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.

4 pairs of Lox
It doesn't come with much in the way of packaging, it is just in a clear plastic resealable bag with 7 of the 8 pegs (lox) in the box and the 8th one loose in the bag. There are no instructions and no solution provided (although you can request one to be emailed by Sloyd if you have registered with them). The box is roughly but well made with the name actually burnt into the side. The pegs are in pairs of 4 different sizes and are lovely and smooth (even the cut ends) with the angled cut at exactly 45°.

Now, as you all know by now, I consider myself quite poor at packing puzzles (rubbish in fact) but I am determined to improve, hence my recent flurry of packing puzzle purchases. I looked at this and actually thought that it shouldn't be too hard!!! How $%£*!€&@# stupid am I? I started on this one afternoon after getting home from London and after a couple of hours I gave up in disgust!! This clearly deserves it's 4 out of 5 score! It looks so deceptively simple but really is a very tough puzzle. I am sure that it is not just me being rubbish because I took it to work one day and let quite a number of people spend most of a day with it. Not one of them could do it - which made me feel alot better!!! I even gave this to an orthopaedic surgeon colleague of mine (he should have a tremendous visio-spatial ability) and after several hours he gave up in disgust. I had to restrain him from attempting the usual orthopaedic approach and using a hammer and saw!!! So far despite many many hours of trying not a single other person has succeeded to solve this one!

Over the next few days I must have spent 4 or 5 hours on it - I tried everything I could think of to no avail and then left it for a few days. Later on, I tried again and had a small brainwave. I redid some of my previous ideas but was more systematic in analysing the various possibilities. Eureka! Suddenly they all fitted in. When solved there is absolutely no extra space at all, the pieces fit together VERY tightly (this may be part of the reason why I struggled) and the solution is quite beautiful! I then contacted Sloyd for the solution and it was correct. I will not post it here but if you do want to see my solution then contact me and I will send you a picture.

This is a really great packing puzzle - it is beautifully simple in design, yet very difficult in execution. It would be really lovely in a fancy wood (maybe one day I will try to make one for myself). For the money (£15.95) it is well worthwhile!

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