Other bloggers have also reviewed it - Gabriel was first with his review, followed by Brian and much more recently Oli has just started his trek into twisty madness and reviewed it here (He is nowhere near as crazy about the twisties as I have become!!)
This puzzle looks horrifically complex because when you turn one face the centre face turns with it. For every half turn of a face the centre turns 90º. At the same time as doing this the middle cubies rotate around so it very quickly gets to look rather scrambled and sort of shape-shifted. To see this amazing cube in action have a look at this video by by larfrtc:
Despite looking so awful, I managed to work out what was required to solve it within about half an hour of beginning my fiddling. There are no real algorithms to learn (OK there is one but it only involves turning a face by 4 half turns). This is a really nice puzzle for younger puzzlers! It is a little more expensive than a standard cube - I got mine form Puzl in the UK but it is available from Calvin's HKNowstore or Uwe Meffert.
I later read on the Twisty puzzle forums about a modification of the stickering for this puzzle which had been made by the great Tony Fisher (developer of many new cubes including the (wait for it!) Fisher cube. This apparently made the puzzle more attractive and more difficult - it had not been done this way from the outset due to the difficulty of stickering the tiny parts accurately during mass production. I duly when to Cubesmith to get some of these stickers and and now have an absolutely gorgeous looking puzzle which is still pretty simple to solve but only has a few extra steps than the original - it is well worth your while getting one of these and enhancing it this way. Here it is with the new stickers and also when scrambled:
"The word "anisotropic" means directionally dependent. I thought this would make an appropriate name, as the way of turning this twisty puzzle is indeed directionally dependent"
What this means in real life is that the gearing only works in 2 planes, the top and bottom faces can rotate by 90º and no rotation of adjacent faces occurs. When it went on sale it was sold as the "Gear cube extreme" and is available from all the usual sites (Puzl, HKNowstore and Mefferts). I bought mine from HKNowstore and it came with a set of stickers for the tiny inner pieces too - this is now called the "Gear cube ultimate". This, again makes it look much more attractive but makes it even more puzzling. Here it is in all it's glory:
|OMG! How to I unscramble this|
This must be the end of the gearing up! I'm afraid not! I have one more to share with you. Oskar was at it again, this time in conjunction with Bram Cohen he produced a new puzzle, unlike all the others, which he called the Gear shift.
This is an amazingly interesting puzzle and there are several ways to solve it - it requires a reasonable amount of thought and an analysis of the way that gears with differing numbers of teeth can interact. I managed to get 6 of the 8 cubies solved quite easily but those last two proved to be a real problem. Ultimately it actually took a week of trial and error before I had managed to work out a method of solving it.
So should you get one, some or all of these? Well I am a bit biased (no kidding!) - but trying to be objective, I would say that you should definitely get the Gear cube (treat yourself to the Cubesmith sticker replacements just to make it more attractive) and seriously consider the Gear shift. I love my Gearcube Extreme/Ultimate but it should only be bought by real puzzleholics (are you one of them???) and people who want to collect the whole lot.
As you can tell, I am having a lot of fun with my Twisty journey. They are relatively cheap, provide many different solving challenges and actually look quite attractive in a collection.
If you don't think they can be attractive then just look at this collection (NOT mine!) recently posted on the TP forum: