Are they puzzles? Models? Toys? Sculptures? Yes. Yes they are. It’s all of those things. I’m talking about the wooden puzzles sold by Ugears, and I’m absolutely in love with them. I find myself telling my friends and family about Ugears puzzles, and sometimes browse the website like I used to devour the Sears Wishbook on Christmas (yes, I’m that old). These awesome puzzles / toys / models are amazing, and right now you can save 15% on any model in the Ugears catalog with an exclusive discount for Forbes readers – just enter FORBES at the register.
Ugears offers a hundred different projects, starting at just $ 10 or up to $ 150, although most kits are very affordable at $ 40- $ 75. There is something charming and magical about these kits; they’re almost entirely made of wood (with the exception of the occasional bungee or spring to give them the power to move), and yet most projects are kinetic, able to spin, twist, roll, move or to operate. Many have cranks, gears, and axles, all of which are also made of wood. It’s like going back to the 1800s and being a steampunk apprentice.
The best part is that while it’s a pleasure to put one of these kits together – and even the most ambitious models only take a few hours – when you’re done, you have a working contraption that you can use. can play. How awesome is that?
Take the Marble Run chain hoist, for example. One of Ugears’ newer puzzles, it features around 400 individual wooden pieces and takes around 4-8 hours to put together. This particular kit is recommended for ages 14 and up, but there are also a variety of projects that are ideal for younger ones. And even this kit makes a great team project for a parent and child.
As all Ugears projects, you don’t need any tools. There is no cutting, gluing, measuring or painting. High quality plywood pieces are laser cut on sheets; just cut them out and then follow the very clear visual instructions to assemble the model. It might not be fair to call these projects puzzles, because you don’t have to guess where the coins go, everything is clearly explained in the accompanying guide.
Everything is held securely by friction and by a tight fit with grooves and slots. Want to paint the model? Of course you can – Ugears recommends using a light paint like watercolor – but I still prefer bare wood.
Once assembled, the Marble Run model has a track to run your logs with smooth cranks to lift the logs into position via the wooden chain links. Here it is in action:
And Marble Run only scratches the surface. You can also make an aquarium, that’s right, a mechanical aquarium with swimming fish, powered by a wooden motor mechanism with a metal spring. There’s a working guitar-like string instrument – a hurdy-gurdy – you can build, an elaborate wall clock, and a motorcycle with a sidecar.
The first Ugear model I ever made? A functional combination lock that gives you a taste of how real-world non-wood combination locks actually work. I am currently trying to choose between making a cash register and a working “STEM lab” tachometer.
So run, don’t step on the Ugears site and check out the collection of wooden models suitable for kids and adults, and treat yourself to the kind of joy you can only get by building something yourself and then playing with it. Make sure to apply the promotional code FORBES at checkout to get a 15% discount on anything you buy.