Saturday 21 January 2012

Quickstep from Microcubology

Quickstep Front
Quickstep Back
Some of my favourites types of puzzle are the interlocking cube type puzzles and for this reason I get quite excited when I have an email from Richard Gain, the man at the helm of Microcubology. I have bought a copy of almost everything he has produced. You can buy from his Shapeways shop or you can buy dyed versions from his Etsy store. He also has been known to sell via John Devost's Puzzle Paradise auction site. I personally am not that keen on the undyed puzzles and tend to order them pre-coloured - they certainly look pretty good on the shelf - as you can see from my fairly extensive collection!

I have to keep them labeled!
Richard announced this new puzzle via his YouTube channel. It was designed by Jeff Namkung, a relative newcomer to the puzzle design scene. he had apparently been influenced by Jos Bergmans. In the few months he has been designing, he has published 10 different cubes, all named after dances! The inspiration for this cube was the Mayer's cube from Pentangle which required 7 moves to extract the first piece. Jeff took this idea and produced a MUCH more complex cube of order! Yes! You read it right - 11 moves to extract the first piece! With a 5 piece puzzle!! Richard got permission to produce this and has done a wonderful job with it.

After it was announced, I immediately started watching for them and jumped at the chance to buy one within an hour of them arriving in stock - I really am quite addicted to them!!! Richard gives you the option of paying a few £££ less to get them in the unassembled state and I took the risk of this. Not to save the money! When you tot up the amount I have spent on puzzles in the last year (shudder!!!) then you will realise that a few 'quid' won't really help my finances very much. I chose it unassembled because of the extra challenge this provides. Three of the smaller cubes had been bought this way and I really loved the extra difficulty.

A few days after placing my order, it arrived. There are no instructions, just Richard's business card. Richard has changed the format a bit - the puzzle is bigger than previous ones at 3.5cm cubed but with larger holes. This keeps the cost down, allows you to see inside better to watch the pieces move on each other and also see where the gaps might be.

Quickstep pieces
Even though I was in the middle of working on the Orange revomaze, I had to play with this one!!! I have developed a certain approach to these and very quickly got the first 4 pieces in place and established that they could not go together any other way. These first steps took me about 15 minutes. I was left with the challenge of discovering how to fit in that final piece - all 11 moves of it and this turned into a bit of a nightmare. I managed to get it almost there but kept getting it locked with a few pieces sticking out. I could not for the life of me work it out!

After being shouted at for not helping with the dinner preparation again and playing with another of those "damned puzzles", I had to stop for something to eat and then the washing up etc. Oh the torture!!! Whilst doing the washing up, I put the partially solved puzzle on the windowsill infront of me and glared at it. I noticed a gap inside that had evaded my attention. Bing! A little lightbulb went on inside my head (I'm not particularly bright - hence the little lightbulb). Rubber gloves off (nice image!), I tried again and with a beautiful series of sliding movements, I had a completed cube. No rotations are required. If you need it the Burrtools will provide you with a solution and if you are too lazy then contact me for a copy of the file - I just lurve Burrtools!

I had to go to the Puzzle will be played website to confirm that there should be 3 gaps in the faces. I just love this one. It is particularly difficult to start with pieces alone having never disassembled the cube, but definitely possible. It probably took me about 1-1½ hours - not bad for £26. I think all the dyed ones are sold out just now but you get them in plain plastic from Shapeways or just look out for the next batch that Richard produces. Definitely worth investing in if you like interlocking cube puzzles.


  1. Does the dye ever come off? I mean over prolong periods of puzzling, does it stain your hands?

    1. I don't think it can, Jerry. I dare say that it might if you boil them first but in normal use no dye has ever come off of any of these puzzles.

    2. It has happened to me, but only when the dying was done improperly. I always wash the pieces in hot soapy water immediately after dying. Ever since I did this, I've had no problems with it coming off afterwards.

    3. Thanks George, I have forwarded your comment to Jerry!