Moises (our favourite puzzle rookie) has reviewed it here, Neil expressed his opinion here (he said it was his second favourite), Oli also really enjoyed it (his review is here), Brian's review is on his site and Gabriel's review is here. All these positive reviews are despite it being a relatively easy puzzle to solve - Hanayama rate it as a 4 out of 6 and Puzzle Master put it at 8 on their scale of 5 to 10 (Demanding) - I think this rating is about right. This means that it is not the difficulty that causes the enjoyment, there must be something else special about it.
It arrived in the usual delightful Hanayama packaging and when you take it out of the box the only thing you can say is that it is absolutely gorgeous! It consists of a cuboid 3.6 x 3.6 x 2.5cm in size and feels quite substantial in your hand. Within the cuboid is a marble with cuts in it in the same configuration as the parts of a tennis ball (fitting! Seeing as it is now Wimbledon final week). No solution is provided, but if you really need one then you can download it from here. The Marble spins freely within the cuboid (although the 2 halves of the marble will not move relative to one another). The cuboid, on the other hand is obviously made of 2 parts (it could even be mistaken for 4) which move freely too but not enough to release the marble. It is made from a chromed metal in 2 colours with the block being a blackened shade. The only downfall (as you can see from my photos is that it picks up fingerprints immediately!) It was originally designed jointly by Oskar ven Deventer and Bram Cohen and produced initially by George Miller before Hanayama obtained permission to mass produce it. Puzzle Master sell it for $13.
The first time I played with Graham's copy, I was pretty new to the puzzling world. I didn't understand what was going on with this puzzle and it took me about 10-15 minutes to separate the pieces and then I completely failed to understand what happened (I had just scrabbled it apart and not done it the correct way) and he had to put it back together for me!!! BLUSH!!! I put this down to my being a beginner and because he had brought along so many other toys to play with that I couldn't concentrate on one at a time!! So this time was about a year after my first contact.
Being a bit more advanced now I knew that this would require a coordinate motion to work. After about 5 minutes of fiddling (mine was a little stiff at first) I worked out what needed to align up and suddenly it slid apart! What a lovely action!
|Cast Marble - 4 Pieces|
I have handed this to quite a lot of people at work now and they are all fascinated and say it is beautiful. Very few can open it until I tell them that "you need to get everything aligned just right" and then almost all of them have managed to solve it within about 10 minutes - the look on their faces as it slides apart is absolutely wonderful to behold and I would not be surprised if a few more of these get sold over the next few weeks!
Should you buy this one? I have to say that along with the Cast Donuts, the Cast Marble has become my absolute favourite Hanayama! It makes a great worry bead when you know how to solve it quickly. It is an essential part of any serious collector's display.