Tuesday, 23 October 2012

It's a Zoo in Here!



I seem to have gotten a reputation in the puzzle sphere for being a bit of a savant with wire disentanglement puzzles - so much so that at the Midlands puzzle parties the guys seem to automatically show them to me for a challenge! I personally think the reputation is unearned but ever since I solved and reviewed all the Livewire puzzles they seem to think that I must be quite good at them!

My very good friend Rox also knows how much I love wire disentanglement puzzles (in fact she knows how much I love all puzzles!) So she was kind enough to let me know when the "Master of wire disentanglement puzzles", Dick Hess, had a few little toys up for sale on eBay. I left her to bid on what she was interested in and I went for a few myself. A few emails after I won them, I ended up with a rather bigger haul than I was at first expecting and then another few emails later another huge haul arrived!! I have no willpower at all and hence I am sitting here looking at another 29 puzzles (Please don't tell Mrs S!!)
I thought it would be nice to show you the remainder of the set that I began at the beginning of the year with the Yak puzzle. Dick has produced a goodly number of wire puzzles which he has named after animals which all bear the hallmark of a very similar structure and exit point but hugely varying strategies required to reach it. They are all based on the basic Borromean rings structure:

Borromean rings
I bought the first 3 of these puzzles from Puzzle Master's wire selection and really enjoyed the challenge. The Yak mentioned above was probably the toughest of them all and took me quite some time (although happily, not as long as it took Brian!) Having done it eventually, I followed up with the Whale at George Bell's suggestion (he reckoned it was much easier and a good one to start on in that series. The final one of these that I had previously managed to acquire was the Brontosaurus which I also enjoyed.

The Yak
The Whale
Brontosaurus
These three left me very keen to get some more but as far as I could tell there are no puzzle stores selling them - I would need to wait until they came up at auction or I managed to finally contact the great man himself! I had seen a mini series at one of the MPPs I attended and tried to get it at one auction and got scuppered at the very last moment! So imagine my joy when I see some of them available on eBay and then even better when Dick has the rest of the series and is willing to let me have them!!



The simplest of them all is the Pig puzzle - it literally only took me a minute to master but still leaves a little smile on your face. I gave this to some friends at work and they all missed the exit! So if you are not really familiar with wire puzzles then you will like this one. My mother-in-law came to stay and unlike the present Mrs S, she seems to enjoy the puzzles I collect and had a good go at solving quite a few! She wasn't even bothered by the jingling!

Next up was the "Mini-menagerie collection" - these are small puzzles in a little boxed set:


As you can see this little group includes the Whale (so I have a duplicate). 

The Ox looks rather like the Yak but yet again there is a different solution strategy which took me quite a while to solve and completely baffled everyone else that I gave it to. No-one here has solved it apart from me!

The Rhino looks very similar to the Brontosaurus and does have a very similar strategy but has a subtle difference to it. I complained before that the  Brontosaurus needed a small amount of force to solve due to the very tiny tolerances - well the Rhino slides perfectly and very cleverly apart. Probably one of my favourites and very non-intuitive to solve.

The mini-menagerie puzzle were all quite small but perfectly usable. The final 2 puzzles in the zoo were more normally sized and packaged individually.

This took me about 20 minutes to solve and was really fiddly to do. I used a different technique to all the others and was really pleased with myself to have done it. I did look at the instruction leaflet to see whether my solution was correct and the "correct solution" was different to mine!! It is much more elegant - but then no-one has ever said I was elegant!

Finally we have:


The Hippo puzzle! It actually looks like one too! At least if you squint your eyes a lot! Not particularly difficult but yet another different sequence required to get the shuttle over to the exit point! It took me just a couple of minutes.

I can heartily recommend this series! Most definitely get the Puzzle Master versions and if you see the ones made by Dick himself then you shouldn't hesitate. These are a cheap set and well worth it for any puzzler's collection.

UPDATE 1:
I have been contacted by Dick himself via my facebook page - if anyone wants to buy puzzles direct from him then you can contact me and I will give you his email address.

UPDATE 2:
My good friend Louis (A-maze-ing on the revomaze forum) borrowed the 3 Puzzle Master Hess designed animal wire puzzles from me. He has had them for 4 or 5 months and been working on them intermittently. Now let me tell you all that Louis is truly "amazing" - he is as close to a puzzle solving machine as I have ever seen! He may be even better than Brian Pletcher which takes some doing. Despite working on these puzzles for months, Louis has finally admitted defeat on the Yak puzzle and had to get a solution! So if you want a really REALLY tough wire puzzle then go for the Yak! Despite having done several hundred wire puzzles now it is still my favourite. It is actually quite simple in it's solution yet very difficult to see it!

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