Sunday 28 December 2014

Owl in a Cage

Owl in Cage - sooo cute!
This is just a quickie today - I have spent the last 2 days working on my end of year summary for your delight and delectation! Every year I (and many others) get an email from Peter Hajek who collates responses on the IPP community's thoughts on their top 3 puzzle acquisitions of the year. He produces a wonderful book from everyone's replies which he distributes the following year. His email always forces me to get off my lazy backside and actually think about what I have bought and what I enjoyed. It's always a struggle to produce a top 3 for him and I then continue to produce a top 10(ish) list for you all to read about on New Years Day. It has seriously taken me one hell of a long time to write that post and thus not much time left for this one - Mrs S has just started to growl at me about the time I've been spending on my blog and I really don't want to suffer another laser burn for New Year!!

A very long time ago I bought a few "caged critter" puzzles, made by the Czech company Hryahlavolamy, from Wil Strijbos and really enjoyed the rather new challenge. So much so that I have in my collection the Canary in Cage, the Cylinder in Cage and the Dino and Box in Cage as well as the more conventional metal Man the Torpedo puzzle. I wrote about them here. At some point a few years ago there was a whole series of similar, very gaudy, plastic Japanese caged puzzles which I did not buy at the time (for which I am now kicking myself).

My Canary in cage got damaged by a cat some time ago but I have managed a repair and put it away for safety. When perusing Puzzle Master for my last order I noticed that they had a few of these puzzles in their "other wood" section. They have the Canary in Cage for $15, the Dragon in Cage for $20 and the Lion in Cage for $20. All are rated as 8 (Demanding) on their scale of 5 to 10. I ordered the Owl in cage (which was also $15) and which has subsequently disappeared from Puzzle Master's website. I suspect that I must have got the last one! I dare say that with these having been imported from Eastern Europe, they may be in limited supply so if they are of interest to you then get the last few quickly. Hopefully the owl will be available again in 2015.

It arrived simply wrapped in cardboard with bubble wrap around it ensuring that it did not get damaged in the post. The instructions were simply to free the animal from the cage. Made entirely from wood, the cage is 8.8cm tall and 5.6cm diameter and the owl is a rather charmingly crafted and quite lifelike.

The only movement possible is that the owl can wiggle a bit within the cage - it seemed to be much more tightly packed than I remember the canary having been - and just as before the wings were able to rotate (both together) around the shoulder joints. The tail and beak are particularly prominent and cause a lot of trouble with the disassembly.

I sat down with a nice cup of coffee and some Xmas toffees (chocolate coated, of course!) and had a very pleasant hour this afternoon figuring it out. Worryingly, my cats were watching me with big beady eyes and I suspect that the owl may suffer the same fate as the canary did - especially as they seem to be absolutely off their heads on catnip just now!

I am not sure how others approach these puzzles - I have a similar approach to burrs which a number of us have been discussing on the Facebook Photography group - I just push and pull things aimlessly until I achieve something. I did notice something useful about the cage so it was not totally random but even knowing where the exit was going to be did not make it particularly simple - it was still a bit of a struggle to work out how to remove the bird and I was really quite pleased with myself when I succeeded.

Let's hope the cats don't get him!
I have completely forgotten what I did to take it out - I went straight off to write this review! So I guess I will have a nice happy time trying to put it back in the cage before it gets ambushed by the cats!

I do think that these puzzles would actually make a really nice collection to display and may well order some of the others in the future. They are not too difficult and are perfect for new puzzlers and guests to your house (do be sure to tell them that no force is required or allowed).

I really hope that you will pop back to my little place on the web on New Years Day for my top 10 puzzles of 2014 - I will be posting at midnight GMT! Let me know whether you agree with my choices.


  1. Kevin, nice write up. A very nice puzzle also.

  2. this puzzle is extremely painful but extremely rewarding once understood

    1. Painful? That's a very odd way to describe it!