Welcome to the Raging Goblin Reviews, the segment where I look at some of my favorite hobby tools and products and review them for all you budding hobbyists and wargamers out there. For my tenth review, I thought I’d do something a little different, and this will definitely come out of left field. Building a proper wargaming setup is more than just buying and painting the right models. Battlefields are never static, and you could end up fighting in a wide variety of locations, from a scorching desert, to a blasted tundra, to the middle of a highly-populated village. Terrain can make or break a wargame, just like in real life, and the battlefield itself can have as much of an impact on the outcome as those waging war. Check out Napoleon’s invasion of Russia for a good real-life example. To that end, I decided to review a model kit I picked up at the local Hobby Lobby that serves me as a very special and striking terrain piece, and doubles as a fun desk toy. Do you have the time? Check the Academy Da Vinci Clock!
For those of you who were expecting another of my Warmachine reviews, this is probably a big surprise, but stick with me here, as this is a really fun kit for a variety of hobbies. For those of you not familiar with this line, Academy’s Da Vinci line is a series of high-quality plastic models with action features that are based off of sketches and diagrams originally penned by Leonardo Da Vinci during the Renaissance. This particular piece was a conceptual clock he designed, using a series of weights, pulleys, gears, and springs to move a pair of hands an provide an accurate measurement of time.
But enough of a history lesson, what do you get in the box? The clock comes on two different sprues, one in shiny black plastic and one in a textured brown that resembles wood, along with two lengths of string, five metal pins, both clock faces, the body of the clock, and several large gears that make up its movement. Just focusing on the pieces, despite being made of plastic, they convey the idea that this thing was built completely by hand, with the “wooden” components looking as though they were carved and set in place by ol’ Leo when he designed it. The nylon string sticks out a little bit as a bit odd, but it doesn’t detract from the overall appearance of the clock. When assembled, it stands close to 12″ tall and 5″ wide, making it just the right size for standing on a desk or mounting on your wall as a neat curiosity. The kit has a small amount of customization potential, though not a lot. The gear that connects to the “minute” hand on the clock can be assembled with a large or small gear, making it run slower or faster, depending on what you wish. The base of the clock can also be switched from a four-footed base for sitting on a desk, or a brace for mounting it up on your wall.
Assembly of the clock is really straightforward and mostly revolves around the internal gear assembly. It’s not especially difficult to get everything together, but there are a few tricky bits, such as the string around the pulleys and the massive spoked wheel in the center, that will take a bit of care when putting into place to make sure that everything works. And yes, as you’ve probably picked up, the clock actually works. The black bucket on the left side is the primary weight that drives the clock, and it works by winding it all the way up to the top using the small black key on the front. Then, put some weight (four quarters work best) into the bucket, and as it moves down, the pendulum and spoked wheel move, which turn the second hand on the bottom, which then turns the minute hand on the top. It’s not an accurate timepiece in the slightest, and you’ll get a good three minutes out of it assuming you get the bucket to go all the way to the end of its string, but it’s just a fun little piece of mechanical detail that’s fun to wind up and watch as all the gears and pulleys work together to make the clock work. You can even adjust the two black weights on the pendulum on the top to adjust the length of time (or period, for you physics nerds) between ticks of the clock.
Of course, I have a different purpose for this clock. The size of the clock, once fully assembled, is the perfect size and scale for a 28mm scale clock tower, and the faux woodwork and intricate gear assembly make it a great centerpiece for a steampunk or fantasy village for your troops to slug it out in. It reminds me a little of the large steam-driven clock that was briefly seen in the trailer for Battlecry, which is where I got my original idea. You could also use it as a chess clock of sorts, as you could wind up the clock at the start of your turn, and you have to make all your moves across the field as it ticks down. So it’s multi-purpose!
I don’t like to show favoritism in my reviews (even though I do), but I have to give this piece of plastic clockwork a perfect 10/10, and I’ll explain why. As a pure terrain piece, it looks great as a centerpiece in a fantasy or steampunk-themed diorama or battlefield, and its functionality gives a bit of life to the static battlefield. In terms of terrain rules, the sky’s the limit, and you could use it as a control point, a massive obstruction for providing cover, or whatever you wish. It’s your hobby, the choice is all up to you! But off the table, it has many more uses. It’s a fun and easy kit to assemble, with the exception of a few parts, and would make a great weekend project for a father and son to assemble, or a good physics teaching aid. If you’re more into the history of the piece, it makes a good gift and project for fans of Renaissance technology or the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci. If you just want something to stick on your desk or on your wall to play with, the clock is good for just messing with, and it’s kind of entertaining to wind it up and watch all the gears inside move. I’ve unfortunately killed way too much time playing with this darn thing… What makes this kit a perfect score in my book is that there aren’t many faults I can think of. It has a myriad of uses, from terrain piece to desk toy to father-son project, it assembles easily without all the hassle of traditional models and doesn’t require any glue or paint, and it’s pretty sturdy as well, and could probably survive a fall off my shelf (though I don’t wish to find out). If you’ve got younger children, this isn’t the best option, as a lot of little pieces can fall off and pose a choking hazard (so watch your kids around model kits, you morons!), and it requires a bit more patience to assemble it and operate it. But if you have older kids, it’s a good gift and teaching aid for them. So if you’re a wargamer like me that wants a unique bit of terrain, a parent looking for a fun and educational gift, a history buff who enjoys the tech of the Renaissance, or just in need of something fun to sit on your desk and play with, the Da Vinci clock is the perfect gift for you. No matter what you think of to do with this kit, it’ll definitely provide HOURS of entertainment!
Oh, that was a terrible pun…
Anyway, this has been the Raging Goblin’s review of the Academy Da Vinci Clock Model Kit. God’s blessings on your week, keep up with your hobbies, and stay green my friends!