UGears: Ukrainian Wooden Toys that Conquered the World

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Ugears mechanical 3D puzzle horse

In 2014, Ugears with their unusual wooden mechanical models appeared on the Ukrainian toy market. Four years later, the company creates a special collection for Disney that is sold in entertainment parks. Ugears is also one of the most successful Ukrainian companies on Kickstarter, regularly beating the initial goal of projects by at least 10 times. So what's the secret behind the success?

In October 2018, WDW News Today reported that a special collection of Ukrainian-made wooden toys UGears was sold at Disney Parks. The news grabbed the attention of international and Ukrainian media, so Destinations decided to explore the story of the Ukrainian company from the very beginning.

How it all began

Ugears Ukrainian mechanical wooden toysEach project begins with an idea. For Ugears, it happened in 2014, "in a difficult time for our country", comments Ugears. The company has begun developing and producing unique mechanical 3D puzzles, which often fascinate kids and adults with moving details like jigsaws. The process of assembling a model is as simple as it is fascinating: the models are fully equipped with everything needed to assemble the 3D puzzle, so you don't need any glue or special tools - only an instruction.

With careful movements and dedication, the model's parts become a masterpiece. Another unique feature that Ugears possesses is an eco-friendly material choice, as all toys are made of plywood. "It is pleasant to the touch and looks good in various interior styles," according to Ugears, "so we make puzzles of high-quality plywood with unusual mechanics and fascinating design that make it interesting to assemble".

The 3D puzzles instantly grabbed the attention of both kids and adults: "One of our first models were the Mechanical Box-Card holder and a Tractor. The history of the company began with them".

Creative process

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Nowadays the product range of Ugears stretches from cars and trains to safes and timers. All ideas go through the established step-by-step authorization: "When it comes to new models, we listen to our customers' wishes. Sometimes ideas come to our engineers in dreams, and sometimes we see that the market needs a certain model - so we make it. Each model is jointly approved by voting".

Naturally, the creation of intricate mechanisms demands time. According to Ugears, the process of creating one model takes up from 3 to 6 months. It starts with the design, then the test models are cut out and when everything works well, the designer team modifies the model and adds finishing touches. Currently, Ugears has more than 40 various models of 3D puzzles. The most popular, says Ugears, are a Safe and a Box with a Secret. The reason behind is easily explained by human nature - people like hiding secrets, touching those with their own hands, as well as directly participating in their creation.

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Entering Kickstarter

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Ugears belongs to the list of Ukrainian companies that actively use Kickstarter - the crowd-funding platform that supports creative ideas and inventors. Moreover, the company is also quite successful: for instance, the musical model Ugears Hurdy-Gurdy pledged $288,326 with an initial goal of $15,000. So far, Ugears had 6 campaigns, all of them beating their initial goal by at least 10 times.

We asked Ugears how they make a Kickstarter project successful.

The secret is simple - it's the quality. "Apart from the idea, quality is our top priority factor," - says Ugears. "You have only one chance to show your creation to the world, so apart from being beautiful and interesting, it should also have a high-quality. We did not enter international markets for about 1.5 years until we were absolutely sure of the quality of our product."

The waiting and perfecting the models paid off - the current ongoing project, Mechanical Devices for Tabletop Games, pledged $231,808 of $20,000 goal. The special Kickstarter collection is aimed at board game fans - the collection's Card Holder accommodates up to 500 game cards in 16 compartments to keep the cards neat.

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Another poster project is the 2016 Christmas mechanical symphony, which pledged $143,797 of $15,000 initial goal and was featured on Insider, Futurism and other authoritative media. The self-propelled models function just like their real counterparts. For example, the Fire Truck has a turning foot, moving apart & ascending a ladder, which transforms into a real crane with a hook. The Mechanical Tanker model is based on UGM-11 Truck and even has a special opening mechanism which fits the standard 0.33l cans that can be transported as 'fuel'.

The careful dedication and precision of Ugears soon grasped the attention of the entertainment giant - Disney.

Collaboration with Disney


The intricate wooden models created by Ugears appeared in Disney stores in autumn 2018. The special collection includes the Monorail, Main Street Trolley, Cinderella’s Carriage, and the “Walter E. Disney” Railroad Locomotive, as WDW News Today reports.

While the company keeps secrets about this collection following the agreement with Disney, kids and adults around the world can already marvel at the intricate wooden models. The 3D puzzles are available for sale in Disney World entertainment parks in the US. You can check out the models on the official Disney website.

Photos provided by Ugears.

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