Instead, I went out and rummaged around in my drawer containing my stash from Puzzle Master and found something that even the present Mrs S said looked gorgeous when it first arrived - the Cast Violon. This is one of the easier of the Hanayama puzzles which I had seen before at work when one of my friends who I had infected with the bug brought it to show me. At that time I had only played for a short while and gone around in circles for a while despite it being "easy". How easy? Well it is rated as a level 2 on Hanayama's 6 point scale or level 6 (Tricky) on Puzzle Master's scale of 5-10. Usually at this level, I find them fairly trivial but I bought it because of my previous difficulty, my urge to collect them all and also because it is just so beautiful.
It arrived packaged beautifully in the customary Hanayama black box and despite the look of my photo, it was absolutely pristine (my pictures always seem to show up lots of dust and fur - probably because everything I own is now covered in cat fur!) This puzzle is not new, it was originally patented in the US in 1965, having been created by Joseph L. Litle. The Hanayama version was reconstructed by Nob Yoshigahara after playing with a wooden copy built by his close, but now deceased friend, Tadao Muroi. Nob changed the proportions considerably from the original plan and made it look more like a violin and hence the name. It is made from a cast metal and anodised a lovely reddish colour making it look almost like copper (I hope it won't go green with time).
All the reviews on the product page are 4 stars or above and it has been very well received. Gabriel reviewed it here and felt that it deserved a higher difficulty rating. Neil's review was positive and included a video to show how it moved.
No solution is provided and I very much doubt that you will need it but should you collect the solutions then it can be downloaded from Puzzle Master at this page.
It consists of 3 interconnecting pieces, one the body of the Violin, one the bow and the other heaven only knows! There's a lot of movement in this but it doesn't fall apart because the pieces are effectively Borromean rings - the only difference is that one of the pieces has a gap which just happens to match a thinner are in another of them (the violin). Obviously the first thing to do is get those parts to meet and then see where it takes you.
After a nice little bit of sliding back and forth and a small fiddly bit the bow comes off and then it doesn't take much longer to separate the final 2 pieces:
|3 separate pieces|
It didn't take me long to dismantle it this time so to increase the challenge, I scrambled the pieces and left them for a while before reassembly. Not much more of a challenge but it definitely requires you to be observant about the shape and small differences between the different sides and different ends of the pieces. Certainly, for non-puzzlers who are flushed with success at having managed it quickly, this may bring them down a notch.
This is definitely a level 2 (6) puzzle and not much challenge to the hardcore puzzler but they will want it for the collection and others will want it to challenge their kids! At only $13 it's a bargain. I plan on taking it to work and seeing whether it stumps my friends who seem to expect new toys at regular intervals and it will be a good one for my patients who need diversion whilst having their surgery under plexus block or spinal anaesthesia!