Sunday 16 February 2014

Man the Torpedo

Man the Torpedo
Having been to the first Midlands Puzzle Party of 2014 yesterday, I am absolutely shattered today! A good time was had by everyone and luckily there were people newer to puzzles than me so I was actually teased a little less than normal! At least this time I did not do anything too stupid to give them too much ammunition! Pictures can be seen here. Shane also made it and we tortured quite a lot of people with his Circle puzzle - I was very relieved to see that Allard's copy was considerably looser and easier than mine - phew! Confidence restored......for now!

I usually don't like to take along any puzzles that I am frightened to have someone else scramble, dismantle, undo or partially solve because I always end up with a good number to resolve at the end of the day. When I got home last night, I had 4 twisties, 2 N-ary puzzles and an interlocking puzzle to solve when I got home! Yesterday I had actually taken my Hexaminx crystal - a Pyraminx crystal converted into a cube shape by the amazing Traiphum. I have never had the courage to scramble it but decided that if it happened yesterday then that would be fine! But no-one scrambled it for me! Oh well, I'll just have to do it myself!

Pyraminx Crystal
Same puzzle in cube form!
So today, with my fatigue and having someone with a laser stare breathing down my neck to do some DIY asap, I will be posting just a quickie on another of my more affordable puzzles. I do like to keep going with the puzzles that are less expensive and within the reach of the more (shall we say) "normal" human being! I am well aware that I have been buying rather a lot of expensive bespoke puzzles over the last few years and many cannot do this. In fact one of my colleagues actually asked me whether I had developed some kind of terminal disease because I was buying things as if there was no tomorrow! I can assure everyone that I don't! I just am sort of.......addicted! Plus I am lucky enough to have a good job and no children! Hence all the toys are mine, MINE, MINE! Hahahahahaha! Blush! Ahem! Sorry for that!

This week the puzzle I am showing off is a very nice looking thing called Man the Torpedo from Puzzle Master's own metal puzzle collection (note this is a separate category for you to peruse to their wire sets). I own several puzzles of a similar type in wood which I got from the Puzzle pusher, Wil Strijbos and they are part of a very large series from either Hungary in wood or Japan in plastic. I have been thinking for a while that I should get a few more because they look so simple and yet each one is subtly different and requires slightly different techniques. Two of my favourites have been the Canary in a cage, cylinder in a cage and best of all the Dinosaur and box in a cage!

Canary in cage
Cylinder in cage
Dino and box in cage
Now I am always interested in trying new variants of puzzles that I have already and especially if the materials have changed. So when I saw that Man the Torpedo was a similar idea but in brass and aluminium I jumped at the chance - it is only $18! Puzzle Master have rated it as level 8 (Demanding) on their difficulty scale of 5 to 10 and I probably think it would be better rated as a level 7 but I can't be sure that it's not just because I have done a few similar ones before.

It arrived in a fairly large box and was very nicely presented. It looks very nicely made although there were a few marks on it but they were fairly easy to smooth out with my fingers. It could be better made but not for that sort of price - the aim obviously is to remove the spiky torpedo from the cage. No solution is provided in the box but it is available for download here.

So having got this out I first checked that all the spikes were attached firmly - I really didn't want to be caught out by a puzzle that all that was necessary was to unscrew or pull of a spike or 2! I then noticed that one of the brass cage bars was able to rotate and wondered whether there was any fancy trick inside. If there was then I couldn't find it so I continued on to examining the cage in detail to see if I could see anything subtle. Yes there is something subtle (much more so than my wooden ones) and it's pretty important that you notice it or you are going to struggle. Having noticed that, time to examine the torpedo and there is something subtle there too! Having noticed these two different features it was time to play properly and.......  it came apart in under 3 minutes!!!

Torpedo harmlessly sitting outside the cage
After the initial shout of yesssss! which propelled a cat rather painfully off my lap, I was a little disappointed that I had done it so easily. I wasn't really sure what I had done but almost no real effort was required. So after examining it and taking the photo I tried to reassemble it. Ah! Now we had some difficulty - I had no idea which part goes first or even where it goes, as well as no idea which way it turns and how it finishes. Definitely not terribly bright! A little experimentation and I had it half in half out but the final bit seemed to require some force! That cannot be correct - try again. Over the next 20 minutes of experimentation I discovered just how tight the tolerances of this puzzle has been made. There are definitely a couple of points where just a little tweak will force a part through but if you work at it and get the positioning exactly right then it just slides apart beautifully with literally just a fraction of a mm gap.

Despite my initial too rapid solve, I actually came to like this puzzle quite a bit! The experimentation phase and finally arriving at the exact correct solution was a very pleasant little diversion and certainly I needed to think but my brain was not aching like it was yesterday from a day of playing with unfamiliar puzzles at the MPP. So if you want something for casual play and handing to friends then this is really pretty good. It's very robust and won't break the bank (unless you throw it through your bank's window!) Do warn people that they will have grey fingers after playing! Buy it here.

Now I suppose I had better do that DIY. :-(


  1. I am a sucker for metal puzzles with a small price tag! I am a newbie puzzler and my collection of Hanayama puzzles has grown at an alarming rate. I first saw "Man The Torpedo" on another blog about a year ago but couldn't find it for sale. PuzzleMaster showed it as discontinued and there were no copies available on eBay. I just found your blog over the weekend and it reminded me to do a search for it again. Someone on eBay just put a bunch of them up for sale at a very good price in case anyone is interested. Mine should arrive in a week. Can't wait!!

    1. Good luck with it. This is a great way to start with the puzzling habit and it does escalate rapidly. Next you'll find wire disentanglement puzzles and then some burrs. Then it will be boxes and then expensive sequential discovery puzzles. Soon after that you'll find yourself surrounded by your toys with a very pissed off wife and muttering "My preciousssssss" to yourself.
      It all happened to me (apart from the boxes bit)!

    2. I've got to say I chuckle every time you mention your wife. She reminds me of my own, although looking through photos of your puzzle collection it seems she's is a bit more tolerant than my "She Who Opens All Of My Parcels Before I Get Home From Work".
      Actually, she's not so bad. I am expecting my Christmas present to be delivered tomorrow. I won 3 auctions on eBay for some Wil Strijbos puzzles that she "allowed" me to purchase as her gift to me. Now I just have to wait until Christmas before I get to enjoy them!
      (Already searching for a puzzle she can buy me for Valentines Day...)

    3. It's good to know that I'm not alone in my fear! You definitely need to train her out of opening all your parcels though. Electroshock therapy???