There is a certain category of toys that dads buy for their kids to play with by themselves. Those are games consoles, remote controlled copters, all sorts of drones, and — mechanical models. The passion to create lives in every person’s heart and can never vanish completely. Today we want to review the most extraordinary mechanical model kits of recent years, which are either a puzzle or a toy or even an engineering project. Introducing — Ugears.
A modular mechanical construction kit is not merely a number of pieces that come together in a complete model. Referring to our associative thinking it opens an assembly process as an exciting game. Moreover, Ugears makes sure that the fully assembled model remains entertaining and interesting – unlike, for example, a jigsaw puzzle that loses its gaming component right after being completed. Surely, you can glue it to the base, frame it and put it on the wall to feast your eyes upon… but Ugears has more to offer.
UGEARS is a very unique “hybrid”. First of all, it is insanely exciting to assemble. Furthermore, the completed model turns into a mechanical toy attractive for both children (“Hey! It’s a car!”) and adults (“Wow! Check out this awesome gearing! Wonder what its overall ratio is?..”)
Without further ado let us take a closer look at how it works.
What is Ugears?
Essentially, it is a wooden construction kit (or 3D- puzzle if you like) containing differently shaped details pressed in plywood sheets. Ugears uses a high quality 3.5-3.7 mm thick plywood. The details are outlined with a CNC laser cutter that provides precise hairline cuts. The details come together in a mechanical model with attractive bold elements such as gears and drives. This however is only a formal description.
Tractor (97 parts) with a Trailer (68 parts)
Featuring a four-by-four model with mechanical gearbox. The Trailer has a catch of its own: special gearing tips over its body that also has a dump-flap. It comes with some handy farming tools too!
The Ugears kits have this special “thing” to it – the creators made sure you get to enjoy it start to finish. Virtually, from unpacking (the packaging design deserves a separate credit, not to mention the amazing wooden smell when you open it) to reviewing a step-by-step instruction manual that leads you through your Ugears-adventure – captivating and thorough assembly process and observation of the outlines of your model coming together. And, of course, the game. It doesn’t mean you’d only get to play with the car pushing and pulling it like a kid (although – why not if you enjoy it?), it also offers you a grown-up kind of a pleasant pastime. This compares to an antique cars collector’s delight of sitting in a 1969 Mustang’s leather seat. The assembled model draws you in completely and it is a pleasure hard to resist. So if you decided to buy this construction kit for your child, consider getting two at once. You will want to put one of them on your desk to fuss over and show off to your friends.
Truck UGM-11, basic configuration of 420 parts
The photo demonstrates two additions to a basic configuration of the truck – a tanker and a ladder. The rotating telescopic ladder has a hook that can turn the model into a lorry-mounted crane. The tanker is designed to fit a freight of one standard 0.33 l can.
To get a better idea of what UGEARS models are we shall present a few examples.
Cars and locomotives
Ugears's range of products includes lorries and tractors, combines and trams – all those models that fall into a category of mechanical toy transport. On the top of the transport toy range we have a Locomotive with tender. Comprised of 443 parts, this powerful mechanical model takes up to 12 hours to assemble, which means you can spend several evenings enjoying the process. However, there is one catch: you won’t be able to put it down and are likely to spend the whole night on it :)
Locomotive with tender, 443 details
The coolest and most complex model in the Ugears mechanical models range.
To see the overall scale of the model, here are some dimensions: the length of the assembled model is 47 cm, its weight — 1382 grams. Just imagine — this baby is almost half a meter long and weighs one and a half kilograms! It comes with a very comprehensive instruction manual with elaborate 3D illustrations showing elements, joints and a complete step-by-step process. This however doesn’t guarantee a shorter assembly time due to the large number of parts you need to carefully and thoroughly put together. You don’t want to force the parts into slots they don’t fit exactly — everything is designed to fit nicely and precisely.
Like in every other Ugears model, virtually every detail moves.
We have put together one of Ugears’s models (however, it was a Combine, not the Locomotive) and here is what we have to say: it becomes even more fascinating after being fully assembled. It is not that the model has turning wheels and gears rotating inside. Absolutely each detail moves: windows and doors open, lights extend, hatches lids flap. It is a model you will want to examine and explore like a showpiece — even though it is you who has just made it with your own hands.
The locomotive has two extras you can purchase separately: a Railway platform (196 parts) and a Rails and Crossing kit of 200 parts. You can also expand your model transport park with tractors, trucks and trams. Frankly speaking, not all the transport models are made within the same scale. However, it is not a big issue especially for a child that in a majority of cases wouldn’t care about the proper scale of different toys. And, most importantly, some of the models come in a larger scale to the real-life machines then the others due to the sizes of the details that cannot be too small. In other words, the truck using the same scaling as a locomotive will be tiny; and the locomotive in the scaling of a truck turns into a giant inconvenience of over a meter and a half length. After all, even LEGO doesn’t necessarily preserve the same scaling in all of its models — they don’t have to be an exact copy.
Ugears Transport Park sketch
Featuring: “Locomotive with tender” model, separate tender, “Railway platform”, “Rails and Crossing”, and “Truck UGM-11” with “Tanker” as an optional extra.
Incidentally, a comparison to LEGO is quite relevant. 80 years ago, a Danish carpenter, Ole Kirk Christiansen, the founder of LEGO, had started his extremely successful business by making wooden toys. Ugears is a young team that plans to eventually expand their mechanical world by creating more new exciting models.
Puzzles for grown-ups
In addition to cars and locomotives, Ugears model range offers other types of construction kits. Some of them you might call as well “Puzzles for adults”. For example, they have a 100% functional 179-detail wooden safe. Who knows, maybe their next design would be the famous Enigma cipher machine?
Safe, 179 parts
Burglar-resistant safe with three-digit code. This is certainly a wooden safe and nothing can keep a thief from sawing it… But isn’t it just boring? Picking a lock is way more fun!
There is also a 61-parts Treasure Box. Or, for instance, an unpretentiously looking wooden Combination Lock that can be programed with over a 1000 combinations and will also be a great visual example to explain the operating principle of a lock to a child.
In fact, explaining things to a kid using models as an example is very cool. Showing how a steam engine’s wheel drive (so-called link motion) or a combine harvester works is much easier when you have a moving model to demonstrate the actual process. Often a kid finds it difficult to focus on a book or verbal explanation while a real-life example always draws attention. As you can see, Ugears models are not only toys, but also useful tools to facilitate your child’s development. In case one of the parts will go missing, there are some extra spare details in the kit — because the creators of Ugears have kids of their own and know too well that things around kids tend to disappear.
Generally, our editorial team took a great liking to Ugears. The company is growing rapidly: Denis Okhrimenko, its co-founder, had literally built the first models in his kitchen. Today, his workshop’s production capacity is more than 700 complex models a day. However, manufacture is not the most difficult part — it is after all a pre-set routine process. The design and development of new models is way more challenging; looking for a perfect balance between the complexity of assembling and the handsomeness of the puzzle as well as a compliance with the real-life prototype, working hours, number of parts and the size of the packaging. Considering all of this, the development of one model might take several months.
Let us wish the Ugears team good luck in getting all the way to the top of the success list. They do deserve it. And our children deserve such toys: not staring at their smartphones’ screens, but real-life exciting experience developing technical skills and — equally important — absolutely safe for health. Made of wood and only wood Ugears models need no glue to assemble.
Source: Popular Mechanics, 16/02/2017