Sunday 29 April 2018

I Don't Collect Boxes, Definitely No Boxes, Nope! No Boxes Here

Aaaaaaaaargh........I Blame Allard!

A Trio of Pluredro Gorgeousness! It's NOT my fault.
Yes, I know! I'm always blaming someone else be it Oli, Allard or the Puzzle Pusher himself and I stick to my claims - it is NEVER my fault...I am just easily lead astray! When Junichi Yananose (Juno) set up his own online store, I jumped to support him but tended to go towards the Burr side of his production and even made a deliberate decision not to buy the rather lovely boxes that he produces. I have really enjoyed all of those purchases but still kept eyeing the boxes up sneakily hoping that no-one would notice. I wavered a little when Allard reviewed the Diamond case and was so enthusiastic about it. I got to see it in the flesh/wood at an MPP early this year but again shied away in fear that I would be corrupted. It was particularly intriguing to me that Allard had found such a little box so difficult - he spent weeks on it without success and only after the Puzzle machine, Louis Coolen, solved it, did he manage it himself (having asked for a clue or two).

I had seen the announcement of the Ixia Box release and stayed away because firstly, it is a box and I DON'T collect boxes (Blush!) and also because it was a reasonable sum of money - not hugely expensive but enough to make me think first. Then recently at the 32nd Midlands Puzzle Party, I saw several people playing with it. My downfall came about when Wil and Allard began to discuss how complex it was and how enjoyable and clever the mechanism was. My interest was piqued!!! Hence it's Allard's fault! I didn't play at the MPP because I had resolved by the end of the day that it would have to join my collection as a sequential discovery puzzle because this is how Yukari described it on the Pluredro blog (NOT a box of course!) Finally when Allard wrote up his review of the day and mentioned again that after a month he has still not managed to solve it then I was lost! A visit to the Pluredro store and I had one Ixia box in my shopping cart. Now it always feels wrong to buy a single puzzle and make it travel the world all alone so I added a couple of other puzzles to keep it company. This left me with a moderately hefty bill that Mrs S doesn't know the full value of and she shall never find out! Whack! Ouch! Sorry dear, it's for your own good!

The third puzzle added to my cart was the Club case, a follow up to the Diamond case and I am reliably informed by the Box meister himself, Steve Canfield, that Juno is planning on making the complete set of suits (the Heart case is next). I can add Steve to my list of people to blame - he knows that I cannot resist a series (be it novels, notebooks, pens or puzzles). The money changed hands and I tracked the path around the globe until....Parcelfarce held onto it for quite a long time! The customs fees were raised and I waited for notification, the customs fees were re-raised and I waited, the notification was sent out and I waited! Do they not realise that I have little enough hair left to have any more fall out? Eventually, the nicely packed box arrived and I was able to take my group photo above! Then time for the puzzling to begin:

Diamond Case
Made from Silver Ash, Bubinga, Queensland Maple, and Jarrah this is an attractive little box and more solid than it looks. It is quite small by puzzle box standards (from my limited experience) at 120 x 45 x 33mm. Juno claims that the trick to it is very new but for me, they are all new. I started with this one and immediately noticed the sliding section and an associated movement. A quick fiddle revealed to me that the exact pattern of movements seemed to not be fixed which was odd. Then I had a little further thought and was able to visualise in my head (which was empty as usual) how this might be working. If a puzzler of Allard's calibre took several weeks then I expected to be stumped for several months. No matter how much movement I performed of the initial pieces, the lid remained firmly shut. It was Friday evening and I had had a very long day at work and began to fall asleep in my chair whilst watching TV with Mrs S. Just as I dozed off I had an epiphany...I could tell how the lid was locked in place (or at least had a good idea) and suddenly had a vision of how I would design an opening mechanism in such a puzzle.

Opened! No clues here....move on!
It took a few more minutes of fiddling and I had an open box and could see Juno's brand on the inside. The mechanism is incredibly simple and yet unbelievably well hidden! I have not seen anything like it before. The Aha! moment was delicious. I am slightly surprised that Allard struggled as long as he did - I solved my copy in about half an hour. I suspect this will accompany me to work so that I can torture some colleagues! There are still 5 left in the store so get one quickly...especially if you want to collect the whole set of suits.

Club case
Flushed with success, I went to bed before I began to snore in front of the TV! The following day I picked up the absolutely gorgeous Club case. This is made from Karri, Koto, Burmese Teak, and Zebrano and is a good bit bigger and heavier than the Diamond case (although still not particularly large) with dimensions of 96 x 96 x 45mm. Even Mrs S appreciated the beauty of this one and liked the idea of a series linked to playing cards...Yay! I might have permission for the others! Whack! Ouch! Pretty please? There is a bit of detail visible through the club-shaped hole in the top which gives a hint of what might be required as a general approach. Yukari agreed with this idea of the hint but she was unable to solve it herself.

I love this kind of puzzle and after doing the weekly shop with Mrs S yesterday (to try and earn some brownie points), I sat down with a nice coffee, a delicious Fat Rascal (probably the best scone in the world) and a new puzzle. Boy! This is one very confusing puzzle. There are 3 moving pieces that are all linked together and sometimes are blocked and other times change direction unexpectedly. At times there are so many options that I struggled to develop a mental image of what was going on as I manipulated it. This one was quite a bit tougher for me but after a couple of hours of confusion and investigation, I had my Aha! moment.

No clues here, move on!
Very pleased with myself, I took my photos and set to with the reset! I had absolutely no idea the exact set of moves that was required and it took me another hour before I got back to the start. I was seriously sweating...a solution is provided for the wimps but I was determined not to use it. Mrs S commented that I had probably just solved it by luck (she can be real mean sometimes! Whack! Ouch!) to which I responded that if I could do it repeatedly, it wasn't luck. I am slightly ashamed to say that it took me the rest of the day and about 20 attempts before I could open and close this box every time without getting stuck! This is a gorgeous puzzle and very well implemented. It is not only for puzzle box fans, even us general puzzlers can enjoy it.

Currently, there are 11 of these left in Juno's store and I can heartily recommend picking a copy up. In fact, you should probably do what I did and get these two puzzles at the same time as the sequential discovery Ixia box. Go on you know you want to!

So what next? I happen to have a few more puzzles in transit just now as well as the Ixia box and a big backlog of Burrs, and Aaron's wire (still up for sale on Paradise) and a prototype that arrived yesterday. I also need to clean up my study which looks worse than it has ever been before!


  1. HiKevin,
    Thank you for introducing our puzzles.
    We have moved stock of the puzzles from eBay store to our Pluredro Shop. The stock of Diamond Case is very limited though.

  2. Club case is sooo tricky. Just what we expect from Juno! You will like the Ixia Box - there is a shortcut which I did not even notice. The intended solution is very elegant and interesting.

    1. Hi Steve,

      Having done a lot of maze puzzles in the past, I really enjoyed the Club case. The closure was the toughest part but did allow me to properly design a route. Very clever.
      For the Ixia box, I have found the first half. I have got the two ends off and I think I found the shortcut for the second end by using my fingers. I realised what I had done and went back to do it using the flowers. I’m now stuck on the bottom section.

  3. Lol! It's not a box if you can't fit a loaf of bread inside!