1) What are Clockwork Critters ™?
They are animated Steampunk-themed animal sculptures.
2) No, really, what are they?
They are interactive artwork based on re-purposed children’s toys. Depending on the piece, they may chirp, squeal, roar, meow, bark, flap, and squawk. Several also walk.
3) Are they meant for children?
Emphatically NO! Think sculpture, not toy. There may be sharp bits, pointy bits, or break-off-and-swallow-able bits. They need to be handled with care by adult-type people.
4) What are they made of?
The base toys are mostly plastic, with assorted metal and electronic elements.
5) But they look like metal.
That’s not a question.
6) Sorry. Are the outsides metal?
No. They’re hand-painted to look like metal using a variety of faux-finishing techniques. Many of the accessories and decorative accents are indeed metal, or glass, or leather, or other materials. Most clothing is hand-sewn and most hats are handmade and decorated.
7) How long do they take to make?
It varies, based on the size & complexity of the underlying toy, and the level of accessory and ornamentation detail. Excluding the time required for paint and glue to dry, a good estimate would be 4-6 hours each. When drying time is figured in, the simplest takes a minimum of five days start to finish, and some of the larger ones can take several weeks overall.
8) What does -this- switch do?
All Clockwork Critters™ sold come with a card explaining their specific switch.
Generally, for those with a 3-position switch “Off” is in the center. In “Standby” (usually to the left), the Critter will sit quietly until action is manually triggered. When switched “On”, it will make random noises and movements as long as the switch is in this position, but will still stop after 2-3 minutes if there’s no further interaction.
Critters with a two-position switch don’t have a “Standby” mode. Once turned on these won’t do anything until you activate them.
9) What kind of batteries do they use?
Mostly AAA, with some AA and the larger Critters taking C batteries. They all come with an initial set, and the batteries are easily replaceable.
10) Where can I buy them?
We vend at various shows of several types throughout the year; these are posted on the main page of this site. We also sell through Etsy, and you can check the Dark Rain Design shop to see what is currently available. The shop will go on vacation when we are at a show, but will usually be active a day or so after we get back.
11 ) Hey! Can you make a….?
Maybe. Although we can sculpt many animals, since the sounds and movements are based on the underlying toy there are some limits. A turtle that sounds like a cat would be amusing, but it’s not really what we’re going for. Because the bases are somewhat generic, we also can’t do things like specific dog breeds.
Suggestions are gladly taken.
12 ) Okay, you can’t do every animal, but I saw an older one on the blog I like. Can you make another one just like it?
Because they’re hand-painted and hand-accessorized, we are unable to make exact duplicates. However, we’ll certainly make every effort to match most of the major design elements. They’ll never be another Captain McCaw, but we can make you a similar silver-colored pirate parrot with a feathered hat and a bandolier.
Also, since they’re based on repurposed toys, we can’t always get the base animals. For example, the brontosaurus and small owl are VERY difficult to find.
13) What’s with the scarves/sneakers/sunglasses?!? That’s not Steampunk!
Well, maybe not, but who cares? At the end of the day, we make Critters because it’s fun, and from time to time we like to incorporate some of our other nerdy interests. As above, suggestions are gladly taken.
14) Help! My toddler/dog/pygmy marmoset got hold of my Critter!
Ooo…sorry about that. Any bits that might have fallen/been ripped off can be glued back on – we recommend Gorilla or Loctite Superglue. Scratches can be touched up using regular artist acrylics. If something is REALLY badly mangled, contact us about repainting or repairing – we never charge for touchups or cosmetic repairs .
15) Hey! Didn’t I see you at <some event we’ve never attended>?
Probably not. There are other artists who base their creative works on some of the same types of toys we use, and certainly MANY people who repurpose toys in general. Although there are shows we do every year, we like to try new events as well. Our currently scheduled shows are posted on the website and our Facebook page.
16) There was this mechanical owl in this movie I saw once….
Yep. Bubo the owl from “Clash of the Titans”. Our most common request. While the Professor has the technical and artistic know-how to construct a screen-accurate animatronic owl entirely from scratch, it would take several months and the price would be prohibitive. However, if you’re just looking for an owl Critter, we do (occasionally; see note 12) have them available.
17) That giant horse (and/or triceratops) is new….
Our original copper horse Anya suffered an accident on the way to an event last year, and although we may repair her, for the moment her place has been taken by Willow (who is rusty steel, but just as cute). Depending on the show, you might see Mortimer the copper triceratops instead.
We have no plans to offer either style for sale as a stock item, but will do custom orders. People are welcome to photograph the large Critters- and they love having their pictures taken – but would (politely) ask that if you post them on social media that you tag Dark Rain Design.
“Clockwork Critters” and the Clockwork Critters logo are trademarks of Dark Rain Design, LLC.