Did you enjoy building models as a child? I found it incredibly exciting and spent hours gluing aircraft parts together, deburring parts and painting the finished model. And then … things were on the shelf, hanging from the ceiling and dusting because you couldn’t really play with them! It should be different with the models from Ugears : They should move after assembly and can therefore be used. I tested one of the models …
Located near Kiev in Ukraine, Ugears is probably unique in the world in the production of mechanical 3D models made of plywood. There are now around forty different kits to choose from, from cars to steam locomotives to trucks or hurdy-gurdy, the kit of a (functioning) hurdy-gurdy.
The start-up, founded in 2014, received more than $ 400,000 in crowdfunding in 2015 – the target was $ 20,000. This shows that Ugears with its high-quality models meets the tastes of many people who want to keep a piece of manageable mechanics in the digital age.
The Ugears team also demonstrates enormous creativity and attention to detail with each of its complex models. That also impressed me with the Mechanoid horse .
The package with the kit was not huge, but it was heavier than the size would have suggested. It also contains wood and no cotton wool , I said to myself, Schlauberger !
I waited until the woman, the daughter in the kindergarten and the dog was in his place before I made myself comfortable at the large dining room table and started unpacking.
The clear design style of the box pleases and a cut-out window in the lid allows a look at the wooden panels. The box is easy to open and I placed the contents on the table.
The horse is about 30 cm high and consists of 410 individual parts, the outlines of which have been lasered precisely into the plywood panels (Ah, the smell of wood! Class!) And which can be easily pushed out. My first thought was “Oh dear heaven, I don’t know if it won’t be too complicated for me!”
But a first look through the assembly instructions (which can be viewed online as a PDF here ) immediately resolved my doubts: The instructions are detailed and packed with clearly understandable pictures, so that someone from Asia can assemble the kit just as quickly and easily as someone from France or Ghana.
Or someone like me! Wherever there are texts they are translated into 11 languages, but the detailed pictures are sufficient for the actual assembly. There are really pluses for that! Each of us knows the opposite, namely instructions for which you must have at least studied nuclear physics or whose translation makes no sense at all.
Ugears has elegantly circumvented this problem and continues to number each of the approx. 3.5 mm thick plates, so that there is never any confusion.
Briefly about the quality of the plywood panels and the general assembly: Although according to Ugears neither tools nor glue are needed, tweezers have served me very well when assembling the really filigree parts. But I don’t have the narrowest fingers either, maybe that’s not the case with others.
The wood is stable enough to forgive minor mistakes or bumps. But what you should do anyway is to break the little tool out of the first plate. The shape of this aid is designed in such a way that it is much easier (and more gentle) to remove the individual parts cut out with a laser from the plywood panels. Much better than with your fingers!
The kit contains everything you need to assemble the model. This includes not only the components made of plywood and the building instructions, but also (in the case of the Mechanoid horse) a small rod made of wax to rub in the sliding parts, a piece of emery paper for deburring, a cord and a LOT of rubber (40 to 50 pieces)! There are still replacements for some of the components, so you don’t have to worry if, for example, a toothed wheel breaks.
So now there was peace in the hut, the kit was spread out in front of me and I had also made a cup of coffee. It could start!
It’s been a few decades since I made models, but I was right back in the subject. And in fun! Because that’s the main thing: You don’t put together such a thing because you have to or someone told you to do it now.
It’s just fun! I even found myself humming as I loosened and put together the parts “Turn the Page” in the version of Metallica. And that means something to me!
So you can be sure that there will be no boredom. And as the assembly of the model progresses, the more you go to get it ready to see if it actually works!
Ugears specifies the time required for the Mechanoid horse as 8 to 9 hours. That is also quite realistic. It took me a little longer, but that’s because I hadn’t really looked at the instructions and had to take a few steps back with a lot of caution. Therefore my tip: Take a close look at every step in the manual!
If you have a few hours, you can see the complete assembly of the model in the video above, which is far better than the one I used to document the process.
After a few hours it was there! The Ugears designers really managed to reconcile the essence of a horse with the mechanical requirements. A few turns with the key and the horse actually started bobbing!
I was really more than a little proud that it actually worked and that I hadn’t overlooked or broken anything during assembly.
Well, you can’t expect long distances, that’s for sure. But to see how the product moves for hours, how the pendulum swings in the horse’s belly and how all the gears turn is a special feeling!
My daughter was also very enthusiastic when she came from kindergarten. But I would recommend keeping your model away from small children. Although the horse makes a stable impression, I don’t want to bet that it will survive five minutes with my child alone.
Anyway, such a kit is not a toy in the conventional sense. As a gift, in my opinion it makes sense for a teenager or an adult, smaller children can do less with it. Ugears also knows this and recommends a minimum age of 14 years.
The Horse Mechanoid is part of a series of twelve models, which also include a roadster, the V-Express steam locomotive or the Flexi-Cube. It should come on the market in October 2019.
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