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.

After initially admiring the sheer size of the thing, I started to take it apart. I personally think that the toughest part of this puzzle is the initial disassembly - I spent a few minutes trying to find the key piece! It was all put together very tightly and nothing moved at all when I pushed or pulled on various sticks. I had to use a reasonable amount of push on the key piece before anything moved. Once this piece was out, it quickly came apart (there are no blind ends like the more complex burr puzzles) and I scattered the pieces and left them for a while before trying the reassembly.

Many pieces
The reassembly is supposed to be the real challenge here and I guess for new puzzlers it might be a small challenge. I managed to get it all back in one piece in about 3 or 4 minutes. Not difficult for me but still quite satisfying.

This one is a nice puzzle for a newbie or someone who wants a really full collection of wooden puzzles.

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