Friday 29 April 2011

Livewire puzzles part 2

In this next instalment I complete the level 6 (easy) puzzles and start out on the slightly harder (level 7) ones from Livewire puzzles.

Grand Prix
The last of the level 6 puzzles is the Grand Prix. There are 2 pieces locked together and a ring intertwined with them. I managed to remove the ring in about 30 seconds and was quite disappointed initially. But, like many puzzles the real challenge came in the re-assembly - I thought I remembered the pathway and calmly fed the ring back on, wound it back through the puzzle and my jaw dropped when it just fell straight off the other side! Only after investigating much more closely did I discover the secret and this time it all went smoothly. Repeatability is good because the trick is rather counterintuitive! It is quite a nice movement.

Thursday 28 April 2011

Livewire puzzles part 1

This will be the first of quite a few reviews of wire disentanglement puzzles from Livewire puzzles in Canada. I bought the whole set of 37 from them and am going to work my way through them if I can! I will start with the easy ones and gradually get to the more difficult.

Starting off with a childhood classic - the handcuffs puzzle which requires removal of the ring from the handcuffs. It is rated easy on their website (labeled 6/10 on the packet). I had a very small version of this as a child and sort of remembered the approach but having not seen one for over 30 years thought I should start again with it. The version from Livewire is much bigger and the ring to be removed is a hefty weight - this extra size makes the puzzle quite a bit trickier than I remember. It is certainly more satisfying for adult sized hands. It turns out that I sort of did remember the solution and had it solved it just a minute! Unfortunately, like many puzzles, I didn't really pay attention to how I had done it and struggled to put it back together - it actually took me a further 5 minutes to achieve this much to my great shame! Blush!! Most people who have had a go at this with me have recognised it from their childhood or a Christmas cracker, whilst everyone has solved it they have all commented that this version is harder than they remember. I suspect it is due to the larger 'cuff' and having only a single linking ring too makes the required manoeuvre slightly more awkward. Overall I think this is a nice implementation of the classic - if you don't have one in your collection then you should get one and this is a worthwhile version. Apparently there is also a nice version from Hanayama which you also could consider.

Sunday 24 April 2011

Hanayama cast cuby

At the same time as buying the cast spiral (reviewed earlier) I also bought the cast cuby. It came from Puzzleguru. I bought this one because it looked nice and I wanted something from this particular puzzle designer for my collection. It also should be quite a lot easier than the cast spiral - it is rated as 3 out of a possible 6.

It was originally designed by the extremely prolific Dutch puzzle designer Oskar van Deventer. To get an idea about his talents view his designs at Shapeways - take special note of the $2000 17x17x17 Rubik's cube! The original design did not have a definite starting position and so for the Hanayama version the two eyes were placed to ensure the puzzler always started and finished at the correct point.

Wednesday 20 April 2011


Oh Joy! Last night we had a new arrival - the Maze burr, designed by Kagen Schaefer and made by the very talented Tom Lensch. Unfortunately I finished work very late and had things to do around the house in the evening (including spending some time with the present wife - she's doing ok for a first wife!). This means I have not had a chance to do any more than read the pamphlet that came with it. I will do a proper review when I can.

At first glance it is beautiful - thanks very much, Tom.

Today I FINALLY received the complete set of 37 disentanglement puzzles from Livewire puzzles in Canada! My advice to you all - never, ever, ever! go for surface mail from Canadapost! It took absolutely forever (nearly 2 months!) to arrive despite only spending 5 days in customs. Unfortunately, on this one I got badly hit for Duty/VAT! This wasn't a cheap purchase and the extra sting really hurt! I will probably review these in small batches as (if!) I solve them.

These are really nicely packaged and also at first glance seem very well made.

I have to work all evening tonight and tomorrow night and will have no chance to play, unfortunately! How much torture can a man stand?

Vinco's Matrioshka and Cube Vinco

Next amongst the puzzles received from Vinco is the Matrioshka.

This one also looks absolutely spectacular in multiple colours of wood with the outermost layer being a beautiful red wood. It is nicely polished. This puzzle is another coordinate motion puzzle but this time not just 4 pieces.

In fact this is 3 puzzles for the price of one!!

Saturday 16 April 2011

Explosion cube from Vinco

First up from my recent delivery is the Explosion cube from Vinco. This is an absolutely gorgeous wooden "sculpture" with a combination of light and dark woods. My only criticism of Vinco's goods are that he does not state which woods he uses.

The finish is perfect and it looks great on display.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

New arrivals

From top left:
Matrioshka, Pagoda 3 (Makishi/Dawson), Flattrick
Handed half cubes, Explosion cube, Diagra
Cube Vinco

Just a quick entry - these arrived in the post yesterday. Had to work all evening so had no time to play - only got to unpack and take a quick photo. I will review them over the next few days and weeks as I learn what how they work.

Sunday 10 April 2011

The Danlock (model B)

Update 2019 - Dan Feldman has retired from producing puzzles now but his son, Boaz Feldman, has taken on the mantel and now producing his own extremely wonderful designs as well as making new copies of the Danlock. You can now easily buy from his Etsy store.

The Danlock arrived a few days ago from Israel. I bought it direct from Dan Feldman himself - he is very obliging (even kept one for me until the end of the month so I would have the cash to pay him!!!). He accepts PayPal payments - it is $100 including P&P.

The puzzle arrives in the original Nabob padlock box. Inside is the lock with a whole key attached to the haft and a broken one attached also via a thin keyring (it can be easily removed). There is a nice cloth bag labeled with "Danlock" for transporting it and a sealed envelope containing the solution.

Thursday 7 April 2011

Oh dear! The brain went to sleep and the fingers went a-clicking!!!

I got an email from puzzle paradise telling me that some new items had been added to the current auction.

These are masterpieces made by Tom Lensch. They are all limited edition and rather special. They never stay un-bought for long so as soon as I received the email I immediately headed over to look. He had put 3 items on the auction with "buy it now" buttons!!

I immediately fell in love with the Maze burr. I really like burrs - for the simplicity yet intrinsic difficulty in doing the puzzle. The maze burr was an original design by Kagen Schaefer and has been improved by Tom. It is possible to create 1000's of different burr puzzles including one that takes 116 moves to open!

Maze burr with box

Whilst I can't really afford it just now - I cannot resist it so 3 minutes later the buy it now button was pressed and I am twitching with excitement over this one. Especially because of it's beauty and the many possibilities from it.

Maze burr in its box

It will arrive in the next few weeks and I will review it then.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

The mother of all puzzles! The silver revomaze

So far I have described my progress through the first 3 revomazes. The 4th in the series should be a tough challenge but just a progression in my puzzle solving skills. Or so I thought! Oh my goodness, how wrong could I have been! This puzzle can only be described as a BASTARD! It is an order of magnitude harder than the already very tough bronze. The website claims that, so far, this is probably the hardest puzzle in the world. I suspect this is correct. They state that the average time to solve it is 160 hours - I'm not sure this is correct because out of the several hundred they have sold only 35 people have actually successfully opened the maze and registered the fact with the forums. I was number 34!

I personally took over 330 hours to do it! Other better puzzlers than I have described their exploits and experiences solving it - one of the best descriptions is by Brian Pletcher and also by Allard on his blog

Sunday 3 April 2011

Hanayama cast spiral

I bought this a few weeks ago, as part of my "I've run out of revomazes and need something else to do" crisis. I bought them from Puzzleguru who provided great service - the puzzles I ordered arrived within 48 hours and because I had spent quite a bit they sent me a freebie! Their site is pretty extensive and includes the Hanyama cast puzzles, all the Professor Puzzle series (wire, wooden etc.) and quite a lot of others. Prices are pretty competitive - especially as postage is free for purchases above £25 (very easy to achieve!).

I decided to try a couple of Hanayama puzzles and picked the cast spiral because it looked good and was stated to be pretty tough to solve (level 5 out of 6). I hadn't read any previous reviews!