Thursday 26 July 2012

Hanayama Cast Laby

Hanayama Cast Laby
If you read all the way back to the beginning of my huge Puzzle Adventure you will see that it really all began with a hidden maze puzzle - the Revomaze. Since then, I have played with, and solved, quite a few other mazes (Cast L'Oeuf and Medallion, Maze burr, Cast Duet and Cast Cuby) and have really enjoyed them. Several have actually come from Hanayama but I always held off getting the Cast Laby because I never really was attracted to the look of it - all dark charcoal metal. In my recent batch I decided it was really one that I should add to the collection, especially as it is a level 5 out of 6 on the Hanayama difficulty scale or level 9 (Gruelling) on the Puzzle Master 5 to 10 scale.

As usual the Hanayama packaging is immaculate and inside is a pair of thick rings made of a dark charcoal coloured metal, one is a complete ring with a maze inscribed on both sides and the other has a gap to allow it's removal from the other. The easy removal is prevented by a couple of small pins in the gap. Together they are 6.3 x 5 x 2.5 cm in size and feel nice and sturdy. It is clear that the two mazes need to be navigated simultaneously to separate the pieces. These mazes are quite long and include a number of parts that skirt the outer rim giving the impression that this is going to be quite a long haul. The reviews on the Puzzle Master product page are overwhelmingly positive apart from one person who didn't have the attention span to work it out! Some of my fellow bloggers have reviewed it and also enjoyed it - Oli stated that it was a good challenge here, Brian Pletcher enjoyed it having taken an hour to solve it (review here) and Tom Cutrofello was also kept going for quite a while.

No solution is supplied but if you need one (I would hope you wouldn't) it can be downloaded from here.

I have been carrying it around for about 2 weeks but due to my obsession with one particular twisty puzzle, I have not managed to get around to it. I sort of idly fiddled but that was all - certainly no sustained attempt at solving. Today, during a quiet period, my assistant asked whether I had anything new for him to play with and, with a little hesitation, I handed the Cast Laby to him and told him that I hadn't done it myself so if he solved it then he really had to put it back together again for me!

There were a number of expletives when he realised that the maze was double sided and then he went silent for a while (which is really unusual for Dave!!!) I think he must have played on and off all morning (about an hour in total) when a sudden exclamation made me look up to see that he was holding 2 separated pieces. A congratulatory firm handshake managed to ensure that he lapsed in his concentration and lost track of where they came apart and then I told him that the puzzle wasn't complete until it was reassembled. "No problem!" he said and then very quickly realised that he didn't actually recall where they came apart or even what the entrance point was. In fact he couldn't really remember which way around the pieces went! Quite a while later, he handed it back and I was left with the 2 separated pieces! I won't let him forget it for quite some time!!

Cast Laby Pieces
Brian, during his review, did state that if you separated the parts by luck then you might really struggle to reassemble it, especially if you didn't remember which exit you had used! Well, this was the position I now found myself in! I began my reverse solution and think it probably took me about 45 minutes. I started to sweat a bit and very nearly relented and downloaded the solution! Luckily I did find my way back and after leaving it for another hour I attempted to resolve the correct way. It is definitely pretty tough - there are several points of entry into the maze for each of the pins and also several blind endings. There are a couple of particularly unexpected moves which fooled me for a while but having been very systematic about it, I managed to work my way through!

This is a really clever little puzzle - I am not sure it is level 5 (maybe it should be a 4) but is a nice challenge and I think it looks better in real life than the pictures. This is definitely a good one for the collection. Buy it - it's good value at $13!


  1. I agree Kevin, the Hanayama Disney version of this puzzle (Alice) is also fun. It is a fair bit smaller therefore a different challenge.

    1. I've been wanting to get the Hanayama Disney puzzles! The crystal puzzles are especially attractive.

    2. I had never heard of the Hanayama Disney puzzles! I shall need to investigate but not sure that a 45 year old man should be buying Disney stuff!!!

    3. Oh you will get an outrageous amount of views for those puzzles. Try ebay. There are a bit pricey because they have to be imported from Japan. My favorite is the Hanayama black crystal 3d mickey mouse puzzle.

  2. I'm glad I could half solve your puzzle Kevin.
    Your glamorous assistant Dave.

  3. Glamorous! .??
    Definitely a word ending in 'ous! Is it frivolous? Maybe specious? No! More like dangerous!!

    Thanks for half solving the puzzle and making it even harder for me!