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Saturday, 26 February 2011

Australian Relief Puzzle Auction

Hey all! This is one of those 'other puzzle related ramblings' posts, but as I'm sure you'll agree after reading it that it is well worth mentioning.

As many of you will already know, Australia's Great Barrier Reef and the people who are living there have become the victims of both Cyclone Yasi and terrible flooding within the space of a single week.

In order to provide aid to the victims of this disaster many of the best puzzle designers, craftsmen and collectors have come together to donate some amazing pieces, some of which you are unlikely to see for sale again in the near future (if at all). This includes puzzles from the 'Stickman' series by Robert Yarger, Stephen Chin, Lee Krasnow and there are likely to be quite a few more added before the auction close date.

All of the money made from the sale of these items will go to helping out people in need in Australia. You will even find that sellers will likely cover the shipping cost as well!

These items are currently being listed on the puzzle auction site PUZZLE PARADISE. Auction items are still being added, and they will continue to be until the close of the auction on 12th of March 2011.

The auction will officially run from the 5th of March until the 12th of March. If you have any puzzles that you would be willing to donate to this cause, or if you want to find some more information on it, then head over to the Puzzle Paradise site. And even if you don't have any puzzles to donate then it would be great if you would consider generously bidding on the items that are there.

Remember that all of the money is going to a very worthy cause!

Thank you, and happy puzzling!


Friday, 25 February 2011

Wasserhahn (Roger)

As I mentioned in my previous post about Roger D's Propeller, I was lucky enough to get hold of another of his puzzles, and this is it:

This puzzle is called 'Wasserhahn', which unsurprisingly means 'water tap' in German. Just like the Propeller this puzzle is also machined from aluminium, and has a really nice quality finish to it! Wasserhahn is made up of a few more components compared with the Propeller, I'll just go through them quickly now:

The main body is made up of two solid blocks of aluminium which have been screwed together with Allan key bolts. Two 'taps' protrude from the top of the puzzle, and both of these can be screwed in and out. A bronze colour tube protrudes from the front of the puzzle which is bent at 90 degrees, and this turns freely against the main body. You can hear a rattling coming from inside the puzzle but you cannot see what is causing it.

The only things that you can visibly manipulate are the two 'taps' on the top of the puzzle and the tube at the front.

Like all of Roger D's puzzles, working out the objective is also part of the puzzle itself. The puzzle comes with no solution and no instructions.

I really like this puzzle! It probably took me around half a day of on-off playing around to solve it. And when I did eventually work out the solution there really was a very satisfying 'Ah-Ha!' moment.

Once again I would recommend that if you see this puzzle come up for sale then definitely go for it! But unfortunately as Roger's puzzles are quite hard to come by you will have to keep an eye out on some of the puzzle auction sites like Cubic Dissection and Puzzle Paradise.

Also have a look at plenty more examples of Roger's puzzles on Rob's Puzzle Page.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Deja Vu

Here is an affordable reproduction of a classic 'impossible' puzzle design, the 'dovetail box' sold by Puzzle Master under the name of Deja Vu. Thank you very much to Puzzle Master for making this review possible!

When I first show people this puzzle box they don't tend to notice what is so special about it straight away, but once I point out that the dovetail joints are on all four sides of the box then they get more interested. Unless you know how the mechanism works it really does look like an impossible object.

Deja Vu is made of two solid pieces of wood, one of which is stained to really help define the dovetail joints on all four of it's sides.

Obviously the quality is never going to be as good as the dovetail puzzles that are hand crafted by the Sandfield brothers, but at under $12 it is a great reproduction! The internal mechanism is much nicer than I anticipated it would be and it works really well. Plus the fit of the two halves is nice and snug so it doesn't rattle around while you're holding it.

I have been wanting a dovetail joint puzzle in my collection for a while, and I'm really glad that I have this one. It is a great example of a classic puzzle mechanism but for the price you won't mind handing it around for other puzzlers to try out.

Deja Vu is available to buy from Puzzle Master.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Cast Ring

Here's another puzzle that was kindly loaned to me by a friend and fellow puzzler. As you can tell it is another of Hanayama's Cast series, and this one is called the Cast Ring:

The Cast Ring is made up of four pieces; two gold bands and two silver bands. The Ring doesn't fully come apart into it's four separate pieces, the pieces still remain tangled together once they have been disassembled. 

I was actually quite surprised when I held the Ring for the first time because I wasn't expecting it to be as large and heavy as it is. For some reason I was expecting it to be slightly larger than a normal finger ring, but it is in fact quite a bit larger than that! But because it's large it makes it relatively easy to manipulate, and I imagine it wouldn't be quite as fun if it were too much smaller.

When I reviewed the Cast Amour I said that I wasn't a big fan of the gold and silver design, but in the case of the Cast Ring I actually think it works really well. Probably because I'm so used to seeing jewellery in gold and silver that it just looks right. 

This puzzle isn't particularly difficult but it is quite enjoyable. It sits well once it is in the solved position, which also makes it good as a display piece. I think it only took me about 5 or so minutes to solve it, which I don't think really matches up with Hanayama's difficulty rating of level 4 out of 6, but I can see how you could easily get yourself tangled up with it and end up going round in circles. But it is a really good puzzle and definitely worth the reasonable price.

You can buy the Cast Ring (along with all of the other Cast series) from Puzzle Master.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Raketti (The Rocket)

Here is a great little puzzle which only arrived today with several others from the lovely people at Oy Sloyd Ab in Finland, so thank you very much to them for making this review possible!

This curious little thing is called 'Raketti', or 'The Rocket'. But I'm going to call it 'Raketti' because I think it sounds cooler.

It is a very simple looking two piece puzzle made entirely from birch wood (like many of Sloyd's puzzles).The goal is simple; put the two pieces together and place them on a flat surface (as shown in the photo on the left), then all you have to do is remove the centre piece without touching the outer box at all.

As I had come across a variation of Raketti a little while ago I knew roughly what I had to do, but it still took me a good while to work out how to do it reliably.

Even if you are an avid puzzle solver and you know how to solve it I still recommend that you consider having one in your collection. It is one of those puzzles that is perfect to hand around to friends getting them to try it out while you sit there laughing silently at the ideas they come up with to try and solve it. I have seen people try some pretty bizarre things to try and remove the rocket.

Raketti can be found for a very affordable price directly from Oy Sloyd Ab here: Raketti (Sloyd) and is a very welcome addition to my collection.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Propeller (Roger)

Now this is a puzzle that I've been really excited about getting for quite some time now. It is my first puzzle by the mysterious 'Roger' (RD), a German puzzle maker who is well known for making very high quality puzzles that also tend to be really hard to get hold of. This particular puzzle is called 'Propeller':

The Propeller essentially only has two main visible parts, these are the propeller itself which is at the front (this includes the circular plate that is actually attached to it) and the main body which it is attached to. There are three Allen key bolts that can be seen in the photo, one of them holds the propeller onto the main body of the puzzle and the other two bolts are firmly screwed into the top of the main body. The propeller will rattle around a bit but it will only move <1mm in either direction.

One thing about puzzles designed by Roger is that not only do they not come with the solution, but they also don't come with the objective. After playing around with it for a little bit I worked out what I thought was the objective, and after working that out I accidentally managed to solve it a few minutes later! After I solved it, it immediately went back to it's unsolved state and I had no idea what I had done. It took me many more attempts and quite a bit of imagination before I worked out how to repeat my feat reliably, and you do have to pay attention otherwise it will lock itself back up again.

I really do love this puzzle, and I definitely intend to add as many of Roger's puzzles to my collection that I can. Unfortunately it now seems that Roger will no longer be producing any more puzzles, so his current ones are becoming highly collectible.

I got hold of this Roger puzzle and one other (Wasserhahn) from another puzzle collector who happened to have duplicates of these puzzles that he was generously willing to sell to me. Sadly you are unlikely to find any of these puzzles for sale from any source other than other puzzle collectors, so if you are interested keep an eye on some of the puzzle auction sites such as Cubic Dissection and hopefully you may get lucky.

Also, take a look on Rob's Puzzle Page to see plenty more of Roger's puzzles.

Monday, 14 February 2011

Cast Amour

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I wasn't originally going to update my blog today, but as my other half has bought me a Valentine's themed puzzle it only seemed right to write the review today.

This is the Cast Amour, another great little metal puzzle from Hanayama. It is made up of three pieces which are the silver colour plate with four holes through it, and two gold colour male and female symbols which overlap each other through the holes in the plate. The goal is to disassemble the puzzle into it's three separate pieces.

It isn't particularly difficult to solve but the first move did have me stumped for a little while. Hanayama rate the difficulty of the Amour as a level 5 out of 6, but personally I would've thought that it should really be one of the higher end puzzles in the level 4 range.

I have to say that I don't like the look and feel of this puzzle compared with some of Hanayama's other pieces, and the reason for that boils down to a few main things;

1) The silver plate feels a bit flimsy in the way that it rattles against the other two pieces, and that detracts from the quality of it a bit.
2) It is very difficult to put the Amour down and have it stay in it's unsolved starting position, which means it isn't too good at being a display piece.
3) I don't particularly like the gold colour.

Now please don't get me wrong, I still think that this is a great puzzle, and the three points that I mentioned above are purely because of my personal preference, so there's a good chance that you may not feel the same way.

My girlfriend bought me this puzzle as a Valentine's gift from Village Games during our trip to Camden. But you can also buy them from loads of online retailers including Puzzle This and Puzzle Master.

Also have a read of Brian's review of the Cast Amour here: LINK

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Explosion Cube

Now as some regular readers (which I like to think that I have) may have noticed I do tend to lean towards acquiring metal puzzles, but I've only really recently started to get quite interested in wooden puzzles as well. When I saw this puzzle on the shelf in Village Games in Camden (London) I just knew that I was going to be leaving with it!

This is the Explosion Cube, lovingly hand-crafted in the Czech Republic by Vinco:

You may remember that a fellow puzzler by the name of Chris previously wrote an article for my blog about Vinco's Dual Tetrahedron 9 puzzle in which he states that the craftsmanship is excellent, and I can say that the Explosion Cube is no different! This puzzle is handmade, and you really can tell. Every edge is perfectly sanded and there isn't any space to spare in-between each of the pieces. Only four pieces actually make up the Explosion Cube, but each piece is made up of several different types of contrasting wood that have been glued and sanded together to form the beautiful artwork of colour that you can see in the above images. I especially like the light wood corners.

Like I said, the Explosion Cube is only made up of four pieces, but the puzzle is actually a little hard to figure out at first. It actually took me a good few minutes to work out how to disassemble it properly. You can see in the image on the right how the cube looks when it starts to come apart, and this is where I imagine the 'Explosion' part of the name comes from. All four pieces have to be moved at the same time to take the cube apart, so there is a really nice moment when the puzzle sort of opens up from all sides at once and the motion of it is really satisfying to repeat.
Once you have the four pieces fully disassembled it isn't too difficult to see how they go back together, but the puzzle is actually managing to find a way to actually implement your assembly technique. As all of the pieces came apart at the same time that also means that they all have to go back together at the same time, which can make you feel like you need some more hands to achieve it, but with a bit of determination you will get there without too much difficulty. I think it took me no more than 6 or 7 minutes to take apart and then reassemble the Explosion Cube.

I absolutely love this puzzle, so much so that I'm aiming to get hold of many more of Vinco's puzzles in the future, I already have one other simpler puzzle which is great fun, and I will also review that one soon.

You can buy Vinco's puzzles directly from him on his site here: LINK.
And you can also buy a great variety of Vinco's puzzles from Puzzle Master in Canada.

Friday, 11 February 2011

Cast Key II

Here is latest Hanayama Cast puzzle that I have added to my collection:

This is the Cast Key II, another great two-piece puzzle from Japanese puzzle makers Hanayama. I had to decide whether to buy either the Cast Key or the Cast Key II, but in the end I went for this one for a couple of reasons, but the main reason is that I think it's dark chrome effect looks a lot nicer than the brass effect of the first Cast Key.

This puzzle is not particularly difficult, Hanayama rate it as a level 2 out of 6 which I think is pretty fair, but it is at the lower end of level 2 I reckon. I managed to solve it after a couple of minutes or so. A couple of moves were quite interesting and unusual, especially the final one! And I have enjoyed solving it a few times since.

Once again for the sake of around £10 you really can't go wrong. The Cast Key II is a great little puzzle that you will enjoy handing around to friends and family as even non-puzzlers will really enjoy it as it doesn't look too intimidating with it's two pieces. Plus it really does look nice! I definitely recommend it.

I bought this puzzle from NetGadgets as their price was really good including shipping, but if you are reading from 'across the pond' you can also buy one from Puzzle Master.

Also have a read of Brian's reviews of the Cast Key (I & II) here: LINK

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Popplock T4

Here's another puzzle lock from Rainer Popp's series of Popplocks. This is the Popplock T4:

As you have probably worked out this is the fourth lock in the Popplock series, and even though the solution is completely different to the others it does have some things in common. Once again this lock is machined from solid brass block and stainless steel, so this thing is heavy! The key is also really good quality, so there was no chance I'd end up breaking it like I did with the T2. I personally think that the T4 looks really nice! Not quite as nice as the T3 perhaps, but still very nice.

The first thing I noticed about it when I got it is probably the same thing you notice from looking at the pictures, and that is that you are looking at a lock that has a key but no key hole, which I found really intriguing! The T4 requires you to complete five very unique steps to complete the goal which is the opening of the shackle. My experiences from opening the T2 and T3 didn't really help when it came to this one, none of the steps were the same. The first two (depending on how you count them) steps are relatively easy to find, but the third had me well and truly stumped for a long while. As I was trying this lock out at the MPP I didn't want to leave it unsolved in case I didn't get another chance at it for a long while, so a friend had to point me in the right direction. And I can say with some certainty that it would've taken me a whole lot longer if he hadn't helped me out. I agree with what Brian says in his review, this particular step could've been made a little bit easier to find without taking away from the overall enjoyment of solving it.

Now that I have solved all of the Popplocks I can say that the T3 is still my favourite, but now the T4 comes in as a very close second place. It is definitely a great puzzle, but whether it is worth the very hefty price tag is really up to you.

I tried this lock out at the MPP, but you can buy it from Grand Illusions and Puzzle Master.

Also read: My review of the Popplock T2 and My review of the Popplock T3

Monday, 7 February 2011

Midlands Puzzle Party (Feb 2011)

Well, like I mentioned in my previous post I did attend a puzzle get together in Birmingham on Saturday! And now I have so much to write about that I don't even know where to start!

The Midlands Puzzle Party (MPP) was organised by the guys on the Revomaze Forum as a way of getting together some like minded people for a day of puzzle filled fun. And one forum member (Allardwza) was even kind enough to host it in his home.
We all started arriving at the house in Birmingham for around 10:30 in the morning, and some of us had travelled further than others. Several of the guys attending lived nearby, myself and another forum member (Alimorris) drove a couple of hours North to get there, and one very determined puzzler (a-maze-ing) flew over from the Netherlands to attend!

A little time was spent doing the introductions, and putting real names and faces to forum user names, but we all settled down to do some puzzling pretty quickly. When I arrived there were a great variety of puzzles already on display as Allard (our host) had put some out, plus Nigel (Barcared) had already arrived and brought some goodies with him too! Everyone brought some puzzles with them that they wanted to share with everyone else. Because I couldn't decide what to take and what to leave behind I simply decided that I would take pretty much everything, then I couldn't go wrong! A very generous forum member (who wanted to remain anonymous) also donated a variety of puzzles to the event that we were allowed to keep if we liked them!

This is what the table looked like after we had all arrived:

As you can see from the photos our host and his wife (Gill) were keeping all of us very happy with drinks and cookies throughout the day! After a good few hours of puzzling and chatting away, Gill was even kind enough to make us some really nice burgers for lunch!

At around 14:30 Chris Pitt arrived. For those that don't already know Chris Pitt is the creator of the Revomaze series of puzzles. Everyone had loads of questions for him, so much so he barely had a chance to eat his lunch in between giving his answers. All sorts of things were talked about regarding the Revomaze series. We talked about where we thought Revomaze stood as a company, what we thought of the puzzles, how they could be improved, gave our views on new stand designs submitted by forum members, and also discussed the upcoming new Revomaze puzzle; The Revomaze Gold Extreme. I won't go into too much detail on these topics now, but if you are interested then I suggest keeping an eye open on the Revomaze Forum for any news and updates.

Chris Pitt also brought along lots of goodies for us to take a look at any try out:

That is the entire Revomaze series thus far, including the special editions, a Blue Extreme with a cutaway sleeve and the original puzzle that Chris made as a prototype!

I think I should add a special mention for Paul (illusion_fx) who has decided to pick up the Revomaze Silver Extreme as his first puzzle! At the time of writing this only around 30 or so people worldwide have actually solved the Silver, and it has been worked out that none of those have done it without ever solving another (easier) Revomaze puzzle first. So Paul spent quite a bit of the day puzzling over a Blue Extreme that someone had brought with them to try and make some progress that he was lacking with the Silver. He also spent quite a bit of time grumbling, but that was understandable. Quite simply, the man is mad...or determined.........but probably mad.

Just because lots of talking was going on doesn't mean that we all stopped puzzling though! While everyone was chatting Nigel showed me a great puzzle chess set made by Franco Rocco in Italy which I really loved:

The board is made up of 16 pieces that slot together magnetically in one particular way, and the 32 playing pieces are assembled into two cubes (one for each colour) which have to be taken apart for play. The board was put together by Nigel and Louis while I took apart one of the cubes into it's 16 pieces. I then spent the next half an hour or so reassembling the pieces back into their cube form. A brilliant puzzle but pretty expensive. This was another great thing about the MPP, I was able to try out puzzles that there is no way I would be able to obtain.

Another example of this would be the Super-CUBI, a puzzle by the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan:

This epic puzzle box requires (I believe) 324 moves to open! I didn't get around to properly sitting down with it to try and solve it this time, but I will make an attempt to do so next time if Nigel brings it along again. I could understand if he didn't however as this puzzle is also quite valuable.

One of my favourites from the day was this Karakuri puzzle box brought along by Chris (bluesign2k):

This is the Karakuri New Secret Box I-3. Just like the Super-CUBI all six panels can move but this box is only an 18 move puzzle box. I loved the fact that it was made entirely from wood, plus the walnut colour is stunning!

Allard also let us try out the full series of Karakuri Small Boxes which I found to be really good fun. I won't post the pictures here though as there are eight of them, but they can be found on my Flickr page for anyone who is interested.

Chris also brought along his Sonic Warp puzzles:

These are the Isis, Ramisis, Copernisis and Kuku. I thought that all of them looked pretty good although several quality issues were mentioned. I will probably only review the Isis as it's currently the only one that I know how to solve.

I also finally got to solve the other two Popplocks that I haven't written about yet, the T4 and the T5:

I'll write a proper review for these two separately later, but needless to say I thought they were both brilliant puzzles.

Even though the MPP was meant to have finished by around 16:00 we all ended up leaving at around 18:00, which really says something.

There was no way that I was ever going to be able to write about every puzzle that I saw today, but I did take a whole load more photos which you can find here: Flickr Photos

I think all that is left for me to say is a huge thank you to everyone who attended! Especially for Allard and Gill for letting us into their home and feeding us. Also a big thanks to Nigel for arranging it and to the kind forum member who donated those puzzles to all of us. And of course thank you to everyone else who was there for bringing some of their puzzles along and for being such great company. I think I can safely say that because we left a whole two hours later than planned that an absolutely amazing time was had by all! Hopefully we will all be able to meet up like this again a few months after the Gadget Show in April to repeat it.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Karakuri Cube No.1

Now for another of my favourite puzzles! I know I'm reviewing these Cubes in the wrong order, but I bought number 3 separately before buying the other three.

This is the Karakuri Cube No.1 from the Karakuri Creation Group in Japan:

This is the first in a series of four Cube puzzles, and don't be fooled by the fact that all four of them look very similar because they all have very different opening mechanisms. This Cube is made out of keyaki, maple and katsura woods, and once again is beautifully finished to the point where you cannot distinguish one side from the other at all.

Personally I found the No.1 Cube to be the easiest to open. All of the Cubes have relatively simple mechanisms, so none of them are particularly difficult, but I felt that this one had the solution which was the easiest to find and implement.

A total of three steps are required to open this puzzle box, and the mechanism (although simple) is pretty satisfying to solve.

So far every puzzle from the Karakuri Creation Group that I have come across has been nothing short of amazing, and this one is no different. The four Karakuri Cubes are puzzles that really take pride of place in my collection at the moment, and I would highly recommend them to anybody.

I bought my Karakuri Cubes from Wil Strijbos who (as you may remember from my earlier review) made the Aluminium Cylinder puzzle. Wil makes regular trips to Japan and brings back all kinds of goodies, so if you're after anything in particular it can't hurt to drop him an email.

See also my review of the Karakuri Cube No.3: HERE

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Village Games London Puzzle Meet-Up

Hello all!

Here's another one of my puzzle related rambling posts, but I think it is definitely worth a mention. Especially for you fellow puzzlers here in the UK.

Thanks to Brian Pletcher I recently heard about a puzzle gathering that occurs on the first Wednesday of every month at the Lockside Lounge in Camden Town (London), and as I had never been to a puzzle related gathering before I decided that I would really like to go and see what it's like.

I believe that the puzzle meet-up is arranged by Ray and Barbara of Village Games, which is an amazing little puzzle shop hidden away in the chaos that is London's Camden Town, their address can be found HERE.

The shop itself is really tiny, but I could not believe the amount of great puzzles that were crammed into every corner! In fact I was a little bit overwhelmed when I first went in as I hadn't ever been into a puzzle shop with such variety before. Some of the puzzles included the Aluminium Cylinder by Wil Strijbos, loads of Hanayama Cast Puzzles, some puzzles by Constantin and several puzzles by Vinco. I left after buying a couple of Vinco's wooden puzzle cubes and the Cast Amour, all of which I will review here later on.

When I first visited the shop in the early afternoon (I was in London all day with my other half) Barbara was there running the shop. She was very happy to answer any of my questions, and she really knew what she was talking about. It was really nice to talk to someone who had a real interest in the items that they were selling. She made us feel very welcome there, we got to try out a few of the puzzles and I cannot wait to go back and see what other things I can find to add to my collection.

Later in the evening (19:30) we headed over to the Lockside Lounge for the meet-up. There we probably around 20 or so people there, and although this was our first visit they were extremely welcoming! It was a very informal setting, we just pulled up a chair and started chatting with some of the regular visitors. Everyone was chatting, having a drink and passing around some puzzles that they either brought with them or bought on that day from Village Games. I had the opportunity to try out some puzzles like the Karakuri Acorn Box, Cast H&H, Mindjewel and many others.

I had a really great time, and rather surprisingly so did my girlfriend who isn't particularly into puzzles. So I'm really looking forward to attending some of the meet-ups there in the future. Hopefully I may even meet some of you there!

Soon I'll be writing about the next puzzle gathering that I'm attending on Saturday (05/02/11) which has been arranged by the guys over on the Revomaze Forum, so hopefully I'll have a load more interesting puzzles to tell you about when I return!


Prison Block

This is another nice looking aluminium puzzle from Eureka, and it is called Prison Block:

I do like the look of this one, which is probably what drew me to it in the first place. It has a good weight to it as it is entirely constructed from aluminium. There are two primary pieces to this puzzle, and they are the silver colour frame and the black central rectangular block with the purple block attached to it.

The goal is to remove the black and purple central piece from the aluminium frame. The central piece will rattle around quite freely within the frame but it seems physically impossible to make it pass through. If you pay really close attention to the two pieces then you won't have too much difficulty solving it, however I did hand it around at a puzzle gathering today and many people there were unable to do so.

I think it took me approximately 10 minutes or so to solve Prison Block, which is a pretty decent amount of time, but I reckon it could easily take longer with puzzlers who are not too familiar with these types of puzzles.

I got hold of this puzzle from Sloyd in Finland, and I honestly cannot praise them enough. I recieved my order from them two days after I ordered it, and that's including the international post!

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Dual Tetrahedron 9

For the first time since I started this blog someone else will be writing this review! Chris is a friend and fellow puzzle collector from the UK who I recently got into contact with through my blog, and as he has acquired a puzzle that I really would like myself I asked him if he would like to do a review of it for me, and he has kindly obliged.

So here is the review written by Chris, and thanks again to him for taking the time to write it and for supplying the pictures:

This Dual Tetrahedron 9 is a wooden puzzle by Václav Obšivač, (Vin&Co). Vin&Co produce exquisite puzzles from a variety of wood such as maple, plum, ash, walnut etc. This one is made from waxed and polished elm and maple and currently costs 55 Euros. The quality of craftsmanship is excellent and the puzzle is of a very reasonable size at 77mm.

This puzzle consists of 4 interlocking parts which when assembled create a solid self supporting structure. The sensuous feel and the warmth of the wood makes a very tactile and beautiful puzzle. I found this puzzle to be of moderate difficulty and I would recommend one (or more) for any collector of wooden puzzles. I certainly will be buying more in the future.

You can view and purchase other puzzles by Vin&Co at their site here: LINK

There is also a variety of Vinco's puzzles available for purchase at Puzzle Master.


Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Cast Chain

Now this is one of the Hanayama Cast series that I found to be the most difficult. This is the Cast Chain:

The Cast Chain is one of Oskar Van Deventer's designs that has been manufactured by Hanayama. It is another good looking puzzle that feels very well made as it is quite heavy. The Chain is made up of three very similar looking almost 'c' shaped pieces that are made from a nice and heavy cast metal which have been coated in a very nice dark metallic finish which is very befitting of it's name. The objective is to detach the Chain into it's three separate parts. If you look very closely you can see that the pieces are actually numbered using dots to depict which piece is which (1,2&3), showing that they are not exactly the same.

The difficulty of the Cast chain is rated as 6 out of 6, the highest difficulty that Hanayama has to offer, and in this case I am more than happy to concede that the rating is spot on. I was not able to solve this puzzle myself, and as much as I hate doing so I had to look at the solution. Depending on how you count there are somewhere between 15 and 20 steps which need to be done in correct sequence to solve this puzzle, it really is pretty difficult. I understood the movements that I had to make with the pieces pretty quickly, but it's the sequence that I couldn't quite get the hang of.

All things considered I think that this is a really great puzzle. And if you're out there looking for a real challenge then I'd say that the Cast Chain is a good way to go, especially considering the low price.

This puzzle was loaned to me by a friend, but it is readily available from many good puzzle shops, including Puzzle Master and Puzzle This.
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