Thursday 26 April 2012

Dancing with Microcubology

A few months ago when I met Richard Gain again at James Dalgety's Puzzle Museum, he told me that he had a few more designs nearly ready to come out from the relative newcomer to the puzzle design world called Jeff Namkung. Jeff  has specialised in interlocking solids in the form of cubes most of which do not require rotations to disassemble - he has named them all after dances! Now you know that I just cannot resist these puzzles! I obtained one of the early ones called Quickstep as soon as it was announced and reviewed it here. Richard also said that he had some more of the Jos Bergmans puzzles coming too - I was beside myself with anticipation!! Weeks passed with not a word and I forgot about it.

In early March an email went around to all the Puzzle Paradise addicts subscribers that Richard had made and dyed another batch of cubes and put them up for sale. I immediately ordered 2 of the most interesting ones and because I was too excited/lazy/stupid to read the whole page I clicked on the PayPal buy link and paid for them with the American postage fee. After a little email conversation during which I admitted to being an eedjit, we decided to make it 3 puzzles with the UK postage. A few days later I was pleased to receive both Whirlwind and Pirouette by Jos Bergmans and Jive by Jeff Namkung. Then a couple of weeks ago he announced that he had made yet more!! So what was I to do except buy them too!! So now I have 5 Namkung's and 2 Bergmans' to play with - how exciting!!! This review I will focus on the Namkung puzzles. So "I'm askin', are you dancin'"? There will be a few of you Brits who will be old enough to remember where that came from!

Sunday 22 April 2012

Cast Nutcase

Hanayama Cast Nutcase
I really do apologise for the delay since my last blog post! Work seems to get in the way of the more important things in life like puzzles sometimes. I will try my hardest not to let it happen again. This time I am going to review the Cast Nutcase from the Hanayama puzzle company. This one came from Puzzle Master where it is a very reasonable $17. It was designed by the amazing Oskar van Deventer.

It comes well packaged in the usual Hanayama black box - It is a rather nice galvanised bolt with two nuts on it. So why is it called a nut case? Because if you shake it you can hear it rattle and when you look for the source of the noise you can see that there is a cavity in this puzzle containing a small nut! The puzzle is 5cm tall and 3.4cm in diameter - it looks and feels really quite substantial. It has been reviewed before by my fellow puzzle bloggers - Neil, Brian and Jerry.

Puzzle Master have rated it as 10 out of 10 (Mind Boggling) in difficulty and this matches Hanayama's own rating of 6 out of 6. I have to say that I think the comprehension of this puzzle is much easier than that (maybe 8 out of 10) but the execution is considerably tougher. The fact that the other reviewers have stated that they completed this one in an hour or less does mean that this is not as tough as some of the other top level puzzles which may have taken many hours to solve. As with all the Hanayama puzzles - no solution is provided. If you find you want one then it can be downloaded from Puzzle Master here.

Thursday 12 April 2012

When is a cube not a cube? Revisited!

Again, I hadn't intended doing another Twisty puzzle review so soon but I am completely and utterly hooked on the damn things. I still blame Tommy and Roxanne although not in an unpleasant way - I am having so much fun with these!!!

So I ask yet again: When is a cube not a cube?

When it's a Skewb...

Nooo! Not more I hear you cry!
How about when it's a cubic cuboid...

Witeden - 3x3x9!!

Monday 9 April 2012

Flabber Floovers - Pulley

Flabber Floovers - Pulley
Continuing my theme of disentanglement puzzles, I had decided that it might be nice to try some that are not made of wire. I do love wooden puzzles and so when I saw that the disentanglement puzzles from Family Games of America are made of wood and string, I couldn't resist it. Well you know that I actually can't resist any puzzle but I'm going to stick to my story! This series of puzzles is grouped under the name "Flabber floovers" and Puzzle Master stock them all. If you are feeling like torturing yourself properly then the whole lot are sold with a batch discount. I decided to dip my toe in gently and just got the middle of the range Pulley (actually I got this because it didn't look too horrific - some of them have lots and lots of loops of string!)

It is level 8 (Gruelling) on the Puzzle Master scale (from 5 up to a max of 10) and I have mixed feelings about whether this is correct or not (read on to see why). Packaged in a nice blue box with a solution booklet (be careful not to look at this too soon), it is a decent size - 9.4 x 8.6 x 2.8cm and seems to be made from a very nice smooth wood. It is actually quite attractive, unlike the wire puzzles. The biggest advantage in the Puzzlemad home is that not being made of metal, it doesn't jingle when being played with!! This may well increase my life expectancy!

The solution is provided in the box but if you have thrown it away - then it can also be downloaded from here. It would appear that none of my fellow puzzle bloggers have reviewed any of these before.

Friday 6 April 2012

My nemesis - finally solved

Almost a year ago now, I bought a puzzle from Wil Strijbos. I had been lusting after one for some considerable time and it suddenly became available, so I snapped it up! Yes it was the Cola bottle number 1 designed and manufactured by Wil himself.

Cola bottle #1
I bought mine direct from Wil, but it is available from Sloyd here (they have a couple of the other bottles too). Despite being owned by several several of my fellow puzzle bloggers, only Oli has actually written a review of it! He is a very experienced puzzle fiend and it actually took him a fair while to solve it.

It is difficult to see from my amateurish photo but it consists of a genuine 250ml Coca cola bottle. Inside it is a black marble and the aim is to remove this marble. Preventing you from doing this is a long and thick plastic dowel which blocks the top of the bottle. Why not just remove the dowel? Because there is a nut and bolt through the end of the dowel! Hmmm! What now?

Sunday 1 April 2012

Blue Knight

Blue Knight
Today I am going to review another wire puzzle (surprise!!) from Puzzle Master - this time it is the Blue Knight. I do seem to have had a run of wire puzzle reviews but I just love them and they are really quite robust making them easy to chuck in your bag to carry around for torturing others!!!

I particularly liked the look of this one - it has my initial as its main shape (yes, I am pretty shallow) and looked complex enough to be intimidating but was rated by Puzzle Master as  a 9 (Gruelling) on their 10 point scale so should not be too awful!! It arrived in the usual neat Puzzle Master clamshell plastic packaging with only the simplest instructions to remove the brass ring. It is 13.2 x 7.8cm in size and very nicely made.

No solution is provided but you can download one from Puzzle Master here - experienced puzzlers will not need it but beginners may.