The 10 Best Mechanical Puzzles

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This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in January of 2019. The trouble with most models and brain teasers is that once you've completed them, they just sort of sit there. These mechanical puzzles will not only be a challenging task for you and the kids to finish, but also provide lasting fun through their moving gears and wheels. You can proudly put your work on display so guests will wonder how you managed to construct such an intricate contraption. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

1. Robotime Locomotive

2. Rokr Waterwheel Coaster

3. Robotime STEM

Editor's Notes

February 24, 2021:

Moving 3D puzzles are fun to build and also look good on a shelf, especially some of the more intricate models. While we did have to remove a couple recommendations because they're no longer available, there are still plenty to choose from.

We added the Rokr Waterwheel Coaster because its track is relatively long, and its stair lift and long downhill make it fun to watch the marbles' progression. The Robotime STEM is similar, although not quite as rigid, and the circuit isn't quite as long. Both the Robotime Locomotive and UGears Research Vessel move under their own power using rubber bands, although the Locomotive is significantly easier to get working than the Research Vessel - in fact, the Research Vessel might be one the hardest options around.

Another interesting variety of mechanical puzzle is the puzzle box. These are a combination of brain teaser and mechanical construct, and in the case of the UGears Treasure Box and NKD Puzzle Scriptum Kit, their DIY assembly means they offer double the fun. In particular, the NKD Scriptum is especially well made and offers a fun challenge to open.

January 19, 2019:

Enthusiasts who take to this type of puzzle will likely want to try all of them, so the difference here, beyond the level of quality in the components, has to do with difficulty level and how much they can be played with after they're constructed. While simpler versions are nice for beginners, they don't do much, so they won't be that enjoyable to have on your desk or for the kids to play with. The more complex of these can take days to finish, and once they're done, they hold up even after hours of little ones racing them around.

Special Honors

NKD Puzzle This highly respected manufacturer has several lines of premium-quality toys, focused on movement, brain teasers, and just simple decoration. Their most renowned products are probably their puzzle boxes, which range from the relatively simple and moderately priced, to the ultra-high-end models that cost in the thousands and made with truly next-level craftsmanship of top-of-the-line hardwoods.

Crux Puzzles Based in the UK, this manufacturer focuses heavily on mechanically and geometrically oriented brain teasers made from premium materials like steel and well-finished hardwood. In addition to offering stimulating entertainment, everything from Crux is designed to look good on a shelf, and their wide selection includes some suited for kids, as well as some that even savvy adults will have trouble figuring out.

4. UGears Theater

5. Robotime Air Vehicle

6. UGears Research Vessel

7. UGears Treasure Box

8. NKD Puzzle Scriptum Kit

9. Rokr Pendulum Clock

10. Wood Trick Hand

Christopher Thomas
Last updated by Christopher Thomas

Building PCs, remodeling, and cooking since he was young, quasi-renowned trumpeter Christopher Thomas traveled the USA performing at and organizing shows from an early age. His work experiences led him to open a catering company, eventually becoming a sous chef in several fine LA restaurants. He enjoys all sorts of barely necessary gadgets, specialty computing, cutting-edge video games, and modern social policy. He has given talks on debunking pseudoscience, the Dunning-Kruger effect, culinary technique, and traveling. After two decades of product and market research, Chris has a keen sense of what people want to know and how to explain it clearly. He delights in parsing complex subjects for anyone who will listen -- because teaching is the best way to ensure that you understand things yourself.

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