Wednesday 2 November 2011

Hanayama Cast L'Oeuf

Cast L'Oeuf
Another one of my recent batch of Hanayama cast puzzles from Puzzle Master included the Cast L'Oeuf. I chose this one because I don't feel particularly confident with maze puzzles (despite solving all 4 of the Revomaze extremes!!) and felt I could do with something to practice my path finding.
I have solved the Metal medallion (review coming) which is a similar product bought from my great puzzle friend (and pusher!) Wil Strijbos which is similar and also made by the Hanayama company. If you live in the US then it is also available from Puzzle Master as the Medallion. Both of these puzzles were designed by the very talented Oskar Van Deventer, it is a double maze made in the shape of an egg. It apparently gained prize-winning honours at the 2nd Annual Puzzle Design Competition in Antwerp. It has been reviewed by Gabriel here and by Brian here.

It arrived in the standard beautiful Hanayama packaging and tied onto a board. With only the instructions to take it apart and put it back together again. There is no solution provided but one can be downloaded from here. It is rated as 4 out of 6 by Hanayama and 8 out of 10 by Puzzle Master (whose scale starts at 5!!). I think that the rating is probably about right. It consists of 2 egg shaped plates of metal (one gold and one silver, with a roughened surface. Each has a different pathway cut into it with disks cut out at the end of each pathway for the stud to come out and allow separation. The stud from one disk pierces the pathway of the other one. Size is 8.6 cm x 7 cm x 1.9 cm - a pretty decent size in your hands so not too fiddly.

The goal here, obviously is to negotiate the 2 mazes simultaneously and separate the two pieces. Oh and if that wasn't enough then you have to put them back together again! Looking at it, I initially thought it wouldn't be too tough because, unlike the Medal maze, the pathways are a single track with no dead ends - I was wrong! The first couple of moves are really nice and then I got stuck! After a bit of pushing and shoving I got the hang of it and was on my merry way around the track thinking that it was going well. At this point, quite a long way along, I got stuck again and soon realised that the secret to this maze is a very large amount of back tracking on one side before the other side can be moved forward a few steps. This is not a puzzle where you need an aha! moment - it can be solved by trial and error with lots of small discoveries. My only criticism is that in places it feels that it needs a little force to get the movement required - it is not as smooth as the Medallion.

I think that it probably took me about 20 minutes to get the plates apart and the same again to get it back together.

2 egg shaped plates
I thought I had remembered the correct approach for the reassembly but tantalisingly close to the end I got stuck again and this time ended up going backwards and forwards several times before they both slid into place.

This is a really nice puzzle and feels great in the hands. I think if you can only buy one then I would go for the Medallion. It feels slightly better in quality and is a bit more tricky. But if you are an addict like me then you have to buy both!!!

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