|Hanayama Cast H&H|
As with all these puzzles they come in a black Hanayama box beautifully packaged with the puzzle tied to a card holder inside. It is a lovely chromed metal and is a good size at 4.8 x 2.9 x 2.9 cm in size. It has a good heft to it and feels great in the hands - most Hanayama puzzles are nicely tactile but this one is particularly so. The H&H is named because it is made of 2 pieces of cast metal each of which is an H shape. It is absolutely beautiful to look at - I'm afraid my photography setup is just not good enough to make it look as good as it does in real life. The website describes it well - the 2 Hs look identical but they are subtly different from each other and you need to use the differences to work your way through the maze of possible movements to separate it into it's 2 halves. Designed by Oskar van Deventer, this is an absolute bargain of a puzzle at $13!
It is rated as level 9 (Gruelling) on the 5-10 point Puzzle Master scale and by Hanayama themselves as 5 out of 6 and I think that is about right. On the Puzzle Master listing for this page it has been reviewed by many puzzlers and uniformly been given 4 or 5 stars (one person found it too easy!). It has been reviewed by quite a few bloggers before me and they all really enjoyed it - you can find the reviews by the various bloggers by clicking on their names; Will (found a novel solution), Neil, Brian, Gabriel and Gunnar (German) . The solution is not provided in the box. I doubt you will need it but it is available from Puzzle Master here.
This puzzle very much reminds me of the much simpler Cast Keyring which I reviewed here, in fact I would have love to have seen this one made from 2 colours of metal like the Keyring. The H&H has a similar range of movements but is MUCH more difficult, requiring many many more moves to separate the 2 pieces. I would suggest that if you are thinking of buying this one then it is worthwhile getting both of them and solving the easier one first. The individual pieces have grooves in them and gaps for the various protrusions to pass over or through one another in a rather complex maze-like path. Unlike the Keyring (which has no blind ends) this one has multiple possible routes many of which end up leading you in a circle or leading you into a blind end.
I have to say, to my eternal shame, that I'm not very good at remembering what my pathway has been at any particular point with this type of puzzle so I wandered aimlessly through the maze not quite recognising where I had been. Eventually after about 90 minutes it came apart (which was lucky because I was about to chuck it through a window!) - here are the pieces:
There must be a more systematic approach to it but I cannot find one. It is quite enjoyable to solve multiple times and still takes me quite a while to do it! It looks so innocuous but really is a nice tough puzzle that keeps you going no matter how many times you have done it.
Verdict - Definitely a good one to add to your collection and certainly a good one as a stocking stuffer for Xmas!