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Saturday, 11 June 2011

Minibox C2 (Vinco)

Here's a really cool little packing puzzle simply called the Minibox C2, designed and made by the Czech puzzle designer Vinco, which was kindly sent to me by the guys over at Puzzle Master.

Considering that it only looks like a standard 2x2x2 cube you could be forgiven for thinking that this couldn't possibly be a difficult puzzle, but if you take a closer look at some of the pretty irregular angles going on in the partially disassembled photo on the right, you may be persuaded to reconsider.

The Minibox C2 is made up of eight completely different and irregular pieces and a box to pack them in to. The wood used is not expensive hardwood but it does still have a nice feel to it. Plus as the wood used is cheaper in comparison to many others, it also makes the final price far far less. Some puzzlers don't care for the look of untreated wood, but just like the Makishi Puzzle Boxes; sometimes less can be more.

Normally puzzles like this can be classed as either 'Put Together' or 'Packing' types, but in this case I would be swayed into saying that it is more of a packing puzzle as the final cube doesn't hold it's shape very well without the aid of the box.

Now, I mentioned that this puzzle is harder than it looks, but it really doesn't look particularly hard so that doesn't mean too much. But this puzzle took me well over half an hour to put back together, and I like to think that I'm not too much of an amateur when it comes to packing puzzles. The angles inside the cube are very irregular, but despite this the pieces can still arrange themselves in a surprisingly large number of different ways. I kept getting seven of the pieces together only to find that the eighth refused to go in! Vinco classes this puzzle as a level 4 out of 5, and I'm happy to agree with that.

All-in-all I reckon that the Minibox C2 is a great little packing puzzle that you won't be afraid to hand over to anyone to try. Whether they'll be able to give it back to you in one piece however is a different matter entirely.

This puzzle is currently available from Puzzle Master for the extremely reasonable price of around $11. Also check them out for a whole load of other puzzle designs by Vinco.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Bottle No.1 (Wil Strijbos)

I have to admit that this is the first puzzle of this type that I have properly sat down and solved from start to finish. The look of bottle puzzles never really appealed to me for some reason, but after trying this one out I think I'll definitely be more open to them in the future.

This is quite simply named 'Bottle No.1'. I doesn't really give much away does it? But despite it's rather generic name it does in fact have a very clever and (I thought) unexpected solution. And it is designed and made by Wil Strijbos (Aluminium Cylinder) in the Netherlands.

The inside of the bottle looks a bit like this:

The goal sounds pretty simple (don't they always?); remove the ball bearing from the bottle. There's no funny business going on here, the bottle is a genuine glass Coca Cola bottle. There is a plastic rod running into the bottle, and there is a nut and bolt running through it at the lower end to stop it from being removed. Also, half way along the rod is a cut-out portion.

Once you have it in your hands you will automatically know what you have to do, and odds are you'll have an idea on how to go about it. On my first try I managed to partially solve this puzzle, but then I hit a wall and actually gave up for a while. I even started toying with the idea that this particular puzzle might be defective.

I returned this bottle to Ali (who loaned it to me) just before we headed up to Birmingham for the Gadget Show and the Midlands Puzzle Party No.2. Once we were there I noticed that Allard also had a copy of Wil's Bottle No.1 on the table, and he was also stuck at exactly the same point that I was! On the drive back home a new idea came to me about how to go about solving the puzzle, and it turned out that I was right!

For such a simple looking puzzle it took me on a bit of a wild goose chase trying to solve it. It has a very simple and original design, solving it really is a great laugh and it has an absolutely awesome 'ah-ha' moment to it!

I believe that Wil still has some of these available along with several other of his bottle designs that I also intend to review here in the near future, so get in touch with him if you're interested.
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