Having done a few of the newer Hanayama puzzles, I thought that it was time to go back to some of my beloved wire puzzles. It has been a while since I tried any of these and it was with some trepidation that I rummaged around in my "puzzles to be played with" drawer and pulled out one of the Level 9/10 (Gruelling) wire puzzles. This one is the Cupid's dart and is so called for pretty obvious reasons! I always take a very deep breath to calm my nerves whenever I attempt a wire puzzle that includes a piece of string. My track record of having to cut it or spend hours unraveling knots is not great! I really hesitate to give them to friends to play with because the outcome is almost inevitable!
This one arrives in the usual plastic clamshell with just the instructions to "remove the string". It is nicely anodised and the string is a complete ring which has been heat sealed onto itself which would make it really interesting if you ever decide to cut it to untangle and reform the ring. The ball on the string serves the sole purpose of preventing you feeding it through the tail of the dart. Size is decent at 12.7 x 6.7cm. No solution is provided but if you want one (and at level 9 you might!) the solution can be downloaded from here. It has been reviewed before by Gabriel here. He agreed with the difficulty rating and even felt it might have warranted a 10!!
Now I have been practicing with wire/string puzzles for a long time now and am getting better all the time. My first action is always to pick it up and look for potential exit points on the puzzle and then look to see whether there is any way that I can see to easily move the relevant parts to said exit. It is amazing how, with a bit of practice you get quite good at visualising strategies without even manipulating the puzzle - after a few minutes of examination I had a plan. I sat down with a coffee and prepared myself mentally for a tussle and a whole lot of knots and much to my surprise I removed the string loop in less than a minute! I had actually managed to work out the solution to it in my head! I put it down and left it for a while before attempting to return it to the beginning and I found it slightly harder to put back together but only about 5 minutes of play.
I have given this puzzle to some friends to try and am gratified to see that no-one else could solve it easily within the time period they had it (about an hour each) and also it is nice to see that any tanglement that occurs is pretty easy to undo. So should you get this one? I think it would make a great addition to any collection, pretty tough, nice to look at, not easily knotted up and very reasonably priced at $10. For me it is currently making a rather nice worry bead as I solve and reset it repeatedly!