The wooden laser-cut dinosaur skeleton is a staple of most museum and science center gift shops. But a company called UGEARS has turned those wooden puzzles into engineering marvels with more gears and moving parts than a Swiss watch.
The real beauty of UGEARS' mechanical models isn't just that they're fully functional; it's that anyone can assemble one without needing a masters degree in mechanical engineering.
Each kit comes with a detailed instruction manual explaining where every piece goes, how various pieces need to be trimmed (skills with a hobby knife will certainly help), and where to find each component on the laser-cut panels.
But the fact that the models actually work is pretty cool too. The steam locomotive, available through a Kickstarter campaign that's already raised far more than its $US20,000 ($27,333) goal, is powered by winding a thick bunch of 12 elastic bands. The visible complex gearing inside the locomotive powers its pretend pistons and multiple wheels, and after a fresh winding it can rumble down a set of wooden tracks for well over 5m.
The steam locomotive isn't the only model that UGEARS has created. The reward levels on its Kickstarter campaign start at $US13 ($18) for a simple tractor, with a clock, a wooden safe, a trolley, and other mechanical creations filling the void before you get to the $US58 ($79) locomotive which is the most expensive option.
Delivery isn't expected until April of next year, so your dreams of hiding from visiting relatives on Christmas day while you build a wooden railway unfortunately aren't going to pan out. But that's no reason not to pre-order these marvellous mechanical models. [Kickstarter - UGEARS via Technabob]