Thursday, 5 July 2012

Hanayama Cast Marble

Cast Marble
Outer Shell Moves
Time to review yet another one of from my large Puzzle Master hoard - this time it is the Hanayama Cast Marble. In fact I have actually played with it before - when I met with a puzzle friend who owned it and also a friend at work brought it in to show me. Each time I had only really played with it for a short while. Over the last year or so, I have heard many people rave about this one, both about it's looks and it's very sweet puzzle action. Quite a few people claim that this one is their absolute favourite Hanayama cast puzzleSo eventually I had to break down and get one for myself!

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
Putting it back together again requires everything again to be lined up just right (you cannot fluke this part like I did with the first disassembly). I personally find the reassembly even more fascinating than the disassembly. This is one very clever little puzzle!

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.

17 comments:

  1. I have bought several of these because we keep losing the pieces! I also first disassembled it somewhat differently from the solution and had a more difficult time getting it back together. Even now, when I know the solution it can take a minute to line it up correctly, the action is quite subtle.

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  2. ...definitely my favourite Hanayama Cast puzzle.

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  3. See everyone! Even 2 world famous puzzle superstars like George and Allard appreciate the subtleties of the Cast Marble. It can be difficult but is always beautiful. Definitely a favourite amongst the "elite"!

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  4. Shucks, I am actually no whiz at solving puzzles. I have several puzzles in my collection like "Outrageous Rings" that are still unsolved to this day! I have learned that some are good at solving puzzles, while others are good at collecting puzzles. And then there is a final category for people like me who aren't particularly great at either. We excel at drinking beer and making up stories!

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    1. Just being a world famous puzzle superstar doesn't mean that you are necessarily good at solving them! You are one because of your capacity for beer whilst talking about puzzles.

      Allard is one because he collects them and solves them whilst
      burning meat!

      I might be famous for buying all these damn puzzles whilst not being bright enough to solve any of them!!!

      If anyone else would like to say why they might be a puzzle superstar then please let us all know!

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  5. I agree, this is a very clever puzzle, I always enjoy the move to put in or out the parts. Not very difficult, but very enjoyable !

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    1. It is absolutely beautiful! I never get tired of doing it!

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    2. :) Kevin, I love this puzzle. It took me ages to king it up the first time, then my jeans learned how it was done... Not solving, beer drinking and meet burning? it looks like you are in good company!

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    3. Your Jeans learned how it was done???
      How do you teach a pair of trousers to solve puzzles?

      Possibly the only thing better than puzzles might be beer! But if you can have both then that is the best!!!

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  6. I suppose for me it's like the Donuts in a way that they too are really nice to actually hold. It's not only a puzzle but an aesthetic treat :-D

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    1. Ooh the Donuts! I love that one too. It is particularly good to hand that one to friends - they really struggle with it!!!

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  7. Firstly, I must give my thanks to you and all the other people who have taken the time to write about these little gems and puzzles in general. Kudos. It is much appreciated.

    Secondly, I bought this and a couple of other Hanayama casts - Horse and S&S - for my eldest lad's birthday, but I couldn't resist claiming this one for myself and opening it immediately. It's gorgeous. Discovered its twist, didn't put it down for the rest of the workday, and snuck it onto the bookshelf when I got home as a surprise. That puzzle took them all of ten minutes to crack; what's this dad? Cue evil grin. I wish I could've seen my face when three seconds after I handed it to my boy, it was in pieces. Ahh goddamn. But it was pure luck. Can't wait to see him try the other two and figure out this one properly.

    Kind regards, Callum

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    1. Welcome to the puzzling world Callum! It's very addictive but great fun with a nice community too. I hope you and your family enjoy some more in the future.

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  8. I originally had Cast Equa in mind when I entered the puzzle shop (in Camden Market) but thanks to the lovely lady behind the counter who emphasised the elegant nature of the Cast Marble solution, I reluctantly changed my mind.

    Any doubts I had soon vanished. The puzzle feels great in the hand: weighty and free moving, the "cage" twists smoothly and the trapped marble rotates freely inside. So much so that it works quite well as a substitute fidget spinner!

    As for the puzzle element, I was able to take it apart long before I "solved" it. It took me a while and much fiddling to reassemble it again and to fully understand how it works.

    Not the most difficult puzzle but definitely one of the most elegant solutions. I'm very pleased I was persuaded to buy it.

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    1. Most puzzlers would rate the Cast Marble in the very top most elegant puzzles in their collection. I haven't played with mine for a long time, you've reminded me that I should get it out and play again.

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    2. I can see why! It's my second puzzle by Oskar Van Deventer, the other being Cast Chain, and I really enjoy them both. I'll be keeping an eye out for more of his puzzles for sure.

      Next on the list will be Equa I think, although Enigma has also shot up the shortlist after reading your review. Decisions, decisions! Thanks Kevin.

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    3. My pleasure! Before long you’ll be almost as hooked as me!

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