Tuesday 31 May 2011

Free the Key

Free the Key
In my recent batch from Puzzle Master I received the Free the Key puzzle made by the company themselves and rated as an 8 out of 10 (demanding). It was designed by Oskar van Deventer and has been available in slightly different form factor from a number of other companies. I think the Puzzle Master version is the only one currently on the market today. It is supplied with a solution (although being fairly stupid, I didn't realise this and threw it away with the packaging before I found out!!!)

It is a pretty big puzzle measuring 11cm long with the disk being 4.5 cm diameter and a very decent weight. It feels fantastic in your hands. It consists of a very large key with protrusions of varying height on either side and a brass disk at the hilt of the key. The disk has slots cut in it of varying heights to take the protrusions. Overall this is a good quality puzzle - the finish is not quite as good as the Hanayama puzzles (there are some casting marks on the key and the brass disk would be nicer with a glossy finish). I think this is pretty good value for money - you get a decent bang for your buck.

Saturday 28 May 2011

Bill Cutler's Wausau '84

Wausau '84
As I said before I have a real weak spot for burr puzzles and those designed by Bill Cutler are really good (many are made by Jerry McFarland). So when I saw that Hectix Revisited would soon be available I contacted Bill to enquire. When one became available I took advantage of the opportunity and also ordered another in the Wausau series (I aim to collect the set!) and chose the Wausau '84 at the recommendation of Allard.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Hanayama Cast Coil

Cast Coil
I received the Hanayama Cast Coil from Puzzle Master in Canada. This one is one of the newest in the Cast series. It is rated as Level 7 out of 10 (Challenging) by Puzzlemaster and on Hanayama's own scale up to 6 it is rated as a 3. I personally agree with this rating. In all it took me about an hour to solve this and understand it (it could have been quicker but I got stuck having missed a move).

Saturday 21 May 2011

Eric Fuller's Kindness and 3 Sticks Trapped

Eric Fuller Puzzles
Some months ago I contacted Eric Fuller at Cubic Dissection to ensure that when he had new puzzles for sale I would receive one of his automated notices. I was duly informed that I was added to the email list and waited with baited breath - the quality of his work is supposed to be superb. I then found out via the revomaze forums that his sale had started at 11pm and everything had sold out in about 6 hours - it was almost all gone by the time I realised. Somewhat disappointed (but philosophical about it) I contacted Eric to see what had happened with his email list. It transpired that he had had a software failure a while back and my email address had not actually been added to the list. He assured me that it was now all sorted for the next time. During a flurry of quite entertaining emails (did you know that he began his puzzle-making on the kitchen table with a mitre saw and some chisels?) he said that when he had sent everything out to the successful purchasers he would see whether he had any of the ones I wanted left.

After a few days he got back to me to say that he had the 3 puzzles by Stephane Chomine still available. They are 3 Sticks Trapped, 4 in 2, and 5 piece 28. Of course I immediately said yes and he posted them off to me.

Before you all start hounding him - I suspect that these were ones he was planning on keeping for his personal collection and he sold them to me because he felt sorry for me (he even offered to absorb some of the PayPal fee! Which I refused).

Thank you so much Eric, I really appreciate it.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Hanayama Cast Key Ring

Cast Keyring
I received the Hanayama Cast Keyring from Puzzle Master in Canada. It is rated as Level 6 (out of 10) by them and on Hanayama's own scale up to 6 it is rated as a 2. I personally agree with this rating - it is considerably more tricky than the previously reviewed level 6 (2) Cast Key II. In all it took me about 45 minutes to solve this and understand it.

Monday 16 May 2011

Livewire puzzles part 3

The odyssey continues! I proceed in ploughing through the disentanglement puzzles from Livewire. This quartet is also in the easy/medium section.

First up is the Equalizer - this is a terrific looking puzzle, shaped like a man. There is a handle on his foot. This was the first one to really challenge me. It took me about 20 minutes to take the puzzle apart and another 20 minutes to put it back together again (although I was cooking a meal at the same time!!). When I tried to repeat the process, I found that I couldn't do it and it took even longer the second time around, much to my wife's annoyance (she complained about the clink clink clink noise whilst we were watching TV)! I have now done it in 3 different ways - the first two being far more complex than necessary. I gave this to a couple of friends to try out - one has been tortured by me fairly regularly and she really struggled with this one taking 20 minutes or so and then could not get it back together. Another newbie to entanglement puzzles failed completely. Whilst this is actually a relatively straightforward puzzle in terms of what is required, the huge complexity of the pieces makes spotting the pathway very tough. This is a great puzzle and having challenged me properly is my favourite so far - buy it for looks and the challenge! Not for newbies!!!

Friday 13 May 2011

Flattrick by Vinco

This is the last of my Vinco puzzles - I am sure I will be buying plenty more. The craftsmanship from this man has just got to be seen to be believed! Plus as well as being a true artisan, he is also an absolute pleasure to deal with. He responds very quickly and is very fair (see my previous discussion about how he is a true gentleman).

This is the Flattrick - it is another of his coordinate movement puzzles - but this time has 6 pieces and therefore must have a different design internally than the other 4 piece puzzles I have described. After a previous comment by me he has now begun putting the woods used in each puzzle down on the website. This particular version is made of Plum and Acacia woods and looks absolutely gorgeous, just like all his others. Nothing made by this man looks anything other than beautiful (sorry - I'm gushing!!!)

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Hanayama Cast Key II

Cast Key II
I got the Cast Key II as part of a consignment from Puzzle Master in Canada. They rate it on their site as a level 6 out of 10 (Tricky) and Hanayama's own rating is 2 out of 6. I started with this one to get a feel for a relatively straight-forward one for a beginner (even though I have a couple of harder ones already).

Saturday 7 May 2011

The Postman's been! The Postman's been!

More stuff!!!
Yes I have been at it again! I was casually surfing around the various puzzle sites looking for something different to my current puzzle set and whilst I was browsing Bill Cutler's site, I noticed that he intended to make a hexagonal burr called Hectix Revisited available "soon". I emailed him just to request that when he had one available, I would be grateful if he dropped me a line because I figured I needed at least one of this type of puzzle in my collection!

Decemburr from Mr Puzzle

First of all I must thank a friend, Nigel, for this puzzle. This complex burr puzzle was sold cheaply when a puzzle shop closed down last month. Unfortunately I missed buying it in the clearance sale but Nigel managed to bag one of the last ones. It turned out that this was a duplicate for him so he sold it on to me at cost! It arrived on a Saturday morning at 07:30 much to the disgust of the missus! I was on my way out to work so took it with me so I could have a little fiddle if I got a moment!

Tuesday 3 May 2011

Vinco's Diagra and Handed Halfcubes

Vaclav Obsivac (Vinco) is not only an exquisite craftsman but he is also a true gentleman! How do I know this? Well, when there was an error during my recent purchase which led to me owing him ever so slightly more than expected (which was not an issue at all) he spontaneously decided to give me an extra puzzle for free!! This was the Handed halfcubes and despite being free it is a really good puzzle too!