Sunday 15 October 2017

Back to the Beginning Plus a Bit More

Locked Domino Tower
I'm a bit knackered today having spent 10 hours yesterday and 2 more hours today writing the Dec/Jan rotas for my department and also being on call for 24 hours today. So this post will be a quickie.....but hopefully as high quality as the puzzle I will write about.

Die Doolhof
This time I couldn't resist something that takes me back to the beginning. My puzzling began just about 7 years ago back in October 2010 (after a horrific occurrence at work) and I began blogging my crazy progress in March 2011. For me the puzzle that started off my "obsession" was the Revomaze, a hidden maze inside a cylinder. Those first puzzles were made of metal and very finely engineered. After I went through months and months and more months of effort solving the series - Blue, Green, Bronze, Silver, the defective Gold (which I did not write about) and also the fabulous Orange, I ended up stopping because the company wasn't able to fulfil the orders that people had made - this issue has apparently improved a bit now. But my habit now tends more towards wood (although I do love some seriously good metal like that from Wil Strijbos) so how great is it to get a similar hidden maze puzzle made just as finely in wood? Thanks to my South African friend, Johan Heyns, I have a Die Doolhof made from Wild Olive and a copy of Oskar's Domino Tower with a locking central piece which is also a hidden maze which must be navigated before the coordinate motion puzzle can be unlocked. It is beautifully made from Silky Oak and Sugarbush. Johan makes puzzles as his sole means of income and I always try to buy something from his offerings each time he makes them.

The mark of a Johan Heyns puzzle.....there is a special stand
My puzzle was held up by customs for several weeks and Johan was worried that his stand was the cause. One of the features of a Johan Heyns puzzle is that if they are not naturally flat or are best displayed at an angle then he ALWAYS makes an interesting display stand for them. This particular puzzle has a Warthog tooth as the stand. It is stunning and full of character but he did worry that the customs men had a problem with an animal tooth being sent in the post to the UK. Luckily when it finally arrived (after I had paid a ransom for the pleasure) there was no sign that they had even opened the box.

When I finally got some time to play one evening, I decided to start with the Domino tower (I will save the Die Doolhof until I am on leave in a week or so). I knew there was a locking puzzle but only when I initially investigated did I realise that it was a mini revomaze:

It's a mini revomaze!!! But not fully hidden.
It is not quite a revomaze as the maze here is far less complex, the maze becomes visible during the solve and there are no traps or resets inside. But it was a very pleasant experience to work my way through it and then remove the lock from the tower:

I then moved onto the Domino tower which I do have a similar type of puzzle from My friend Neil - the Hex stair:

I was familiar with how these puzzles work and it was just a matter of finding which bits to push in which direction. It is remarkably stable right until the very very end of the travel:

Perfectly stable
Just an extra mm of pushing and it breaks apart into 2 pieces and then another 2 after a further push. The quality and accuracy of the craftsmanship now becomes apparent!

The reassembly is also fun and being able to finish it off with the reverse solve of the maze is a nice icing on the cake for me. Well I have just finished in the nick of time - I will need to go in to the hospital in the next 30 minutes for a motorcycle crash victim......perfect timing. Enjoy the rest of your weekend everybody.


  1. Hi Kevin! I know that this post is quite old but I was wondering how much the shipping usually costs on a puzzle like this. Being a man of limited funds, I do not want to place an order for it and then find out that the combined shipping+tax will put me over my budget. As to quantity I was only planning on ordering this one. Thank you so much for your help!

    Noah P

    1. Hi Noah,
      These are coming from South Africa and so postage is not cheap. I paid $35 for shipping to the UK and I suspect the US may be more expensive. I would suggest you contact Johan and actually ask him what postage may be. He’s very approachable and will not mind answering that question. He cannot really afford to cut the fees for postage as he has lost his job and is trying to make puzzle craft into a living.
      As for taxes, I’m afraid I have no idea what the US authorities will charge for import duties.

  2. Ok, I will ask him and see what the outcome is. It's still probably a good deal because you get two puzzles for the price of one!

  3. It appears that shipping to the U.S. for such a puzzle is around 18$... which is very doable. I have just one more question (sorry for asking about so many things, but I am relatively new to the puzzle community) and that is how challenging is the maze/lock? I have never tried a revomaze and so have no experience in those type of puzzles.

    1. The mazes in this article are not particularly tough, especially as they become partially visible during the solve. Die Doolhof is the toughest and only took me about 20 minutes compared to a blue revomaze which took me about 6-8 hours. The packing puzzle inside the maze took longer at about an hour but then I'm rubbish at packing puzzles. These puzzles are more for collectors than purely for people after a hugely challenging puzzle. Johan makes other more challenging puzzles (burrs) too if you are really after something tough. I bought these for the beauty, the collection and to help Johan.

  4. Ok! I will consider this one as more of an enjoyment puzzle rather than a difficult puzzle. Thank you so much for your help!

    1. My pleasure!
      May I suggest you use my contact form to email me questions in the future? Some conversations are easier outside the blogposts and not necessarily useful to others.

  5. Sorry about that, I will make sure to ask questions in email form in the future.

    1. Not a problem! :-D
      Just might be easier without having to go via this page each time. A lot of the comments were potentially useful to others who may read this.