Sunday 13 October 2013

Cast Delta or Mrs S Shows Her Skillz!

Hanayama Cast Delta
Today's review is of the Hanayama Cast Delta - it has been ready for publication for a few weeks but when Gabriel pipped me to the post, I decided to delay it a while so that you didn't all get bored reading about the same puzzle multiple times. Jerry has also reviewed it back in July - living in the Far East, he seems to have managed to get hold of it much earlier than the rest of us.

I got this puzzle in my last large order from Puzzle Master - I had seen that Hanayama had released 2 new puzzles this year and waited for them to be available in the West - there was NEVER any question that I wouldn't get it, just a matter of when. You all know that I adore my high quality, bespoke wooden puzzles, but I have to say that as value for money the Hanayama puzzles really cannot be beaten. They are all beautifully made, have varying difficulty levels ranging from the fairly easy to the impossibly hard and almost always provide that "Aha!" moment that all us puzzlers crave so much.

The Cast Delta is no different - designed by Kyoo Wong from Hong Kong, it arrived in the usual immaculate black box with the simple instructions to separate the three pieces and then reassemble them. There is also a little mumbo jumbo on the box about stirring up creativity etc but when you get down to it - take it apart and put it back together again! It is made of a metal that looks like an aged brass and is fairly attractive with a nice patina - the name obviously comes from the shape of the greek capital letter which it resembles. Nicely chunky with dimensions 5.7 x 5 x 1 cm and a reasonable weight to it. There is certainly something about it that makes you keep coming back to it to play with. It is rated by Hanayama themselves as a level 3 difficulty (out of 6) and by Puzzle Master as level 7 (Challenging) on their scale of 5 - 10. I would say that I would rate it slight easier than 3 / 7 for disassembly but for a proper understanding they have it about right. There is no solution in the box but it can be downloaded from here.

Dayan Gem V
got me some funny looks
I had been out and about with the current Mrs S buying her an early present to mark our 20th wedding anniversary and we had gone to York for a day out and a visit to a rather nice jeweller there. This journey required a train trip and thus we each brought with us something to keep us occupied for an hour each way - we can't possibly be expected after nearly 20 years to actually talk to each other can we? For her, a book and an iPod and for me it would have to be a few puzzles! You would not believe the strange looks I got from my fellow travellers when I got the Dayan Gem 5 out and proceeded to scramble it. So now you can picture the scene towards the end of the day - I had a very happy wife with me having spent a LOT of money on her and had earned a good few brownie points. The rules of marriage are that brownie points earned expire after 24 hours so you need to make the most of them asap! In the station waiting for the train home at the end of what ended up as a VERY expensive day trip, I dipped into my bag of tricks and brought out the Cast Delta - took it out of the box and started to play. I was jingling away as quietly as possible, expecting the inevitable acerbic comment or a laser burn when she actually said "Gimme that, I bet I can do it and prove that you're not very bright". In silent astonishment I handed it over saying just to take it apart and the usual puzzlers comment that no force was required. Now it was her turn to jingle. She quite quickly noted that the 3 pieces are interlocked inside and pulling them outwards just reveals a hint of the mechanism:

Pulls apart but still locked together
I felt fairly safe that she would struggle with it because Jerry had reported spending a whole evening "of pulling and tugging" and had felt the rating should be higher and Gabriel, having thought it was just a simple coordinate motion puzzle had also struggled for over half an hour - at this stage I had not actually done it myself. So she jingled away for a while and I rummaged around for another one for me to play with. Within 5 minutes she hissed "yessss" and there was a jingggg as the pieces sprung apart across the platform. I looked up in astonishment and saw her holding the pieces and pronouncing:
"You see! I am an undiscovered puzzle genius!"
I was flabbergasted! I didn't look too closely at the pieces so as to not spoil it for myself but did say that she had to fulfil my criteria to prove she understood it. So she promptly put it back together and handed it back to me - she refused to do it again saying that was unnecessary - she has proved how good she is!!! To this day, I still don't know whether it had been a fluke!

So next was my turn. With Gabriel's and Jerry's warnings shouting at me and the possibility of being humiliated by Mrs S (again!!) I had a look at it myself. I saw how well locked together it was and moving one piece at a time, I developed a picture of what was required. It is quite fiddly to get just right but, thank goodness, I also managed to take it apart in about 4 or 5 minutes. It needs to be set up just perfectly and then, as Gabriel had surmised, it is a very clever coordinate motion to disassemble. I love it! I have to disagree with Gabriel - he claimed that some force was required but mine is smooth as silk and a pleasure to do. It makes a fantastic worry bead and has accompanied to work for quite a few weeks now. Reassembly is very simple procedure.

Here is a picture of the pieces when disassembled - you may be able to work out how to solve the puzzle by looking at the pieces so I have hidden the picture - click on the button to reveal it if you wish:
Cast Delta - 3 identical pieces
I have handed this puzzle to quite a few of my colleagues and friends and all have solved it in a relatively short time. Interestingly, most did it once with ease (just like Mrs S) but struggled to repeat the process and only after doing it again did the Aha! light go on. I dare not force my wife to do it again because if it transpires that she can't do it then it may go badly for me!

Should you buy this one? Absolutely yes! It is very pleasant to play with and has a nice discovery moment. At $13 it's a bargain!


  1. See, this is the problem with some of the Cast Puzzles, and it's not the first time it has happened to me. The tolerances seem slightly different from puzzle to puzzle, so sometimes it's hit or miss with their overall quality. Remember the Cast G&G? That is one of the worst in terms of quality, as mine is now heavily scratched.

    1. It could be sample variation I guess. I'll let my wife continue to think she's a genius! It's safer that way. My G&G is also very scratched now.

  2. Congrats on 20 years! What a wonderful lady the present Mrs S must be =)

    1. It's not until next year but for various reasons we decided that the gift should come early! Shame the brownie points don't!

    2. there's still hope for Mrs S, yet!

    3. I hope so! But I'll not lay any bets on it! :-o

  3. Congrats on 20 years (for next year)! What other puzzles were in your travelling bag?

    1. Hi Saul,
      Thank you! I was carrying the Cast Delta, the Silent E, the Dayan gem 5 and a helicopter dodecahedron! People on the train must have thought that I was crackers!!!