Sunday 24 April 2016

Hanayama Cast Hexagon

Cast Hexagon
I've spent a rather stressful Friday, Saturday and Sunday down in London spending many many hours sorting through my late mother's apartment and putting stuff for recycling, for charity and for the rubbish. She basically was a hoarder and never threw anything away.....EVER! I have found every birthday and Christmas card she ever received - not just from me and my brother but from anyone. There's every letter I ever sent her dating right back to 1985 when I went to Edinburgh University Medical school. I've found more shoes and handbags than even the present Mrs S has! Whack! Ouch! Yes dear, I know you will have to catch up! How many suitcases and holdalls does one woman need? What-is-more they're all full! I've made huge headway but it's a little heartbreaking to sift through somebody's life and be so brutal about what is kept and what is chucked/given away. I daren't even start on the photographs - there are 10s of 1000s of them! So I'm experimenting here - I'm taking a quick break from sorting to write a post for you! I have no wifi and only my iPad tethered to my mobile phone and using an app that is not the most intuitive to use. So here's hoping that we get something for you to read. After that there might be a wee drinkie coming my way - I think I've earned it!

Ooh! 3 new goodies!
It has been quite some time since I blogged about any new Hanayama cast puzzles - mostly because I haven't received any recently but a month or so ago I was contacted by a gentleman called Nic Picot who has started a new on-line puzzle store isn't the UK called Initially he didn't have the very newest ones in stock but promised that he would have. So I placed an order and waited. He got back to me a few weeks ago with the news and a bit of PayPal shifted. Three new toys suddenly came my way and I gleefully posted a picture on my Facebook wall and the Puzzle Photography page. I didn't want to zoom through them so I paced myself - I'm still struggling to get anywhere at all with the latest Cast Padlock. I am pleased to say that they were all well worth purchasing and I can vouch for the efficiency of Nic's site and his honesty. So if you are in the UK and wanting to buy any of the Hanayama puzzles have a look at His site. In North (or even South) America you are probably still best dealing with PuzzleMaster.

The cast hexagon is named for its shape.......obviously. Hanayama have rated this as difficulty level 4 on their scale of 1-6 and this correlates with PuzzleMaster's rating of 8 (Demanding) on their odd scale of 5-10. I think the assessed difficulty is about right or maybe it should be a 3/6 (7/10). Size is 6.2 x 6.2 x 0.7cm. The review on the PuzzleMaster product page was only 3 stars because he felt it was solvable by just random fiddling with no Aha! moment. More on that view later. Jerry reviewed it and certainly enjoyed it. The puzzle was designed by Mineyuki Uyematsu and won a Jury Honourable Mention Award at the 2014 IPP design competition (at that time named the "Claws of Satan" - and luckily changed names by Hanayama. It was released by Hanayama in early 2015 and has taken me until now to get hold of a copy - I really do apologise! There are 3 moving pieces made of steel with brass rivets and an anodised gunmetal grey frame and initially the 3 pieces look identical. After the first couple of movements you see that each is unique and this makes life complicated. The 3 pieces are formed of 3 layers of steel with tongues of metal between them and those tongues interlink the pieces together and severely restrict how they can move. It is effectively a flattened burr but one that requires rotational moves.....lots of them. As you see from the picture above after you find a way to pull the pieces apart abit, you need to find way they will rotate and then make space for them to move within the confines of the frame and allowed by those tongues of metal. In many places you are blocked from doing what you want and it is very easy to get lost in multiple cycles of rotational movements.

The aim becomes clear fairly quickly that you need to cycle the pieces into place and also orient them correctly to leave a hole the correct size and shape to allow a piece to enter and drop through. The reviewer on PuzzleMaster is correct in a way - there is no big Aha! moment, there is a small series of realisations as you discover what is an isn't possible and then also discover which piece is the first to come out. I spent a fair while concentrating on the wrong piece. There's also the issue of going around and around in circles and sometimes finding your way back to the beginning but at others of being hopelessly lost.

After about an hour a piece dropped on the cat's head and much to my and Mrs S' surprise he didn't even wake up despite the solidity/weight of the piece! She was watching me with the evil eye at the time because I was making small chinking noises and muttering profanities to myself. Having gotten the first piece out you would imagine that it is trivial to take out the remaining 2 but you'd be wrong. Quite a few more moves and a dance of the pieces are required before first one then the other come out. In all just over an hour was required for the first solution.

3 pieces and a frame - a very nice challenge
At this point you realise that you have a fist full of pieces and a frame and you only recall the orientation of one of the pieces! Luckily I did remember the order that the pieces came out. Reassembly proved a bit problematic because I'm not very bright and I'd just spent too long going round and round in circles. In the end I realised that I should first try and form the hexagon outside the frame to establish what way around they should go and then work on doing it in the frame. It took me another hour of muttering and dirty looks before it was back together.

Repeating the process was easier the second time but I still struggled and I reckon that it must have only been on my fifth or sixth attempt that I finally had the puzzle fully understood and could literally go straight from beginning to end and back again in the shortest possible number of moves. All in all, I really enjoyed this puzzle - it is well made, it's nice and shiny and a fun one to play with. I've not yet shown it to any non-hardcore puzzler's yet but I think it will be greatly appreciated by them too. Go ahead and buy it from Nic or from PuzzleMaster (or your favourite store) and enjoy! At $15CAD or £7.95 this is a bargain!

I hope this gets uploaded ok - let me know if there are any problems with the post. Now I'd better get back to work - starting on the spare bedroom with 2 huge cupboards full of yet more hoarded stuff - wish me luck!


  1. Nice. In honor of your remote posting, I'm making this comment on my phone. I also enjoyed hexagon. I'll be intetested to get your take on padlock. I'm a huge fan of it.

    1. Thanks Mike! As yet I have singularly failed to solve the Cast Padlock. I will be sure to let you know what I think when or if I do ever manage to solve it!