Sunday, 22 May 2022

Cast Cyclone

Yes, it's another Hanayama review! I have felt a little guilty over the last year or so because I have focussed a lot of my attention on craftsman made puzzles and this might have excluded a number of puzzlers because this is a rather expensive hobby and not everyone has the ability to spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds/euros/dollars/AUD on toys. I am well aware that I am in a very privileged position and am trying to make up for it a little by reviewing at least a few more reasonably priced puzzles for you. The Hanayama cast puzzles are probably the greatest example of a quality item available for a small price. Over the last 11 years I have managed to buy almost all of them and do try to keep up with the recent releases - this is me catching up.

The Cast Cyclone is a level 5 on Hanayama's 6 point scale and I think they got it just right - this is a proper tough puzzle but definitely solvable if you fiddle, look and think©. Designed by Kyoo Wong, this looks gorgeous with 4 interlocking rings that have single gaps at one point on their circumference. One ring is a gold colour and the others are shiny chrome. All four interlock with each of the others. This, along with the sheer width of the ring means that movement of the individual pieces is really quite restricted. If you look carefully at them then you can spot some obvious differences between them (2 are labelled Cyclone and 2 have Hanayama engraved on them) - I would advise you to really look closely because the subtle differences will make all the difference between success and failure.

This is a disentanglement puzzle and will require planning to dismantle. Looking at the gaps in the rings, it is clear that these need to be aligned to allow individual rings to slide off each other but the bulks ends at the gaps prevent them from reaching the appropriate position easily. It also becomes quickly obvious that these may not align at 90ยบ to each other when they slide. I began playing with this one about 2 weeks ago and had to be careful because it is pretty jingly and might cause upset in the Sadler household. For 2 weeks I got absolutely nowhere. I knew roughly what I wanted to achieve as my first move but I could not work out which combination of pieces and orientations would actually achieve it. This impasse pretty much lasted the whole two weeks until suddenly I did something ever so slightly different and a sliding move started to occur. I had no idea what I had done differently so I backtracked and undid that critical move. Of course! I couldn't do it again! I spent another 3 days before that move worked again. At least, I did not waste any time trying it with the wrong pieces - that first move requires extremely precise positioning and having done it a second time, I was careful to watch it and still cannot manage to reproduce it regularly. That sort of exact placement is exactly why Hanayama make such perfect puzzles.

That initial slide move was very exciting for all of about 5 or 6mm! The pieces slid along each other and stopped dead - they would not separate due to being blocked by the rings of the other pieces. Now what? At this point there is an obvious feature that you are desperate to utilise and the obvious sequence is started and gets you... nowhere! I got stuck here for a while and eventually realised that the next move was being done correctly but needed a tiny tiny bit of force. This is the only negative feature of this puzzle - I personally think that you should never ever need to use any force as it leaves a puzzler questioning whether they have done it correctly and may prevent them ever finding the solution if they are not willing to use that force. This is not the first time that a Hanayama has needed force - the Cast Helix which I reviewed way back in 2013 here had a similar requirement and I was quite critical of that one for the same reason. For an experienced puzzler or a collector then the Helix and the Cyclone are good puzzles to continue challenging yourself but a novice stands a high chance of getting stuck.

Having realised what was required, I was well on my way and the remainder of the disentanglement continued with only a little interruption for thinking© and I quickly had my 4 pieces laid out for the photo.

That was quite fun and took me much longer than expected
At this point, my hands were a little sore so I left the puzzle for a few days which was probably rather foolish. I am well known for not being very bright and I have proved it here - I cannot reassemble the puzzle - I had not paid attention to the orientation of all the pieces as I separated them and now the reassembly seems to get stuck no matter what I do. It is not the force move - I get to a point where that looks like the next thing to do but there is no way that is happening - it would require a LOT of force which is not right.

This is definitely a nice puzzle for the experienced puzzler but probably not a good idea for kids or novices. I reckon all the readers of this blog (all 10 of you!) should be perfectly able to solve this one.

Next week, I will be back to craftsman puzzles! I have received the upcoming batch of Pelikan puzzles and am going to have to work on these as fast as I can for a week. wish me luck! See the New additions page for a quick preview photo.

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