Desktop Warfare - da Vinci Catapult Kit

Brand: Pathfinders
Manufacturer: Stevens International
Model: PFD-17
EAN: 0718122200016
Category: Awesome Stuff
Price: $18.00  (127 customer reviews)
Dimension: 10.00 x 10.00 x 5.00 inches
Shipping Wt: 0.95 pounds. FREE Shipping (Details)
Availability: In Stock.
Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars
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Product Description

Catapults were first invented in Ancient Greek and Roman times, however our common idea of them is based on drawings we have from the Medieval Ages. Leonardo redesigned the catapult around 1485, and used the springlike energy stored in bent wood to give power to the swing arm.


  • Comes complete with all pieces pre-cut and ready to assemble
  • Glue included
  • Suitable for beginner model makers
  • Easy to understand instructions

Top Reviews

Lot of fun!
by Gary (5 out of 5 stars)
November 10, 2018

I bought this for my finace's son and I to put together (he is 13). It took us about an hour total, and here is how we did it:
First, we laid everything out according to the chart. This was to help keep his interest in the product, as he gets distracted very easily. The pieces are all made of wood, and well-cut. No splinters, no broken pieces or anything. Then, we assembled the catapult according to the instructions BEFORE we glued anything together. This is the smart thing to do, as some of the pieces do not fit perfectly together (the kit comes with a small bit of sandpaper to file down the pieces so they fit snugly). At this point I did NOT tie the strings in place yet.
Next, I disassembled the catapult and he watched me glue it together (I used this as a teaching tool for him). There isnt enough glue for the entire model, in my opinion. So, next model I will make a trip to the hobby store and purchase a bit more, just to insure the model is tight all around. Just my preference.
Thirdly, after gluing all the pieces in the appropriate place, i tied the strings in place after carefully ensuring the correct way was obvious.
Fourthly, We used Pill Pockets (dog medicine treats) as ammunition after our little Tiki tried to eat one of the clay projectiles we made. Little rat. So, we figured we would make treats the dogs would chase and make it fun for them as well. As you can see in this video, it works wonderfully! Very stable, easy to operate. We probably fired stuff of it for about an hour, and it is still in excellent shape.
This was a great Saturday afternoon project for he and I, and I am looking forward to purchasing more of Leonardo's stuff for future projects. Hey- at least he got off the Minecraft.
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Super cool
by Troll Slayer (5 out of 5 stars)
April 8, 2018

This catapult is great. The instructions are well done. However it's not a no brainer. Theres 3 different tension strings that have to be applied correctly and it comes in several pieces. It's not hard but does require a bit of focus. It comes with glue and a small piece of sanding paper in case something doesn't smoothly fit. I built it and fired it twice before gluing anything. You WILL have to glue a few areas. I recommend using super glue but ONLY once you've built and tested it so you know you're not making a mistake. It fires plato but I've been having my dog sit and I've been launching him treats. I've also launched marshmallows to a 3 and 4 year old the family is having more fun than expected with this thing.
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Nice model, with a few minor defects
by hgaphoto (4 out of 5 stars)
August 24, 2018

This is a decent mechanical model. Even though it comes in a small flat package, it turns into a decent size model after assembly. Almost all parts are wooden. The finish on the wood pieces is not very smooth, you may want to sand down the surfaces with some fine grit sandpaper or a sanding block before you start the assembly. The glue that comes with the kit is not the best and there is very little of it, so you may want to use your own wood glue if you have some. The precision of the wooden pieces is ok, though some of the small dowels used for assembly had inconsistent diameter that required either sanding them down or hammering them through. The biggest issue was the diagonal support beams that go the sides of the vertical support beams in the center. The ends of the ones I received were not cut to exactly 45 degrees, so I had to use some epoxy as a filler on the bottom to fit them snug. Also, the center hole in the two long horizontal beams were not exactly in the same location, which caused the axis of the spindle to be slightly off, but the model still functions ok. You definitely have to sand the top of the wood piece that stops the gear from turning, otherwise, it is difficult to pull it off with the attached string.

Overall, a good wooden mechanical model with reasonable functionality with a few modifications during assembly.
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liked them a lot
by J. Ray (5 out of 5 stars)
November 20, 2015

It works as-is. I bought and built two. Everyone I've showed them to, liked them a lot.

I built the first one with some modifications.
1. I used wood glue instead of the included white glue.
2. I used thin hemp twine instead of the included white twine.
3. I sealed the wood with Tung oil after assembly. Doing this after assembly is required because the glue will not hold otherwise.
4. I moved the loop on the holding-chock to the top, away from the axis of movement. This made it easier to pull the cable.

I built the second one with the modifications of the first.
1. I sanded the wood to make it smoother. The sand paper included is tiny, so extra is needed for this.
2. I stained the wood with a light color (Minwax Golden Oak) and let it dry before assembly.
3. I applied graphite to the axles where they spin in the wood. I used woodless graphite 8B pencils. This worked far better than graphite powder.
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Good Catapult, fun to play with
by Kevin London (4 out of 5 stars)
May 19, 2016

My 9 year old, easily put together the model by himself and it didn't take long. Shoots pretty far. Great school project if you have a Leonardo Da Vinci project :)

It can be a bit tough to launch with the string, I took some fine grained sand paper and sanded the block that stops the catapult from firing (where it hooks up to the cog wheel) so it was nice and smooth. Then I took some paste wax and waxed that portion as well. Shoots much smoother after that.
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NOT for ages 8 and up as indicated on Amazon (box says 12 and up)
by J. M. Korn (3 out of 5 stars)
November 12, 2018

We ordered these for a "gran camp" project for 5 of our grandchildren ages 7-9, based on this info online at Amazon: "Manufacturer recommended age: 8 Years and up." NOT TRUE. ON THE BOX IT SAID AGES 12 AND UP. Most 8 year olds will need a good bit of help. As a result, the project required close one-on-one and none got it finished. I'll have to reschedule one-on-one time for that. Can't say how well they work since none are finished yet. Very disappointed in the misinformation from Amazon. In fairness, I found this product on another web site which contained the same incorrect info.
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Fun catapult toy
by Loring C (5 out of 5 stars)
March 2, 2017

I had fun with this little toy. The parts were well machined and fit together well and even came with glue.

Be careful, some of the parts are very similar and easily confused and if you glue them together its not coming undone.

Oddly the parts are all inch and fraction dimensioned and all the instructions call them by their metric values. - like it was designed and made in the US but with instructions written for metric users.

I didn't use the clay - I was afraid it might leave greasy marks around. I found the best "ammo" to be some aluminum foil balls crumpled up tight to be about 1" in diameter or a little larger. It shot about 15-20 feet. good for a family room or long hallway.

Grandkids 2 and 5 played with it some. It was accurate so I could hit them square in the chest repeatedly and they loved that,

They had trouble shooting it because the unit is light and you have to hold it down while pulling the release.
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Having fun.
by The Count (4 out of 5 stars)
October 6, 2017

Had fun putting it together but it doesn't ring a bell like the Trebuchet I just built. Now that is a machine. Now that I think about it there were a group of individuals who formed a group called the International Hurling Society which built aTrebuchet about 2 1/2 to 3 stories tall. They wanted to be the first to hurl a Buick at least two hundred yards or more. Dave Barry was too write a article about it. They hurled anything that they could get there hands on. Bowling balls, toilets pianos anything that wasn't nailed down. It was west of Ft Worth. I think I will try to find it again. And people think I am crazy.
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True to History
by Brooke L. (5 out of 5 stars)
February 4, 2019

Son wanted a catapult but we did not want the rubber band ones. 7 year old required help with assembly, especially with tying the knots on the strings (dexterity), but if you set aside an hour or 2 TOPS you can have a nice, fun time assembling it with your child. I was worried from reviews that it was a persnickety model and required some hardy engineering skills, but we bravely glued as we went and the finished product was flawless. Just double or triple check your pictures as you go/glue so you don't get the barrel on backwards or something like that. We ended up using stronger glue for the the little pad that your moment arm falls onto because it wouldn't stay with the "elmer" type glue that was included (this is a minor deal that you can see at the end). He wants to mount it on a board (which should make it easier to operate with a single set of hands) and it is fun to toss different types of projectiles. It's great quality and can be recycled (no plastic).

Company it shipped from did a nice job.
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High-Brow Marshmallow Wars, Here We Come!!
by Erik Lundeen (5 out of 5 stars)
April 15, 2019

Do you find yourself wanting to launch mini-marshmallows across the room but can't seem to find the right apparatus that represents your intelligence, culture, and all around superiority? Do you see spoons and rubber bands as boorish and the tools only a working class imbecile would try and employ? When you close your eyes do you hear a stringed symphony playing the soundtrack of your life narrated by Morgan Freeman with a British accent? If you answered yes to all these questions while also realizing you have no actual friends who would retaliate against you in a mini marshmallow war, then THIS is the toy... I mean, weapon for YOU!!

Seriously though, this thing rocks. I bought it for a birthday gift for my 9-year old son and we had hours of fun launching mini marshmallows across the living room and trying to catch them in our mouths. Pair that with the time we spent putting it together, and you've got the perfect gift.

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