Sunday 13 January 2019

Stickman Apprentice's Takabakaro Puzzlebox

Rick Jenkins' Takabakaro Puzzlebox
You very nearly didn't get a post today! A nice lie-in occurred and then a gentle start to the day was brought to a jarring halt by the sudden sound of a cat puking. He likes to be in the bathroom with me whilst I shower and obviously decided at some point that he had eaten too much. Of course, a cat in that position has only one thing on his mind:

Every bloody time!
Yep, he shot out of the nice tiled bathroom into the bedroom and did what only a highly agile skilled cat can do... he managed a full-speed running barf! Quite a large area! Aaaaargh! The cleanup took so long that I almost didn't have time to write a blog post for you. Luckily the purchase of a fancy carpet cleaning device did speed things up a little bit and finally, after other chores were done, I had a little time to sit down.

The Takabakaro Puzzlebox is the first independent creation by the Stickman apprentice, Rick Jenkins. An email went out from Robert saying that Rick was producing his own design and offering pre-orders for a deposit. Knowing Robert, he wouldn't vouch for anything or anyone that was not going to be really good. He had previously stated that he had trained Rick fully and that he was capable of producing very fine work up to the Stickman name. My rule is that anything that has the Stickman name on it is something I would love to own and experience. I have obtained a number of Robert's puzzles and love them. In fact, I have still not managed to open the perpetual hinge or the Time for Tea boxes but do go back to them periodically and am happy to have them on my shelf taunting me.

Quite a nice Stickman collection (amongst others)
It would appear that Rick had considerable difficulty making these puzzles and they were delayed by at least a couple of months - mine finally arrived on Friday and I set straight to it.

I can hear Oli and Derek screaming at me that these are boxes and I should not own them if I don't collect boxes! BUT they are a Stickman adjacent puzzle which I do collect. Plus this one had a remarkable resemblance to a burr which I do collect. It also had a tool(s) that had to be used to solve it. Hence it also was a sequential movement and sequential discovery puzzle...again I do collect these. So plenty of reasons for me to own this puzzle.

It is certainly quite pretty and really rather solid - I have no idea what woods have been used. My initial fiddling revealed that there was a rattling inside and that a small stick would fall partially out through the slats on one side when it was tilted in a certain direction. No matter what position the stick was nothing else seemed to happen. Further investigation revealed that he had used at least 2 magnets in the construction - another piece could move but it did nothing else. After half an hour on Friday evening, I was stuck! Not terribly bright!

It keeps falling out but is not removable - what is it for?
I fell asleep in front of the TV and that was as far as I got. The following morning, Mrs S FORCED me to go to the gym with her in an attempt to fight the flab and achieve "the body slightly less horrific" - I use it as an excuse to watch the nice ponytails jiggling in front of me as motivation to keep going on the cross-trainer or stepper - unfortunately these often belong to a bloke which does come as a bit of a shock! Mrs S does not like me to spend too much time at the weekend puzzling and after the gym, she FORCED me to help do the weekly food shopping. It is truly a hard life in PuzzleMad headquarters! Whack! Ouch! Eventually, she allowed me some time in the afternoon to go back to my new toy.

I did the same thing over and over again for a while and when nothing new happened I moved on to inspecting other parts of the box. Aha! I found something new - it had been obvious the whole time but I had been unable to see it. After this, another move was possible which made a really big thing happen and then I got stuck again. Back to doing and undoing the same old moves over and over again...Nada! Think© - that didn't work so I tried another approach called "Look and Think©" which revealed something else which had been obvious the whole time - my brain needs an upgrade!

Now I had a tool (or two) and no idea what to do with it/them. What does one do when one has something that looks like a key? Yep, one pokes it into every hole one can find. It didn't seem to help much but yet again I went back to attempting the same thing over and over again without success...except just one time it worked and I made something new happen. This revealed a little bit of the "mechanism" and really got me thinking©. A few minutes later I managed to make more movements happen and the box was a rather unexpected way. It would appear that I have number 20 out of 40 puzzles in this series.

That's all you're going to get to see I'm afraid!
Having opened the puzzle, it was possible to see how simple the mechanism was but how it would require a very exact set of movements to allow it to be solved. It was just as much fun to work out retrospectively what was happening inside as I made the various movements happen. Rick had sent out an email with a picture attached showing the correct way to reassemble the puzzle (I had been careful not to look at it until now). My only concern seems to be that a full reset of the puzzle requires an extra outside tool to be used to position a couple of the pieces but this doesn't really detract from the fun of solving it.

This is a very nice first production from the Stickman apprentice - he has definitely learned his craft and it is certainly possible to see the marks of Robert on his workmanship. If you get a chance to play with one of these then go for it - it is really quite clever (unlike me). I still do not know what Takabakaro means though! Anyone have any ideas?


  1. The spelling would be a Japanese word takarabako meaning treasure box. Takara means treasure and bako or hako means box. It seems that the cavity is not big enough to contain a loaf of bread though.

    1. Hi Yukari, thank you for the translation. It looks like Rick might have spelled it incorrectly and hence my Google search came up with nothing.
      The cavity is very similar in size to several of your puzzles which are also not really boxes!

      Looking forward to your new designs this year - crocodile is on its way.