Sunday 23 June 2019

Rotating on a GalacTIC scale

GalacTIC designed by Andrew Crowell and beautifully made by Brian Menold
I have not really managed to do an awful lot of puzzling recently - a lot going on at home and at work - life just gets in the way. I am working on the Trauma operating list all day today and this one puzzle was all that I managed to write about for you - in fact, it is all that I have managed to solve and fully understand this week. Hopefully, things will settle down and I will have something good for you next week.

Brian Menold (aka the Published Professor of Wood) recently released another batch from the fevered mind of Andrew Crowell. The world of the TIC (Turning Interlocking Cube) was, until recently a fairly stable one about which Bernhard had managed to publish a series of 3 articles encompassing the whole lot. Along comes Andrew and we are up to our eyeballs in TICs and Bernhard's articles need a major update. When Brian releases new stuff, I pay attention, they are well made of beautiful wood and he always chooses the right difficulty level and always chooses puzzles that will be fun.

The GalacTIC was sent out assembled (different to the others released the same day) and here is what he wrote about it:
"This is one of Andrew's few designs that he recommends as a disassembly puzzle. It is easy to see why when you see that the last piece takes 19 moves and many rotations to remove!! I found myself actually wondering if all of this was necessary when I was assembling these! I will say that the first few moves are rather easy, then things get interesting. And good luck getting it back together. Moves - with 10 Rotations"
How could anyone resist that? I know of at least one genius/sucker for punishment who asked for it to be sent out disassembled! I am not very bright and not very good at assembly puzzles and just went with the flow.

It is a lovely little puzzle (it is classic Menold in its' look) and nice to see that Brian has added some half-lap joints for strength as well as a brass pin for the most complex joint. The wood choices are a delight and this will look great on display.

I started with this shortly after the delivery arrived and spent a good few evenings on it and have to say that I am really glad that this was sent out assembled - there is no way on earth I would have managed it from pieces without first having taken it apart. The first 3 pieces come out fairly easily without rotations. It has been pretty humid here in good old "Blighty" for the last few weeks i.e. it has poured pretty much continuously for days! This has meant that the puzzles are a little tight and it took a bit of doing to find which pieces would move at all at first. After those first 3 pieces are removed then it starts to get interesting - we begin to need turns and then another piece comes out. At this point, with the last 3 pieces in place, I began to took me a whole evening just to release the next piece! Now just an "easy" matter of disentangling the last 2 pieces - one is a nice open frame and then the other is a relatively small solid piece with "sticky-out" bits. How hard can it be?

OMG!! The separation of the last 2 pieces took me over a week! There are so many turns that I began to get dizzy! It is rotation on a GalacTIC scale! Not only are there very specific and often hard to find rotations (one is really tough) but also there are blind endings after some rotations requiring backtracking! I got lost and in a panic a few times! After that week of toil I had my pieces:

GalacTIC pieces
Next, I did my usual (with some trepidation) and scrambled the pieces and set them aside for a night. I went back to the assembly challenge the following evening and had an absolute ball trying to reassemble it! Luckily after so much time on the disassembly, I knew the order for the pieces to be inserted and went straight to the difficult challenge of those first 2 pieces. Only one insertion position is possible but after that...hell! That was a struggle. A good 90 minutes of pain and swearing and I had it done. Phew!

This is an absolutely stunning design! I really do not know how Andrew does it - his mind is completely warped (I am sure that Mrs Crowell will vouch for that!) I am very grateful to Brian for bringing these marvellous puzzles to life for us and hope that more will be coming in the future. In my future, I see an attempt at assembling another batch of TICs that are taunting me in my puzzles to be solved pile! I just need some time!


  1. Warped mind... Yes, my wife would agree on that. Glad you liked the design. I have one 4x4x4 TIC with more moves than GalacTIC you might come across sometime soon... ;-)

    1. Ooh! Thanks for the heads up! I'll be watching for that one when it is released.

  2. This exoTIC post TICkled this criTIC. The chaoTIC wood sTICks this enTICer Andrew dreams up are crypTIC yet poeTIC!

  3. An excellent puzzle. I have yet to get the last piece out but not for lack of trying. Visually the puzzle is stunning to look at.

    1. Keep trying! It's very confusing but an amazing aha! moment when it happens! Then Scrabble the pieces and leave them a while - wait for the panic to take's great!

  4. Andrew has put 10 of his TIC designs in his Etsy store. The are stl files of the pieces so you need a 3D printer to produce them. If you have a 3D printer, it is a great bargain as he sells 5 designs for $20. I have printed out GalacTIC and HypnoTIC plus three others. Great fun!