This is my second review of a UGears wooden kit. The “U” refers to the fact that these unusual products are engineered and manufactured in the Ukraine. Each kit is precisely – and I do mean precisely – laser cut and etched from fine plywood. This particular kit contains two sheets consisting of 189 parts, along with peripherals such as rubber bands (for the drive mechanism) and toothpicks (used to anchor a number of the subassemblies together). A small stick of wax, for lubricating moving parts, is also included. More on that later.
For the purists who read this review, no, it’s not a typical model kit. There’s no gluing, filling, painting or decaling involved (although I suppose one could paint or stain the kit). But it’s a nice break from working in the model room – I was able to fiddle around with this one while sitting in front of the TV with Sharyl, and it could also be a great parent-child project (check the website for some other kits that build into working toys).
Accompanying the laser cut parts is a very detailed, full color assembly booklet. That being said, I discovered on both kits I’ve built that it is easy to mis-orient parts and have them go together (until a few steps later, when they don’t). So careful attention to the instructions is warranted. Fortunately, since all of the parts are press fit, undoing an error isn’t difficult – just frustrating.
In order for the completed kit to function, a lot of wood parts need to move. Even with liberal applications of wax to every moving part, my bike doesn’t move very well yet. On the prior model, I had to exercise the mechanisms a number of times until things “loosened up”. I may try melting some candle wax and applying it to the various gears to see if that improves function. That being said, the completed model is impressive and I have a couple of friends who ride who may appreciate the finished kit as a gift.
So, if you want to take a break from “traditional” modeling, come up with a family project, or get away from the bench and be social – I highly recommend one of these wood kits as an alternative. Thanks go to UGears and IPMS/USA for the review opportunity.