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Sunday, 9 December 2012

Topless Box (Eric Fuller)

I don't usually manage to blog about a puzzle immediately after its release (mostly because I'm just never that quick off the mark), but I enjoyed this one so much I thought I'd write about it while it was still fresh in my mind.

This is the Topless Box, and it is Eric Fuller's latest contribution to the puzzle box genre. Eric's puzzles always sell out pretty fast, so I always consider myself lucky when I get hold of his creations.

This puzzle was created by Eric as part of the huge 'Apothecary' project, which will see contributions from twelve great puzzle craftsmen combined into one puzzle chest of epic proportions. Definitely one for the books!

Just like many of Eric's previous puzzle boxes the Topless Box looks pretty unassuming at first glance. The main body of the box is made from a very nice striped, quarter-sawn sapele which looks incredible under the light, and the two 'lids' are made from quilted maple. The whole box feels really sturdy, and even Eric said that they were designed with longevity in mind. This was great news for me! Some of Eric's puzzles don't deal well with levels of high humidity, so I've always had to keep them locked away in a specially dehumidified box, but this puzzle looks like it'll work well whatever the weather.

The box starts to look much more interesting as soon as a lid is removed. Now you can see a really nice contrast with the lovely orange-red colour of the padauk.

But now you start to see a problem. The 'lid' has been removed and the box is clearly not open. How odd.

Maybe if we try the other 'lid' then that will be the way into the box.

Nope...that doesn't seem to be the way forward either. And now the name of the box starts to make sense.

As Eric says;

"The box has two lids and neither a top nor a bottom. Figuring out how to deal with that conundrum will hopefully get you on your way..."
When I first saw pictures of this box on Eric's site I built a picture in my head of how I expected it to work, and strangely (because it doesn't happen that often) I turned out to be right! Because of this I actually managed to solve it pretty quickly, certainly in under ten minutes, but I definitely wouldn't take this as an indication of how difficult it is. I expect that if I hadn't had conjured up the correct expectation before its arrival then it would've taken me significantly longer to solve.

I've now been lucky enough to have had the chance to solve a good few of Eric's puzzle boxes, and I still haven't found one that I didn't really enjoy. The Topless Box has many of the great qualities that I look for in a good puzzle box: It looks great (inside and out), it has an excellent build quality (which is to be expected from Eric), and above all else it has a fun and reliable solution. Because of all of these this is actually one of my favourites from Eric thus far.

If you ever get the chance to buy one of Eric's puzzle boxes then honestly don't hesitate, I very much doubt you'll be disappointed.
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