Saturday 30 July 2011

Livewire puzzles part 5

Continuing my trek through the entire series of puzzles from Livewire. The remaining level 8 puzzle mostly involve string and seeing that these confuse and frighten me, I decided to next attempt the only one with all wire parts! This is the Mousetrap - a cute puzzle in the shape of a cat with the aim being to remove the folding tail hanging from the bottom. The Livewire site states:
"Solving Mousetrap over and over again remains fun and challenging."

I did struggle for a short while to disentangle this one. It is fairly straight-forward to move the tail off the body of the cat and onto the head portion, the difficulty comes when working out how to extract the tail from the body. Reversing the process is also particularly difficult because the challenging part is not the exit point, it is halfway through puzzle when you are not really trying to memorise it. The statement about it remaining challenging to repeat over and over again is true. I have done it many times now and always struggle to work out the exact position for the extraction. Another excellent puzzle in the line up.

Wednesday 27 July 2011

Hanayama Cast Radix

Cast Radix
I was not planning on posting this one just now but an astounding thing happened today (25/07) and I couldn't resist writing about it - it's not on the scale of the recent financial meltdown but it amazed me and seeing as it is my blog, I thought I'd share it with you. I recently got the Hanayama Cast Radix from Puzzle Master. Many of the Hanayama puzzles are maze type puzzles and (apart from the revomaze) I am not particularly keen on these as I struggle to be able to solve them except by pure luck and dogged perseverance - I don't seem to be able to systematically analyse them. However, I am a bit of a sucker for take-apart puzzles and was particularly attracted to this one. It has a lovely "organic" shape to it and would make a rather fine ornament. It even has an antique brass finish to it!

This one is rated as 4 out of 6 by Hanayama and 8 out of 10 by Puzzle Master (Demanding). I think this rating is about right - after the Cast Starfish it is quite a nice challenge and took me quite some time to solve. The puzzle is a decent size (6.4x5.7x3cm) and a nice weight too. It comes packaged very well in the usual Hanayama black box, mounted on card. It has been reviewed by Brian on his blog.

Oh Dear! I'm in trouble again!!!

I have been on annual leave this last week and a bit and can't afford a holiday abroad due to the fitting of a rather nice new kitchen! So a few days were spent in London visiting my mother and the rest has been spent at home, tidying up and doing a little extra work on the side. During this time I made some purchases and didn't tell the present Mrs Sadler about all of them! Unfortunately, today they all got delivered at once! So now she has found out about all of them in one go! I may have to buy her another pair of shoes or a handbag to make up for it! It really gets expensive when I do that!!!!!

First of all, no trip to London is complete without a trip to Village Games in Camden to search for anything new and interesting. I could have spent a fortune there but I was aware that I had already placed orders elsewhere! I only came away with 4 puzzles and Mrs S breathed a sigh of relief as she didn't know about the others!

Village Games Selection
Here we have (from top left) Coffin's half hour puzzle, IQ18, Lox in Box II and Großmaul.

Recently Vinco had put up some new puzzles for sale and after my last little set of purchases (Dual tetrahedron, Tetrahedron 2 and an assortment of others) I new about the tremendous quality and beauty of these puzzles. I felt I had enough of the 4 and 6 piece coordinate motion puzzles so went for some others!

Vinco Selection
From the top left in rows we have: Duo Burr, Four Marbles, 3 Boxy, UFO, Ballerina, Ball Room, Vinco Tetrahedron and Sixi Cube (received unassembled). Droool!!!!

If that was not enough I received a little consignment from Wil Strijbos (I may as well just set up an automatic transfer of my salary straight to his account!)

Strijbos Selection
From the top: Melting block (with the lid and extra cube to the right), The Moon, Medal Maze, Aluminium Dovetail and finally Poplock T6 with copper rivets.

I am thoroughly in the doghouse now but at least I will have plenty of puzzles to keep me occupied whilst she is refusing to speak to me!! I have only just rearranged my puzzle collection and am not actually sure whether I have enough space for this lot!

Saturday 23 July 2011

Two More Microcubology Puzzles

I couldn't resist the new puzzles that Richard had put up for sale on his Etsy store. I asked for these to be sent out in the disassembled form which I suspect may have been a mistake!!! The first one I tried was Roll up! Roll up! which Richard claims is his most difficult design and probably the one he is most proud of. I only read this after I had done it so I feel particularly proud of myself!!!

Roll Up! Roll Up!
He actually gives a couple of hints on how to go about it on the Microcubology site. Unfortunately I had not bothered to look, so attempted this all alone. It requires a precise sequence of 14 movements including sliding moves and some "sneaky" rotations.

Wednesday 20 July 2011

Hanayama Cast Starfish

Cast Starfish
I received the Hanayama Cast Starfish from Puzzle Master. I had seen the sea creature series on their website some time ago and was quite intrigued by how attractive they are (I am a bit of a Magpie - I like shiny stuff!!) I hadn't got any because I felt they were going to be too easy. After the shock I got with the Cast Elk and Rattle I decided that maybe an easy one might be a good idea. The Starfish is rated as a 2 out of 6 on the Hanayama scale and 6 out of 10 by Puzzle Master. It has been reviewed before by Brian here and by Gabriel here.

Like all the other Hanayama puzzles it comes beautifully packaged in a black box and held to card by ties. There is no solution in the package and if you would like one then you can get it here. The puzzle consists of a rather beautiful chrome starfish and locked onto it is a pair of golden mackerel which form a circle with a gap which is gripping the starfish. The aim is to separate the 2 pieces from each other.

Saturday 16 July 2011

Improved Hexsticks 159a

Improved Hexsticks (#159A)
A forum post from Bernhard Schweitzer of Puzzlewood fame announced the availability of some brand new wooden puzzles. These are Stewart Coffin's improved Hexsticks (#159a) which he has available in several different woods (Robinia, Padauk, Wenge and a light Walnut. After some emailing (Bernhard is very prompt with his replies - an absolute pleasure to deal with), I decided on Robinia which I have never seen before. The puzzle arrived, very well packed 6 days later. Now that's what I call service!!

The puzzle looks very similar to another puzzle I have bought - Bill Cutler's Hectix revisited. I have been saving this one up for a rainy day. Oh all right! I have actually been too frightened to dismantle it!!!

Wednesday 13 July 2011


This Puzzle is the Conundrum puzzle from Puzzlemaster. I got this one primarily because I thought it looked similar to the classic Altekruse puzzles I had seen on "Puzzle will be played". I had fancied one of these ever since I saw it on Jerry Mcfarland's site (his are not available at the moment). In the end this is a completely different puzzle to the Altekruse but still interesting none-the-less. The puzzlemaster page claims that it is a level 9 (Gruelling) puzzle and I really looked forward to the challenge.

It is manufactured by Puzzle Master and comes nicely packaged in a clear plastic box. It is 7cm in each direction and being made of wood it is fairly solid if not particularly weighty. No solution is supplied but it is available direct from their website here. To be honest, I don't think you need the solution, but it is always nice to have one in your collection.

Sunday 10 July 2011

Stewart Coffin's Involute from Wood Wonders

A few weeks ago word went around the Revomaze forums about Brian Menold's craftsmanship. His website is Wood Wonders and he has a small number of beautifully made wooden puzzles to purchase. He also visits various craft fairs and sells direct from them. I contacted him to see what he had and whether he would post to the UK. Recently his 30 year old daughter died of breast cancer and I was rather reticent about contacting him but he was a true gentleman and was pleased to hear from me and said that he was hoping to start shipping puzzles again soon. I left it a while and we resumed contact. His puzzles are hand made from various woods (including some exotic ones) and they are all very reasonably priced. I asked about 4 puzzles and he gave me a selection of woods to choose from. They arrived pretty quickly. This is the first of my reviews.

The first review, I feel, should be something fairly special. This one is the Involute puzzle - it is Stewart Coffin's design #214 and is an improvement on the Convolution cube (design #30). It is 8 pieces rather than the Convolution's 7 and is a pretty challenging puzzle. I know it is only a 4x4x4 cube so how difficult can it be? Just wait!!! It has been reviewed by Allard here. Brian offers both of them in a number of woods but he had the Involute available in Zebra wood. I do not have anything in this particular wood, in fact I have never seen it before. So after a short sojourn into Google to get an idea about the different woods then it was a no-brainer to choose this exotic one.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

Hanayama Cast Elk

Cast Elk
This is the last of the little batch of cast puzzles that I got from Puzzlemaster. It is level 6 (out of 6) or 10 out of 10 on the Puzzlemaster scale. As usual there is no solution provided and if you need one (as I almost did!) you can get one here.

The puzzle comes very nicely packaged and consists of two rather beautiful shiny metal shapes which look like deer antlers (hence the name Elk) it even has the face on it. It is surprisingly robust and a decent weight. The two pieces look absolutely identical (apart from "Hanayama" on one hub and "NOB" on the other. The NOB is there because of the designer (Nobuyuki Yoshigahara) who recreated this from a classic British design. The pieces are interlocked and the aim is obviously to disentangle them - the exit point is pretty obvious, it has to be between the 2 antlers of each piece - so how difficult can it be? Surely not worthy of the hardest possible score!

Saturday 2 July 2011

Livewire puzzles part 4

Rapid Fire

Rapid Fire
I think from now on the disentanglement puzzles are going to be quite a lot harder! I next tried the Rapid Fire puzzle. This consists of a wire structure in the shape of a gun with a single ring and a loop of cord around the trigger guard. The aim being to remove the cord. The blurb on the Livewire site says:
"Anyone attempting this puzzle should be warned that attention to detail is required, since the path leading to the removal of the cord is difficult to distinguish from the paths which will lead you astray."


This seriously meddled with my mind!