Mini Tabletop Desktop Warfare Kit

Brand: ABONG
EAN: 0798304185980
Category: Toys & Games
List Price: $19.95
Price: $17.99  (127 customer reviews)
You Save: $1.96 (10%)
Dimension: 1.40 x 9.50 x 3.80 inches
Shipping Wt: 0.40 pounds. FREE Shipping (Details)
Availability: In Stock.
Average Rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

The Ballista Kit is based on the Roman design. It is laser cut from select hardwood for easy assembly and reliable performance. Detailed, full-color instructions guide the builder through each step of construction. The completed model measures 20.3 centimeters (8") x 10.1 centimeters (4") x 15.2 centimeters (6"). A how-to section demonstrates loading and firing the completed Ballista, including tips on tuning the finished kit. Required wood glue not included. This tabletop kit has been designed for simple assembly. Designed with interlocking parts, a simple, reliable trigger, high strength cordage and lightweight projectiles this Ballista is incredibly durable. Three easy-to-follow rules for public demonstration are provided to ensure everyone's safety.


  • ROMAN DESIGN - The ballista was the ultimate artillery weapon of the Roman Empire. Similar in appearance to a giant crossbow, it was powered by massive bundles of twisted horse hair. The bolts it fires would mow down enemies and fortifications alike.
  • FROM SELECT HARDWOOD - It is laser cut from select hardwood for easy assembly and reliable performance.
  • COMES WITH AN INSTRUCTION GUIDE - Detailed, full-color instructions guide the builder through each step of construction.
  • 28-PIECE KIT - Designed with interlocking parts, a simple, reliable trigger, high strength cordage and lightweight projectiles this ballista is incredibly durable. This 28 piece kit can fire payload over 30 feet.
  • DESIGNED FOR ALL AGES - Both kids and adults will have a blast in building and launching the Ballista.

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Top Reviews

Excellent kit -- but be aware of what you're getting into!
by Brian Holmes (5 out of 5 stars)
October 26, 2015

My 9 year old son and I found this kit to be excellent -- very strong and functional -- but you should be aware of what you are getting into. You cannot build the model in one quick session and expect it to hold up. The parts are quite accurate, but they don't just "snap together" like so many things do these days. We love LEGO, too, but this is just DIFFERENT!

You should use white glue and carefully align and clamp each assembly, letting it dry thoroughly, especially the first group of pieces that make up the main body and center front frame, as that takes a lot of stress. Small clamps are best, but you might get by with rubber bands or just weighing the pieces down while they dry, although the latter methods would make it more difficult to keep the alignment correct. (I was surprised at the comments reporting that the model broke or came apart, and I suspect that the glued parts were not clamped or weighted during assembly, or not allowed to dry.)

I don't recommend that an inexperienced youngster try to build this alone, and you should be prepared to spread the construction over a few days. But the investment of effort pays off by teaching woodworking skills and patience, and resulting in a very fun and functional ballista! After it was thoroughly dry, my son had a blast firing away at a "castle" he had populated with toy figures, also using a simple wooden catapult we had built together previously.

Our kit was high quality, with no missing parts, and the instructions were pretty good, if I remember correctly. Our kit came with only two or three projectiles (and they're easily lost), but we found other object to fire.

The only complaint I might make is that it is difficult to tighten both of the skeins (loops of string) equally, because the way the tightened skeins are held in place allows adjustment in 1/2-turn increments only. It seems ours needed an adjustment in between (probably because our loops of string were not tied to just the same length -- that was rather tricky). You want equal torsion on both skeins to get it to fire most reliably. We worked out a solution by just wedging a small piece of wood between the "torsion bar" and the "stop-pin."

All in all, a very educational and well constructed kit, well worth building, in my opinion!
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by thedudeabides1001 (5 out of 5 stars)
December 21, 2014


This model not only provided an interesting and challenging evening of assembly, but also serves to illustrate the uncanny resourcefulness of ancient militaries like the Greeks and Romans. I found myself wishing, while building this, that such industry hadn't been necessarily put toward the goal of killing... an unfortunate reality!

I had so much fun building and testing this model. Admittedly, I was nervous at certain points in the construction process. It often seems like certain parts, especially the stop pins, will break under pressure, or otherwise have a flaw. This model is built to fight, though! It is ABSOLUTELY IMPORTANT to use a high-quality carpenter's glue here, and to let it dry thoroughly between certain steps, or you will be frustrated. Make sure the feet that hold the firing mechanism are glued very well - they will be taking some punishment by way of lateral tension. I would recommend conscripting a daughter, son, or student to build the base separately, while a spacially-intelligent adult with opposable thumbs tackles the skein and torsion pin situation. That can really be tricky, but at least this is never because the directions were unclear. They are actually amazingly realistic and readable. They even provide a handy template for measuring exact lengths of chord, which are crucial. Let me tell you, the measuring of the skeins is extremely important, because if one side is slightly off, it's corresponding bow arm will be askew. This affect does not seem very avoidable actually, but also does not affect the power or accuracy of the shot. One last note: do not get greedy with the torsion pin adjustments. Not that it happened in my case, but it is obvious how this thing could be violently disabled under excessive torsion!

Now, about the functionality of the model:

I am downright surprised that Abong does not flaunt a longer distance estimate on their product. This model was able to fire almost twice the advertised distance after properly torqued. The accuracy is not great only because the projectile is ridiculous, frankly. The fact that it is purposely shaped like a projectile that didn't exist until millennia after the ballista is ironic. But really, without the boring of a rifle's barrel, a bullet would do exactly what this model demonstrates - it would flop and spin in the air. That is why muskets fired balls, because they lacked spiral-bored barrels to put that spin on the projectile that stabilizes it's flight, like a football. To my knowledge, Romans mostly fired spear-like projectiles from ballistae. Because I'm an adult who can make decisions like this, I'll be experimenting with dart-tipped projectiles that use feathers to aim at a dartboard or target. I imagine that this amazing replica will be highly consistent with the right projectile.

Awesome product! I will be buying another.
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It Works, but I understand why there are some bad reviews
by daxman (4 out of 5 stars)
June 25, 2017

This was a straightforward project that I used for a class I was teaching on medieval warfare. Like many other reviewers, mine arrived in a badly beat up box, much more that could be expected from being in a padded envelope (for example, so of the outside photo was torn off). Also I ordered the catapult model from the same company and it was shipped in the same envelope and did not show nearly the same outside wear and tear. I suspect these were repackaged from returned products. Based on other reviews I suspected I might be shorted some pieces so I carefully counted out each one - there were instructions so I had a list to go from. Turns out I was short one of the 3 missiles that the instructions claimed. I have noticed photos of the Ballista sometimes only show 2 missiles. Minor problem to me. Construction was basically straightforward. The pieces fit together without difficulty although glue (not provided) and significant drying time was required. One complaint would be the method described to string the main drawing skein (bowstring) is not the one pictured on the box (or photo on Amazon). Looping one end around itself after feeding through the hole is a good idea (you have to see it to understand it probably) but not something you can do at the attachment point of the other arm. The only obvious way to attach to the second arm would work but would often slip off when drawing back the ballista. I suggest a smarter way would be to thread the string through the arms THEN tie the ends together allowing you to have a skein that cannot slip off the arms when loading. All in all it worked as advertised, but if you expect an instant wow factor when you first try to put it together (say as a gift for a child) you are likely to be a bit disappointed
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Fun piece of history
by Matthew Paul (5 out of 5 stars)
July 8, 2016

Got this yesterday, was able to build it within a couple hours waiting for the glue to dry. At first it shot about 20 feet. Did some tweaks with it today, and did about an extra full turn on each side, and it shoots well over 40 feet. I could get more accurate with a longer indoor setting most likely, it hit the wall about 6 1/2 feet up, and that was at a 35 foot mark. The 30ft description is very underrated. I put a pen in to see how far it could shoot that, and it made it a little past 20 feet. Not sure how the accuracy is yet, I've gotten a box and taped paper to it for a miniature range set up. It could definitely be a nice paint job if you're into that as well. The only issue I've seen is the left arm pulls a little more so the arms aren't perfectly aligned, but its most likely because the left arm is a little higher than the right and that can easily be fixed, but it dosent effect the trajectory at all, just an aesthetic issue. Directions are pretty easy to follow, if you don't know how to do a figure 8 knot, you can easily find illustrations on how to do the not. Glue and scissors are all you need for this. I used gorrila glue personally. Once you have everything the way you want it, and you're fine with not tweaking it, putting a little bit of glue on the knots would be a good idea. I give this a 5 star rating, quality products, good directions, and it works better than advertised.
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Need Wood Clamps and a Little Time to Put Together
by AG810nm (3 out of 5 stars)
February 15, 2018

It works. However, it is not a take it out of the box, put it together, and play with it item. You need to glue items together. I suggest wood or C clamps. There are some pieces that you need to glue together before you add them to the larger piece so you end up gluing in stages.

But, it does work. We could never get 15 feet with it, but got a very solid 10.
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Nicely machined and a fun project
by maxjam98 (5 out of 5 stars)
January 4, 2016

Unlike others we have purchased, this came well-machined and fairly easy to assemble. There is some wait time between start to finish for glue to dry (glue is NOT provided) so make sure you start early and have wood glue on hand. It generally takes two people to put this together and is more of an adult or older teen project, but could be done by a younger child with supervision and help. I got two different versions of this for my sons for Christmas (aged 19 and 21) and they really enjoyed them. The projectiles are fairly small and bullet shaped, so you wouldn't want them around small children... also they do pack a little punch so don't aim at people! We were able to assemble without making modifications to the drill holes or anything else, like we've had to in the past on similar products. Great stocking stuffer!
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Beautiful but way too difficult to build for a 10 year old
by MMc (3 out of 5 stars)
May 21, 2016

Wow. This was a beast to build. My 10 year old--a fairly competent builder--gave up after making a mistake, and it became mine to finish. The directions could have been better--larger pictures would have helped. The nylon cord was hard to work with--slippery to put knots into. If you're a grownup who likes making models and has some experience, this is a great project for you. If you're a parent without a ton of model building experience looking for a fun project for you and your 8-10 year old to do together, get a simpler model.
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Hey, Mikey - He Likes It!
by IrishFire (4 out of 5 stars)
December 19, 2013

I buy gifts for a hard-to-buy-for SO. He buys or makes himself everything he ever wanted, and his specifications are always sky-high and often esoteric.

He got a kick out of this, though - whew!

He already had a nice handmade catapult, a laser-cut trebuchet, and the USB-controlled foam missile launcher, so this was the logical next step.

Two things to consider: it's not a basic, easy-peasy build for an 8-year-old despite appearances. This requires wood glue (not included) to build, and there were two parts not listed in the instructions: the parts had changed, and the instructions had not been updated to reflect this. Fortunately, when the SO called the company, he got excellent assistance that assured him the place the thought the two "wrong" parts should go did in fact go there.

He called during the build. "I'm in my bedroom with wood-clamps on my ballista. This is really weird!" is his way of saying "Thank you!". Mission accomplished.
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It was a wonderful time and the kit works great
by SFC_COLEMAN (4 out of 5 stars)
March 7, 2016

I bought this for my son who is 5 as a project for the two of us to work on together. It was a wonderful time and the kit works great. However it doesn't fire as far as the description says it will which isn't a real big deal. The only drawback was the winding of the ropes to create the tension to fire the rounds. this is a very challenging task that took several attempts to get close to right. The directions are very clear as to which direction to twist but there was no info on getting them to have the same tension. If one rope is just a smidge longer then the arms are at different angles and it seems to throw the rounds a little off. Overall it is a great model with great instructions and a lot of fun to build and shoot.
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Cute gift
by Brittany (4 out of 5 stars)
June 14, 2019

Bought this first as a gift for my son's friend then as a gift for my son. It's a bit to get it assembled correctly, but it's been a hit! Definitely wish we had a few more bullets (comes with 3). Will be trying out other models.

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