Sunday 13 November 2022

Eric Fuller - A Cubic Tribute

My main 3 Cubic Dissection shelves
Of course! There are others strewn throughout my house including a good few in my to be solved pile.
My first!
The puzzling world was rocked at the beginning of this week when word was posted of the very premature death of my friend Eric Fuller at only 47 years old. He was an unhealthy influence on my finances right from the start of my puzzling career with my first small batch having been bought from him in May 2011 under very special circumstances - when I reviewed them I pointed out how amazing and helpful he had been and this has been the case ever since. 

Eric was a man of strong feelings and strong actions - and as described by Steve of Boxes and Booze, he was fantastic fun to talk to and even better to hang around with (I met him at the 2 IPPs that I have attended). heaven help you if he took a disliking to you but his natural state was to be happy and outgoing and to everyone I have talked to he was larger than life and one of the most helpful puzzle creators you could hope to meet. 

His website was named because Eric loved puzzles that seemed to be made of smaller shapes/dissections. He particularly loved burrs and when he struggled to buy more for his own collection he decided to make his own and quickly decided this was what he wanted to do for a career. Despite being told that the idea would likely fail, Eric went to work and with the help of some of the best craftsmen in the world in 2002/3 he learned the techniques to make wooden shapes with extreme precision and Cubic Dissection was born. It very quickly became one of the go to sites for puzzlers and collectors to visit for high quality and, especially important to Eric, affordable wooden puzzles. For me when I started out in 2011, I had little idea how expensive things could be and after my beginning with the only moderately expensive revomazes, I moved onto mass produced puzzles before Eric's offerings were mentioned to me. Let's just say that things went downhill for my finances after May 2011!

Steve discussed the fabulous boxes that Eric created in his tribute and I, to my shame, only own one of Eric's boxes...the Be-box and Reactor box combination which I was able to justify as being firstly an N-ary puzzle. 
Reactor box freed from Bebox
I hate to think how much of my money has ended up in Eric's bank account but I cannot complain...I have some of the most beautiful and fun toys to show for it and can say that I helped support one of the best puzzle craftsmen on the planet and helped him continue to make us all more objects of beauty and addiction. Here are just a few of those he created that I think show off the pinnacle of his craftsmanship.   

In my opinion, one series of puzzles that Eric created that shows off the incredible breadth of his skills are the New Old School burrs designed by the amazing Gregory Benedetti. He started out with the easier ones and stated that there were some that he never expected to be able to create but after pressure was applied by the puzzle community (we basically begged him to try), the whole set was finally brought into reality.

The NOS burr series in all their glory
The interior intricacies have to be seen to be believed!

The Ternary burr designed by Goh Pit Khiam (and improved by Eric) had been a huge object of desire for many puzzlers after the original limited edition made by Brian Young had long sold out. Eric managed to convince the designer to allow him to produce another set and we all pounced on it. In that same year Eric convinced Bill Cutler to let him make a set of his Binary burr puzzles as well. Let's just say that these were bought with alarming rapidity.

Ternary burr
Binary burr
Eric opened my eyes into the variety of 6 piece burrs that were possible by producing a set of captive 6 piece burrs which seemed very simple but were great fun to play with:

They look so simple and yet they are so much fun
Of course, you all know that I am partial to a burrset or 5 and my collection was hugely enhanced when Eric decided to make some for us poor addicted souls. He would not be content with just making the sets of sticks...he would always want to produce a beautiful and even puzzling box to store them in:
Penultimate Burrset
DDD Burrset
I started out in this puzzling catastrophe playing with some very complex maze puzzles and whilst they quickly were superseded by beautiful wood, there has always been a call to go back to a maze or two over the years and the very first "expensive" puzzle that I purchased was the Maze burr made by Tom Lensch and later I managed to get a copy of Derek's Rhombic dodecahedral version. Eric couldn't stand to be left out of such fabulous challenges and he started working with Derek to create a new and more challenging version. The final creation was one of the most gorgeous things Eric has ever created - the Split maze burr:

Split Maze burr
I still have a whole lot of the challenges to go through and that is before I start on the thousands and thousands that Derek created with his computer analysis.

After Andrew Crowell brought us a whole bunch of a sort of new type of puzzle that the community took to their hearts with huge enthusiasm, Eric wanted to jump on the bandwagon and produced a really lovely chunky and satisfying puzzle to solve, the BioTIC.

BioTIC doesn't look like much
28 moves and 9 rotations to assemble
The puzzling trend then really embraced sequential discovery puzzles and Eric not only jumped on board, he produced something really really special the Lock box (I know it's a box but I can have one because it is also SD!) I described this as a Masterpiece in thoughtful design:

Lock Box - a wonderful solve
Later that year, Eric went back to his very best craftsmanship - he combined a sort of Sudoku puzzle with interlocking linear pieces (dissections of a cube) with beautiful box making - the Reticulated cubes takes a very prominent place in one of my puzzle cabinets:

Just stunning and for someone addicted to wood, this is an essential collector's piece
Finally in this post and certainly not exhaustive but I have to actually post this. I recently solved the Akaki's picnic puzzle. This was Eric's contribution to TICs in a fancy box. The puzzling world has adored this series of puzzles and I only have Eric's version but it will be one of my top 10 puzzles solved this year.

Pieces all jumbled up here but beautifully made and enormously fun
Finally, bringing my collection up to date, I have to show off a couple of SD puzzles produced by Eric that I have not yet managed to solve: Jammed Gem and Pennytentiary look beautifully made as one would expect and according to the puzzle community, they are brilliant puzzles to work your way through. Above all, Eric knew that he could make more or less anything, but he his ability to spot something that was truly fun and challenging to solve rather than just yet another interlocking puzzle was what set him apart for the 20 years that he has been creating wonderful toys for us.

Jammed Gem

Rest in peace Eric. You will be hugely missed by a large community as well as your family and many many friends. I wish all the best to Steve, Tom, and Jeff who remain at Cubic Dissection and I hope that they can continue your incredible legacy. It has been a blast knowing you, talking to you and puzzling with you.
Rest in peace my friend.


  1. Wonderful tribute, Kevin.

    1. Thank you Mike, I think the community loved him and I should publish something saying so.

  2. fantastic tribute.

  3. So nice. Thank you Kevin!