Why UGears? Which mechanical model maker to choose?
ROKR OR UGEARS: WHICH MODEL TO CHOOSE?
(First published on MALCEO.fr. Translated into English on 05.13.21)
While looking for a new hobby while taking "a confined vacation,” I discovered the world of mechanical wooden models. Having spent a pleasant time assembling the LK701 locomotive from the Rokr brand, I made a second purchase: the UGM-11 truck from the Ugears. After building the second model, it became evident that the two brands are not equal. Which is better: Rokr or Ugears?
Short version: the Ugears truck is on the move. The Rokr locomotive got stuck.
Buying Product Online
It is difficult to judge the quality of a product on the internet. Each brand offers a catalog of varied and visually aesthetic models. You can find all practical details on the manufacturers' websites: construction time, difficulty, number of parts. Beyond the aesthetic aspect, I wanted to acquire a good quality model.
It is easy to find commercial presentation videos and amateur videos, but there are few customer reviews. Are the cuts precise? Do the wooden pieces fit together correctly? Is the model solid? Will it run as well as shown on the ad? Is one brand better than the other (spoiler: yes, clearly)
Steam locomotive LK701
349 pieces. 8 hours of assembly. Model Brand: Rokr, a subsidiary of the Chinese company Robotime
420 pieces. 4 cylinders with a crankshaft, driveshaft, universal joint, suspension, steering wheel, elastic motor, and gear system. 12 hours of assembly.
Model Brand Ugears, a startup founded in Kyiv, Ukraine, in 2014
Parts and Assembly
Both models use laser-cut wooden plates and don’t require glue. Rokr uses metal rods and plastic gaskets for the axles.
Ugears parts and axes are made of wood. To hold the pieces together, Ugears uses toothpicks you need to cut to size. At Ugears, the driving force is produced by elastic bands in tension. Rokr uses a metal spring.
Each box contains a set of plates you have to extract the pieces from and being careful not to break anything. Rokrs or Ugears both provide understandable instructions. Ugears supplies rubber bands and toothpicks in sufficient quantities. It is essential to lubricate the gears, and only Rokr’s sets include wax. For Ugears, you have to use candle wax which will work perfectly. The boxes also contain spare parts. Ugears is very generous - most critical components come with extras in case of a break. Rokr is more sparse - only a few rare pieces come in duplicated quantities.
Rokr box LK701
Ugears box UGM-11
It is during assembly that the difference becomes immediately apparent. The Rokr pieces fit together correctly, but overall there is "play.” There is too much distance on the axes, too much space in some places, and not enough in others. Failure to provide sufficient space causes the teeth of the gears to jam against stationary parts. And when space exists, the whole “moves” and does not hold together enough.
Ugears parts are generally smaller, more precise. The assemblies are more elaborate, better adjusted. I quickly realized that the Ugears model had been much better designed. The flip side of this precision is greater difficulty in assembly. It is often necessary to lightly sand the surface of the sockets to interlock them without breaking them.
In the end: Rokr or Ugears?
The visual appearance of the two models is very satisfactory. These are two beautiful wooden objects that fulfilled my main objective of occupying a holiday time in a fun and pleasant way.
However, close observation shows that the model of the Chinese brand Rokr is more "coarse,” more "low-end.” The pieces are larger and less adjusted. Metal and plastic parts are needed.
The Ugears model, designed in Kyiv, is of much better quality. It is also more delicate, requires more assembly time, and gives more satisfaction when completed, and that's all you expect from a creative hobby!
Date of original publication: April 22, 2020
- Daniel Zubchonak