Sunday 11 October 2020

He Freed Me...Again

 This Time From A Box

Free Me 8 aka "The Reptile Puzzle Box"
it's a box this time
Joe Turner has created a few (6 so far before this one was released) fabulous sequential discovery puzzles and I was lucky enough to get hold of a version 5 in 2018 which made it into my top 10 puzzles of the year. It had lots of steps with quite a few moments of fear where a puzzler is left wondering whether the move he is considering is really a good idea and is going to lead to a trapped piece or lost ball bearing. I loved that frisson of fear!

As a previous customer, Joe contacted me to ask whether I would be interested in buying a copy of the Free Me 8 - this would allow him to gauge how many to make and avoid disappointing too many puzzlers (I am aware that recently the competition to buy certain puzzles has been extremely high leading to desperate puzzlers overwhelming websites). Now, you may be wondering what happened to number 7? Well me too! It would seem that Joe has had trouble with the tolerances of Free Me 7 and has had to put it on hold until next year to allow him to complete this project as well as some personal projects he wanted to make before Xmas this year. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance of obtaining another of his SD puzzles. However, I had to delay his sending it out to me...I had spent quite a lot at that time and Mrs S was starting to get urges to set fire to things again. I asked him if he would wait for a few weeks until after he had returned from his summer holiday before sending it out and of course he was OK with that. This probably saved me from a very painful insertion of puzzle into an orifice and then being burned alive on a pile of my puzzles. Unfortunately by delaying the arrival I had to endure watching pictures of people receiving their toys and tales of how good it was.

Finally it arrived and I was able to look and play. The first thing that you will notice is that it is a BOX! OMG, Joe has forced me to buy a box when I don't collect boxes - luckily it is a sequential discovery box rather that a traditional box and hence perfectly OK for me to add it to my collection.He has apparently wanted to make a box for several years and this was his chance having taken a class last year. He made quite a few (100 out of Cherry for sale and another bunch from Walnut or Maple for family and friends) - it took him 9 months from idea to finishing production.

As with the previous puzzles the coin is visible
These are a LOT more complex than the previous Free Me puzzles with 84 parts to each. The card that comes with it tells the puzzler to open the box and free the coin (just like before) and also informs that no force, no banging, no spinning, or use of gravity tricks is required. Thoughtfully he also added that no burning is required which I insisted on showing Mrs S.

On top of the box are a bunch of cute laser cut and etched lizards which will no doubt play a key part in the solution. Helpfully, to ensure nothing gets broken there is a slip of paper informing that the small lizards are fixed and not to be manipulated. The finish is beautiful and there is nothing obvious to do at first apart from to fiddle with the lizards and see what they do. Trying not to give anything away, it becomes obvious straight away that lizards are well attached but have some play in their attachment. Trying not to snap them, I make 2 discoveries and promptly get stuck. I discover magnets here and there and have no idea what to do with them. Things can happen but it seems to make no difference. I am stuck after about 10 minutes! I am rubbish at boxes. I put it down for a little while and come back to it later. Aha! That is interesting - I have found the third move and now other things seem to be possible. I play with magnets again and it is open - but NOT beaten.

I have opened the box but the coin is still trapped.
At this point I reveal my inexperience at boxes...I am stuck yet again. This time I am stuck for several days. I manage to have another Aha! moment a few days later and get somewhere but it still isn't complete.

There is a real twist to this puzzle box which I don't want to reveal for fear of spoiling things for people who follow. Needless to say, after I did the next step I got a giant big surprise and realised that I had a whole extra stage of the puzzle to solve. This was entirely unexpected and a huge bonus, there are many layers to this puzzle which just keeps on challenging you until you finally manage to complete it. Absolutely brilliant voyage which kept me going for over a week in total - well worth the wait.

Coin out!
If you get a chance to obtain a copy or even just play with one then jump at it. The workmanship is great and the mechanisms very finely tuned. It is definitely a candidate for my top 10ish of 2020. It may have been a completely awful year for life and health and the world's economies, but it has been a really great year for puzzling.

Now I need to have a little play with something that is definitely NOT small! Big Steve and Ali's latest creation (the KickStarter thatI discussed here) has been brought to life and has arrived Chez moi. Mrs S was distinctly unhappy when the delivery driver handed her the package - 4lb of "metal mayhem" is really not her idea of something good and amongst her grumbling she threatened all sorts of physical violence upon my person including a hefty Whack! Ouch! and much more interesting, once she had seen the contents of the package, she decided that next time she meets Steve or Ali she wants to see how much of the puzzle can be inserted inside said gentlemen. Luckily for them, I will store it unassembled so that there won't have to be any insertion of any pieces sideways! As a nurse she has the training and the anger to get these pieces ALL the way up! 

A lovely carrying case
I think those brass pieces will completely fill Big Steve's descending colon! 
I am not too unhappy about her plans...for once, they don't involve pain for me and it will be fun to see Steve suffer after what he did to my happiness cubes last year! Hopefully I can drag her to an MPP after the pandemic has run its course. I'd start running now if I was you mate! 😃

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