Sunday 9 June 2024

Pelikan Summer Bonanza Part 1

Upcoming release from Pelikan puzzles
Thank heavens for Jakub and Jaroslav and team! I have received quite a few fabulous puzzles over the last few weeks and thought that I had lost my mojo (yet again!). I had not managed to solve very much at all and for some of the recent arrivals, I had not even managed to find the first move! I must be really dim! Then along comes Jakub with a beautiful package of 6 lovely puzzles giving me at least a hope of solving a few of them. I cannot do it all in a week and so have split the reviews over this week and next.

In the picture above starting at back left:
Lapsus 2 by Alfons Eyckmans
Kamelle by Volker Latussek
Petit Sucrier by Volker Latussek
3 Candles by Osanori Yamamoto
Commotion by Tyler Hudson
Brick Wall by Lucie Pauwels

Jakub has been slightly worried about the fact that some of the creations are not selling as well as he would hope and wondered why. Whilst I adore burrs, I am aware that many puzzlers don't love them and prefer a different challenge. The puzzles in this release are a bit different from the usual and hopefully will be of interest to all you addicts out there. There is one burr but even this is different to the usual.


Commotion by Tyler Hudson
Tyler has been quietly working in the background designing very interesting puzzles. They have tended to be various burrs or maze type interlocking puzzles and all have been really good. Certainly they have been good enough for the guys at Pelikan to mass produce and they have always sold out. This one is something totally new and an absolute delight. When it arrived, I took all 5 pieces out of the tray and wondered what I was supposed to do with it. I had to ask Jakub for instructions and Tyler also chipped in to tell me. My initial photo had been with the pieces removed and I had no idea how they had been arranged. 

I was instructed to reassemble it in the above conformation (Tray made from Garapa, 4 flower petals made from Wenge and leaves made from Padauk - it is really quite vibrant). There is a small gap in the tray at the top left and an obstruction to right. The aim is to slide the pieces around in the tray ending with the removal of the red leaves through that gap. 

I tend not to be a huge fan of the usual run-of-the-mill sliding piece puzzles because they end up being a huge amount of toil and trial and error. I usually solve them but in many times the number of moves that is the optimal. This creation by Tyler is totally different to these classic sliders. There is not a set move number to aim for - the challenge is being able to remove the piece at all! The movements can get really very restricted due to the size and shape of the pieces and some of the moves are coordinate motion (something I have not seen in one of these before) and a fair number of rotational moves involving one or more pieces simultaneously.

This was the first puzzle from the batch that I started with and really struggled for quite some time as it locked up again and again. Each time I backtracked and tried something different and found a new path opening up and sometimes being able to take it further. It took me 2 days of real concerted effort to find what I needed and removed the piece. This is an absolutely wonderful new take on a classic genre and is a significant challenge. Well worth buying when it goes on sale.

3 Candles

3 Candles by Osanori Yamamoto
Osanori-san features very heavily in this blog! He is an incredible designer - so much so that Pelikan use one of his creations in almost every single release. He specialises in packing puzzles with limited entry boxes but has designed in many other categories. This one is something rather special and fun. It is absolutely perfect for a puzzler of any level. I guess that I could now be considered an experienced puzzler (even if I am not very good at them) and this challenge really enticed me and I found it to be great fun.

Jakub and team have made the 6 pieces in this puzzle from a lovely rich and deeply grained Merbau with a single block of Maple. Initially, I thought this was a version of the Soma cube but the pieces are larger and there appear to be 28 voxels in total (one more than in the Soma cube's 3x3x3 requirement). I again, had to ask for instructions and was told that these pieces can be assembled into a cube with a single voxel protrusion and the aim was to do this with the protrusion being the white Maple cubie - the flame of the candle. There are 3 challenges for this puzzle: that flame can be in one of three different positions - centre, edge, corner.

I am not particularly good at assembling shapes from polyominoes - the Soma cube still is difficult for me despite having many solutions and I have so far completely failed to solve the Sisu puzzle from the last release (it is still in stock if you want a challenge). This challenge really gripped me - the premise is so simple and there is a major clue to start off with knowing the position of the flame. It is still a fabulous challenge which took me several hours before I had found all 3 solutions.

3 possible solutions
This, again, was so different to Osanori-san's other challenges and so accessible that it is a no-brainer purchase. Perfect to challenge yourself as a puzzle addict or to challenge e the significant others in your life.

Brick Wall

Puzzle face
Storage tray face
I have been watching Lucie Pauwels' designs with great interest over the years. She seems to create them in her head using simple home-made blocks and always manages to produce puzzles that are very different to those of the other designers out there today. There does not seem to be a computer used in the design process and this means that the puzzles that she creates are human solvable and require proper thought and logic to do so.

The Brick wall is a chunky puzzle (20.5x15x3cm) made from a gorgeous vibrant Bubinga and Maple. The reverse side of the puzzle is a tray which holds the pieces (Maple) which are to be the grout in the tiled wall. There are 11 differently shaped pieces of grout which need to be assembled inside the wall. The premise is very simple but the actual solution is not. I started as I always do with a random insertion of pieces in positions that looked good. With Lucie's puzzles, this approach really doesn't tend to work well and it ended for me several times with an almost, but not good enough assembly:

Well that didn't work
After a whole 2 days of failure, I decide that it was time to think© and use some logic. The pieces are shaped in such a way that there can be only one solution and the best way to go about it is to restrict the positioning of a certain few pieces from the very beginning. Once that has been done, the sequence for insertion is really pretty logical - there is a little trial and error where a piece has a little vertical symmetry but it only requires a quick test to see which way around it goes to allow other pieces in.

Despite the fact that this looks like an impossible trial and error challenge, believe me, it is not. Like most of Lucie's puzzles, this is a test of logic which you will really enjoy once you have decided to go that path. It will also look absolutely gorgeous on display.

That is it for this week - hopefully I can solve the other 3 for next weekend. There is a very challenging puzzle from Alfons Eyckmans and also something ferociously tough from Dr Volker Latussek. I know they are tough because it took me ½ an hour just to remove the pieces from the delivery configuration in the boxes! 
The upcoming puzzles will probably go on sale after 16th June.

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