Wednesday 30 March 2011

Sshhh! Don't tell the missus - I've bought another!

I think I have a disease! I can't help myself! The voices, the voices! They keep saying:
"Buy, buy, buy! You need more puzzles!"

I couldn't blot out the voices so I caved in and ordered a Danlock. This is a padlock (unlike many puzzle locks on the market this is made from a genuine normal Israeli made Nabob padlock) which has been altered by Dan Feldman from Israel to make a really interesting puzzle.

It consists of a padlock with the key attached to the haft and another key separate but snapped in two. The problem is first to open the lock (which is apparently not too hard) and after that to put it back the way it came. Reputedly it is the second part of the puzzle which is very tough and requires several steps. It is reportedly one of the best trick locks there are. It has been reviewed by Edward Hordern here, by Oli here on his blog and here by another blogger.

Someone suggested that one buys 2 locks and the key from one will open the other!!! This doesn't take into account the fact that these are REAL padlocks and so will have different keys for each.

It does come with a solution - sealed so you have to make a positive decision to look at it.

Whilst I would just love to buy a Popplock or two but at £200 and £120 respectively they are just a bit too much for me at the moment. Maybe if I save my pennies?
The Danlock is a much more reasonable price ($100 incl P&P). At least that is my story and I am going to stick to it!!??!?????

The puzzle is available from a number of sources - direct from Dan (contact him by email and pay by PayPal) - I will not post his email address on-line, if you want it then contact me and I will give it to you. If you prefer buying from a store it is available from Grand Illusions in the UK.

I will review it when it arrives. Now where is my strait-jacket?

Tuesday 29 March 2011

The bronze revomaze

The bronze is the 3rd in the series and now they are getting serious!!

This is a real test. This is not a simple straight line path from beginning to end like the previous two - it adds to the experience with curves (even the traps are curved!). It also has traps which have no apparent means of resetting (known as the pool and the jacuzzi!!). This means that your previous ability to map and plan based on straight lines, 90º turns and traps you can easily restart from is not always helpful in this puzzle. It takes a while to work out the secret of the "swimming areas" - in fact after a while you realise that it is possible to stay dry completely (although this is quite difficult to accomplish!). The next shock you are in for is that paths seem to end nowhere - the result of which is that you are TRAPPED. It appears impossible to get out of the first section of the maze!

Sunday 27 March 2011

Creative Crafthouse - Soma cube (craftsman edition)

Another puzzle I bought from Creative Crafthouse was a rather nice medium sized Soma cube made from rubberwood, stored in a matching well made box.

All puzzle collections should include a Soma cube!

Creative Crafthouse - Muscle cube 2 tone

I placed an order for several puzzles from Creative Crafthouse in Florida a few weeks ago and they delivered some really well made wooden puzzles very quickly indeed. I can recommend them as a supplier, Dave is a pleasure to deal with.

My favourite puzzle that I received from them is the Muscle cube. It is available as a plain or a two tone version (I preferred the look of the 2 tone although I suspect that this version is made easier by the clues from the different colours). CC rate it as a very difficult or level 5 puzzle (on their scale up to 5+). I don't actually think it is that difficult - I would rate it a 3.5!
Despite this it is still a very pleasing puzzle to play with and is formed from a LOT of pieces which make a lovely, if disconcerting, pile!!

Saturday 26 March 2011

Vinco's Tetrahedron 2

I received the tetrahedron 2 at the same time as the dual tetrahedron. It is a beautifully tactile shape with a lovely mixture of light and dark woods. Unlike the other puzzle it is impossible to see the seams where the 4 parts join. To open it there are only so many places to grab so it is just a matter of holding it in each hand and pulling apart. When you have the right orientation then it suddenly pulls partially open.

Thursday 24 March 2011

Vinco's dual tetrahedron

Today (at the same time that I ordered some new ones from the Vinco site) postie arrived with my previous order from Vaclav Obsevic.

I was aware of what to expect but was not really ready for the breathtaking craftsmanship that has gone into making these objects of beauty. Even if they weren't puzzles they would be worth owning just to be lovely wooden ornaments. I started with the Dual Tetrahedron 12

Oooh! Shiny! More stuff coming!!

I had hoped to give the bank account a rest really but I can't stop surfing around other puzzle blogs and on line stores!

Today whilst at work, I noticed that Vaclav Obsivac, a tremendous artisan puzzle maker, from the Czech Republic had put some new puzzles up for sale on his site. You have got to see this stuff! The quality is second to none.

The last order has not yet arrived and I had to buy something from the new selection. I have ordered  (make that 5) new puzzles....

Tuesday 22 March 2011

The next instalment - the green revomaze

I managed to avoid starting the next revomaze for.... at least 24 hours!! My these are addictive! The info on the website states that most people who have done the blue will manage the green in about 3-4 hours. I am obviously not particularly bright because it took me another 10 hours!! Blush!

The aim is the same - so getting started was easy. Understanding the first traps came naturally. I started with a line map from the outset and very quickly this proved to be inadequate. The reason is that the green maze is not linear - whilst the blue has a single pathway through with some detours off to blind ends or traps, the green has a pathway that winds around in intersecting paths and you can find yourself back at a place you have been before without realising it. Hence the requirement for an accurate map. After about 2 hours of wandering around and plotting paths and traps I couldn't find any further places to go.

Saturday 19 March 2011

Bill Cutler's Wausau '83

The other part of my package from Bill Cutler is one of his special rectilinear burrs. These are part of a series of a series of 4 burr  puzzles which he designed to be difficult to dismantle. On his site, Bill claims that the '83 is the "best" of them. Since I am rapidly bankrupting myself I could only have 1 and it had better be the best! I really really want the cube but at $500 I can't afford it!

Friday 18 March 2011

More Stuff - She's going to kill me if this continues!!!

Wil Strijbos, a brilliant Dutch puzzle designer and seller, sold me two new puzzles! They arrived last night and are absolutely beautiful!

The Green Apple Puzzle - a small aluminium apple (complete with stalk) which needs to be split into 2 halves. The apple has a horizontal seam across the middle and 4 dovetail joints each at 90° to each other. How is this possible. Something seems to rattle around inside. It comes with instructions but I refused to look at them - it took about 15 minutes of thought to work out how it should come apart, but when I tried it wouldn't budge. There is a second part to the puzzle which took me an extra 10 minutes to solve. There is a nice surprise inside!

The Aluminium Cylinder Puzzle. This is his second run of 100 of these - they are an silver aluminium cylinder withe a lid which is sprung and sits about 1mm proud of the top. The lid can spin and when depressed it releases several loose objects within the structure. I have a few ideas how to solve this but have only played for a very short time. It doesn't come with instructions but they are available from Wil on request. Searching the various puzzle sites shows that this is a VERY difficult puzzle and most who have solved it have done so partially by accident! I will give it a good shot.

Wil also sent me a freebie! A 3 Card Burr - this is 3 playing cards with various slots cut into them and obviously the intention is to have them interlock at 90° to each other - Very cool looking. Not tried it yet.

If you want to see the secret of the green apple then click the read more.
It will reveal another picture with it open showing how 4 90° dovetails can be opened as well as what makes the rattling.

Bill Cutler's Computer's Choice Unique 10

I thought I'd break off from the Revomaze theme to mention one of my recent purchases. Any casual puzzle site surfing will quickly produce the name Bill Cutler, he has been designing puzzles for many many years and they are all rather complex and beautifully made by a true craftsman Jerry McFarland. He specialises in Burr puzzles and other 3D interlocking puzzles. He has undertaken an exhaustive analysis of these puzzles using software of his own design.

I noticed from his website that he had a new batch available and thought "I have to get 1 or 2 of these", followed quickly by "but I've spent a fortune already!", followed even more quickly by "what the hell, in for a penny, in for a pound". So I duly placed an order and they arrived within a week!

I must first say these are really beautiful puzzles, really well made and pretty difficult. The Computer's choice unique 10 puzzle is a standard 6 piece burr but rather than being based on a burr that is 6 units long it is 8 units long (this allows a huge amount of extra complexity). This particular puzzle is supposed to be the most complex 6 piece burr with only one solution. As the name implies, it requires 10 moves to remove the first piece.

Thursday 17 March 2011

The puzzling begins - a blue Revomaze

After breakfast it was time to start on the blue.

The first difficulty is really working out what is required, especially when you hit the first trap - it takes a little while to realise that you are in a trap and have to reset to the beginning! Once understood it then took me about 20 or 30 minutes to get past that trap (it requires a certain very delicate touch). The blue is a great starter because progression is nice and steady with a number of little challenges. Some people who have solved it managed to do so without recourse to drawing a map but my mind doesn't work that way - I started drawing a map fairly early on when I kept reaching traps unexpectedly. I started with a simple squiggly line diagram and then later redrew it with more accuracy and then later still with pinpoint accuracy which was required when I got stuck (more about that later). I had also registered with the Revomaze forums and gotten access to the forums for all 4 mazes. After a little reading it became obvious that for the harder mazes it would be vital to draw an accurate map - so practice early on was vital. So I considered my blue map to be practise for later!

Wednesday 16 March 2011

New stuff arrives

Over the last 2 days postie has arrived bearing toys! Unfortunately he arrived very very early which upset the wife even if it did delight me!

So far have had delivery from Creative Crafthouse with:
Soma cube - craftsman edition
Muscle cube - 2 tone
Locking cube - 2 tone
Would not wood knott II burr
Mini snake cube

So far only played with Soma and snake cubes - I will post more later.

From Bill Cutler puzzles I have received:
Computer's choice unique 10
Wausau '83 (shown to the right) picture from Bill's site.

Seriously beautiful works of puzzle art, manufactured by Jerry MacFarland. Not cheap but essential for any collector. I really really want his cube puzzle - it is the most beautiful burr puzzle I have ever seen! Unfortunately at $500, I can't have one just now! Maybe later (I can but dream)

Will post more later.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday 14 March 2011

In the beginning.... The arrival of the Revomaze

A collection of revomazes!!

The order arrived containing 4 (yes I know it's a bit excessive! But I couldn't help myself!) revomazes quite early on a Saturday morning. I rushed out of bed and downstairs with minimal clothing on and frightened the postman. The box was surprisingly heavy - at 700g each I suppose I should have expected it! It was cold so I dashed back to bed with the box and proceeded to unpack and have an investigatory play about and chattered incessantly about quality and weight (much to the sleepy disgust of my wife).

Sunday 13 March 2011

Starting out...

This is my first ever blog post so please excuse me if I appear very amateurish!
I have enjoyed logic puzzles for years, doing sudoku, kakuro and nonograms on paper, computer and iPhone for years. Alright I admit it - I even did them on an old windows mobile 5 device!!!

More recently I have discovered the wonderful world of mechanical puzzles. I don't mean those bent nail puzzles you find in Xmas crackers, I am talking about high quality, often handmade, puzzles which can take from 15 minutes to several months to solve. The aim of this blog is to describe these puzzles and how much pleasure can be derived from them and maybe give solution hints if needed.

I did have a Rubik's cube and revenge (4x4x4) as a kid and could do them both in under 2 minutes. In the years since then I did not give puzzles a second thought....
Until visiting the Gadget Show Live in April 2010!! Whilst there I came across many items of interest to men in their 40s who "should know better" and amongst them I saw the Revomaze. These puzzles fascinated me but at the time I didn't purchase - I could not justify the cost (these are not cheap) and the terrible burning from the laser gaze of my wife put me off!!

Several months later after a phenomenally stressful day at work, I found I needed something to concentrate on to avoid dwelling on various events. At this point, I remembered the Revomaze and soon bought the first 3 in the series from their website. The owner, Chris Pitt, was very responsive and when I changed my order, there was no problem. The puzzles arrived about 10 days later and it all deteriorated from there!!!

Next post.. The blue revomaze.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad