It comes in the usual immaculate Hanayama black box and is well secured to the card within. It is made of a lovely chromed metal and is 5.3cm across and 2cm deep. Looking at it from the front, you cannot tell how many pieces there are. The instructions on the box are to take it apart and reassemble it - easy-peezy(!) The solution is not provided as with all the Hanayama cast puzzles and I suspect you may well need it for this one - if you do, then download it from here.
Brian has reviewed it on his blog here and Gabriel has done the same here. Both found it very tough indeed.
The design is by Akio Yamamoto who is responsible for quite a lot of the non-maze cast puzzles - it was his entry into the 2008 IPP design competition. This explains the AY engraved on one of the pieces. I must say that this man must have a seriously twisted brain to come up with these designs - I wouldn't even know where to start designing one of these monstrosities!
It consists of three different pieces, each has a "body" with a tight spiral centre and a tail which is an extension of the body. They are subtly different from each other when you look at their notches and protuberances. When you first pick it up there seems to be absolutely no movement at all in the pieces and you cannot actually tell how many there are. Things sort of rattle but that is all. After about 10 minutes of pushing and pulling there was a clank and all three pieces moved at the same time and became very loose. I panicked and thought that was it solved and I had no real idea what I had done, so I quickly reset it and worked out what move was required to get it started. After this I could investigate further and it became clear very quickly that this was going to be really really tough. All 3 of the tails were engaged with one of the heads!
Like Brian, I realised that you cannot be methodical - you just have to jingle a lot (thank goodness the present Mrs S wasn't anywhere nearby - you know how she hates it when I jingle)! Over about 45 minutes I sequentially managed to release each tail from the head and then was left with all three tails intertwined. Here I got stuck! Nothing I could do would release them from each other. It took me another hour at least to find the next move - I am amazed that Brian managed it in about an hour (he must be some kind of savant/genius). Finally, when I thought I had run out of ideas, I tried one other rather improbable move and all of a sudden I had them all linked in a linear chain. From here it is a snip to unlink them:
|3 similar pieces|
I have given this to another puzzle friend to play with and he has managed only the first move so far despite about an hour of play. I will keep torturing him for a while - I fully expect he will take it apart but I will be staggered if he reassembles it.
Overall this is a tremendously difficult cast puzzle - it is very rewarding to play with once you have memorised the technique. It is NOT for newbies or the faint-hearted - even experienced puzzlers will really struggle. I would like to meet Mr Yamamoto, either to shake his hand or wring his neck, I am not sure which!!! Definitely a good one for the serious puzzler's collection. Buy it! You know you want to.