by: Russ Amott [ ]
Academy Models Educational Series
Da Vinci Clock #18150
A few years ago Academy models introduced a new series of easy assembly educational kits based on designs of Leonardo Da Vinci, called the "Da Vinci Machine Series." Labeled as educational toys, they are often not even seen in the same area as traditional plastic models in hobby stores, instead being found with other educational type sets. The subject of this review is the latest release, a pendulum clock based on an escapement sketch by Leonardo Da Vinci.
The kit comes in a top opening box with a parchment design on the top, the Academy logo in a brown box rather than the normal red, and the original drawings visible in the background. The model is shown on the box top. Inside the box the contents are packaged in separate plastic pouches, protecting the contents and helping to pre-sort the contents. The plastic is not typical styrene, but rather a heavy-duty type plastic that is very sturdy. Molded in black for the working gears and pendulum parts, and wood colored for the frame and clock faces, the parts are well molded with no short runs, flash or other flaws visible. Sprue attachment points are somewhat heavy due to the sturdy construction of the parts, and they are close to the parts so care will be needed when cutting them from the sprue trees. There are also some metal axles for the gear works and two lengths of string.
The instructions are very simple, provided in a fold- out pamphlet style. They are very clear and easy to follow. No paint, glue or other tools are needed for assembly apart from the sprue cutters. I offered my six-year-old daughter the choice of building this or a small Revell snap-tite airplane. She chose this kit, so we sat at the kitchen counter and went to work.
The process was easy. I removed the parts, showed her the instructions, and helped her place the parts. She put them together. She only needed help on a couple of parts to get them firmly together. There were no issues with the instructions. A template piece is included to help set the gears in the proper location on their axles, and two different cogs are provided depending on the time you want set for the clock revolution. We chose to build it with the larger wheel that would give an approximately standard time frame of 60 seconds.
The completed clock gives you two display options, either hanging on a wall or set on a shelf. We chose the shelf display. Time setting is based on positioning of the two ball weights on the top-mounted swing arm, and the amount of weight set in the counter balance---a small basket tied to a string and attached to a gear in the works. Weight is set by coins provided by the modeler. By balancing the ball weights along the radius of the swing arm---moving them in our out, and adjusting the weight in the counter balance---you can make the clock tick faster or slower.
The two clock faces on the front show the time. The smaller, lower face counts seconds and the larger face counts hours. It is marked in Roman numerals at the 12, 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions, and smaller lines indicating the other numbers around the clock face, giving you an approximate time.
There is a small pendulum weight on the opposite side of the clock, but this is only for decoration, not having any real function.
Once completed, we set the clock to work. The only drawback to the shelf top display is that the string for the weight was long enough that it sat on the table top. We had to scoot it over to the side and allow it to hang off the table to get it to work properly. My daughter was very interested in the gear works, as everything is visible on this kit. The older boys were also very interested, and they are still playing with the clock, experimenting with the weight balance to adjust the time.
Modeling is sometimes an isolationist hobby. This is a perfect kit for a group activity, especially with younger or more challenged modelers. It serves the educational purpose very well. Having built several of the da Vinci series with my kids, I highly recommend this kit.