|Popplock T7 - Rainer Popp|
Now due to this lock being so large and made from these materials it unfortunately has a price tag to match its epic weight. When first released you could pick up one of these for 280 Euros (~$365/~£225), and no matter which way you look at it is an awful lot of money. But due to the extremely high reputation of Rainer's previous Popplocks, all of them sold out within a very short amount of time, even though Rainer described it as being "pretty much different from all the other locks".
When I was first handed the lock the first thing that immediately shocked me was the weight. I turned it over to look at all sides of it before trying to solve it (when it comes to Popplocks I've made the mistake of overlooking small but important details before, so now I make sure to ignore nothing).
The shackle is huge and solid, and obviously won't budge. Under the shackle is an area of raised brass with a stainless steel centre, which looks a bit like a button but also won't move. There is a large flat circle on one side which can be seen in the picture above, this also looks to be a button of some kind and this one does move slightly upon pressing, but not enough to achieve anything.
In fact the only part that does move on this lock to begin with is the circular knob at the bottom that has been stamped with the Popplock logo. This piece rotates, but not to a full 360 degree turn, it is restricted by something.
It became immediately obvious after a few movements that this puzzle has an internal maze which needs to be navigated in order for it to be solved. I'm only happy to mention this because it is so obvious, but I'll leave you to work out how to navigate this maze for yourselves, and also how to release the shackle. Sadly the solution to this puzzle is in all aspects very simple, it only took me a minute or so to open it the first time.
The real ingenuity in this locks design comes from the internals. The maze that you have to navigate in order to open it can be reconfigured to a design of your own creation. With the tools provided you simply remove the walls of the maze and replace them in the way that you would like. Understandably this doesn't however make the puzzle aspect any more interesting for the owner because they would only be navigating their own maze design, but you could ask someone to replace the maze for you. There is also a 'safety release' on one side of the puzzle in case you accidentally create an unsolvable maze, so you can feel free to get as creative as you like without having to worry too much about locking yourself out of your own puzzle. You will need another of the provided tools to open this release, so it can't just be mistaken as part of the solution.
The mechanics of how you can reconfigure the internal maze on this lock really are a thing of beauty, perfectly made and very well implemented.
Several puzzlers were quite displeased with this lock because it really doesn't live up to its Popplock legacy in terms of difficulty, and this is something I can't disagree with. Regardless of how the internal maze was configured I am confident that I still would've had this lock open in the same very short amount of time. No matter how you judge it this is a very simple puzzle as far as its solution is concerned, not just compared with the other Popplocks, but also considering puzzles in general.
Personally, if I had purchased this lock for the price it sold for I would have been a bit disappointed by its level of difficulty, but I would be happy to overlook it because of the complexity and sheer ingenuity of the internal design.
This is not a puzzle I would ever get out just to solve for fun, but I would be eager to show people how it works and just what makes it such an interesting puzzle.
If you're after a challenge or a puzzle that will give you one of those brilliant 'AH HA!' moments then I'd recommend you save your cash for something else. However, if you would be happy owning one of the best machined puzzle locks out there with what I would consider to be a seriously ingenious internal design, but can overlook the inherent simplicity of the puzzle itself (and have a load of cash lying around) then you could consider trying to hunt one of these down for yourself.
Puzzle Master currently still have some of these available here: Popplock T7 - Puzzle Master
If you liked this then please have a read of my other Popplock reviews: