Sunday 2 December 2018

Pelikan Perfection

The current batch of puzzles released by Pelikan
I count myself as very VERY lucky! I am offered the chance by Jakub and Jaroslav of Pelikan Puzzles to buy (Yes, I pay for them!) the releases a week or so before they are released to the general puzzling public so that I can offer any last minute advice and so that I can write something for them (in my positively perfect English) for their website to help you decide what to buy. In the past, the release of the puzzles has been delayed because I have been a bit busy at work and unable to solve the puzzles and review them quickly enough. Luckily this time, Jakub caught me just as I had a week off work (primarily for the yearly maintenance stuff like Doctor, Dentist, Optician) and had some time to work on his wonderful beauties. This time they have released 6 new puzzles with a few in a number of colour variations to choose from (they also have a couple of beautiful copies of Stephan Baumegger's Excaliburr available as well.

So today's blog post is a quick romp through each of them to help you choose.

Tom Pouce

Tom Pouce
This rather simple design by Stéphane Chomine looks like a lovely little block of Purpleheart (in my copy) or Wenge which has been wrapped in a cross (mine is made of Ash). It is quite diminutive at 70 x 70 x 30mm. Initially, only one move seems to be possible and the next move is extremely well camouflaged - it took me another 15 minutes to find the second move. After that, there is a very nice logical sequence to separate the puzzle into 4 beautifully accurately made pieces. It's not hugely tough but is a very nice introduction to interlocking puzzles.

Incredibly accurately cut pieces!
The disassembly is a perfect puzzle for a beginner but an experienced puzzler will enjoy the slightly tougher challenge of reassembling it from scrambled pieces. This happened to me when one of the cats turned over in his sleep and knocked them over - it took me another 20 minutes to reassemble it. A lovely worry bead!


Triad is a clever idea from the very devious mind of Osanori Yamamoto (I now have a huge number of puzzles designed by him). It consists of 3 fairly simple pieces trapped in a cuboidal frame (it measures 60 x 60 x 48mm when assembled). Each of the pieces is a nicely contrasting wood - it is made of an American Walnut frame with Maple, Wenge and Merbau pieces. The interlocked pieces have an L shape appearing at one end and an I shape appearing at the other. With the frame being so open and there being so few pieces, absolutely everything is visible as you move the pieces about. Random moves won’t help you, this needs a plan to disentangle them and take them out.

3 fairly simple pieces - how hard can it be?
For those who like an extra challenge, the reassembly from scratch is definitely possible and a fun challenge. For me, putting it back together was the majority of the fun - make sure you leave it a decent amount of time so that you forget the sequence and it might take you an hour to get it back to the start!

Wing Hanger

Wing Hangar - you will not receive it like this though!
Wing Hangar is a clever idea by Osanori that Jakub and Jaroslav have created in either Purpleheart and Mahogany or Wenge and Mahogany combinations. They measure 72 x 72 x 48mm. There have been a number of designs like this recently and this one is a very nice addition to the family. I first saw a member of this family of puzzles at the Paris IPP when John Rausch was carrying it around with him and challenging anyone who would sit still next to him to assemble the 2 pieces into the cage - I tried it briefly and completely failed - I was determined to get hold of a copy when I could. I was lucky enough to buy a copy of King Box from Tom Lensch earlier this year:

King Box - made by Tom Lensch
My copy from Jakub arrived fully assembled and did not take long to disassemble having played with the others recently. I suggested to Jakub that these should be sent out in pieces with the challenge being to assemble them from scratch. The challenge of working out both orientation and also the nice dance of the pieces is a fun one which all puzzlers would enjoy.

Wing Hangar pieces - this is what you will receive.
The Wing Hangar is a different design to King Box but shares certain features, it is a fun thing for me to assemble both of the puzzles one after the other. You would definitely enjoy this one from Pelikan.

If you are interested here is what King Box looks like when assembled:

King Box finally together - it took me 2 hours!


This startlingly beautiful puzzle is quite small at 50mm along each edge and is available in Purpleheart and Apple or Merbau and Apple. I think it is one of the most gorgeous in the release this time.

It was designed by Klaas Jan Damstra who seems to specialise in producing puzzles with unusual shapes and very elegant solutions. Jakub and Jaroslav have outdone themselves with the construction of this puzzle - it is stunning! This one is the only one that I was not asked for a comment on - Klaas wrote this for them:
Addition is one of a series of designs with a mathematical theme. With three nearly identical pieces in a frame, 13 moves are needed to get the first piece out. As the solution level is 13.2.1 both disassembly and assembly should not be too difficult. Pelikan did a fantastic job on producing this design. Two beautiful versions are available; the first is made of purpleheart and apple tree, the second of merbau and apple tree. I hope you'll find this puzzle fun to play with.
It consists of a beautiful frame filled with what looks like + signs in each face. Opposite pluses are linked together across the centre of the frame. The shapes of the pieces are not quite as one expects and after a couple of moves, you have a pleasant surprise. The solution requires proper visualisation of the pieces and how they interact. Once the shapes are understood, then a very clever elegant wooden disentanglement using linear moves needs to be worked out.

Addition pieces
Having done it the "correct way", you should search for the bonus solution - I have found an elegant rotational solution as well which adds more to the puzzling value. At only €32 this is well worth an "addition" to your collection.


This oddly named puzzle is also designed by Osanori Yamamoto and has been stunningly realised by the guys at Pelikan. Available in 3 different wood combinations (Ovangkol and either Purpleheart, Wenge or Maple), it measures 60mm across each edge. It consists of 4 very similar pieces held in a rather unusually shaped frame. The quality of craftsmanship is so good that at the first viewing of it, I struggled to see where the dividing lines were between the pieces! Starting on the solving process there are quite a lot of different moves possible and finding the next key move proved a huge challenge to me. You cannot see much inside and I spent 2 evenings desperately hunting for this key move. Eventually, I found it and the rest of the disassembly was fun and logical.

YyYy pieces - very confusing if you lose track of orientation
Reassembly from scratch is a huge challenge if, like me, you inadvertently get sidetracked and forget how the pieces were oriented in the puzzle. A great challenge!


Teetotum, designed by the incredibly talented Alfons Eyckmans, is, in my opinion, the most difficult and also the most beautiful from this release by Pelikan. At the time of writing this blog post, the description on the product page is blank as I was not able to write a review as quickly as the others because solving it took me several days - it is a seriously difficult puzzle! This puzzle is made from Pink Oak, Wenge and Padauk and the use of slipfeathers is always going to make me drool. It measures 84mm along each axis.

Alfons' original
I already had a copy of this sitting in my pile next to my armchair in the living room - this had been a nice gift from Alfons himself several months ago and I had failed to solve it and put it down in my "to be worked on" pile. Getting a new copy from Jakub with a deadline to write a review forced me to work on it again.

A mixture of plates and sticks, this puzzle requires 27 moves for the first piece removal and there are plenty of blind ends to get you lost. At several points, the puzzle seems on the verge of releasing a piece but it just won't go. I needed to backtrack many many times with this puzzle. There is only one solution for the puzzle as it is sent out (although it can be reassembled in another 24 ways according to Burrtools which I needed for the reassembly).  I could find no rotational shortcuts for this puzzle at all. This puzzle is not for beginners but is certainly perfect for any burr aficionado or collector. It will look lovely in your collection.

This is a serious puzzle and not really for beginners to burrs - it took me 3 days of play to get it apart and I suspect a good bit of luck played a part. I think it is doable by anyone with some skill at burrs, however.

Teetotum pieces - putting it together will require Burrtools!

The latest batch of puzzles from the New Pelikan Workshop are stunning and will certainly keep you interested and having fun for a while. Only one of them should be rated for experts only (Teetotum) and the rest are very solvable by beginners too. They will all look great in your shelf and are very reasonably priced. Go buy whilst they last!


  1. Kevin, I recently 'solved' Teetotum, but with two rotations of the square pieces. Is this deemed a 'rotation'? Is this the same way you solved it? Just wondering if those two rotations are part of the intended solution, or if there's a way without rotations.

    1. The puzzle is very tough! It really should be solved entirely with linear motions, no rotations are allowed or necessary in the correct solution. Having disassembled it, you can create a burrtools file for it and then see the correct assembly and try again after you have forgotten what you've done to put it together. Good luck!

    2. Oh wow, thanks! I really thought I'd gone through every linear possibility, and thought those rotations were necessary. Ah well, back to it! Cheers!

    3. Hooray! I finally solved Teetotum today! I spent a week basically staring at it and going over the same moves, and it all finally clicked this afternoon. Thanks for correcting me on the rotational moves I made earlier!

    4. Very well done! Burrs are obviously your thing! On to the next one now! Hopefully not quite so difficult.

  2. My copy of Wing Hangar came unassembled, and I toyed with it for hours with no progress. The best I could do was an 8-move sequence that got me nowhere. And then, just yesterday, I happened to get the orientation and direction of pieces right, and it all slotted in within two minutes. After visualising how the pieces might fit together inside the 'hangar', and considering options for getting the two pieces past the two small blocks in the hangar, this felt more like trial and error rather than anything else. Just 'trying' the different orientation of the pieces and trying different moves to see which one work. It was nice to complete it, but not as much fun as the other Pelikans.

    1. I really enjoyed the Wing Hanger! It may be that you are relatively new to interlocking puzzles in which case an assembly from scratch can feel very difficult and almost like trial and error. Once you have more experience this puzzle becomes a very logical idea. Keep practicing!

      Remember that some experienced puzzlers have insisted that everything should be dismantled before it's played with!

    2. Oh yes, I'm very new! These are some of the first few puzzles I've picked up.

    3. Welcome to the community! It’s very easy to get hooked - be careful of your bank balance!

  3. Hello Kevin.

    I am hoping you could help me pick out?
    I see your reviews a lot for the Pelikan puzzles.

    All of the puzzles in this post are still available on Puzzle Master.

    Tom Pouce
    Wing Hanger

    Some puzzles from your preview Pelikan post is available too.

    Square Target
    3D Onat Contrast

    Some more are available too.
    So I am happy that I am not so late into this.

    I am very new to these puzzles, I don't even have one yet.
    Of course, I've had super easy burrs and kumiki from long years.

    I don't know if I want 90+ moves for first piece yet.
    But I don't think these Pelikan are of that type.

    Though I am new, I do enjoy challenging puzzles.
    And I do want to have fun.

    Which of the available Pelikan on Puzzle Master would you recommend?
    Wourie looks like a cool one, and seems small.

    The new to release puzzles look cool too.
    Especially Aracna because of the spider.
    Do I wait for the new ones to release?

    My budget is $100 USD though.
    So I think just one Pelikan, maybe can squeeze two for $100?

    Thanks, Kevin.


    1. Wow! That’s a long comment. This would probably be best as an email chat (maybe use the Contact page?) but I’ll try and provide a succinct answer. Picking just 2 if I only had a budget for that around $100 total, I’d go for Wing Hanger (make sure they send it out as a disassembled puzzle) and then add either Teetotum for a real tough challenge or Wourie if you prefer something not too tough but fun. Alternatively, if you’d prefer a non burr puzzle then my second choice would be Trap-R2 (although this is considerably more pricey) as it requires a fair bit of exploration and then thought to work out the sequence. They are all great quality as always from Pelikan.

    2. Sorry so much for the long comment.
      It meant to originally be an email instead.

      Very thankful for your help.
      I will get Wing Hanger for sure.
      Going to flip a coin for Teetotum and Wourie.

      I also just saw that the batch containing Aracna just dropped.
      Aracna is too much for me at the moment, and seems big size.
      Angelus is looking good with its small size.

      Thanks, Kevin.
      Very sorry again.


    3. No need to apologise!
      Enjoy the puzzles when they arrive!
      If Wing Hanger arrives assembled then be sure to get someone else to take it apart for you before you play with it.