Saturday 29 October 2011

Vinco Tetrahedron

Vinco Tetrahedron
A few weeks ago I ordered a whole bunch of new puzzles from Vaclac Obsivac (Vinco). They arrived quite quickly and after admiring them for a while, I put them on the shelf for future puzzling (I try to keep a few aside for emergency use)! As mentioned before, I had to do the Sixi cube first because it arrived in pieces and every time I saw it like that it offended me!

The next one for me to have a go at was the Vinco tetrahedron - it is a really lovely 3 sided pyramid (obviously!) made from varicoloured Walnut. I really have a weakness for this wood so this was my personal preference but it was available in many other woods and a few are still available now. It is 64mm from apex to base and absolutely flawlessly made - you can barely see any joints at all. I did feel that I have enough coordinate motion puzzles and am pleased that this is just an assembly puzzle.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

The Pendulum Wire Puzzle

The Pendulum puzzle
By now you have realised that I am addicted to wire disentanglement puzzles (actually, I'm not that choosy - I'm addicted to ALL puzzles!) so when I made up a little list of toys to order from Puzzle Master, I couldn't resist adding in one or two of their harder wire puzzles. They all seem to be nicely made and pretty tough to solve.

The pendulum is graded as a level 9 out of 10 (gruelling) so I knew I had to have one! I actually think that it is ever so slightly easier than that but not by much. It arrived in a clamshell package with instructions on the card telling me to remove the golden diamond from the puzzle. The dimensions are 12.4 cm x 15.8 cm and has 2 golden diamond shapes on it - only one of which obviously comes off. There is no solution included but if you need one (I don't think you will!) then it can be downloaded from here.

Saturday 22 October 2011

Livewire Puzzles part 8

Can there be any more puzzles from Livewire? I hear you ask! (Actually I don't hear voices that often - only my wife muttering about yet another bloody puzzle arriving when I get home from work). However, there are still a few more disentanglement puzzles from Livewire still to review. This group of four starts with the Centipede puzzle. It is part of the "ladder ring" group of puzzles and according to the puzzle description the Centipede is the MOST difficult of this type that they have ever offered. They state:
"We expect only the most determined puzzlers to solve this one. Although extremely complicated, solving Centipede is a matter of logic, making understanding more important than memorizing all the steps.
To give you an idea of how complex this puzzle is, we should note that the challenge now faced by the Livewire Puzzles team is to produce a solution that our "less successful" customers are able to follow."

Wednesday 19 October 2011

XS Headstress Powder Keg

Powder Keg
I absolutely love wooden puzzles! I suspect that you have realised that after reading this blog for a while. Most of my puzzles seem to be pretty expensive and I am always on the lookout for new ones and would love it if they didn't require me to sell an arm, leg or even a kidney (I am running out of kidneys now and may have to sell someone elses' - volunteers anyone?) I had been perusing the Puzzle Master site when I found a group of wooden puzzles from Family games under the group heading XS headstress. They seem to be chunky wooden puzzles of varying difficulty levels and are a very reasonable price (this one is $17.99). I ordered the Powder Keg and was delighted to receive it a few weeks ago.

It arrives well packaged in an attractive cardboard and plastic box. My version is nicer to look at than the one on the website - rather than being made of 1 type of wood, there are 3 different colours in an attractive pattern. When I said it was chunky, this is an understatement! This is a pretty big puzzle. It is a keg shaped structure (hence the name!!!) and is 9.8cm high and cylindrical with a 10cm diameter. Don't drop it on your foot as it is pretty substantial and will hurt! It doesn't state what woods are used, but then the cheaper puzzles rarely do. The manufacturing quality is reasonable for the price - there are gaps between pieces and not everything fits perfectly flush along the edges, but it is not bad overall. The aim is to dismantle it and then put it back together. Puzzle Master has rated it as 8 out of 10 - demanding. I think that this is a little generous and believe it to be closer to a 7. No solution is provided but if you need it (unlikely) then you can download it from here.

Sunday 16 October 2011

Superstrings from Microcubology

At the recent International Puzzle Party in Berlin Richard Gain won a joint first prize from the Jury for his Superstrings 3D printed puzzle. I had a chance to preview it at the 3rd Midlands puzzle party a few months ago and was thoroughly enthralled. Richard said that he would be making more after the IPP and putting them up for sale. I did express an interest and he knows full well that I cannot resist his puzzles. I have just about everything he has produced so far! Shortly after he won, I received an email saying that 2 more of his productions (including this one) was going up for auction on the Puzzle Paradise auction site. Unfortunately I was unable to get it straight away and it got sold almost immediately!

I was sure that he would produce more (they are available direct from his Microcubology Shapeways store - but only in un-dyed form and I prefer the coloured versions). On the store he says:
"Two open-ended Superstrings with the correct spin can be merged into a super-symmetrical cube.
The idea for this puzzle emerged when I was designing shapes based on two interlocked tetrahedra.  Inspired by ideas from 'string theory' and 'super-symmetry', I began to search for shapes that were both symmetrical and as similar as possible.
Taking the two pieces apart is not too difficult; reassembling them back into a cube can be more challenging."

Last week he emailed me to say that he had produced a couple more and did I want one? I responded within a few nanoseconds that I would love one (unfortunately, for financial reasons, I had to pass on the switch cube he had also made).
A few days later it arrived and to my surprise was in a nice perfectly fitting clear perspex box which holds it in the cube shape).

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Lunatic Lock

Lunatic Lock
So far my puzzle collection includes 2 puzzle locks. I have the Danlock which is my favourite and the Poplock T5 which took me a whole afternoon to solve and is also quite spectacular (review coming when I get a chance). I decided to increase my collection of this genre and seeing as I cannot afford any of the bigger Poplocks, I ordered some of the cheaper ones from Puzzlemaster - the first one I tried is the Lunatic Lock which is pretty cheap at $16 Canadian.

This one has been reviewed by Jeff on his blog, by Oli here and by Brian here. Brian and Oli managed it in about 15-20 minutes each - much faster than me!! It is made for Puzzle Master and comes well packaged in a blue box with the instructions to "remove the post and open the lock". No solution is included but one can be downloaded from here and you might well need it! The difficulty is rated as 8 out of 10 (Demanding) by Puzzle Master which I think is probably about right.

Saturday 8 October 2011

Coffin's Half Hour Puzzle Done in 5 Minutes! Or Was It?

Coffin's Half Hour Puzzle
One of the puzzles I picked up when I visited Village Games in Camden Lock was a wooden version of Coffin's Half Hour Puzzle. This one has their own logo on the packet and may have been made especially for them. It does not say what type of wood but it looks very similar to that of the Lox in Box II puzzle reviewed here so I suspect it is Birch. It arrived in a thin plastic box with little information. Fancier ones are available (see here for one from Brian at Wood Wonders or here for another from Creative Crafthouse).

I know from previous reading that this is a similar puzzle to the Soma cube in that a number of pieces are to be assembled into a cube. Whilst the Soma cube has 240 possible assemblies (not counting symmetries), the Half Hour Puzzle only has one possible assembly. This is quite a feat when you consider the simplicity of the pieces in the puzzle (in fact they don't appear that much different to that found in the Soma). Coffin stated that this one should be do-able by any competent puzzler in about half an hour - hence the name!!! Apparently in the 1980s there were many other assembly problems devised for it but I have not been able to find any online - if you have any then please contact me.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Hanayama Cast Loop

Cast Loop
I have recently receive a whole batch of new puzzles from Puzzle Master - the first of these for me to review is the Cast Loop from Hanayama. I decided this time to try 1 or 2 of the much easier ones to see just how easy they get and also because I can't resist the shiny shiny metal!

As usual, it comes in immaculate Hanayama packaging with the unsolved puzzle tied to a board and a leather thong (No you idiot! Not the underwear!!!) attached to it. I presume that you are intended to wear it as a pendant on the thong once you have solved it - I think I will pass on that - they are attractive things but not that attractive! It is rated as 1 (out of 6) by Hanayama and 5 out of 10 by Puzzle Master. Believe me, you will not need a solution file but if you want one for your collection then you can get it here.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Knobby Burr From Wood Wonders

I bought 4 puzzles from Brian Menold at Wood Wonders. I was absolutely delighted by his version of Stewart Coffin's Involute puzzle in Tiger wood. Now I am going to concentrate on a less well known one. First up is the Knobby burr.

Knobby Burr
This was designed by Dic Sonneveld. Brian's description is as follows:
"This not only requires the brain power to reassemble it, but also a good deal of manual dexterity. Large hands help too!"

He is not kidding about the large hands. It is a really big puzzle at 4" cubed. It was available in a number of different woods and I chose one in Walnut, Padauk and Cherry. In this combination it is very striking (if not beautiful!) It doesn't really need a lot of brain power to disassemble as there are actually a very limited number of possible moves. My version is very tight which did make it quite hard to find the second move.