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Monday, 31 January 2011

All Hail The Queen

This is another of the chess piece puzzles designed by Marcel Gillen and reproduced by Eureka, and it is the counterpart to All Hail The King. This is All Hail The Queen:

And here she is next to her 'other half':

As you can see the styling of the two is pretty much the same and both are made from cast aluminium. I won't go into as much detail as I did in my review of All Hail The King because they are so similar, but I will highlight what I feel is worth mentioning.

The mechanism within the Queen is essentially the same as the King, except where you were able to depress the 'head' of the King into it's main body you can pull the 'head' of the Queen slightly out from the main body. Also the Queen contains a small plastic jewel inside as opposed to a coin. I also would've preferred the 'jewel' to at least be made of glass, I just really don't like plastic.

Even though the mechanism is the same I preferred the way it was implemented in the King as it was easier on the hands to solve. And as I had already solved the King it only took me a couple of minutes to open the Queen.

Like I said in my review of the King, don't buy this expecting it to be a very high quality puzzle because you will be disappointed. Don't get me wrong it looks nice and works okay, it just lacks the quality of a properly machined metal puzzle. It is however definitely a collector's piece, and as such I would still consider it worth buying if you are able to find one. Finding one may be a bit of a problem though.

This puzzle was loaned to me, but it was bought from Sloyd (which is now one of my favourite companies to deal with....they are seriously good). However they are no longer selling them and I am at a loss of where to find one, but puzzle auctions may be your best bet.

If you know of anywhere that sells the Queen please let me know and I'll add it here for the benefit of others.

Also, you may like to read my slightly more in-depth review of All Hail The King here: LINK

Friday, 28 January 2011


Now this may not be one of the more expensive puzzles I own, nor is it one of the rarer ones, but it is easily one of my favourites:

This is The YOT, a very simple but very nice looking puzzle made by HI-Q Products INC. in Canada. I added two photos because in this case I thought it was necessary to see both sides of the puzzle.
The YOT is made out of high quality aircraft aluminium that has been nicely polished, and as you can see in the first photo it contains a real US Eisenhower silver dollar. The YOT is also available in 18K gold and containing an antique silver dollar instead, however it does cost......a little more.

There is also a 'sequel' to The YOT, and it is (rather imaginatively) called The YOT II, which I am now quite tempted to get even though I hear that the solution is pretty similar to it's predecessor.

With The YOT the goal is immediately obvious; you have to remove the coin from it's aluminium casing. The coin will rotate freely within the casing, the top section (pictured right) will also turn freely if held by the small knob on the top and the top section can also be depressed very slightly into the main body of the puzzle.

I now have a decent few puzzles in my collection, but I have not found any of them that can grab a person's attention quite like The YOT can. And it doesn't matter if the person in question has never seen a puzzle like this before, they will love it and won't be able to put it down. They will also most likely be begging you for the solution. Even better is the fact that if you are sly enough you can open The YOT right in front of someone and they still won't have a clue as to how you did it.

I found the solution relatively simple and as such solved in within a few minutes, but I reckon this is only because I have had some experience with puzzles before. Others that I have given it to have taken days or even weeks to solve it!

For a mass-produced puzzle the build quality is absolutely perfect. The finish is great and the mechanism will work without fail every single time. And considering how good it is the price isn't too bad either.

I bought my YOT from eBay, but they can also be bought from several other places. Puzzle Master are currently selling both the YOT and the YOT II.

And for those who are interested, here is a picture of the YOT sitting beside the YOT II, you'll notice that the YOT II is slightly thicker in comparison:

Also read Brian's review of The YOT here: LINK

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Popplock T3

Here is another great puzzle lock from the Popplock series made by the German designer Rainer Popp:

This is the Popplock T3, essentially meaning that it is the third in this series of puzzle locks. However it should be mentioned that the Popplock T1 is not actually for sale, and as such there are currently (at the time of writing) four different puzzle types, and if you have read my previous post you will already know that there are two versions of the Popplock T2.

Just like the T2, the T3 is machined from solid brass and the shackle is made from stainless steel, so once again there is a really nice weight to it and a great sense of quality. The circle in the centre of the lock can rotate freely both to the left and the right, and it can also be depressed just less than a centimetre into the lock and out the other side. There is a little bit of movement in the shackle, but it really is very little. And one of the first things you will notice is that the shackle runs all of the way through the body of the lock and out through the bottom which I think is a great bit of design, it looks really unique.

As of writing this I have only had the pleasure of solving the T2 and the T3 locks, so when I say now that my favourite is currently the T3 do understand that it is only out of those two so far.
Now there are quite a few things that I really think make the T3 such a great puzzle lock, and the main one is the fact that the lock comes as a single piece, just as shown in the image. It makes it quite clear that you have all you need to open the lock right in front of you. Another thing is that although I had a really elaborate idea of how it opened in my head, it only takes five moves in total to open it.

I think it took me about an hour to solve the T3, which I consider to be a very decent amount of time, and once you've solved it once you can do it again in only a few seconds. The mechanism itself is pretty satisfying and you will find yourself solving it several times after just for the fun of it.

This puzzle was loaned to me by a friend as the Popplock series is pretty expensive and I didn't want to spend so much if I wasn't sure of whether I'd like it or not. But I can now say that if I had bought it myself I would not have been disappointed.

You can purchase the Popplock T3 from Grand Illusions and Puzzle Master.

Also: Read my review of the Popplock T2 and My review of the Popplock T4

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Cast O'Gear

Here's another puzzle from the Cast series by Hanayama. This is the Cast O'Gear:

I don't think that it's one of the nicest looking puzzles by Hanayama, but it it definitely is a fun one to solve.

I couldn't really understand exactly how it worked before I got it just by looking at pictures of it, but I'll try and explain. The goal is to remove the gear shaped piece from the cube, and this is done by rotating the gear from side to side using the slots in the cube. The gear can only be removed once it is in the right position in the correct side of the cube, and you can only turn the gear 90 degrees in one particular direction on each face of the cube, depending on how that particular slot is cut. Also, not all of the cube's edges are rounded, meaning that you can only move the gear over the rounded edges and not the others, this is the main thing that makes this puzzle a lot trickier than it looks.

The first time I solved this puzzle I didn't do it correctly. As with most puzzles, taking it apart is only half of it, you also have to reassemble it in order for it to be considered solved. There is a particular 'starting' position that this puzzle needs to be left in when starting and finishing it, and this is shown by two indentations in the edges of the cube for the gear to slot into once it's on the correct side.

Once again this is another great puzzle from Hanayama. It took me around 10/15 minutes to solve properly, which is about right for it's difficulty rating of 3 out of 6. And as with all of the others it's not particularly expensive, which is why I have quite a few of them.

This puzzle was bought for me from NetGadgets and it is also available from Puzzle Master.

Also read Brian's review of the Cast O'Gear here: LINK

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Japanese Puzzle Box

This was actually the first puzzle box that I ever bought, and as you can see it is of the traditional Japanese design:

I was really surprised when this little box arrived, mostly by just how small it actually is! It is described as 'mame' in size, which equates to a length of between 1 and 2 inches (ish).
Most Japanese puzzle boxes that you will see on sale will have their measurements shown in 'sun', which is the traditional Japanese unit of measure. Here is what each of those measurements equates to in sizes that most of us can understand:

   1 Sun = 1.22 inches (Mame)
1.5 Sun = 1.83 inches (Mame)
   2 Sun = 2.44 inches
2.5 Sun = 3.05 inches
   3 Sun = 3.66 inches
   4 Sun = 4.88 inches
   5 Sun = 6.10 inches
   6 Sun = 7.32 inches
   7 Sun = 8.54 inches
It's a bit hard to get the hang of, but in general Japanese puzzle boxes will look a whole lot bigger in pictures than they are once you have them in your hand. Now considering that my box shown above is only 1 and a half inches long (ish) there is just so much detail put into it. The pattern is shown on all sides of the box, and you cannot physically see the joins between the panels, it really is beautifully made. Also you can get Japanese puzzle boxes in quite a few different designs if you don't like the pattern on this one.

It requires 10 moves to open, and this is done by sliding the outer panels in the correct direction and in the correct sequence. It is pretty easy to work out, but it is also great fun to repeat.

I bought this puzzle box from eBay, but you can buy them from a whole load of other places. Puzzle Master tend to sell quite a few Japanese Puzzle Boxes, so it's worth checking them out.

Prices tend to vary quite a bit depending on the size, number of moving panels/keys and who made them (of course) , but they can go from around £20 all the way up to being well over £600/£700!

Friday, 21 January 2011

Dragon's Egg

I just love the look of spherical puzzles! And they just feel great to hold while you're solving them. This is the Dragon's Egg made by Creative Crafthouse in the US:

It's a nice little puzzle made entirely from wood apart from a couple of pieces in the internal mechanism. You might be able to see in the picture (if you squint a bit) that there is a dovetail joint holding the two halves of this puzzle together that you should be able to implement to open the ball, but it will only slide so far in each direction before becoming stuck.

There is only one thing that I didn't like about this puzzle, and that it that it does move about quite a bit along it's join even when it is in the unsolved position. I would've preferred if it were totally fixed in place until it was solved.

The Dragon's Egg utilises a classic locking mechanism, and as such most people will have it open in only a couple of minutes at maximum. But the puzzle does look great on display, and is perfect to hand over to friends to try out at parties and the like. Plus the cost is pretty low too!

I purchased the Dragon's Egg puzzle from a really nice guy called Dave Janelle over at Creative Crafthouse. Another company that is great to deal with.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

All Hail The King

This is All Hail The King, designed by Marcel Gillen and reproduced in a larger quantity by Eureka:

And here is the King with the Queen by his side:

The King is one in a series of chess themed pieces from puzzle designer Marcel Gillen, and they are all pretty hard to find now days, some more than others. The other chess themed puzzles are the Queen (obviously), the Pawn and the Rook. I have also heard that there may have been a Bishop produced as well, but I have yet to see one, so please put in a comment if you can confirm or deny that for me.
As I said before, these are Eureka reproductions of Gillen's original pieces, which although does make them affordable by the likes of myself it also means that the quality was never going to be as good. The mechanism sometimes requires a little bit of coaxing to work as well.

Even though I knew that the King is larger than a normal chess piece before it was delivered, I was still surprised when I first held it. It stands at around 6 inches in height and it is primarily made (I believe) from cast aluminium. The only noticable moving part is the 'head' which you can depress and turn 180 degrees. Even though it is cast (and as such has cast lines on both sides) I still think that it's a great looking puzzle which deserves a place in most collections.

The puzzle itself is pretty easy. Your goal is to find the coin that is hidden within the King, and I managed this within a couple of minutes. The main thing that disappoints me is that the coin is made of painted plastic rather than metal, which really is a shame.

All-in-all I'm pretty happy that I managed to get hold of one of these pieces as I feel that it is pretty collectible, however I'm not going to hold my breath with regards to finding the others in the chess 'set'. I would say that you should only look to buy one of these if you really want one in your collection, not if you are just after a great puzzle. You can find plenty of other puzzles that are more challenging (and cheaper) than this one.

I bought All Hail The King from: Sloyd (FI) And they are a great company to deal with.

Also, you might like to read my review of All Hail The Queen here: LINK

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Cast Equa

This has to be (in my opinion) one of -if not the- best looking puzzle of the Hanayama Cast range. This is the Cast Equa:

This was the Cast puzzle that I wanted to get more than any of the others, mostly again because of how good it looks. And with it's solid metal construction, finished in dark colour chrome it really does look spectacular. I would've reviewed it earlier on but even though I got it for Christmas I only just managed to put it back together this morning! And I wanted to have a photo of the Equa in it's completed form for my review.

One thing that is kind of hard to tell from the photos is that the Equa is actually made up of three solid metal pieces and not two. The outer 'casing' of the puzzle is all one piece and looks the same from every angle, but the inner 'ball' of the puzzle is actually made up of two 'c' shaped rings that lock together to form a sort of sphere....thing. The inner sphere can be rotated within the outer part to a certain degree, but there are two small protruding areas on the sphere that stop it from being moved in certain directions.

I managed to get the Equa apart into it's three pieces after about 2-3 hours, and I thought it would take me much less to put it back together, but oh how wrong I was. I didn't pay too much attention to how it came apart, and because of that I wasn't really sure on how to start putting it back together again. So it took me another few weeks of fiddling with it on and off until I managed to put it back together this morning and take a photo of it.

Hanayama rate the Equa as a level 5 out of 6 on it's difficulty scale, which I think is actually about right, but it definitely borders on being a level 6. All I can say is pay close attention when it comes apart. You have been warned!

This puzzle was also bought for me (lucky me eh?), but it came from: Puzzle This. It is also available from Puzzle Master.

Also read Brian Pletcher's review of the Cast Equa here: LINK

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Cast Elk

This is the Cast Elk, which (as you most likely guessed) is made by Hanayama:

The Cast Elk is another of the Hanayama series that is very nicely crafted in metal and chrome, which does look very nice and gives it a good weight in your hands. The chrome does pick up fingerprints really easily but they're polished off with no trouble. It consists of two pieces cast in the shape of (strangely enough) an elk. The two pieces do look completely identical, but there is a very subtle difference between them which makes sure that the puzzle can only be solved in one way.

I think there's always something appealing about two-piece puzzles, they are just so easy to pick up and puzzle over no matter who you are or where you are (within reason). If you were to give someone who has never done any puzzles before a two piece puzzle then odds are they would be more interested in solving it compared with giving them something far more complex as they feel it is something that they should be able to achieve by themselves.

Unfortunately for any newcomers however, this is another one of those deceptively easy looking puzzles. How hard could it possibly be to take two pieces apart right? Hanayama rate this as a level 6 on it's scale of difficulty...and it only goes up to six. I think this actually took me a couple of hours spread out over a couple of days. As it's easy to just pick up for a couple of minutes wherever you are I found myself taking it to work to play with for a the odd minutes I was free. Putting it back together was pretty easy as I was paying attention when it came apart, but solving it is still a challenge for me even now.

So once again I really enjoyed this puzzle, and as with many of the Hanayama puzzles it won't cost you much to get hold of one. I tend to say that anything around £10-£12 is quite acceptable for any of the Cast series puzzles.

This is another puzzle that a friend has kindly loaned me, but after solving it I think I would quite like one in my own collection. You can find them in several places, two of which are: Puzzle This and Puzzle Master.

Also have a look at Brian Pletcher's review of the Cast Elk here: LINK

Monday, 17 January 2011

The 'Puzzle Community'

This blog has only been running for a few days now, but I've noticed something that really does need mentioning.

The people that I have contacted or who have contacted me regarding my blog have been amazingly kind and very very helpful. And it might just be me who thinks this, but I've never come across a community of people that are quite so quick and eager to help as the people within the 'puzzle community'. And this ranges from puzzle designers/creators, puzzle sellers, all the way to fellow puzzle collectors like myself.

So really this is a quick post to say thank you to all of you!

Now....back to the puzzles!

Popplock T2

Now here is a puzzle that I imagine many of you are already familiar with. This is a puzzle lock going by the name of the Popplock T2, which is made by a man called Rainer Popp in Germany:

And I think it's a great looking puzzle. Also, if brass isn't your kind of thing it is also available in stainless steel, but do expect to really have to search for one of those as only 100 were ever made.

Now this thing is solid...and I mean solid. Let's just say that you really, really wouldn't want to drop the T2 on your foot. It is machined from solid brass and the shackle is stainless steel. The only quality issue I have is with the key shown in my picture. As the key is cast in softer metal rather than machined from steel I managed to break one of the teeth off. This was even more traumatic because this T2 was actually on loan to me. Luckily Rainer Popp is pretty easy to get into contact with and he was able to send me a replacement key which was off of the stainless steel run of puzzles which is of much better quality.

The Popplock T2 is 'simply' a padlock which comes with a key. Although (as always) things are hardly ever as simple as they seem. I found it hard to gauge how many steps were required to open it in total, but according to Rainer Popp it takes six steps to solve. I found myself going backwards quite a few times when trying to solve this one.

It took me approximately 3 hours or so to solve this puzzle, and it is a puzzle that I would definitely recommend, especially if you like your puzzle locks. But keep in mind that the Popplock series is not cheap, so you may want to do some hunting around before jumping in to buy one.

Like I said, this lock was lent to me, and it seems to be out of stock in quite a few places. But two sites that have sold them in the past and may do again are: Puzzle Master and Grand Illusions.

Also: Read my review of the Popplock T3 and My review of the Popplock T4.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Cast Spiral

And here's yet another great looking puzzle from Hanayama; the Cast Spiral:

Hanayama have made quite a few puzzles over the years, and I haven't even scratched the surface when it comes to collecting them, so at the moment I tend to be buying ones that look nice. Sure you shouldn't judge a book by its cover, but in this case I found a puzzle that both looks good and is a great puzzle to boot.

Now I should mention that this is another one of those puzzles that looks easy but really isn't. The puzzle is made up of five similar looking pieces which are made in true Hanayama style out of solid metal which has been nicely chrome finished. I say the pieces look 'similar' because although they all look the same the dovetails that join piece to piece are cut at different angles, so not every piece will fit into another, and some pieces may slide apart in one direction but not in the other.
I expected it to fall apart as soon as I got it out of the packet, but believe it or not it actually takes a lot of thinking to get it apart. And if you didn't pay close attention when it came apart it will also likely take you a while to find the correct combination to get it back together again. I reckon this took me a couple of hours to solve, but I did fully disassemble it and mix up the pieces.

This is another puzzle that I had bought for me by my very understanding other half, and I believe that it also came from Puzzle This. It is also available from Puzzle Master.

Gyro and Internal Combustion

I bought both of these puzzles on eBay for about £4 each, but the quality of them is pretty good!

Both of these puzzle designs are pretty well known. The puzzle on the left is a cheaper copy of a wooden puzzle called 'Gyro' by Puzzle Master, and the puzzle on the right is a wooden copy of a metal puzzle called 'Internal Combustion' by Puzzle Master.

Both of the puzzles are pretty good. I definitely preferred Gyro as I tend to like disassembly puzzles rather than sequential movement puzzles (which is what the Internal Combustion is). Also, the Internal Combustion puzzle is also a little bit too difficult for me, which could be because I just don't enjoy sequential movement puzzles.....or it could simply be because I suck at them, although I prefer the first excuse.

Either way as I got them for a combined total of £8 including shipping I can't really argue. If you happen to like your sequential movement puzzles then I'd recommend getting Internal Combustion in it's metal form, it may be more expensive but in my opinion you just can't beat the feel of a machined metal puzzle.

So I got both of these puzzles from eBay, and they were named the 'Mysterious Ball' (Gyro) and 'Pandora's Box' (Internal Combustion). Depending on when you're reading this you may not be able to find them there.

In which case take a look on Puzzle Master and hopefully you'll have better luck.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Nut and Bolt (Eureka)

And now for a bolt puzzle! This is the Nut and Bolt puzzle from Eureka:

There are quite a few bolt puzzles out there, and even though they all look very similar the mechanisms on them do vary quite a bit. This puzzle bolt implements one of the classic mechanisms for this type of puzzle, and odds are it won't take you long to figure it out. The objective (as you have most likely guessed) is to remove the warped washer from the bolt, even though this seems physically impossible.

The quality of the puzzle is pretty good and the metal is solid. For the price you pay it is definitely worth getting, just remember that it is mass produced, so don't expect anything like the handmade quality you will get from designers like Rocky Chiaro for example.

I think this took me all of about 10 seconds to solve, but it wasn't properly assembled on arrival and that definitely contributed (although I would like to take all of the credit).

Go and buy one, you won't be disappointed for the price.

I got hold of this puzzle from: Puzzle This (again)

It's starting to look a bit like I'm promoting for Puzzle This doesn't it? I'm not....they're just a great company to deal with, plus they're in the UK.

Friday, 14 January 2011


The Danlock, designed and built by Dan Feldman in Israel is widely acknowledged to be the 'Rolls-Royce' of puzzle locks. These locks are made from real padlocks made by Nabob in Israel. Dan takes these regular padlocks and transforms them into these spectacular puzzles:

The Danlock is the first puzzle lock that I bought, and since solving a few others (which I will get to later) I agree that it is in a league of its own.
It comes as it is shown in the picture. One key is locked onto the shackle, and another key is supplied in two pieces. The keyring and small chain are not included, I added them to make sure that I wouldn't lose the loose key. It also comes with a nice little drawstring bag with 'Danlock' printed onto it, and a sealed envelope containing the solution (both of which I tucked away for safe keeping).

What makes the Danlock so unique in the puzzle lock world is that it has more than a single puzzle needing to be solved in order for it to be complete. Not only do you need to open the lock and release the key, you will then need to put it back into the exact same position as you started in, and you will have to go through several steps to make this possible. I found closing the Danlock far more of a challenge than opening it. I believe that it took me around an hour to solve the Danlock, and most of that was spent on one particular step.

There are two versions of this puzzle. There is the 'Danlock A' and 'Danlock B', and as far as I am aware the only difference is to do with the keys, and as such the Danlock B has one more step required to make solving the puzzle possible. The lock pictured is the 'B' model.

A Danlock is relatively hard to find. You can contact Dan Feldman and be added to his waiting list, but I believe this is quite long. I personally bought my Danlock through Hendrik Ball at Grand Illusions.

The Danlock is a truly exceptional puzzle, and I would say that every puzzle collector should aim to have one of these in their collection.

Where I bought the Danlock from: Grand Illusions

But naturally you can also order the Danlock directly from Dan Feldman here: LINK

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Welcome to Alcatraz! I don't know why, but I felt the need to introduce the puzzle like that.

If you've already been having a wander around in puzzle world you will have likely stumbled across this puzzle in one form or another as the style is pretty generic. The object is obviously to remove the ball from it's cage. From my picture you can only see the front, but the back looks exactly the same with a set of brass bars preventing the ball from being removed. All four of the brass bars will rattle slightly in their holes but none of them are able to be moved out of the way for the ball to pass.

I tried several methods to try and solve Alcatraz, but none of them seemed to do the trick. After a couple of days of fiddling around with the damn thing I decided that as much as I hate doing so I was going to look up the solution because I genuinely couldn't think of any other ways to open it. It turned out that I had tried the correct method, but because the mechanism was a bit stiff I was unable to open it without using a bit more force than I would ever consider necessary to open a puzzle. On the up side it has gotten easier the more times it is opened.

Not a bad puzzle, and I certainly don't regret getting it, but it's not held as one of my favourites.

You will be able to find Alcatraz (or one of it's many incarnations) in several places on the net, but I bought it from the Alcatraz puzzle website here: Alcatraz

It is also available for purchase from Puzzle Master.

Also read Brian Pletcher's review of Alcatraz here: LINK

Cast Laby

Here's another puzzle from the Cast series by Hanayama, the Cast Laby:

The Laby consists of two solid pieces. The larger circular piece that is laying flat (that I'll admit isn't brilliantly pictured here) has a maze on both sides, and if you look very carefully the other piece has two pins that can run in the mazes on both sides simultaneously. Your goal is to detach the two pieces from eachother by navigating the mazes.
Now this is a good example of a puzzle that looks incredibly easy.....but isn't. I think it took me around half an hour to solve the first time, and now I can do it in a matter of seconds. There is only one route through the maze to complete the puzzle.

Another great one to hand around to friends.

Where I got the Cast Laby from: Puzzle This. And it is also available from Puzzle Master.

I didn't actually buy this one myself as it was a present, but I have it on good authority that it came from Puzzle This. Probably.

Also read Brian Pletcher's review of the Laby here: LINK

Karakuri Cube No.3

Behold! My first puzzle made by the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan:

This is the Karakuri Cube No.3. It is handmade by the Karakuri Creation Group in Hakone Japan. It is a beautiful and simple two step (depending on how you count) puzzle box made from walnut, maple and katsura wood. All sides are completely symmetrical and the edges are nicely sanded.
Other puzzlers have said that the solution to this box is easier to find if you have not solved other Karakuri puzzles in the past, and this is likely to be true as I solved it in only a couple of minutes. Even though the solution is relatively simple, it is very satisfying to repeat.

I liked this one so much that I've decided that I will get hold of the other three cubes in this set (finance permitting). And I would recommend that anyone looking to get hold of a premier puzzle box for a relatively cheap price that these are the boxes for you.

Where I got the Karakuri Cube No.3 from: Faze 3

Although it does seem that I bought the last one from Faze 3, so if you are also looking for one I recommend also taking a look here: Puzzle Box World (US)

See also my review of the Karakuri Cube No.1: HERE

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Revomaze Bronze Extreme

Now for a puzzle of truly epic proportions; the Revomaze Bronze Extreme;

As of writing this post, this is the hardest puzzle that I have ever had the pleasure of owning. I have just finished this puzzle now after having it for around three months, and I estimate that it took me around 25 hours of on-and-off puzzling to solve it. The designer Chris Pitt estimates that the average time needed to open the Bronze Extreme is around 40 hours, but it could be a lot more if you haven't solved any of the other easier puzzles in the series.

For those of you not familiar with the Revomaze series, I shall try to explain how the puzzle works.

The puzzle consists of two main parts, these are the sleeve (the bronze coloured bit) and the shaft (the silver coloured bit that goes through the middle). There is a maze engraved on the shaft of this puzzle, and there is a sprung pin in the sleeve. Your objective is to navigate the pin through the maze by turning, pushing and pulling the shaft of the puzzle to the end where you will be able to fully remove the shaft and the certificate that is held within it. Unlike a normal maze however, you are able to 'fall off' from the maze path. If this happens you will hear a click and the pin you are navigating with will fall into a 'trap' path that will return you back to the beginning of the maze. And then you repeat the process remembering which directions not to go in.

Here is a picture of my Bronze Extreme after I had opened it:

I've blurred the image so as not to ruin the experience for any other puzzlers, but you can see that the certificate wraps around the 'draw' which is the far right piece. The draw and certificate then slide into the maze 'shaft' (centre piece), then the two pins go in (one to hold the draw in place and one to navigate the maze with) and then all of that slides into the Bronze sleeve.

The Bronze is the third puzzle in the Revomaze Extreme range. The two puzzles that came before it are the Blue Extreme and the Green Extreme, and these are easier than the Bronze. It is recommended that you start with the Blue and work your way up through the Green, Bronze, Silver and ultimately the Gold. The Bronze is estimated to take around 40 hours to complete, whereas the Gold is rumoured to take an estimated 300 hours to solve. And no....that's not a typo.

These puzzles are not cheap, starting at around £80 for the Blue and Green Extremes, £85 for the Bronze, £95 for the Silver and heading up to over £100 for the Gold. But I can say with a great degree of certainty that you will get your moneys worth out of them, and the craftsmanship is second to none.

I also should point out that Chris Pitt and the Revomaze team are possibly some of the best people you could ever hope to buy from. If you are after any more information just follow the link to the Revomaze site, here you will also find a forum which contains some lovely people who will be willing to help you out with any questions you may have........apart from the solutions.

Also, for anyone interested here is a picture of the full (current) Revomaze Extreme Series I, including the Special Edition Black Extreme and the original Revomaze made by Chris Pitt:

Where I got the Revomaze Bronze Extreme from: Revomaze

Also read Brian Pletcher's review of the Revomaze Bronze Extreme here: LINK

Aluminium Cylinder (Wil Strijbos)

This is a puzzle that I really hunted for. It just looks spectacular, and now that I own one I can also confirm that the craftsmanship is absolutely superb.
I have also decided to start using my own pictures from now on because it adds a kind of personal touch to my blog and also avoids any nasty copyright issues.

This puzzle is made by puzzle designer Wil Strijbos in the Netherlands. It is entirely milled from solid aluminium block (apart from some of the contents), which makes it absolutely impossible to open without finding the correct solution. Unless you own an angle grinder of course.

Looking at the puzzle you can see two parts which I shall call the base and the lid, and both are engraved with a two digit number. The base also has a small hole drilled through the bottom into the cylinder. Now obviously the objective is quite 'simply' to open the cylinder. As always, this is not quite as easy as it may sound.

The lid will depress very slightly and spring back up again. You can also hear rattling from the inside and the lid will rotate a full 360 degrees in either direction.

I think this puzzle took me around 2 hours to solve which I believe was partly through luck, but I have spoken to many people who have had this puzzle for months and even years and have not solved it. Plus the mechanism really is brilliant.

On top of all of this Wil is also a really nice guy to order from and chat with. I don't want to post his details here, but if you do a bit of internet hunting I'm sure you will be able to track him down. Failing that, drop me a message with your email and I might be able to help you out.

Where I got the Aluminium Cylinder from: Wil Strijbos

And now it is also available from Sloyd in Finland.

After a few comments and emails I thought it would be worth adding this info on fixing a jammed Aluminium Cylinder:

Turn it upside down, spray a decent amount of WD40 into the hole, leave for a little while. Turn it back over and drain out the excess WD40. That should get it moving again.


Now for the first wooden puzzle for me to review.'s mostly wooden anyway. This is Bi-Polar, a puzzle made my a company called Orb Factory:

It consists of two halves, each with a coloured half sphere on the end, and the objective is to separate the two pieces from each other. I already had a pretty good idea of how this one worked when I got it due to images I had seen of it beforehand, but even then it took me around 15/20 minutes to work out how to implement my method properly. The wood is of good quality but I would be a little worried to hand it around quite so freely as my Hanayama puzzles because of parts inside which I reckon wouldn't hold up to the pulling and tugging that non-puzzlers tend to resort to when frustration kicks in.

Still a very good puzzle, and it's not going to break the bank to buy one either. So long as you can find one that is.

Where I got Bi-Polar from: Puzzle This

Cast Loop

The Cast Loop by Hanayama is in my opinion one of the most aesthetically pleasing I own. I mean just look at it:

The chrome effect finish is what really makes the Loop stand out from the crowd, and there is a magnetic catch to hold the puzzle together once it is solved. It has even been suggested that you could wear it as a pendant, though I'm not so sure about that one considering it's weight. Looking at the above pictures the Loop will be sent to you in it's unsolved state shown on the left, and your objective is to create the image shown above on the right.

It is a pretty simple puzzle, it probably took me around 5/6 minutes to solve, which matches up with Hanayama's difficulty rating of 1 out of 6. This is another great puzzle to hand around to friends and family as it can't be broken, it's not too difficult (most people can solve it within a few minutes) but it is just difficult enough to engage the interest of people who aren't regular puzzlers.

Again, another puzzle that I definitely recommend.

Where I got the Cast Loop from: Serious Shops (

And it is also available to purchase from Puzzle Master.

If you're wondering why I got if from the US when it's much cheaper to order from the UK it's because I was given a gift card for, so it had to be spent there. The shipping actually came to more than the puzzle itself!

Also see Brian Pletcher's review of the Loop here: LINK

Cast News

Well, as this is my first post it only seems appropriate to begin with the puzzle that started me off on the road to collecting; the Cast News by Hanayama.

The first thing that I noticed when I received this puzzle is how heavy it is! And this is one thing that tends to stand out about Hanayama's Cast range of puzzles, they are built to last. This tends to be the reason why they are the puzzles that I am most likely to hand around at parties and the like, because I don't have to worry about anyone breaking them.

The objective of the puzzle is to separate the two halves. The News has a very clever but difficult mechanism if you haven't come across it before. It is rated as the highest difficulty on Hanayama's scale of 1-6 at level 6. I stumbled onto the solution by accident after around 10/15 minutes, and after seeing the inner workings it was simple to repeat the solution. I reckon that if I hadn't found the solution by accident it would've taken me hours to work it out for myself.

All in all, a very good puzzle, and as with most Hanaya puzzles it is also good value. I just wish that I discovered the actual solution myself.

Where I got the Cast News from: Puzzle This in the UK. But it is also available from Puzzle Master in Canada.

Also see Brian Pletcher's review of the News here: LINK
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