Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Cast Box

Hanayama Cast Box
Continuing with my recent batch of puzzles from Puzzle Master, I had decided to try the latest 2 of the puzzles from Hanayama. I love the stuff this company produces! It is pocketable, beautifully made and packaged, varies from fairly easy for beginners to extremely tough for puzzle freaks and really appeals to the Magpie in me.

Just this year Hanayama released the Cast Harmony (reviewed here) and this one, the Cast Box. It is packaged in the same black box with only the instructions to remove the ring from the box (and then obviously return it). It is made from a nice antiqued brass with just the word start which the shiny chrome ring straddles. Size wise the cube is 3.6 cm along each side and the ring is 5cm in diameter. It has a nice heft to it so would make a serious dent in a wall if you threw it away in disgust! Luckily it is only a level 2 on Hanayama's 6 point difficulty scale and a Level 6 (Tricky) on Puzzle Master's 5-10 scale. This means that you will not find it particularly difficult but it does provide a rather nice discovery moment. No solution is provided (as with all these puzzles) and it can be downloaded from here. You really shouldn't need the solution! Gabriel reviewed it here but be careful - he did give a small spoiler on how to solve it!

When I first saw it in pictures, this puzzle reminded me of a mix between the Cast Cuby (for the box maze) and the Cast Duet for the ring which needs to navigate the maze. First fiddling with it reveals that the ring has a gap in it which has a small protuberance on it. This piece of metal prevents the ring from just falling off the box and also ensures that it can only move from place to place on the cube by passing it through the notches cut into the cube on various edges. These edges form a maze around the cube which you have to follow until one leads off. Straight away you discover that there are several starting points to enter the maze and with some trepidation you pick one. Luckily it is not too bad - the dead ends are not deep and easily plotted.

Next - which slot leads off? This is a bit harder to work out by looking at the puzzle and you initially just wander around aimlessly. Before long you realise you've explored everything but not found the exit. Time for a rethink. You soon discover a new move is possible and this quickly opens up a new series of moves which ends as you pull the ring off! Very satisfying with a nice Aha! moment.

Separated - now put it back
I thought that I had managed to memorise my sequence but obviously I had skipped a crucial point in my path. It took me only 10 minutes to separate the pieces but more like 20 to put it back together again! Not very bright? Or not very observant? You decide!

Is this one worth while adding to your collection? I think it is - it's not tough but it is quite nice and certainly would be good for giving to kids to play with or magpies. Plus Hanayama's are like stamps - you need to collect the whole set!!

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