Sunday 4 September 2022

Pelikan Summer Release Part 2 - The Wonders Continue!

Seven puzzles due to be released soon
Last week I reviewed the first four of the upcoming Pelikan summer releases and they were all amazing. I had to keep the final 3 back as they are much more complex and were going to take me a LOT longer to solve. Thank heavens there was no pressure from Jakub to solve them quickly!


Arrival packing position
Pieces are very odd
The reason for the name
I have to start off by saying that this puzzle is the pick of the whole release this time. It is abso-bloody-lutely amazing! Dr Volker Latussek has a mind like no one else and he comes up with some absolutely stupendous challenges that will keep you incredibly busy and will have you sitting back open mouthed in wonder after you have solved them. The Tau puzzle is possibly one of his very best yet. 

I had been a bit mystified at the name - none of the pieces looked like the greek letter and I had not really looked terribly hard at the arrival position before taking the pieces out and even if I had, it actually requires a bit of squinting the eyes and some photo editing to realise it. It actually took an email from Volker himself with a photo to make me understand. In the arrival position, the gap in the top surface forms a letter Tau. I am not terribly bright and I actually struggled to put the pieces back into the box in the start position to take a proper look (yes this is another challenge for you. The aim here, like quite a few of the recent Pelikan challenges, is to pack the four interesting pieces into the box such that the top surface is completely covered (the inside will have quite a few gaps in it). Volker did tell me that the challenge had been influenced by the wonderful No holes barred puzzle designed by Laszlo Kmolnar and beautifully made by Brian Menold that I had reviewed a few years ago:

No holes barred
The single 45º cut single voxel in the entrance to the box was going to be a major issue with the solution here but that was only one part of the considerable challenge. First of all you have to find a shape that you can build that would fill the entrance and be stable sitting on a work surface. There are quite a few ways to make that shape but not many are self supporting and then you need to find one that is even vaguely possible to be placed into the restricted opening left by the half cube. I had imagined all sorts of nice diagonal sliding movements and whilst there is one of these sliding movements, it is not where I expected it to be and was a relatively minor part of the challenge. I found it a fun challenge to reduce my solution set to just one possibility. Having convinced myself that I knew the placement I had to work to put them inside. OMG! What a tremendous challenge! It has taken me a whole week to find the solution and on numerous occasions I had convinced myself that I needed to go back to the drawing board with my assembly to start finding new possibilities. It was with huge relief that I made the cat shoot off my lap with a shout of joy! This puzzle is BRILLIANT! Volker is a genius! Buy it!

The version that Jakub and Jaroslav had manufactured had been made from wood that had not dried out enough and had shrunk after manufacture. This does not interfere with the solution but leaves a bit of looseness in the packed puzzle and they are remaking the whole batch. This may delay them going on sale.

Dino 2

Dino 2 by Alfons Eyckmans
One of the most prolific burr designers in the world, Alfons Eyckmans is producing some fantastic and beautiful puzzles. My favourites are either his cube or cuboid puzzles (of which I have an embarassingly large number) and the burr zoo with all sorts of creatures hidden inside many different types of burr shapes. This particular beauty is an unusual 14 stick burr with a dinosaur inside. The woods chosen by Pelikan are a gorgeous vibrant Purpleheart, Padauk and Wenge with an Acacia dinosaur. Many of this type of puzzle can be impossibly difficult and consequently not so much fun unless you are a huge fan of ultra complex burrs. Jakub's skill here lies in choosing the versions that are just the right challenge and still a whole lot of fun to explore. The movements are beautifully smooth with the puzzle being just tight enough that pieces don't slide about without your control and there is a very nice logic to it. The solution level is which for me is fun and challenging without becoming impossible (fun is what I am after and not horrendously difficult). Amazingly, once I had found the removal of the first two pieces, I thought the third (adjacent) piece would follow straight away but this was not the case. This had me stumped for a good 15 to 20 minutes as I desperately tried to free up a piece that was not going to be released until 2 others had come out first. After the first 5 pieces are out the puzzle is remarkably stable but now there is a LOT of possible movement and this is where most people will get stuck. I had tried everything possible - it was all moving all over the place but nothing was coming free (remarkably there was only one rotation at this point and it was not useful). I was getting anxious that I would be left with a tangled mess of sticks that I could not advance or go back when suddenly I had another Aha! moment and a critical pieces was removed (I had my dinosaur). This made a lot more space for disassembly and it rapidly came apart thereafter and I was able to take my photo:

There is no way that I will reassemble that without Burrtools but that is part of the fun. My burr zoo is getting quite extensive and I love it!


Yes, you have seen this puzzle before on my blog! This wonderful design by Terry Smart was previously made by Stephan Baumegger. I wrote about it in 2016 when it made it to my top ten puzzles of the year.

I am delighted that Pelikan have decided to make more copies available to everyone as it is a stunning burr that looks lovely on display (the twins are on display on my mantlepiece along with my other animals) and as well as that, it is a really fun challenge with some really hard to find moves. The disassembly level is not terribly high at but several crucial moves are incredibly well hidden and there are a lot of possibilities that open up to you as you work your way through. I remembered that I really struggled with Stephan's version and I did it again this time. Don't tell Mrs S but I could probably go back to all my old puzzles and have absolutely no recollection of them and solve them again as if I'd not done it before - I probably don't need to buy any new ones but where is the fun in that? 

After a couple of days of desperately trying to find the missing move, I had my breakthrough. Even after that there are still a lot of moves to sort through o find the rest of the disassembly. I had a wonderful time and now have to go back to my BT file to reassemble it. This one is beautiful on display and a perfect medium challenge.

The grain of the wood is gorgeous.

I don't know when these will be released but I doubt it will be very long. Which ones should you buy? All of them of course but if you cannot afford that then I would suggest that Tau is an absolute essential and after that it depends on your personal tastes. If burrs are your thing then Maahes and Dino 2 are wonderful and fun and of course the Zeus by Osanori-san is a beautiful object which is easy to disassemble and tough to put back together. You cannot go wrong with the classics from Stewart Coffin and mixing the two together adds a whole new dimension to them. If packing puzzles are your thing then don't underestimate the multiple challenges of the Broken box by Lucie.

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