Last weekend he sent out a notice that he was reissuing his first ever puzzle design - the aluminium cross.
"Long time ago (it was in 1979) I visited London for the first time. I discovered many new puzzles there. Many of the nice wooden puzzles I saw there were produced by a puzzle company called Pentangle. I wrote a letter to Pentangle and I received an invitation from Mr. James Dalgety. He was not only one of the directors but also an enthusiastic puzzle collector. James invited me to come over and see his collection, and nearly one year later, in 1980, we met each other at his house in Over Wallop.
For this occasion I was inspired to create a puzzle. I came up with the idea for this “Cross Puzzle”. It was the first puzzle I ever invented, and it was a start for me to create many more puzzles later on.
About the Cross Puzzle: At that time I have never seen any kind of this puzzles before. It is my own original idea, the only inspiration was my visit to James. The solution has nothing to do with rotational parts and there are no magnets inside. There is no force required, just use the spring power inside the Aluminium Cross.
Now, 32 years later, I decided to make this Cross Puzzle again. At that time, in 1980, I just made a few samples of the Puzzle."
I was quite intrigued by this and despite the fully solved pictures he posted of it, the mechanism was not at all obvious. The fact that it was shiny shiny and metal too appealed to the Magpie in me so after waiting a whole 10 minutes I asked for one!!! Amazingly it arrived on 4 days later (along with Cola bottles 1 & 4!!)
The quality of this is nothing short of astounding! Like the cylinder, it is made of nicely polished smooth aluminium with what looks like a couple of stainless steel cylinders through each piece (one is thinner at one end) and when you first pick it up it seems to be a pretty good weight. Dimensions are 6x6x3.5cm. Initially nothing can move at all which makes for an interesting piece of exploring!!
After a minute or so of "adjusting" various parts one of the cylinders can move just a little bit. From here you need to investigate the limits of movement of every piece and throw in changes in orientation of the puzzle too - there are no magnets in it but gravity pays a very important part in solving it, if you don't understand gravity then you have no chance!!!! After a while one of the cylinders can be removed and you can then see why gravity was important and hopefully get an idea for the next section. Unfortunately (?fortunately) the next piece of the solution is much more confusing! It involves something totally new which you will get past without understanding fully and only will really work it out after you have solved it and try to plan putting it back together.
|Aluminium Cross pieces|
I do not think Wil has any more available at present. Either contact him direct (I can provide his email on request - contact me) or there may be a few more available on the PuzzleParadise auction site.
Buy it if you get the opportunity - they are rare and great fun.
I just realised that I haven't actually written a review of the Aluminium Cylinder! So here it is:
So, the next step is to get the damn thing back out of the central hole (this isn't particularly easy because you can't see anything past the object). Eventually it disappears and hopefully you know how you did it because you need to work out EXACTLY what the required movement is to make it visible again. This is because you need to do it more than once - perfectly!
It took me a week of intermittent play before I understood what the secret was! Probably 6 to 10 hours in all! Once open, it's simplicity is revealed - except it is not simple - it requires very accurate movements to get it open. After some practice I can now do it in under a minute. I have given this to quite a few friends and one managed to solve it in about 2-3 hours! No-one else has had a clue, which did make me feel a bit better. NO I have deliberately not posted a picture of it open - this would give away too much.
This puzzle takes pride of place in my collection. If it becomes available buy this one too!!!