Sunday 26 May 2024

Cast Planet

Hanayama Cast Planet
Today, is another quick puzzle review. I had actually failed to solve anything all week. I should have managed it with ease because Mrs S was oop North again for a week and I was home alone with a cat who seems to be steadily improving on his Prozac (even if the cutting of the white powder with a razor blade is giving me headaches). Not only was I far away from the demands of "She who must be flinched from", but I also spent 3 days sitting on my arse attending an on-line conference from 9-5 (note to the Americans - it's an arse not an ass because an ass is a donkey and there's no room in the house for one of those). You might have thought that I could have used my conference time to play with one of my toys but, alas, I am definitely a uni-tasker. If I play with a puzzle, then I seem to have no recollection of what has gone on in the conference...believe me, I tried. It may have been that I attempted the wrong puzzles? I have begun playing with the Box of Celts and so far failed to find even the first step. Plus my copy of Dee Dixon's gorgeous Vertigo puzzle arrived and I similarly failed to find any moves on that as well.

Box of Celts by Numbskull puzzles
Vertigo by Dedwood crafts
It may well be that these are just too complex to be done in a week...especially by a man of very little brains like me. However, it would have been nice to at least find the first move on just one of them before being forced to look for something simpler to solve!

Towards the end of the week I thought I had better do at least a couple of the chores that had been set as a target for me by "She who frightens the sun into setting every night". Part of those chores involved housework and forced me to look in my office. I have been avoiding that room for a while due to the unholy mess. Glancing at the desk revealed a couple of other unsolved but simpler puzzles that had just slipped my attention and rather than tidy said office, I went through the "catastrophe" to pick something for today... hence the Cast Planet as the subject of my blog.

OMG! Luckily, "She who is responsible for thunder" never looks in here
Amongst the unsolved and forgotten puzzles to solve was the Hanayama Cast Planet which I have to say looks lovely but probably remained on the desk because it also looked like it was going to be solved by random movements.

Hanayama rated it as 4 out of 6 and PuzzleMaster as 8 (Demanding) on their scale of 5 - 10. Personally, I would rate it as 3 (or 7) myself. As you would expect from the name and the look of it it consists of a rather rocky looking planet made from silver chromed metal inside a sort of Saturn's ring of gold coloured metal. I wonder whether it should have been called the Cast Virus or Cast Corona but maybe that wouldn't help it sell? It was designed by a new designer to me, Masui Ohno and is effectively a maze puzzle with all parts and paths visible.

The starting point is marked by grooves on the North and South poles of the planet which line up with marks on the ring. Obviously, the planet needs to be manipulated within the ring until the odd cutouts in the ring line up with the correctly shaped "mountains" on the planet to allow them to be slid apart.

I started looking at what kind of movements are possible and realised that the movement of the planet is quite constrained along the orientation of the ring and only at set positions was it possible to rotate the planet out of that axis to open up another sequence of moves in the plane of the ring again. Initially I was very cautious for fear of being unable to return to the beginning and hence, adopted my usual too and fro approach. Unfortunately, after about 5 minutes of puzzling I found myself unable to return to the start. Damn! OK, onward only. 

For the first 15 minutes, it seemed that I was going around in circles with no real plan for how to go about it. I felt that I was just making random moves and either I was going to continue forever making these random moves or it was going to solve itself by pure chance without me being the reason for the solve. At that point, I noticed a shape on the planet and had one of my very are thoughts. I had found a shape that looked like it might be useful and I had a "what if I aim for this?" thoughts. As you all know, thought is a rare thing for me so when it happens, I have to assume that it originated elsewhere and should probably be acted on. From this point, after another 2 or 3 minutes of systematically manoeuvring the planet into successively better positions, it fell apart into my hands and left me with a triumphant grin. Mrs S looked at me with disbelief - she rarely sees me solve anything and thinks that I either cheat or break them apart!

That's actually quite clever!
Having left it for a while, returning it to the strut position was just as tough as solving it. This is partly because it's quite hard to work out where the start position is and there are less clues for which way to move things when going in that direction.

Despite fairly low expectations for this puzzle (I am not really a fan of mazes anymore), this puzzle was actually quite enjoyable and a nice small challenge to be done in about 20-30 minutes. I looks good on display and is perfect for children and newbies as well as dedicated puzzle fans. Buy it from PuzzleMaster if you are in the Americas or from Sloyd or Hendrik if you are in Europe. For only €12-15 or $18CAD then you cannot really go wrong.

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