Sunday 30 November 2014

Cast Galaxy

Cast Galaxy - my goodness it's a tough one to photograph!
Big box from Puzzle Master
This is the first puzzle from my recent Puzzle Master delivery! Yep! I couldn't resist it and just had to get some more wonderful toys to play with and to review! Recently the postman has had quite a bit of extra work and not just because Christmas is coming but because I have had a bit of an ahem.... rush of puzzles to the head! The big box from Puzzle Master will keep me busy for quite a few weeks.

One of the first that I couldn't resist ordering is one that I have "sort" of solved before! I have absolutely no recollection of how I solved it and, until now, have not actually owned a copy myself. The Cast Galaxy was designed by Bram Cohen (yes, the same brilliant man who produced Bit-torrent) and was entered into the IPP Design competition in 2013 where it received a Jury honourable mention (there are quite a lot of prizes in the competition and I really don't understand what they all are for). Shortly after the competition, it was announced that Hanayama had done a deal to have it mass produced as one of their wonderful Cast puzzles. Congratulations Bram! It seemed to take ages after the announcement to reach the market and when it did, it sold out really really quickly and so I had to wait a while to actually obtain a copy.

Asian packaging only
Oddly, it does not seem to have been released with the European/US packaging yet. The version I got was the only Cast puzzle to have come in the Asian packaging (this time a green box) and apart from the name, I have absolutely no idea what the instructions say. I have to assume that it says the same as all the others - that you have to "take it apart and put it back together again". If there are any other aims then I do not know what they are. As you can see from the box it is rated by Hanayama as a level 3 out of 6 and Puzzle Master has rated it as level 7 (Challenging) out of 10 on their own scale. Taking it out of the packaging, you are immediately struck by just how beautiful this puzzle is - it is shiny shiny shiny and because of all the curves and the way it moves it just screams out to be played with!

So how have I come to solve this before? Well Rox had managed to get an early copy of the puzzle (before it had even been released - 'cos she's special that way). She had had a great time playing with it and managed the disassembly in about 15 minutes but there she got stuck! She posted about it on her blog here and then also posted a fair bit on Facebook about it too - she got teased quite a lot about her failure but took the ribbing very well. She maintains that she is a rubbish solver and for her, the puzzles are all about the boyz that go with the toys! Having met the voracious vixen I can only attest that she really does love the puzzle boyz.... but she is a much better solver than she makes out. She attended the Midlands Puzzle Party that had been arranged for the week before last year's London IPP and whilst there had given the puzzle pieces to a few people to attempt a reassembly. Each time she received it back in pieces and then it was my turn! I got a bit side tracked chatting to Ken Irvine and left the pieces in my pocket. Only at the end of the day did I remember it and have a play. Imagine my shock when I reassembled the pieces in just 5 minutes! Rox had left so I couldn't gloat just then but of course, when we reconvened for the Brai at Allard's house I couldn't resist rubbing her nose in it! Jerry has enjoyed it and reviewed it here.

Boy! It wriggles about!
This was one of the puzzles I was most looking forward to in my Canadian package - I, of course, have no real memory of what I did all those months ago and after the initial photos were taken I set to. It really moves about in interesting ways and despite such extreme contortions it remains stably connected together. Like the other reviewers, it took me about 10-15 minutes to find the correct move sequence for disassembly. After the obligatory photo of the pieces, I had a cuppa and then tried to put it back together. This time I was aided by the fact that I had paid attention to the starting piece position and I reckon it took me about 10 minutes to reassemble it.

4 "identical" pieces?
Much relieved, I did it again and.... Uh oh!!! it wouldn't happen! The second attempt took me about 40 minutes and gave me panicky flashbacks of the teasing we gave Rox. So far I have now done this quite a few times and it is a real fun puzzle and still challenges me each time to get the lining up just right and then the specific sequence of moves just so. I still don't think I have managed to do it the same way that I did at the MPP but I'll carry on trying.

This is a brilliant design - well worthy of the prize in the design competition and will be accompanying me to work for a while to torture my colleagues. I agree with Jerry that it should be rated a half point harder than the 3/6 but don't let that put you off. If you need a solution to the Cast Galaxy then it can be obtained from Puzzle Master here.

In the meantime - I'm working on something that really is giving me a bit of a headache! Meet the scrambled Dayan Gem VI:

Ouch! My head and my hands hurt!


  1. Kevin, it was released within Europe in the red/black box. I bought it first week of this month at my preferred supplier in the North for € 12,50...yep, stiff price, but he's has to make a living to.

  2. Kevin would you believe I still haven't solved that beast completely. As for the Gem VI, I got my copy at a boys and toys when I returned from DCD. And guess what? It's on the shelf. Never to be scrambled. I'm rubbish at it. But I'm GREAT with the boys!

    Wait till you get your hands on the next cast puzzle. That one is a doddle to take apart, and in the acrylic form easy to reassemble. The blasted cast one....That's another story.

    1. Go on! Scramble it! You know you should!

  3. Gosh, the gem is amazing, like an ultra upgraded rubik cube!

  4. I agree completely, this is such a beautiful and elegant design, I enjoy simply taking it apart and putting it back together again over and over. My favorite Hanayama so far, but I only have 4.

  5. This is undoubtedly one of my favourites of Hanayama