Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hanayama Cast Square

Cast Square
Today it's time for a review of another from my last rather extensive Puzzle Master delivery! This time it is yet another of the Hanayama Cast Puzzles the Cast Square. I chose this one because being really shiny, it appealed to my inner Magpie again and also because it had been rated as a maximum difficulty - a level 6 on the Hanayama scale! Or level 10 (Mind Boggling) on the Puzzle Master scale. At maximum difficulty, I thought this would keep me going for quite some time! It was designed by Finland's Vesa Timonen who is very prolific and has designed several of my previous puzzles - see here and here.

As with all of these puzzles it arrived absolutely beautifully packaged with just the instructions to take it apart and reassemble it. Cryptically it said that putting it back together in a different way leads to a different disassembly strategy being required. This was another feature which appealed to me - more than one puzzle in a single package. It consists of 4 pieces of metal interestingly interlocked, 2 are silver chrome and 2 are gold. The only downside (as you can see from my photo is that fingerprints and dust seem to easily mark the surface. Together it makes a very attractive shape (even Mrs S admitted that), dimensions are 4.8 x 4.8 x 1.3 cm and it is a pretty decent weight. No solution is provided and as I will tell later, you WILL solve it but not in the way intended so I seriously suggest downloading the solution from here. I found it gave me a real insight into the idea behind the puzzle.

Previous reviews can be found by Brian on his blog and by Gabriel on his.

When you start playing with it there is quite a large degree of freedom to the movement of the pieces but the pieces are blocked by something inside and it won't go all the way:

Cast Square sliding movement
Examining the pieces when it is extended like this gives a very small clue as to the locking mechanism (but not much!) and after a few moments of playing with it to see what else I could discover (nothing!) I tried a fancy move that I have used for a few other puzzles (one which the boys at the Midlands Puzzle Parties always suggest to embarrass me! No Chris! I didn't blow on it!!!) This didn't seem to work, so I tried it again a bit harder and the whole thing flew apart on me! Whilst I expected my move to loosen the locking mechanism I did not expect it to actually disassemble the puzzle!

Cast Square Pieces
After I fetched the pieces from the floor, I reassembled it in the same configuration and tried again. Nope not this time! What was different? Whilst I was working I gave this to several colleagues and they all took it apart within 4 or 5 minutes! How? By jiggling the hell out of it! Definitely NOT one to be done next to the long-suffering Mrs S! You know how she hates me jingling next to her!!! To be honest, I was really disappointed - absolutely everyone I gave it to had it in pieces within a few minutes just b shaking it a lot! The reviews on the Puzzle Master page were very mixed because of this! I knew that that cannot be the correct solution! I examined the pieces very closely and could see how some were different to others. Unfortunately I could not see how to alter what I did. I put it down for a few days and whilst sitting at my desk I was idly playing with it when all of a sudden it came apart in my hands without shaking it. What had I done? I'm not going to tell you! But looking at the design of the pieces I now understood what was going on. I tried the other arrangements of the pieces and they do need other techniques but I think are not as fun as the main one. For this reason, it is definitely worth downloading the solution - just to make sure you really understand what is going on!

Is this a good puzzle? It is certainly is nice and shiny and is very clever. For $13 you cannot really go wrong. My only criticism is that it is possible to open it by shaking and actually think that is all there is to it!


  1. The Magpie in me was really drawn to this one, but I can't quite get over the fact that it's so easy to just make it fall apart :-(

  2. Finally I can put my excessive shake method to good use!!! Yippee!!!!

  3. My first try - i found correct solution but didn't disassemble it completly. Then i couldn't do it again so i used "shake" version. After that i have studied the mechanism and found the idea behind it. It's just wonderfull! But, sadly, everyone just shake it untill it fall into pieces. Next time when i will try to open any new puzzle i will try first to hear if there are any moving pieces inside :D

    1. Hi Drake, yes it is a shame that you can solve it that way! It is much more satisfying to do it the correct way. Luckily very few Hanayama puzzles can solve this way. I hope that your next choice is more challenging for you!

  4. A very cool puzzle, if only for the elegance in design. I consider the secret to be a bit of a "cheat" on the part of the designer and wish it could have been designed without that element.

  5. I was not impressed with this one at all. It fell apart in my hands and was too easy to put back together. I re-work all of my Hanayama puzzles from time to time but always seem to skip this one and "Cast News". There just isn't any re-play value in these two puzzles if you ask me.

    1. I agree. It is more of an interesting design to understand after it had come apart. Then it is just available to give to friends to play with.



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