Doing some further research on the innovative chopstick spider robot, I realized that the plastic material used as connectors and spacers is actually "polymorph". Polymorph is surprisingly easy to work with. All you need is hot water and some patience. Of course it shouldn't be used for applications where the plastic will be exposed to any heat higher than room temperature. But for quick prototyping and one-off designs, it's great - especially if you can't afford a 3D printer like the Makerbot.
I was first introduced to the wonders of polymorph by I-Wei, the creative genius behind Crab-Fu Steam Works and Motion Works. He used polymorph (Shape Lock) for the body and shell pieces of his cute Swashbot 3 robot:
I actually have a small bag of the Shape Lock polymorph plastic, and now that I've been inspired by the chopstick robot, it's time to put it to good use.