Wednesday 31 August 2011


The Annihilator Puzzle
The Annihilator puzzle is the first disentanglement puzzle I have tried from Puzzle Master. It is pretty cheap at $9.95 (Canadian) and I thought I would start towards the difficult end of their collection. This one is rated 9 out of 10 (Gruelling) - remember their scale starts at 5! I agree with this rating - I am now pretty good at this sort of puzzle, having completed all the LiveWire puzzles apart from 1 and these do get unbelievably difficult.

The Annihilator is manufactured for/by Puzzle Master and is branded by them. It arrived in a plastic clamshell pack with an information card and instructions to remove the handle. Size is 14.5 x 9.0cm. It consists of a frame of anodised wire and a string completing the circle. This string is fed through multiple wire rings in what looks like an impossibly complex tangle - when you shake it out and let it dangle freely then it looks a little less horrific. The handle is initially looped over the wire frame and at first it looks an impossible task to disentangle it from all that string. No solution is supplied but one can be downloaded from here.

Saturday 27 August 2011

Sixi Cube from Vinco

Sixi Cube Supplied In Pieces!!!
Vaclav Obsivac aka Vinco recently added a whole lot of new puzzles to his site. I have mentioned before how good his craftsmanship is so whenever something new comes up, I just cannot resist it. Recently he seems to have specialised in producing coordinate motion puzzles (both 4 and 6 pieces) and I have reviewed a few of these already. Whilst they are all very attractive and beautifully made, the mechanisms are all fairly similar and vary mainly in where the joins are and this alters the ease with which the pieces can be orientated for reassembly. Having a few of this type already, I did not feel any huge urge to increase my collection of this particular type of puzzle. This time the recent batch included a number of assembly and disassembly puzzles so I jumped at the chance to get something new and beautiful - in fact I got a bit carried away and spent an absolute fortune (whilst individual pieces are cheap - they add up when you buy 8 at once!!!)

Wednesday 24 August 2011

Bolted Closed

Bolted closed
The Bolted closed puzzle came from Puzzle Master. It is manufactured by Bits and Pieces and is pretty cheap; it certainly looks quite intriguing. It has been reviewed before by Neil on his blog. Unlike his copy mine had not solved itself before I received it! It is quite stunning on the shelf - visitors will definitely take it down for a try!

It consists of a wooden base with two wooden uprights attached to it through which a bolt is loosely fed (it is not threaded through the uprights and can slide left and right freely). A nut is threaded roughly centrally on the bolt and is glued or welded into place (it cannot be moved at all). Half way between the uprights are two copper or dowels and lying freely within this contraption is a very large steel ball bearing. No matter how you place the ball and the bolt the ball is firmly trapped. The aim, obviously, is to release the ball.

This is rated as an 8 out of 10 by Puzzle Master (Demanding) which I completely disagree with - I think it is more of a 6 for experienced puzzlers (bearing in mind that their scores begin at 5) and a 7 at a push for novices. A video review of this on YouTube had a kid stating that this was a difficult puzzle but I suspect he was only 10 or 12 years old! If a solution is included I threw it out with the box and doubt you will need it.

Saturday 20 August 2011

Livewire puzzles part 6

Now we are really onto the hard ones. The puzzles I will review from now on are from the Level 3 section or "Puzzles for the proficient" page of the Livewire puzzles site. These are all level 9 or 10 of difficulty! I suspect I am going to struggle here!!

First of all I decided to avoid the awful looking string puzzles and started with something that looked quite familiar - The Pentangle puzzle. They describe it as a "lateral thinking puzzle" and state:
"We have had engineers, medical doctors, mathematicians and even Mensa members come back after as much as several years, convinced that Pentangle is impossible"

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Hanayama Cast Equa

Cast Equa
My next puzzle in the Cast series is the Cast Equa. I got this one from Puzzle Master where they have the whole series! I was rather attracted to this one because it has a particularly lovely finish and is a very nice shape - quite different to everything else I've seen - it is supposed to mimic an astrolabe. This is yet another puzzle designed by Oskar van Deventer.

Cast Equa is rated as a 5 out of 6 by Hanayama or 9 out of 10 by Puzzle Master (Gruelling) - I think this rating is correct, it is a pretty difficult puzzle but not too horrendous! I find the level 6 puzzles almost impossible without some kind of assistance.

It comes nicely packaged in the usual Hanayama black box and mounted onto a card with ties to ensure that it doesn't come apart before you have unpacked it. The puzzle itself appears like a globe structure with a central part that moves around within the external frame. It is a lovely dark chromed colour and the fit is perfect. Dimensions are 4.6cm diameter and it is a good weight in you hand. There is no solution provided - this is a pretty tough puzzle and you might actually need one - if you do then download it from here.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Lox in Box II

During a recent trip to London I dragged both wife and mother to Village Games in Camden Lock to see whether I could pick up anything new and exciting! I haven't been to Camden since I was 17 and was amazed at the change - it had always been a fairly "groovy" place but now almost every other shop was a tattoo and piercing parlour with a whole lot of very colourful people nearby! Absolutely brilliant for people watching! Amongst the delicious smells of the multitude of street food stalls in the West Yard of Camden Lock nestles the UK's only dedicated puzzle store (their online store has been pending for years now! A desperate shame really). The store is tiny and absolutely packed with puzzles and traditional games. I could have spent hours in their chatting to the owner (Barbara) and browsing but I was only too aware of having people waiting impatiently for me to finish. Unfortunately, I was also aware that I had just spent a fortune with the Vinco and Strijbos selections (see my earlier post) and so came away with only 4 puzzles that I did not think I would find easily elsewhere.

Lox in Box II
My first review from that group is Lox in Box II, it was designed by Vesa Timonen and is apparently the harder of the 2 packing puzzles. A couple of Finish sites have these for sale (Sloyd and Finnstore) and version 1 is rated as level 3 out of 5 and this one level 4 out of 5. This was the only one in Village Games - so I went with it. I am not sure what wood it is made from - I think it may be Birch.

Wednesday 10 August 2011

Internal Combustion

Internal Combustion
The Internal Combustion puzzle was sent to me by Puzzle Master. It is an aluminium boxed burr puzzle made for Puzzle Master themselves. There is a wooden version made by Mr Puzzle in Australia called Pandora's Box is available in either standard or craftsman finishes.

It is rated as a level 8 out of 10 (demanding) by Puzzle Master which I think may be a little high. It comes nicely packaged in a large blue box with the puzzle attached to a card by plastic ties - mine was jammed on quite tight and took a bit of doing to remove. Luckily, being made of solid aluminium it is very tough! The size is a pretty decent 6cm square and 3.4cm high and is quite a considerable weight (don't drop this on your toes!) The finish is pretty good - nice and smooth with the edges nicely rounded. The cut-outs for the burr pieces are a little sharp but overall this is a very nice looking puzzle.

Saturday 6 August 2011

Just Slide In From Wood Wonders

The next puzzle I got from Wood Wonders up is Just Slide In. Like the other puzzles from Brian it looks terrific.
Just Slide In
It is a packing puzzle apparently designed by Stewart Coffin (I can't work out which number). This version is made with an Ash wood tray, a perspex lid (pinned into place leaving a small gap and 4 odd quadrilateral shapes made from Padauk.
Now I am absolutely rubbish at packing puzzles! I don't really enjoy them much (probably because I'm rubbish!) But this one is only 2D and only has 4 pieces - it can't be too bad. Can it? Really??? I bought this because my dislike/fear of this group is cutting me off from a huge part of the puzzle world. I overlook the fact that Brian states that this is much more difficult than it appears. The slight twist to this is that you can't just place them. You have to feed the 4 pieces into the opening in the side of the box, making orientation and order more important.

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Yin & Yang Puzzle

Yin & Yang
Today I will review the Yin & Yang puzzle. This one is made for Puzzle Master and is rated as easy by them - 5 out of 10 (remember, their scoring begins at 5!) I chose this one because it looks absolutely lovely and I felt I ought to try an easy one for once! My brain has started to hurt with all the tough ones I have been doing recently! I think I may have said before that I'm not terribly bright!! Neil has reviewed it here and by Gabriel here.

It comes very nicely packaged in a blue box with the Puzzle Master logo on it and the instructions to take it apart and then re-assemble it. This puzzle is spherical and measure 6.4cm diameter and is a really good weight (heavier than the Hanayama cast puzzles). It comes with a solution which I threw away without looking at it and if you do the same and still find yourself wanting one then download it from here.