UGears is a Ukrainian company that opened in 2015, and UB LLC is their distributor in the US. Their kits are built from laser-cut plywood and cover a vast range of interesting topics. Everything from cars to bikes, trains and even a horse. Their kits are all given a difficulty rating that corresponds to the number of included parts and the estimated assembly time. This Grand Prix car is my first UGears kit and it listed as an advanced kit with an estimated assembly time of 6 to 7 hours.
As stated above, all of their kits are assembled from precision laser-cut plywood parts. The surprisingly small box for this kit contains 5 large trees of 348 parts, a large number of toothpicks, a small stick of wax, sandpaper, two different sizes of rubber bands, and an extensive, full color assembly manual. There were also two very handy tools included, one for measuring the length of the toothpicks needed and one for pushing down on the rubber bands to make the tires. In order to produce the parts efficiently, some of the assemblies are spread out over multiple sheets, but the instructions thankfully highlight the locations of the required parts at the beginning of each step.
The laser cutting is extremely fine and for the most part the parts punched out cleanly, with one or two very small attachment points that were cleaned up with sandpaper or a hobby blade. On some smaller or more fragile parts, I had some problems getting the parts off the trees without breaking them. The plywood can be fragile. Each part has a part number cut into the tree next to it and each tree has a tree number cut into a corner. UGears also has a copy of the assembly instructions on their website along with a step by step video on how to build the model.
This build is a very complex kit with a lot of moving parts and a lot of tight fits. The gears for the steering mechanism are particularly fragile and mine came apart during use. Also, the engine is a very complicated assembly, be very careful when removing parts 10 and 11 from the trees. These parts are very fragile, and it is very easy to break the bottom parts off. Pay very close attention to the fit of part 9 into the main assembly on page 6, it is easy to pass it through the wrong hole which forces the pistons out of alignment. The only other issues I had while building the kit were with the steering wheel and the seat back, parts 59 and 71 respectively. The fit of the steering wheel on the column is very tight and it is easy to shatter the fragile steering wheel. For the seat back, it is cut in an interesting pattern that allows the part to be curved. This is pretty impressive once complete, but the fit to the base part 69 is extremely tight and difficult to complete. It is easy to break the seat back while forcing part 71 into place. After I broke mine, I found it easier to clip one of the hooks off of the sides of part 71 to allow it to be attached to part 69 easier.
The rest of the assembly is pretty straightforward but many of the mechanical fits are pretty tight and there are a lot of parts that have to mesh, so be careful. Also follow the directions and use the supplied wax or a tea candle to wax all of the gears and shafts. With the tight fits this is extremely important to ensure that the kit works when complete. It probably took me a little over 7 hours to build this kit, so not far from the estimate, and some of that was due to having to fix issues that I had created with the fragile parts. The kit is certainly impressive once complete and for the most part the mechanical portions work. The only thing that I can’t seem to get to work is the parking brake. I can’t seem to get the part to slide in its housing out of the drive position.
It was a refreshing change of pace to be able to build something for fun without glue or paint. With the multiple levels of kit difficulty, the barrier to entry for this type of build is very low and I would definitely recommend picking this kit up or looking through the UGears catalogue.
My thanks to UGears and IPMS for giving me the opportunity to review this kit.