Sunday 17 July 2022

How Do They Keep Doing This?

Latest releases from Pelikan
Having received the new puzzles from Jakub and Jaroslav, they promptly went on holiday and I thought I might have had plenty of time to solve and write about all these wonderful new designs. Oh boy, I was very wrong. Even whilst on holiday (vacation to the yanks) they still think about all their devoted puzzle friends and sent me a message asking if I could have a review to them before Friday 15th. OMG! The pressure is on! I really went for it. This was not made particularly easy by the fact that there are several difficult packing puzzles this time and I am terrible at packing puzzles. Many of you will have read my reviews when they went up on the Pelikan store describing the puzzles - if you have then no need to read on. I just didn't have time to publish the reviews with decent photos here until now. 

I have not managed to solve them all but I certainly have a review on them all for you and hope that this helps when you are choosing what you should buy. Without further ado, on to the puzzles:

Typhoon S1

Typhoon S1 by Osanori Yamamoto
I absolutely love this particular subgroup of the interlocking/caged burr puzzle. A lot of the high piece number caged burrs can be extremely difficult and quite a few have completely beaten me. There are a small group consisting of a frame with just 4 burrsticks sitting inside that I really enjoy the process of exploration and disassembly. The reassembly is a challenge but definitely possible with such a low number of pieces. 
Galaxy Z
Mysterious Galaxy
The master of this type is Osanori Yamamoto who began my love of these with the incredible Galaxy, Galaxy Z and Mysterious Galaxy puzzles. This kind of puzzle can be expanded to make them more difficult and maybe slightly more interesting (as Dan Fast did with the Stir the Coffee puzzle in the last release. Osanori has designed a lovely little challenge here which Jakub and Jaroslav have brought into the world beautifully using Jatoba and Wenge. The fit is perfect and the exploration is great fun. There are quite a few short blind ends and it's possible to go in a loop. I got stuck at one point and could not find the critical move - everything is visible as you progress but due to the ends being at 90º to each other I found my moves were easily blocked. After a couple of evenings of play I suddenly found my hidden move and I was able to take out the first piece. 

It's a fun reassembly too
Having disassembled it, I scrambled the pieces and attempted reassembly and really struggled. I did manage to work out what went where and in what order but the hidden move that I had found fro the disassembly was also hidden on the way back to the beginning. Brilliant puzzle which is just the right level of difficulty and beautifully made.


Insider by Alexander Magayarics
Pelikan will be sending these as disassembled puzzles
This absolutely stunning puzzle designed by Alexander Magyarics was sent out to me fully assembled. I suspect this was done to prevent the captive piece rattling around in the post and getting damaged. If Pelikan does decide to send it out assembled then I would very much suggest that you get your significant other puzzler in your life to take it apart for you and then you treat it as an assembly puzzle. It is truly gorgeous having been made from Zebrano and Jatoba - the grain is just stunning! It is also a substantial puzzle in your hands being an 8cm cube. This size is very welcome so that you can easily get your fingers inside to manipulate the pieces. There are 3 pieces and the box which has some pretty big holes in it. Only 2 of those pieces can be removed and the other has to remain inside. 

Insider pieces (the third is captive inside)
The disassembly is a nice little exploration and after that the captive piece can rattle around into any orientation. This means that as a packing puzzle you cannot create your shapes outside before working out how to put the pieces back inside. Mrs S never agrees to play with my puzzles and I dismantled it and scrambled all 2 of the pieces and left them for several days. As expected (Alexander had suggested that I do this), the reassembly is a significant challenge - I am critically dependent on creating my shapes first and working backwards. This is not possible and I had to try and do it in my feeble mind. It took me a couple of days before I succeeded and that was only because I understood the disassembly. If I stared from scratch then I might still be doing it! Beautiful AND brilliant.

Golden Pot

Golden Pot by Yavuz Demirrhan
When Yavuz designs something, I always pay attention. He is an amazing designer as well as a superb craftsman. The belief that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow is a wonderful piece of old Irish folklore and it is quite surprising that a Turkish man living in Germany can get a pair of Czech craftsmen to make it but even without a hint of Ireland in the manufacture, this is a simply wonderful puzzle. It is made with an American Walnut pot, a Merbau, Purpleheart, Garapa and Maple rainbow and Grape pieces. Yavuz has used a subset of the Soma cube pieces (including 3 that are doubled up). The aim is to pack all of them into the pot so that the gold forms a level surface with the rainbow buried in it. This is made really challenging by the fact that there is only a 1 voxel clearance around and underneath the rainbow's end making the insertion of several pieces quite challenging. I still struggle to assemble a soma cube and anything like this with a restricted entry is a huge challenge for me. Random trial and error didn't work for the first couple of days and eventually I had to think©. It is actually the restricted entry that is the most important part.

This is one that I will put on display in the assembled form - just gorgeous!
It made me stop and work out how I could get the awkward pieces inside - there is only one assembly but there are 2 ways the pieces can be put inside. A really difficult puzzle for me and will be beautiful on display in the puzzle room.

Soma 6 Pack

Soma 6 Pack by Lucie Pauwels
Lucie Pauwels is well known for designing really clever and fun challenges which are often variations on a familiar theme which she extends or alters to make them more interesting. Jakub must have seen how good this was and decided that we all needed to experience it. He has created a stunner using very vibrant Padauk and Wenge. In essence this is "just" another Soma variant - take the simple tri-ominoes and tetrominoes and create a 3x3x3 cube! But, and it's a really big BUT... Lucie has taken away one of the tetrominoes. Does this make it easier? Yes, it makes it very easy to create a cube with a 4 voxel gap in it but the she has made the puzzle MUCH more difficult by giving us a 3x3x3 box to assemble the cube in with a rather restricted opening and that 4th tetromino is actually fixed into the roof of the box - yes, the roof of the box is part of the shape. I find this also quite mind-boggling because I cannot create my complete shape outside the box easily. Having taken the pieces out to take my photo, I couldn't put any more than 4 of them in and actually needed a rotation to do that! OMG! This was going to be really tough for a Soma idiot like me.

"Just" a soma cube? Not for me it wasn't!
It took me several hours to solve this one and a huge sense of achievement. It is perfect for anyone who really likes to collect all the Soma variants out there (Haym Hirsh has created quite a few that Brian Menold has made over the years and they are massive challenges).


Scrooge by Alfons Eyckmans
This gorgeous construction is another magnificent burr design from Alfons Eyckmans. This one made from Bubinga and Wenge looks ferociously difficult. Anything with this number of pieces frightens me but I still cannot resist them. My fear is always getting badly lost in the disassembly and then being unable to return to the beginning or make progress. This puzzle is complex but not so complex as to worry anyone about being unable to make progress. The reason that Pelikan decided to make this is because it is effectively a 6 piece burr (albeit with stick length of 8 voxels) held within a frame made from relatively simple burrsticks. I absolutely loved the initial exploration of the movements as there were not too many available and certainly no chance of me getting stuck. The first piece takes 25 reasonably logical moves to release and thereafter the rest of the solution progressed very enjoyably. The puzzle remained remarkably stable (if a little squishy) even after 6 pieces had been removed and I eventually managed to remove the entire frame (which consists of 6 identical versions of two types of piece) and was left with the 5 piece burr intact and remaining to be dismantled.

The pieces look fearsome but it was a really fun disassembly
The reassembly will definitely require Burrtools but that is half of the fun.

Minas Tirith

Minas tirith by Tamás Vanyó

This incredibly striking puzzle is yet another fabulous creation by Tamás Vanyó. It has been made with Elm to match the pale city that was shown in Peter Jackson's amazing Lord of the Rings films. Like the Caste builder set in the previous release, the Minas Tirith is constructed using 2x2xN sized pieces that fit in a frame which has restrictions in it. Unlike the castle builder set, the frame actually forms part of the outer wall of the puzzle and greatly restricts the ability to insert the pieces and means that the order of insertion is crucial. I have to state that I have not had time to solve this puzzle. The aim is to create a "city" so that none of the inner rooms are visible externally and also there is an extra challenge which Pelikan have added. Once the puzzle has been dismantled you will see a bunch of interior channels cut within many of the pieces. The aim is to assemble your city so that the supplied metal ball bearing can be inserted into the hole near the top and then can navigate the carefully assembled maze so that it can exit the exterior door after tilting it back and forth in the correct direction. This will be a huge challenge for any puzzler and will leave you with a stunning puzzle to put on display afterwards.

So which should you buy? Well all of them of course! I know that most of you cannot buy them all so will state that my favourites are Insider for the extra challenge of the captive piece, Golden Pot because it is just so beautiful and Scrooge because it is still a six piece burr but made more interesting!

Now I had better reassemble Scrooge before a certain cat runs off with a piece or Mrs S chucks them away for cluttering up her kitchen!

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