Sunday 5 December 2021

Is it too late? Xmas Puzzles From Pelikan

9 puzzles arrive - the race is on!
On 23rd November a package arrives from the Czech republic...yes, Jakub and Jaroslav have done it again! They have been beavering away to produce a bunch of new toys for puzzlers the world over to enjoy as Xmas presents. I unpack, photograph and admire and begin to play - yes they are all simply stunning! What more would you expect from such masters of their art? After my initial email back and forth about which ones need me to write reviews, I am asked if I can write something about them all for their website and can I do it in 6 days? Gulp! Erm! probably not but I might manage something within 9 or 10 days. What was the reason for such awful dereliction of duty to the puzzling world and Pelikan? Well, there is quite a lot of work to be done in hospitals these days and at the end of that week, I had to go to Edinburgh to visit the outlaws. A journey from South Yorkshire to Edinburgh takes a minimum of 5 hours and this time took 7 due to road and weather conditions (England gets caught by surprise every single time it snows!) I would suggest that you subscribe to Ivan Danik's YouTube channel - he gets them a few days before me (due to being in Europe) and can advertise them faster than me.

But, I set to on them and managed to get most of them solved by Monday evening and sent off my spiel to Jakub for the website. They went on sale a couple of days ago and quite a few have sold out already. If my blog is the only way that you get to see them then I do apologise - I did show off a photo on Facebook and if you follow me there you might get advance notice.

Mini Lock 2

Mini Lock 2 by Christoph Lohe
Mini locks - a lovely pair

Minilock 2 is extremely cute, just like the predecessor. This delightful puzzle is not terribly difficult. It consists of a key, a shackle and 2 burr sticks. It requires only linear moves so do not try to turn the key. Like all of Christoph Lohe's creations, it is a lovely little puzzle to explore. Finding the correct path is more fiddly than tough but is a nice little diversion which at the end left me astounded at the precision required to make something like this move so smoothly. It also looks gorgeous and will be very nice on display in any collection. 

Just amazing precision - everything slides like a hot knife through butter
Reassembly from scrambled pieces is definitely possible (although it took me a whole evening). 

Christmas tree

Xmas Tree by Stephan Baumegger
I can't have a Christmas tree at home because the last time we did have one it was destroyed by the cats in a most upsetting manner. They are absolutely fascinated by it and whilst tinsel may look funny going in the front end, it very much is NOT funny when it exits the other 😱😱! This year, however, I shall have a Christmas tree on display in my living room! It will be on my is a beautiful design from Stephan Baumegger (go and explore his FB page here - it is wonderful). It looks like a burr puzzle but initial exploration shows that it is more like a wood chuck puzzle. A piece slides and then another and then I got stuck for a bit. After a close look at what was revealed I was able to proceed and after that quite rapidly had a pile o'pieces. The disassembly probably took me 10 minutes and was quite fun. 

Not really a burr - I classified it as an interlocking puzzle
The real challenge is to reassemble it with all the colours in the right place. The first couple of times I put it back together with great satisfaction only to realise that the light cubies weren't all aligned properly. It took me an extra 5 or 10 minutes of fiddling around before I got it right. This is a perfect seasonal gift and a nice little challenge for the new puzzler. 

Den cube

Den Cube by Osanori Yamamoto
This lovely cube is stunningly made from a maple frame and 3 interlocking bright yellow Garapa burr pieces. The aim, obviously, is to separate all the pieces from the frame but they are quite well interlocked and despite quite a lot of possible movements (all of which are beautifully silky smooth), in almost all directions, they seem impossibly intertwined. Being systematic allowed me to find one pathway that looked better than the others and on we go. This is very like untying a knot whilst it is inside a box that you can't quite see inside of. It's actually a lot of fun. 

I didn't realise until taking this that the 3 sticks were identical
Having taken it apart I tried to put it straight back together again and couldn't do it. I had forgotten one crucial part and had to work it out from scratch. Even that is possible for the experienced puzzler with a bit of thought and an extra hour on their hands. A wonderful challenge. I have now reassembled this from scratch a few times and it is quite a fun challenge - the disassembly will make it good for new puzzlers and the assembly challenge for experienced burr solvers.


Bison by Jack Krijnen
Not a model of the mother in law!
A first look at this puzzle leaves you absolutely stunned - it is breathtakingly realistic! The intricacy of the design and manufacture is incredible. I am amazed that this can be produced in any numbers and indeed, Jakub did tell me that it was very difficult to produce. Jack Krijnen designs some wonderful puzzles and this year he produced a very small run of these Bison puzzles and then allowed Pelikan to make some more. This is a new category for me. Kumike is a very old Japanese tradition but not something I've ever played with before (apart from very simple plastic puzzles as a child). My friend Frank is a world expert on these - have a look at his very extensive site here

This is a delight to play with
It is not a terribly difficult challenge but is an absolute delight to look at, hold and to dismantle. There is a nice surprise inside. Whilst not hard to do, there is something compulsive about it and I keep dismantling and reassembling it with a big smile on my face. It is not suitable for young children or clumsy people as the interlocking sections are quite thin and could be broken if inadequate care was taken. 


Ronde by Dr Volker Latussek
I am absolutely terrible at assembly/pattern forming puzzles and anything by Dr Volker Latussek is going to be a challenge so I approached this with some trepidation. The aim of this is to assemble the 5 pieces so that the puzzle creates 5 whole yellow (Garapa) cubes amongst the Wenge cubes and also incidentally is self supporting. All of the yellow cubes have been cut in half diagonally and attached to the whole cubes oriented in different directions. This means that an assembly appears to be progressing nicely and then suddenly the final piece positioning is either blocked or just won't meet up where it's needed. This could be solved by brute force trial and error but there's no fun in that and the best approach after a little experimentation is to think© and actually plan it out. It's not terribly hard but it's quite a pleasant diversion. This is suitable for kids/newbie puzzlers as well as experienced solvers. Dr Latussek contacted me to tell me that he intended this as a beginners puzzle but I still really enjoyed it.


Tutu by Dr Volker Latussek
This puzzle was designed by Dr Latussek as a tribute to one of the best packing puzzles ever designed and made. Volker and I agree that the 4L puzzle by Yasuhiro Hashimoto is an absolutely tremendous puzzle. I recall that the 4L took me a very long time and it was with some considerable trepidation that I set to work on this - at least 2 other packing puzzles from Volker remain unsolved by me so far (Euklid for Nick and Fermat). So, you're all wondering, how does it compare? Right up front, I have to say that this puzzle is absolutely FABULOUS! If you have solved 4L then it will not be quite as challenging but it has a couple of truly lovely Aha! moments. If you've never done 4L then expect a really fun challenge with thought and planning. It is also made perfect by the sheer quality of the woodcraft and the wonderful choice of woods used. 

Solved! No spoilers here.


Serpentarium by Lucie Pauwels
Another stunning creation by the incredibly prolific Lucie Pauwels. She always produces designs that are interesting to look at either as pieces or as an assembled puzzle. This has been made by Pelikan in Wenge with a Padauk box and is simply stunning in the depth of colour. Of course the woodwork is superb. There are 4 different snakes along with 2 smaller pieces (?eggs or ?food) to be placed inside the caged box. The entry is very limited and forming the 3x3x3 cube through such a small set of holes is a big challenge. 

Solved it
This took me quite some time as my intuition for where to place the small pieces turned out to be wrong. The solution level is not terribly high but it is a significant challenge worthy of any decent puzzler. It also will look gorgeous on display. I had left it in the solved state for a few days and it actually proved a considerable challenge to dismantle as well - I would suggest storing it unsolved.


We have two Mooses (or are they Meese?)
Both are absolutely gorgeous
Moose is another fabulous creation from Alfons Eyckmans. He has designed quite a lot of members of the Burr zoo and each one is a wonderful challenge. Most are not too horrifically difficult but are certainly a very decent challenge that will take all but the very best of burr solvers a pretty decent amount of time. As I write this for Jakub, I have spent 3 evenings working on it. I've made some decent progress (I think) but have not yet solved it. The puzzle is available in two versions. There's the standard one with alternating Maple and Purpleheart burrsticks and then there is the gorgeous version made using the same woods but created in a totally new way for Pelikan...the burrsticks are all made from Purpleheart and they are edged with bevelled Maple on every face. This produces a stunning looking puzzle. The moose hidden inside the 12 piece burr (both versions) is made from American Walnut. Obviously the solution is unchanged with each version but the look is extremely different and very striking. If you have a lot of burrs on display then the special version will need to be placed front and centre. I hope to solve this in the next few days. 

Well, a few days have gone past and I have still not managed to solve it - here's hoping!

I apologise for my delay - I hope that you all managed to buy what you wanted and will get them in time for Xmas. Mrs S is starting to get upset again because the puzzles are everywhere and not organised in any way (I tell her that I do know where they all are). I really need to find some time to tidy up and organise things better...better than strewn all over my desk. Maybe over the Xmas break? Except I am not getting a break - damn! They will just need to remain spread out everywhere. Whack! Ouch!


  1. Any tips on Den Cube?? I can’t get it back together after leaving it overnight. Can’t find any solve videos on it either!

    1. If you contact me using my contact page then I should be able to help you.