Sunday 30 March 2014

Livewire puzzles part 11 and helping a hero

Roller Coaster
Incredible! An 11th post devoted to just one puzzle type and manufacturer. In January I began to update my Livewire puzzles sojourn with a look at the most recent ones added to their site. I am very sad to see that they have discontinued several of my absolute favourites from my previous posts. They have a huge range and some are absolute blinders! Have a look here for some of the older puzzles.

So the next one in the series that I picked up was the Roller Coaster - this is the very latest addition to their catalogue and I was very lucky to be offered the chance to buy it before it actually came on the market. It has a striking similarity to the Ringleader that I reviewed last time, with the big beautiful spiral. This spiral really complicates the solving process and gives you the dreaded opportunity to not only tie the string in knots but also to have it wound around and around the spiral. Livewire have rated this one as "Very Difficult" and hell yeah! it certainly is.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Cast Cylinder

Hanayama Cast Cylinder
Not so long ago, I appeared to have finished all of my last hoard of Puzzle Master deliveries. Very quickly suffering from withdrawal symptoms, I decided that it was definitely time for some more - and spent a very happy half hour or so rampaging through their emporium of goodies for more toys to play with and of course even more to write about for you. I really do like to have a few mass-produced puzzles to write about to ensure that I am not only writing about things that are unobtainable for many of you.

What I try to do is make an occasional large order because Canadian post is sooooo expensive that I try to get the package weight to the point where it is worthwhile buying and before it doesn't get really exorbitant! So during the week, I received another big box of new goodies to keep me occupied.

One of the first that I grabbed to try was the Cast Cylinder from Hanayama - this was released in August 2013 and has been raved about by friends of mine and by other bloggers. It just took me a while to get around to adding it to my collection. However, the wait was definitely worth it - it is a really clever puzzle with some very interesting challenges. As usual, the packaging is delightful and everything nicely held in place - no chance of breakages or it solving itself in the box as has happened to me with other company's puzzles. The instructions on the box are simply to dismantle it and put it back together again. They are so confidant in the difficulty that they actually show the pieces on the box. Rated as a level 4/6 by Hanayama and 8 (Demanding) on the 5-10 point scale by Puzzle Master, it should be a nice challenge to most puzzlers. Having been designed by the very prolific Vesa Timonen who had designed the Cast Donuts (one of my absolute favourites), I had high hopes for this one.

It has been reviewed before by Jerry on his blog here, and by Gabriel here (both of them failed to manage the puzzle reassembly without help). The customer reviews on the product page have been very positive. No solution is given with it but if you need one then it can be downloaded from here although, to be honest, I'm not sure how much help it will be for the reassembly.

Out of the box - it is made of shiny chrome (really hard to photograph!) and I think would have been nicer as an anodised black but either way it's very enticing to pick up. It is 3.6cm diameter and 3.5 cm high - it is a nice solid feel in the hands

Thursday 20 March 2014

Another milestone passed!

I appear to have passed the 300,000 page view mark and am very grateful to you all for continuing to read my drivel! It constantly amazes me that I get 400-1000 page views per day and I guess that not all of them can be my mother!

I will try to keep it up for you - I'm having too much fun to give up now and a large part of the fun is the writing and communicating with you. I still consider myself an amateur puzzle solver and hopefully with all this practice I might improve!!

Sunday 16 March 2014

It gets easier - so I thought!

Box Packing
Last week I highlighted a few of my recent purchases from my friend Jakub, the co-owner of the New Pelikan Workshop. The puzzles I showed were fabulous interlocking solids which were a really nice little challenge and a packing puzzle that even I was able to solve in a reasonable period of time despite being rubbish at them (that puzzle is now in the hands of a true lover of packing puzzles who will really appreciate it - a birthday gift for a friend).

This time, I wanted to showcase the rest of the puzzles I bought in that series. The picture at the top is Box Packing designed by William Hu and it initially confused me because I thought that was the wrong name. I actually thought that the All tetra stick was the Box Packing but Jakub's pictures put me right as did Ishino's site. As soon as I saw the picture I knew I had to have it - it is so different to everything I have seen before.

Sunday 9 March 2014

Interlocked and even packed successfully!

What's the collective noun for a group of Pelikans?
A gorgeousness?
Recently I received another rather large delivery from my friend Jakub. Every few months he whispers sweet somethings in my ear and my brain falls out along with the contents of my bank account! My last purchase consisted of 7 gorgeous puzzles which I have shown above. I initially thought they were all either interlocking puzzles or burrs - little did I know it but one of them was a packing puzzle! I try never to buy packing puzzles because I can't do them but Jakub bewitched me and I just bought them all! I haven't told Mrs S about the cost of my collection and it's on a need to know basis......She doesn't! Luckily Jakub's work doesn't break the bank.

Over the last few years you know that I have a trouble with getting wood! Stop that!!!! I just can't get enough - now, stop that thought again!!! I am a sucker for most puzzles but particularly when they are made by a good craftsman in fabulous exotic woods. I have been buying from Jakub for a couple of years now and can only say that the quality of his workmanship just gets better and better - at the last Midlands Puzzle Party both Allard and myself came to the conclusion that Jakub was now up to Cubic standards. Luckily for me (and the rest of the community) they seem to focus on different puzzles. Jakub has also been very successful in getting his work stocked bu puzzle sellers from all over the world.

In Europe they are available at good prices from Bernhard Schweitzer at his Puzzlewood site, in N America they all seem to be stocked by Puzzle Master here and Brian & Sue Young stock them at MrPuzzle for those of you in Australasia.

Sunday 2 March 2014

Cast Coaster

Hanayama Cast Coaster - hard to photograph!
Todays blog post will be a short one - I am on call yet again and may be called in at any moment! I am definitely getting too old for all this working in the middle of the night business - last Tuesday was horrendous and it took me until Friday to recover!!!

I am finally coming to the end of my last Puzzle Master delivery and I have to say it has really been fun. I got a whole load of toys that have been marvelous fun to solve and have kept me in torture equipment for my friends and work colleagues for ages! In fact seeing the bottom of my Puzzle Master stash is a bit depressing and I think I might have to order a whole lot more - I will explain to the present Mrs S that I have to get more for the sake of my loyal readers! OUCH! My that burns!

As you all know, I am a big fan of shiny things and that very very mad bad girl, Roxanne, has been trying to entice me into buying some Berrocal puzzle statues. She's even gone so far as to give me some links of auctions that are starting soon! Help me - they are soooo shiny and soooooo gorgeous!! I really would love to get some but unfortunately my budget is blown just now! In the absence of being able to own any Berrocals I will have to limit myself to slightly more affordable shiny things. This time I am discussing the Hanayama Cast Coaster and it definitely is very nice and shiny.

It was designed originally by a member of one the very famous puzzling families, Serhiy Grabarchuk. As a little aside, the Grabarchuk family have been trying to set up a Puzzle social network based around one of their apps, Puzzlium, which may be worth a look if you are that way inclined.

Hanayama have packaged it beautifully and decided that it is a level 4 on their 6 point scale or level 8 (Demanding) on Puzzle Master's 6-10 scale. I personally think that it may be slightly easier than that but Gabriel thought slightly higher in his review. Brian reviewed it here and enjoyed it - he certainly thought it is unlikely to be solved by chance. Jerry's review found it extremely challenging and required him to find a solution after a couple of hours of fiddling! On the Puzzle Master item page the user reviews are all 4 or 5 stars and very positive descriptions.

It is flat and looks very like a cup coaster and a very nice weight to it. Dimensions 6.4cm diameter and 0.5cm thick and have I said that it is very shiny? There is a blurb on the box about coiffure which can be completely ignored and all you need to know is that you need to take it apart and put it back together again! No solution is provided but it is easily available from here.