Sunday 3 December 2023

Maybe a Xmas Present is Here?

Pelikan release for December 2023
On Tuesday, I received 6 more beauties from Jakub with a request to review them as quickly as possible because he is already being asked about when they are to be released. The pressure is on.
From Back left we have:
Rug Rug by Alfons Eyckmans
Who Filled The Sorter Cube by Volker Latussek
Kreeft by Alfons Eyckmans
Padlock by Tabor Mikloš
Kuchenstuck by Tyler Hudson
Rhino by Theo Geerinck (and the late Symon Hovinga)

I have worked my little fingers off to do as many as possible in the 4 days I have had them and have managed to solve 4 and play with the other 2 for a bit.

Rhino

Rhino by Theo Geerinck (and the late Symon Hovinga)
I had gotten used to the Pelikan own designs for their continuing series of animal shaped puzzles and was expecting another one. This time I was delighted to see a wonderful design by Theo with his good friend Simon to accompany the earlier creation of the Bison from Jack Krijnen. They obviously had been either working together or competing to create puzzles on the theme. The Rhino has been beautifully crafted using American Walnut and Maple and is scarily realistic with a white horn and even pupils in the eyes.


The sequence for disassembly is not terribly difficult since the puzzle is mostly a series of plates on a spine but they don't just slide off and there are a couple of gotcha moments during the disassembly and a nice Aha! moment as well. Once it is apart, the reassembly is not hugely tough but having left it for a while, I had forgotten the orientation of a few of the plates and struggled to get them back in line on the spine. It's a lovely idea and will look amazing on display with the Bison (don't tell Mrs S!)

Kuchenstück

Kuchenstuck by Tyler Hudson
Yes, it's a piece of cake complete with layers of sponge and a glacé cherry on top! Beautifully made from Wenge, Maple, Padauk and Cherry woods, this design from Tyler Hudson is anything but a piece of cake to solve. The puzzle is actually a trio of maze plates that interact with each other and with the outer box producing a maze that effectively changes as you navigate it. Initially there are a few options for the pathway before you will find the one that proceeds further into the solution. 


Once you have set out on this path the options open out. I found mapping impossible because everything changed with every move. The exploration is fun and gradually you get a feel and then a glimpse for how the plates are interacting with each other and even can see the gaps in the pates where presumably they will come apart from each other. There are quite a few dead ends and loops in the solution and I got lost many times. Despite this, it seems to always be quite easy to find your way back to the beginning again.

I was beginning to lose hope because I could not find any new openings and put it down for a while. I picked it up again the next day and suddenly found something new and a whole new section of the puzzle pathway opened out. The sequence is a huge 28.2 for disassembly and will leave you with a whole new sense of achievement when you finally manage it. This one definitely required the use of Burrtools for the reassembly.

Kreeft

Kreeft by Alfons Eyckmans

This is a lovely chunky 9 piece burr by Alfons made from Wenge, Acacia and Purpleheart. It has a lovely size to allow easy play and from the outset there is a nice exploration. There are 3 possible moves as the first move and only one leads anywhere but it quickly becomes apparent that all of the found moves will be useful at some point. The progress is delightful right up until you can't find where to go next and you wander round and round in circles. Again, I had to put it down for a couple of hours to rest my weary brain and then start again later. The rest did me good and after following my previous paths, I found another lovely Aha! moment as another sequence opened up and shortly afterwards I removed the first piece. This did not lead to a sudden sequence of disassembly and there was a fair bit more backtracking and looking for another path to remove the next piece.

As is usual with Alfons' puzzles the difficulty level and exploration is just perfect at 15.5. The puzzle remains quite stable for quite a long time and I was even able to reassemble it without Burrtools. Of course a Burrtools file challenge is all part of the fun after you have done it.

Padlock

Padlock by Tabor Mikloš
Tabor has been designing interlocking puzzles for a few years now and they do look interesting. This stunning puzzle, made from Wenge and Limba resembles one of those little combination padlocks that we use everywhere to secure lockers etc. There are 6 keys and a shackle which need to be manipulated to open the lock. There are a few that can move immediately and one or two straight away open up some much more interesting moves involving the shackle. This then opens up a whole lot more choices and you need to decide what is the best way to go. I chose wisely and made good progress. After 13 moves the first piece can be removed and the rest follows in a nice sequence.


I was staggered to see that the buttons of the burr are only of 2 very simple types and this should mean that the reassembly without Burrtools should definitely be a possibility. I did not have time this time to attempt it but had a lovely time with Burrtools making the reassembly. If you collect padlocks then this is a must buy. I have quite a few wooden padlock puzzles now and this one is a very welcome addition to the collection.



Now onto the two puzzles that I have not yet had time to work on and only just had a little play with so far:

Rug Rug

Rug Rug by Alfons Eyckmans
This gorgeous and chunky burr from Alfons is made from Wenge and Limba. It is formed from a 6 piece burr that contains a smaller 12 piece burr inside. I suspect that this will be a huge challenge. The disassembly level is "only" a meagre 13.2.1.2.2 but with so many pieces interacting with each other the number belies the actual difficulty of the disassembly. My initial exploration has showed only a single initial move being possible and then a whole array of choices for moves 2 and 3. The solution will need to use my too and fro approach. I am greatly looking forward to it.

Who Filled The Sorter Cube

Who Filled The Sorter Cube by Dr Volker Latussek
This incredible creation almost made my heart stop! There seems to be no end to the amazing manipulation of geometric shapes by Dr Latussek. It consists of the same box (albeit a good bit larger) as the wonderful Bastille puzzle. Packed inside are prisms made from the first 6 simple regular polygons (Circle, Triangle, Square, Pentagon, Hexagon and Octagon). They are made from Wenge, American Walnut, Bubinga, Jatoba, Walnut and Maple and the box made out of American Cherry. It is gorgeous!


My first thought when I received this was "thank goodness that this is an unpacking puzzle and not a packing puzzle! It is almost a disentanglement puzzle. I look at this and marvel at how Volker's mind must work. It is 9cm in each dimension and the holes are all 4cm across in the middle of each face.The holes in the sides are big enough to hook your fingers in and manipulate the pieces but not big enough to allow a decent grip. You must use gravity as well as your fingers to make the pieces roll over each other to make space for the first one to be pulled out through a hole. It looks incredibly tough and I am worried that I will never manage it but it will be a lot of fun trying.

If you are looking for a Xmas present for you significant other puzzler or even a big hint for your non-puzzling significant other to buy you then you will not be disappointed with these. Also, the last time I looked there were still a few of the designs from the last release available including most of the Flop puzzles from Volker and the lovely Octopus.



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