Forget about plastic for a moment and witness the old-school power of wooden toy cars

Kiev-based Ugears (short for Ukrainian Gears) launched as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014, just like many other startups. But while some startups fail or never get to reach their full potential, Ugears bloomed and managed to raise 10 times the amount of money initially set. To us, this means there’s still hope in humanity and that people still appreciate toy craftsmanship in its purest forms. And just like the earliest toys, these ones are made of wood.

Five UGears Wooden Car Sets You Must Build And Play With Right Now
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If you are just a tiny bit like us and, therefore, head-over-heels for LEGOs, then Ugears is the next level for you. We ended up scrolling their website for hours before eventually buying one set, and in all honesty, we would’ve bought a couple more.

Ugears also made it into the market in 2014, based on the great success it enjoyed on Kickstarter. In two years, they managed to design and create 14 sets, and they’re now offering a wide range of wooden toys. We, however, will be focusing on those that have wheels. Five of them, to be more precise, which, by the way, are equally suited for birthday presents, Christmas gifts, or personal projects.

Ugears Truck UGM-11

Just like many other Ugears sets, the UGM 11 truck relies on the power of rubber bands to get itself in motion. It has working steering and suspension setups, the cabin doors open and close, and the four-cylinder engine found under the hood has working bits and bobs - yes, you’ll see the pistons moving.

Speaking of motion, the truck can travel forward but also in reverse. Or, in case you’re just mesmerized by how the engine works, you can put it into neutral and enjoy the show. The set comprises 420 pieces and will require between 10 to 12 hours of assembly to completion, depending on how skilled you are. You might want to cancel those weekend plans, though. Building one is addictive. Available on Amazon.

Ugears Roadster VM-01

OK, so you’re not the truck type. Then surely you’re attracted to roadsters. If not, Ugears VM-01 might change that for you. Powered by a wooden V-8 engine with working pistons - that also harnesses the power of rubber bands, Ugears’ Roadster comes fitted with a spare tire, working doors, and a very detailed design.

The spare tire has a double role - the first is, well, that of a spare tire but the second involves twisting it to power the Roadster. Another thing we love about this set is the crazy amount of detail that went into creating the dashboard. Also on the movement front, the video above shows how you can make the Roadster do some donuts. PS: you’ll need a slippery surface for that. Available on Amazon.

Ugears Grand Prix U-9

Drawing direct inspiration from the Gran Prix races of old, the Ugears U-9 set is a beautiful nod to the highest echelon of racing. You’ll find vintage design cues in the front grille, wheels, and cockpit. Most importantly, this too is a rubber band-powered machine that can go forward or in reverse. It also packs a working suspension setup while the extra rubber bands covering the wheels provide extra traction.

Under the long hood sits a V-8 engine with moving pistons and working 16 valves and you’ll no doubt recognize the sleek lines that hint at the dawn of Formula 1 race cars. The box contains 348 wooden pieces, and you’ll need around 6 or 7 hours to complete the build. Available on Amazon.

Ugears Dream Cabriolet VM-05

The Dream Cabriolet is a fresh addition to the Ugears range and oozes that 1950s vibe thanks to a masterfully executed body. As you most likely know already, the ’50s took the car industry by storm in terms of design, and that’s exactly what you’ll get from the set.

Ugears even fitted it with a so-called idle mode, which lets you enjoy the V-8’s (oh, yeah, this too has a working V-8) mechanical magic with the hood open, without having to lift the car off the ground. Again, special attention was paid to details such as the working windshield wipers, a lifting jack, and the repair toolkit found in the trunk. What we absolutely love about this car in particular: the nicely replicated fins on both sides of the rear end. Available on Amazon.

Ugears Heavy Boy Truck VM-03

Is the UGM-11truck too soft for you? No problem. Ugears also has the Heavy Boy tractor track ready to send your way. Besides the fact that almost nothing says America better than a semi, you’ll quickly find out there’s more than meets the eye at a first glance as far what this set has to offer.

There’s a shovel and a gas can neatly hidden in the rear of the truck, and Ugears’ designers even included a miniature TV set. Moreover, they reproduced the towering exhaust pipes and the hook up system that lets you connect a trailer unit - which, guess what, is also offered by Ugears but as a separate set. All in all, the semi (without the trailer) is made of 541 pieces and takes about 8 to 9 hours to completion. Available on Amazon.

Ugears car sets specs
Truck UGM-11 Roadster VM-01 Grand Prix U-9 Dream Cabriolet VM-05 Heavy Boy Truck VM-03
Number of parts 420 437 348 739 541
Assembly time 10-12 hours 6-7 hours 6-7 hours 13 hours 8-9 hours
Size 34 cm x 14 cm x 13 cm 30.5 cm x 13 cm x 10 cm 35 cm x 9.5 cm x 13 cm 35 cm x 15.7 cm x 9 cm 38 cm x 13.5 cm x 17.8 cm
Weight 1.1 kilos 1.02 kilos 0.971 kilos 1.3 kilos 1.3 kilos
Price €63 €49.90 €44.90 €69.90 €69.90

Our take on the Ugears U-9 Grand Prix set

We’ve had a go at the U-9 Grand Prix car model set and though a few tips and tricks might come in handy because the level of complexity brought by these wonderful toys is otherworldly. So, if you though you’ve seen everything with LEGO Technic, trust us, you haven’t.

First of all, just to reiterate the last sentence, these cars have nothing to do with LEGO, where you’re just supposed to place bricks on top of each other and just connect stuff. The kit set comes with a couple of add-ons, like toothpick-shaped axles (watch out, these are pointy on both ends), a mini-bar of wax, and depending on the model, a bag of rubber bands - the U-9 has two types, wider ones, and thinner ones. You don’t need glue or any other sort of special substances or tools, just a utility knife and you’re all set.

Now, our first piece of advice is this: handle the wooden bits with care, they are precision cut and sometimes have fragile sections. Number two, go easy on the wax, you might run out. Some parts might require waxing before being joined together as the wood they’re made of is quite grippy - but considering that you’ll have a whole working engine to assemble, together with a working steering system, and many other bits and bobs, the small bar included in the set might not be enough.

The pointy axles we mentioned require cutting - usually you’ll need to cut them in half, but sometimes you’ll have to measure them before (there’s a tool for that included in the set as well). So make sure you use a utility knife that has a sharp blade at all times - sometimes you’ll have to get to crammed spots to cut stuff, and you’ll want to be efficient on that front.

Last but certainly not least and one of the most important aspects of building this car: take your time, be patient, and enjoy the whole process. Ugears says this set, in particular, can be done in 6 to 7 hours, so try and make the most of the experience. You’ll end up with a simply stunning piece of real-wheel-drive wooden machinery that packs a V-8 engine with working pistons and valves.

We’ll be back soon with a full review of the Ugears Grand Prix U-9 and a thoroughly-documented build experience.

In the meantime, we’re very interested to know what you’d pick from this list and way. Do let us know in the comments section below.

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