Sunday 26 August 2018

Some Pelikan Beauties

Trap R2
Last week I showed off the recent delivery of puzzles from my friend Jakub, one of the co-owners of the New Pelikan Workshop. He lets me purchase them in advance and as a service for him I solve them as quickly as I can and write a paragraph about some of them for him to put up on the description page for each puzzle when they go up for sale (it depends whether the designer can speak English and feels capable of writing something themselves). The last few times I have been aware that me being so busy has caused a delay in the puzzles going on sale. This time I ignored everything I was supposed to do around the house to ensure that I did not delay the posting of the puzzles for sale and I had my spiel written in just a few days. I try to put my reviews up on my site to help you decide what to buy too.

The first puzzle for me to review is the Trap R2 by Osanori Yamamoto. My copy is made with Purpleheart but it will also be available in an equally beautiful version with Wenge. When you think of puzzles by Osanori Yamamoto you instantly think "rotations". With Trap R2 you won't be disappointed but this puzzle is very different to any other puzzle I have seen. Initially, it looks like a couple of solid boards joined at the corners with a small wide cylinder between them. The cylinder can move about fairly freely with some interesting limitations but that is it. With a little curious fiddling, you will find an unexpected move or two which opens up other possibilities. These unexpected moves can be in several directions and will lead to blind ends. It is extremely unlikely that random moves will end up with this one coming apart. I have to say that this puzzle needs a good bit of careful exploration to get a complete mental image of the shapes involved and then proper planning to arrange them so that disassembly is possible. It almost needs a full mental understanding of the shapes inside to be able to solve it. The first part has to be done blind which makes it a fun challenge. The Trap R2 is an absolutely marvellous puzzle -  it is totally unlike anything I've seen before and a lovely challenge - for me it has made a great worry bead for the last week. As always with a puzzle from Jakub and Jaroslav, the fit and finish of the puzzle is simply perfect - you cannot see any seams at all in the assembled puzzle and they appear to come out of nowhere when things are pressed in the right places.

The pieces are hidden behind the show/hide button - if you are thinking of purchasing one then DON'T look until you have solved it:

Square Target

Square Target
Square Target is another puzzle by the amazingly prolific Osanori Yamamoto, which will, of course, require rotations. There are 4 pieces in a frame and the hole is shaped such that they can only be extricated after turning them to the correct orientation. Having said that, the main challenge of this puzzle is actually to find the correct linear moves to make space for the rotations to occur and working out which order to remove the pieces. This puzzle has a fairly complex set of moves to make enough room to let the rotations/removal occur. The reassembly is also a challenge...especially if, like me, you don't pay attention to all the moves you made in the dismantling process. It is very clever and beautifully made by Pelikan. This is a perfect choice for someone just starting out with puzzles that require rotations.

With this one, I can show the pieces as that will not give too much away:

Pieces of Square Target


The third puzzle by Osanori Yamamoto could easily be called the "Hashtag" - 4 very simple shapes are assembled on a frame in a # shape and need to be removed after arranging them into the correct orientation and position. As one would expect from Osanori, rotations are required...quite a LOT of them! This is trickier than one would expect as the sliding movement and rotation of the pieces is very blocked and requires quite a bit of planning. This one took me the longest time of the three new puzzles. Eventually, I succeeded in my disassembly only to spill the carefully arranged pieces off my sleeping cat! Needless to say, the reassembly from scratch is a huge challenge and involved a good amount of swearing and the odd Whack! Ouch! It is, however, perfectly solvable with thought - the reassembly took me a good hour. A great idea and a worthy challenge to any puzzler.

Pieces of Shield


Alfons Eyckmans designs puzzles ranging from fairly simple to massively complex and Pelikan has chosen just the right level with this one - only a very small number of puzzlers want to work on burrs with 40+ moves to take out the first piece (I personally really struggle when the 1st level goes above 30). Wourie is perfect for the puzzler who is either a beginner to burrs or an enthusiast. It looks stunning in the four different woods and the mix of boards and sticks are interlocked with a fun but challenging sequence which has a blind end or two - it actually took me a good 20 minutes to find the first move. Having found the first move, the remainder of the disassembly is not too hard but then the reassembly becomes a real challenge if you scramble the pieces and leave them a while. It is definitely solvable as an assembly puzzle but maybe that part should be left to experts. The fit and finish of the puzzle is wonderful with moves that are silky smooth - it is perfect to display in any puzzler's collection.

Pieces of Wourie - looks easy? Think again!


Rotacube by Lucie Pauwels
Bernhard's version
Rotacube is another delightful challenge by the very talented and extremely prolific Lucie Pauwels (pwbp shows only a tiny fraction of her designs). I originally had the Rotacube drawn to my attention by the King of the Turning Interlocking Cubes (TIC), Bernhard Schweitzer who contacts me occasionally when he has discovered and made a new TIC and offers one for me to play with. Quite a few months ago Bernhard sent me a copy of Rotacube which I played with, enjoyed and forgot about after a month or so. I remembered about it when Jakub had his Pelikan version for sale. I was interested to see how Bernhard's version, I'm not terribly bright, and had forgotten the solution completely! I think that it does benefit from the several types of wood used by Jakub but I do prefer Bernhard's rotated top cubie as a handle.

There are a couple of simple but unusual moves to remove the first 4 pieces and with the Pelikan version the fit is so perfect that it feels like one is held in by suction! Once the 4 simple pieces are removed then one is left with a cubic frame made from 2 identical pieces which require multiple rotations to be separated. It is a lovely sequence and not too tough. Even after scrambling and leaving the pieces the reassembly is not impossibly challenging and even suitable for beginners to TICs. This is a very nice puzzle and well worth adding to your collection.

Very clever pieces

The remainder of the Pelikan puzzles are yet to be solved. Keylock has been produced for PuzzleMaster in the past and I am not sure whether this production will also be sold by Pelikan direct. It is a very tough burr (level designed by one of the IPP design competition winners, Stephan Baumegger.

The Droid is another fascinating puzzle with a mixture of boards and sticks by Stephan with a level of which also was made for PuzzleMaster and I am not sure whether it is being made available from Pelikan this time. My copy below came direct from Stephan - it took me 5 months to dismantle it!

The 3D Onat Contrast is yet another complex burr by Stephan constructed from some very simple burr sticks into a beautiful cubic design - it has a moderately difficult level of which makes it less suitable for beginners but probably still do-able with some perseverance. It is stunning and I couldn't resist buying a copy myself:

This should be fun!
Excaliburr (available from PuzzleMaster) is another fantastic puzzle designed by Stephan and is definitely not for beginners! At level, it is aimed at real burr enthusiasts or people who are seriously addicted to everything related to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I own an original from Stephan and as yet have never solved it! I might have a bit of a problem though!

Swords in puzzles!

Keep an eye on the Pelikan site as well as look at PuzzleMaster to see when these new toys come up for sale. There is something for everyone here - beginners and burr experts alike will enjoy these puzzles which are, as always, stunningly made!

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