Sunday 19 September 2021

Some Seriously Wonderful Puzzles Coming From Pelikan

The pressure has been on me this week! I received the latest batch from Jakub and knew that he really wanted to put them up for sale this weekend. This little fact was dropped by Ivan Danik who runs the Puzzle Guy YouTube channel. Ivan also received the puzzles so that he can film them and do the product photography for the Pelikan store. Ivan let slip that the puzzles should go on sale in a week and so I had better get a move on and get working! Gulp! I'm a rubbish puzzler at best and solving 7 gorgeously precise puzzles that fast was going to be a huge challenge!

Play-girl 2

Play-girl 2 by Alexander Magyarics

How can anyone resist yet another wonderful packing puzzle designed on a triangular grid by Alexander Magyarics? Play-girl 2 has been beautifully made with such supreme precision that the corners are sharp enough to break skin! The lovely diamond-shaped box, made from pink oak has identical, rather wide openings on each side which allow entry of the Wenge pieces but then must be left filled at the end. Working outside of the box reveals through simple logic how the pieces should be oriented - this process alone is quite a nice challenge and then there is the much harder problem of assembling inside the box. This has to be done by working out how to disassemble them through where the holes should be. It’s quite a dexterity puzzle as well as a logic problem as the triangular pieces want to spring apart in certain configurations. The disassembly sequence is a level 11.3.3 which is pretty tough to remember to do then in reverse. It took me 3 days and I loved every moment of it!

A lovely challenge
It is also huge fun entering the puzzle into Burrtools as I am not used to working with the triangular grid but you should definitely do this for practice as I’m sure there will be more puzzles like this coming from Alexander and Pelikan.

Get Trunk 1

Get Trunk 1 by Alexander Magyarics
I adored the Bugs packing puzzle which could be hung on a wall as a piece of art and this is another along similar lines - it is very large at 21cm square, it has a clear acrylic cover and has been drilled so that it can be hung on a wall for display. It’s almost as if this puzzle was designed by Alexander and made by Pelikan specifically for me. With my family history of elephant collecting which I inherited from my late mum, I would never be able to resist another fun challenge with the same theme. This time we have an Oak and Maple frame and 6 different elephant shapes made from Acacia, Padauk, Wenge, Cherry and Zebrano (2 pieces). 

I started playing with this before I knew the instructions. I was trying to place all 6 pieces in the frame for quite a while before Alexander contacted me to tell me that there are 3 challenges. Each one is to place "just" 5 elephants inside. The first 2 challenges are to use just one of the Zebrano elephants alone with the other 4 pieces and then a more difficult supplementary challenge is to use both the Zebrano pieces and fit another 3 of the others inside the frame (but which pieces?). The shapes only differ in the position of the trunks and the complexity of their shape makes this a much tougher challenge than expected. 

So far I have only found one of the solutions…I blame my failure on the others on the cat on my lap who won’t lie still whilst I balance this on top of him. I cannot show a picture here because you don't want to cheat and see a solution do you? Get this puzzle - you really won't be disappointed. It is seriously tough.

Octopus 33

Octopus 33 by Osanori Yamamoto
Osanori Yamamoto and Pelikan have made yet another sequential movement puzzle in which 4 pieces are held in a maze and can slide and move in very restricted ways - the aim is to remove those pieces by carefully navigating the maze and orienting the pieces in such a way that they can be slid out through the single hole that will allow it. The last one of this type was the Waffle which I really struggled with. The Octopus 33 is made with a Bubinga and Wenge frame with 4 identical yellow Garapa L-shaped pieces providing a lovely contrast in colours. This seems to be probably the most restricted of this type of puzzle that Osanori-San has created. It’s quite obvious early on where the exit point is and obviously rotations will be required to get all the pieces out of the frame. However, the obvious moves that you want to do are apparently impossible. The 8 “tentacles” of the Octopus make the movements that you want to do really quite hard to achieve. 

A significant challenge
It’s a nice series of discoveries to find how to manoeuvre the pieces and the Aha! moment has a very unexpected aspect to it which actually made my jaw drop when I realised what Osanori-san had managed to design.

Hidden Curry no 90

Hidden curry no 90 by Dr Volker Latussek
When I received this batch from Jakub, I was rather surprised at the name of this puzzle. It doesn’t look much like an Indian meal. Dr Latussek, a master of the unusual packing puzzle (I have still not managed to solve Fermat or the Euklid for Nick puzzles!) has informed me that this puzzle has been designed and named for Paul Curry, magician and apparent inventor of the missing square puzzle. The Garapa pieces fit into the square Acacia compartment rather like a tangram (it’s not quite the same shapes as a tangram). 

Quite a deep lip to get the pieces under
The aim is to tip them out and fit them in the frame on the other side. This is extremely difficult due to the overhanging lip. I failed initially and decided to put the pieces back in the top frame for storage…this proved tougher than expected. There is definitely something odd going on with the dimensions of the pieces as they were rather harder to put back than they should be and some orientations won’t work. Have a really good look at the pieces before trying to solve it and then it will become a much nicer challenge. I didn’t properly look until I’d spent a couple of hours failing! I think I got lucky with this one - I suspect that it is really quite difficult. Of course I am not going to post the solution for you - that would spoil it for you.

Half Soma

Half Soma by Dr Volker Latussek
This puzzle remains unsolved for me. It is another of those anti-slide puzzles that Dr Latussek has created where the pieces fit easily into the box but that is not the challenge. The Zebrano pieces are Soma cube pieces where every single cubie in each piece has been cut in half before being put together. It arrives with all but one placed and a nice smooth surface on show. The aim, very like the previous Shrinking Soma, is to assemble all the pieces into the Pink oak box so that the smooth surface is flush with the top and, despite there being many gaps underneath, none of the pieces will slide at all or drop down to a lower level.

Really interesting pieces
I am just about able to assemble shapes but creating assemblies that won’t allow pieces to move is a logical arena that I just cannot seem to comprehend. I have actually struggled to assemble the Soma cube with the pieces cut down like this and got nowhere near solving it. This is a puzzle for someone seeking a seriously difficult challenge. If anyone has any idea about how to go about this type of puzzle then I’d be very grateful for some assistance in technique.


Turtle by Alfons Eyckmans
Alfons Eyckmans designs wonderful burrs…many shapes and many different piece numbers but amongst my favourites are the hidden piece burrs with a contained animal inside (Goetz refers to this as the Burr zoo). This one, Turtle, is a significantly difficult challenge at level 46 ( It has been beautifully made by Pelikan using Pink Oak, Jatoba, Acacia & Oak and all the pieces slide perfectly despite the rather humid conditions we have here just now. I did not expect to manage to solve this in time for the release of these puzzles but had a thoroughly fun time exploring and not too long getting lost (maybe I was lucky?) There are quite a few blind ends and a number of choices to make during the disassembly which makes it a pretty challenging solve but not impossibly so. It took me all day on Saturday before the magnificently decorated turtle could be removed.

Simple burr sticks and a very large turtle
The turtle is unexpectedly really big, taking up a huge amount of the interior of the puzzle. This will explain why there is so much movement possible during the solution because to make space for such a large central figure the burr sticks prove to be quite shallow and simply designed. The reassembly will definitely require Burrtools. If you are into burrs at all then this will be an essential purchase - it is stunning!


Dragster by Stephan Baumegger
Another hidden piece burr with a motor vehicle theme from Stephan Baumegger. This puzzle looks stunning made from Jatoba, American Walnut, Maple and Wenge. It has a very unusual shape and little glimpses of the Dragster inside can be seen if you peek between the burr sticks. 

The original by Stephan
I actually own an original copy of this bought from Stephan back in 2015 and have never managed to solve it! I was quite a lot better at burrs back then which gives a hint at the difficulty of this puzzle. It may be that I can solve it this time but with my deadline to post reviews by this weekend, I’ve not had time to try yet. Puzzlewillbeplayed tells me that this burr has a disassemble level of so you can be certain that this will be a fantastic challenge ending with the removal of a wonderful little car hidden inside.

So which should you get? That's a terribly hard thing to tell. I personally cannot resist the elephants and the special packing puzzles by Alexander. But the incredibly tough challenges by Dr Latussek are brilliant too. I really wish that I had the knowledge of the logic required to solve anti-slide puzzles but until someone explains them to me, I will never be able to solve them. The wooden disentanglement/sliding piece puzzles by Osanori-san are very addictive to me because everything is visible and yet working out what to move where is still a huge challenge. Then there are the burrs with hidden pieces inside. Almost no-one else makes complex burrs as good as Jakub and Jaroslav and so for me these are an essential purchase. Keep an eye on their store as they will be going up for sale quite soon.

Don't forget that Peter Hajek's book is already up for sale - it is a Tour de force production with beautiful pictures and the definitive history and analysis of all the puzzle world has to offer on the subject of puzzle boxes. It covers puzzles both old and new, European, American and traditional Japanese as well as the wonderful creations by the Karakuri Group. There are even puzzles discussed which I can justify owning as not traditionally thought of as boxes. 

Take care everyone - the Pandemic has not gone away - go get your vaccine as soon as you can to help protect yourself as well as others in your family or those in society who are more vulnerable. With the hundreds of millions of doses administered we can definitively say that the vaccines are safe (especially compared to getting the illness) with a very low chance of temporary side effects and no real long term effects to speak of apart from the intended immunity.

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