (can also be downloaded), a USB cable for connecting the camera to your computer or laptop — once again, tablet and phone users are out of luck — and a 60-page guidebook that includes steps for creating 20 different videos. The quality of the camera you get with this makes it our Upgrade Choice.

  • You'll love: Easy-to-use software that makes shooting and editing a painless process.
  • Watch for: Some users complain that despite claiming to be Mac compatible, the camera and software are difficult to get working on a Mac.

Recommended Age: 7-13
Props/Sets Included: No
App Included: Yes
Camera Included: Yes
Software Requirements: Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 / Mac OS 10.5 or higher
Sound and Special Effects: Yes

#3

Klutz Lego Make Your Movie

Best Budget Buy

Klutz has been a leading name in how-to kits for kids (and adults) since the 70s, and of course LEGO needs no introduction to the average parent. Between the two of them, they’ve produced an excellent introductory set, the Klutz Lego Make Your Movie, that includes 36 minifigure and prop pieces and six cardboard backgrounds for movie sets. Also provided is a simple guide that can walk your kid through making 10 short movies. The amount of stuff you get for a relatively low price makes this our best budget buy.

  • You'll love: If you've got LEGO sitting around the house (and what parent doesn't?), it's easy to integrate into your movies.
  • Watch for: May be too basic for older kids. Need to supply your own moviemaker app.

Recommended Age: 8+
Props/Sets Included: Yes
App Included: No
Camera Included: No
Software Requirements: Depends on your choice of app
Sound and Special Effects: Depends on your choice of app

#4

Mattel Minecraft Stop Motion

Serious Minecrafters probably already enjoy building and making animations in the virtual world, so it’s only a short step from there to movie-making in the real world. Using the included phone and tablet holder and a free downloadable app of the Mattel Minecraft Stop Motion, kids can set up their own (block-based, of course) sets and lead the included mini-figures through movie adventures.

  • You'll love: Two exclusive mini-figures add an extra incentive for Minecraft collectors.
  • Watch for: The app recommended for use with this set is no longer available on Apple devices. You can still use the set with another stop-motion app, however.

Recommended Age: 8+
Props/Sets Included: 4 backgrounds, 4 mini-figures, and assorted props
App Included: Yes
Camera Included: No
Software Requirements: Android or Fire phone or tablet
Sound and Special Effects: Visual filters and music and sound effects available

#5

Zu3 Animation Software Handbook

The Zu3 Animation Software Handbook is popular in schools for its simple, kid-friendly software interface and the flexibility of its inputs, which can be used with either a phone or tablet or via wireless camera. So if your kid is already familiar with this setup at school, getting it at home is a no-brainer. Despite the simplicity, the software can do some remarkably powerful movie-making tricks. The included Animation Handbook will help your kid design characters and start animating simple movies.

  • You'll love: Great introductory set for kids just getting interested in animation.
  • Watch for: Lighting with included camera can be too bright and may take work to use effectively.

Recommended Age: 9+
Props/Sets Included: Includes modeling clay and green-screen background
App Included: Software licenses provided
Camera Included: Yes
Software Requirements: Windows 7, 8, 10 / Mac OS 10.8 and later / iOS 8 and later
Sound and Special Effects: Yes

#6

The LEGO Movie 2 Movie Maker

If your kid is a fan of Emmet, Lucy, and the rest of the LEGO Movie crew, the The LEGO Movie 2 Movie Maker may be the way to get them interested in animation. It’s definitely one of the most generous sets on this list in terms of props, including figures of several movie characters and 482 LEGO pieces that can be used to build vehicles and objects from the movies. The stage set also includes sliders that make it easy to move figures in between shots.

  • You'll love: Being able to make movies with familiar characters.
  • Watch for: Kids may not be happy if they can’t produce something that looks like it was made by a 500-person CGI team like the movies.

Recommended Age: 8+
Props/Sets Included: Stage, 2 backdrops, 482 pieces
App Included: Yes
Camera Included: No
Software Requirements: Android or iOS phone
Sound and Special Effects: No

#7

The Klutz Book of Animation

Another offering from the klutzes at Klutz, “The Klutz Book of Animation“, this one is even more bare-bones: you get an animation guidebook and a glob of clay, and the camera, software, and other props are yours to supply. While the technical side of things is a bit dated already, the animation principles are presented in a clear, funny way that should help boost your kid’s imagination and get him or her working.

  • You'll love: Thoughtful and amusing book to help guide young animators.
  • Watch for: The book recommends you download the SAM Animation software, which was free at the time it was written; it’s now HUE Animation (see above) and costs $19.99 for a single license. Of course, you can always use a different app.

Recommended Age: 9+
Props/Sets Included: Clay lump
App Included: No
Camera Included: No
Software Requirements: (assuming you use HUE) Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 / Mac OS 10.5 or higher
Sound and Special Effects: (for HUE) Yes

#8

4M Animation Praxinoscope

The 4M Animation Praxinoscope is quite different from the others on the list. Where they depend on 21st-century software and cameras, this set goes back to the 18th century with a design similar to the zoetrope used by Eadweard Muybridge. (Yes, I included that so I’d have an excuse to type “Eadweard Muybridge.”) Using a strip of pictures, plus a spinning mirror and a LED lamp, kids can produce an eternally running flip-book style animation.

  • You'll love: Excellent science fair project and a look into the history of animation.
  • Watch for: Flashing lights can be a potential hazard for epileptics.

Recommended Age: 9+
Props/Sets Included: 6 animation strips, plus 6 blanks for drawing your own
App Included: No
Camera Included: No
Software Requirements: No software in the 19th century!
Sound and Special Effects: No way

#9

Zing Stikbot Studio Pro

The Zing Stikbot Studio Pro is a small and inexpensive set that lets your kid make movies using the two included Stikbots — small poseable plastic figures whose suction-cup hands and feet make them easy to pose for stop-motion shots. Includes download instructions for a simple phone app and a tripod to turn your phone into a movie camera.

  • You'll love: All you need to do is download the app and your kid can start playing right out of the box.
  • Watch for: The boxes and background are pretty cheap cardboard and won’t stand up to the needs of serious moviemakers.

Recommended Age: 4+
Props/Sets Included: Tripod, two boxes, two Stikbots, one green-screen background
App Included: Yes
Camera Included: No
Software Requirements: iOS or Android phone
Sound and Special Effects: Sound and background effects available

DIy, Craft and Décor: Ideas for Animation Lover Kids

You may have noticed that many stop-motion animation sets don’t include basic stuff like cameras or software. That’s because, to let you in on a dirty little secret, you don’t need the best stopmotion animation kit to get started, or even any kit at all. There are many excellent free, or cheap, stop-motion video apps available, and text or video tutorials that will show your kid how it’s done. 

For Android or iOS devices, Stop Motion Studio is a good starter — the basic app is free, and you can get fancier editing tools as a one-time purchase.

Remember, you can make stop-motion movies with anything you have around the house: LEGO figures, modeling clay, action figures, toy cars, or even yourself and your own kids. If you want to dive right into stop-motion moviemaking, try watching this video, created by a dad who makes stop-motion movies with his kids. If nothing else, you may end up feeling challenged to outdo him!

Quick Decision

Stopmotion Animation Software – Best Overall
Great camera, great book, decent software — what more do you need?

Hue Animation Studio – Upgrade Choice
Easily the highest-quality camera on this list, combined with powerful movie-making software.

Klutz Lego Make Your Movie – Best Budget Buy
 A good stepping stone from LEGO building to movie-making.

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Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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