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Sunday, 27 November 2011

Super Cubi (Hiroshi Iwahara)

This next puzzle box is perhaps one of the best known designs that is being manufactured by the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan.

Super Cubi was originally designed by Hiroshi Iwahara in December of 2000, and since then has been reproduced another five times, not including any special editions. If nothing else that shows just how popular this box has proven to be amongst puzzlers, especially considering the above average price.

This box is significantly larger than the average puzzle box made by the KCG, measuring in at 13.1cm cubed! And it has a pretty hefty weight to match.
Due to the extremely complex nature of the internal mechanism, several parts are machined from stainless steel. Although some may feel that this takes away from the traditional feel of the box I think that as it allows the box to become more complex, affordable and durable that it is a good addition.

Due to the large number of reproductions there are a lot of very different Super Cubis floating around out there. The version that I'm showing here is of the RF-4-3 design pattern, produced in August of 2007. All of the reproductions of these boxes have got nice but simple wooden inlay patterns on them, but they still make every side of the box look identical.

I can't speak for all of the design varieties as I have only ever held this particular one, but the box does feel incredibly sturdy. The outer panels themselves are around 5mm thick, and well connected to the internal mechanism by glued wooden joints and metal pins.

 It will take you a total of 324 moves to open the Super Cubi, and then another 324 to close it again. Iwahara achieved this huge number by employing a trinary (or ternary) system into the mechanism. Hence why this box also goes by the name of the 'Trinary Box'. For a simplified example of this puzzle check out my review of Constantin's Fat Lock (Void Lock) puzzle.

Because I had a good idea of how the box worked I opened it pretty quickly. I say quickly, but really it did still take me quite a while (around 10 minutes) due to the very high number of moves. It could take significantly longer if you don't really pay attention to what you're doing. Lose concentration and you could end up closing it again rather than opening it.
The later versions of the Super Cubi were designed to allow puzzlers to 'speed open' the box due a more loosely constructed internal mechanism. Personally I prefer a more snug fit on my puzzle boxes.

I absolutely love this box, and it has easily become one of my favourite box designs. 324 moves is just enough to be considered very high but not so much as to put you off ever wanting to open it more than once. Although, last year Iwahara also designed the King Cubi (a.k.a: Quaternary Box) that takes 1536 moves! I look forward to seeing one of those!

Due to the large number of reproductions the Super Cubi can be found pretty much everywhere, and will normally set the puzzler back by around $800 to $1000. Definitely a lot of money, but if you like your boxes then you won't be disappointed!

If you are after one of these then check the usual places: Puzzle Master, Karakuri, PuzzleBoxWorld


  1. Louis Puzzleman posted a youtube video of that 1536 box being opened at IPP30. I can't even begin to imagine opening a 324 box. And to do it in around 10 minutes! Insane. My hat's off to you.

  2. I totally Agree.


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