Sunday 3 September 2017

Positively Perfect Puzzles From Pelikan

Recently added to the Pelikan website
Today I wanted to show off a few of the new puzzles that went up for sale on the New Pelikan Workshop store. This recent release cements my view that Jakub Dvořák and Jaroslav Švejkovský are currently the best wood craftsmen making puzzles in the world. I am afraid that 2 of the puzzles that I will be highlighting have already sold out. I do hope that Jakub will consider making some extras because they are absolutely terrific.

Camera Conundrum designed by William Waite
The Camera Conundrum was designed in 2002 by William Waite (William's current store is called Puzzlemist and has a lot of very interesting puzzles for sale which I really should buy from soon) and won an "Honorable Mention" at the 2003 IPP in Chicago.

This absolutely stunningly beautiful puzzle looks like a Kodak camera from my youth complete with the flash cube on top (see picture right) and I guess would be classified as a Kumiki with seven interlocking pieces. Apparently it is also a box as the first challenge is to find a secret drawer - I will choose to ignore the box aspect as you all know that I don't collect boxes but if a puzzle has a cavity then that may be considered a bonus. The locking mechanism of this puzzle is truly ingenious and sequential. Jakub has added an extra mechanism to add to the difficulty by disguising the first move. After you have found the first move there are a further 5 moves to reveal the drawer/cavity and then another 2 moves before the first piece comes out. After that everything will come completely apart. Once apart you can see the truly impressive workmanship that has gone into making these puzzles - there are about 50 individual pieces of wood that have to be glued together to make the completed puzzle.

Just look at the workmanship in these pieces!
Whilst not hugely difficult, this puzzle is an absolute delight to explore and the reassembly ensures that you truly understand how it locks. A big bonus is that it is also beautiful enough that Mrs S will let it stay on display.

Twisted Cube 3x3x3
Next up I want to focus on Lucie Pauwels - she has her own blog/website here and is an extremely prolific designer (hence the name of her site) who seems to show off a new design every single day on her Facebook page. I actually bought several of her "Turning interlocking cube" puzzles from Bernhard at IPP which are all very imaginatively named:

Knobbel 24
Knobbel 26
Knobbel 28
Knobbel 41
Lucie designed the Twisted Cube 3x3x3 and Jakub obviously saw potential in it. Lucie wrote this about it:
"The idea for the twisted puzzles came to me out of the blue, there were several 2 x 2 x 1 blocks on my table, and without thinking I stacked them onto each other in angles of 45 degrees. I found the shape of the 5 layer tower interesting and wondered if I could divide it into pieces and make a puzzle, this worked fine. Later I made a 3 x 3 x 3 variation, also with 45 degree angles, a nice puzzle too. A few days later I had a new idea to put each layer of the 3 x 3 x 3 cube in a different angle, at 30 degrees. The result is a fun puzzle, that looks like a Rubik's Cube, but can not twist, it's an assembly puzzle."
This puzzle has been made by Pelikan in two varieties - my copy is Wenge and Maple but it is also available in a startlingly bright right Massaranduba and Maple. It is absolutely stunning to look at and will look very interesting on display.

I was delighted when I took it out of the box - as it really does look like a twisted Rubik cube. I initially thought that it might be a burr or disassembly puzzle which I am not bad at and as I picked it up my jaw dropped when my grip of it dislodged a piece. At this point I realised that this was going to be a significant challenge for my meagre assembly skills. One evening after dinner I sat down with Mrs S for some TV and puzzling and proceeded to dismantle it without taking note of how it came apart. Each piece just pulls away in turn until you are left with a nice pile of bits and for me at least a great feeling of trepidation - have I said before how bad I am at assembly puzzles?

Oh boy! I'm in trouble.
I left the pieces a while after scrambling them and then set to making the twisted cube. This is quite a serious challenge (at least for me) as most of the pieces won't fit together at all but there are also several false assemblies that lead to an almost assembled cube but the last piece cannot be placed and a retry is required. My first attempt took me about 30 minutes and, to my shame, 3 subsequent tries have also taken 30 minutes - I never seem to learn. I could say that this is a new twisted version of the Half hour puzzle by Coffin (except the real half hour puzzle took me an hour - I try not to talk about the Soma cube and how bad I am at that!) I have to say that for 29.00€ this puzzle is an absolute bargain and very well worth buying. It is still available just now.

Identical twins
The Identical twins unfortunately sold out almost straight away after going on sale and I do hope that Jakub considers making another batch as everyone should own this marvelous puzzle. This was designed by the very prolific Osanori Yamamoto and was the winner of the puzzler’s award at the recent IPP in Paris. Consisting of 2 very simple shapes and a basic cuboidal frame, the aim is to assemble them all together. It is immediately clear that rotations are required (this is something that Osanori Yamamoto seems to specialise in). It only requires 8 moves to assemble it but they are wonderful to discover. Brian Pletcher has recently reviewed all the design competition puzzles and also seemed to enjoy this one

I played with this in the design competition room in Paris and was truly delighted with the elegance of the movements required. It is just the right difficulty level with a truly wonderful Aha! moment. It is beautifully made with absolutely perfect fit by Pelikan as always and here is made from Wenge and Apple.

Doesn't look like much but when used as an assembly challenge it is truly delicious!

Jakub sent my copy out as the assembled puzzle and when I wrote to him with the review for his store I suggested that it really should be sent out the way it was presented at the IPP design competition - everyone should get the chance to discover the Aha! moment during the assembly. The disassembly is an easier puzzle and Jakub agreed. All of you who have purchased it since I wrote my review will just receive the 3 pieces. I hope you all enjoy the wonderful challenge.

I still have a few more of the Pelikan puzzle set to solve and review. I will let you know my thoughts as soon as I can. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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