Ugears Wooden Mechanical Model Kits
Fully-functional mechanical models from nothing but laser-cut plywood? It sounds sketchy, and perhaps even fragile, but there's nothing amateur about these high-quality kits. Each box contains several sturdy wooden sheets of laser-cut pieces, with each piece numbered according to its chronological use in the instruction booklet. The booklet itself is the veritable pice de resistance of the kits, utilizing full-color 3D illustrations, "magnified" steps for small pieces, a straightforward labeling system, and helpful symbols for tricky steps. Once completed, the scale model operates just like the real thing, mimicking behavior as closely as 1/8th-inch plywood (and a few extra bits) can. Safes have combination locks, engines push pistons, and vehicles feature functioning transmission and rubber-band powered motors. All components are natural and sustainably-sourced. Oh, and did we mention the holy grail of model construction? No glue required.
The kits provide a range of complexity (between 1-12 hours), with 14 being the youngest recommended age for completing all models solo. With limited adult supervision or model-making experience, most kits can be completed by those as young as 11 or 12 and are durable enough for extended use. All models are beautifully designed and just about the right size for pretend play, and they can even be painted using watercolors or other thin paints! And of course, at the forefront of each and every lovingly crafted kit is a dedication to mechanics: you're not just putting it together; you're learning how it functions.