Something old, something older and something brand new for you to win!
"No!" I hear you cry, "never!"
It's funny how I hear so many voices!
Well I'm afraid to admit that it's true - I seem to have a bit of a wood habit. My study looks absolutely gorgeous because every wall is covered in wooden puzzles made by fantastic craftsmen. I have a single shelf devoted to Wil's glass and metal beauties and a half shelf devoted to Traiphum's hand made twisties. I do have quite a lot of mass produced twisties but not on show! Erm - "quite a lot" means 146 unique puzzles! I have been chastised for only writing about expensive puzzles and gently berated by a good friend for ignoring a whole group of puzzles that are absolutely fascinating and, by and large, very affordable. This group tend to be made of plastic and probably broadly fall into the puzzle classification as "Sequential movement" puzzles if one uses the Dalgetty-Hordern system, these can be sub-divided nicely if you use Rob's system - I have taken a screenshot of the relevant section.
|From Rob's fabulous site|
At the top of the post is a fantastic puzzle that was one of the first that I was given. It is The Orb (US name) or Orb-it (UK name) and was first patented in 1981 UK and 1982 US. It consists of 4 tracks - those at the poles containing 8 beads and those next to the equator contain 20. The puzzle is split from pole to pole and can be rotated on itself to move the tracks into different positions - one position creates a single huge spiralling track and another position creates 2 separate tracks rather like the lines on a tennis ball.
which seems fairly horrific to me.
In terms of solving it - I would think that most puzzlers will work it out within a few hours or days and it is great fun to hand a scrambled one to your non-puzzling friends to watch the bewilderment on their faces. Now if you are a real connoisseur or sucker for punishment then you can buy a special version with more tracks in it from Shapeways. They were designed by Jason Smith aka Puzzle Forge and made truly stunning by having them electroplated!
|Really doesn't look bad - Hungarian Rings|
Only marginally less horrific. One thing to be aware of is that there are 8 possible solutions for you to aim for which actually makes this a particularly fun puzzle to play with as you really ought to try and flip between different solutions without scrambling them up.
|NOW it looks a little harder!|
I contacted them asking for information and also dropped a big hint that I had a puzzle blog and was delighted when they offered to send me a copy to try and to produce a review. They agreed to send me two so that I could give one away to one of my readers.
Mine arrived without packaging but it should look like this when full distribution begins:
So what do I think? It is beautifully made - really nice bright shiny plastic with no flashing and obviously of high quality. The ball is 10cm in diameter and the satellite ring 12.4cm across, it's a decent weight and feels substantial. Just about everything moves - the green and blue hemispheres rotate on each other, the satellite ring rotates around the ball, and the segment at the poles can be twisted into any angle. This effectively means that any of the equatorial pieces can be moved to anywhere else so when scrambled it looks like this:
The movement did get quite stiff at times and the rotation of the pieces at the poles need to be fairly accurately aligned. This means it is definitely not built for speed solving. I intend to try adding some cubers lube to see if this improves the movement but it certainly is not bad by any means. I struggled to solve this for several days and because of the spherical shape, I could not find a way to move pieces into place without ruining those already placed. I'm not a natural at these puzzles by any means. Eventually, I sat down and tried various sequences and made notes on what happened. This allowed me to work out a single algorithm which I was able to use. It's not at all an efficient solution and much is done by intuition but it has let me solve the puzzle 6 or 7 times over the last few days and I have to say it is a nice enjoyable challenge.
I would say that for $20 it is well worth acquiring and I really hope that they fulfil their promise and bring out some more with different difficulty levels.
|I got two|