Saturday 2 February 2013

Hanayama Cast Quartet

The Hanayama Cast series of puzzles seem to be the most common puzzles around. At least for me, the first I came across (not knowing it at the time!!) was the Cast Elk, which I got out of a Christmas cracker many many years ago. However, it seems to have been misplaced with all the rearranging and such so I cannot tell if it was an actual Hanayama piece or a replica.

Anywho, because the Hanayama puzzles are Cast puzzles (liquid metal poured into a mould) they are inexpensive to make and are therefore equally inexpensive to sell. For that reason they make great stocking fillers and little gifts at Christmas. They can be found on Amazon for about £10.

This one, the Cast Quartet, I received from my Auntie (along with Nightmare Before Christmas on Blu-Ray!!). I also received the Cast Vortex from my parents, which I'll review in due course.

Having received the Quartet at Christmas, with family all watching, I was eager to get it out of its box and promptly solve it in front of them. However, because this is a Level 6 (Starred) difficulty puzzle which is "Very Hard", that might have been a bit optimistic on my part.

Hanayama Cast Quartet
The Quartet is made up of four square shaped pieces with gaps in one corner. These gaps allow all the pieces to be interlinked and produce the final shape of two linked solid squares. Upon closer inspection, the two pieces that create one square have slightly different shaped pieces than the other two pieces that make the second square. To differentiate these pairs there are pieces labelled "(C)Hanayama" and "Quartet".

I then proceeded to spend the rest of the day, the couple of hours before dinner and the rest of the evening, avoiding conversation and instead puzzling with the Quartet. To no avail, may I add!!

Unfortunately, the Quartet then got forgotten about due to new puzzles arriving etc., until two days ago. I had a couple of hours before work and happened to see it sitting on my desk, taunting and begging me to pick it up. So I did!!

All four pieces apart
Once again I began fumbling around with it and it seemed I was getting nowhere. Until surprisingly, one of the pieces seemed to come loose and unlinked itself from at least one other piece. This meant it could move this bit more freely than the others. Therefore, a short while after I was able to remove it completely from the mess I thought I'd created.

After I removed that piece it was a simple matter of closing my eyes and fiddling around with the other three pieces until I could get another piece loose, which I did!!! (except I had my eyes open!!). Then, obviously, with only two pieces left, the rest was straightforward. I'd done it, solved a Level 6 Hanayama puzzle in approximately an hour, HUZZAHH!!

After studying the packaging at Christmas, I knew that there was an alternate assembly for the Quartet. This is where you use all four pieces to create one large square, which was relatively simple after knowing how the pieces can be linked. It's a little extra feature that could make a nice (but heavy!!) pendant on a necklace, if you're into necklaces!

Alternate assembly
Anywho, the next struggle was to reassemble the Quartet back to its starting shape, with two interlinked solid squares. However, because I didn't know how I'd disassembled it, I knew I probably wouldn't have been able to do it on my own.

Therefore I recruited some help from Youtube. Unfortunately, the disadvantage to inexpensive puzzles is that everyone buys them and makes videos on how to solve them. I knew this and I refrained from looking whilst I was trying to solve it.

However, it's quite difficult to follow a video and a lot more difficult to follow a step by step PDF solution (which is an official Hanayama solution acquired from Puzzle Master's Puzzle Solutions page here). One of the videos showed a guy using a very worn Quartet and one of the moves was not possible to complete on my version (perhaps a newer refined version).

Eventually, I did find a video that worked and I reassembled my Quartet (and now studying the video's solution it is the same as the PDF version).

I really enjoyed solving the Quartet and the feeling of relief and hope I got from getting that first piece looser than the rest. However, this is a very difficult puzzle, as I've stated it's a Level 6 difficulty, which is the hardest Hanayama do. So, if you haven't got much patience or are a newcomer to puzzles, then I suggest starting with one of the easier levels first and work your way up to this one, even if they are inexpensive.

I will be writing a writing a review on the Cast Vortex soon, which is a Level 5 difficulty Hanayama puzzle, so stay tuned!!!

That's all for now!!


  1. I picked up a set of these hot off the floor after a factory visit three years ago. Took it home and watched my non-puzzling brother find both solutions within a half an hour.
    And thanks for the tip on a new necklace...I'd not thought of that.

  2. Yeah it's always annoying when that happens. It happened to me twice with the 2 Rings Teddy. Ended up putting it back together twice before I actually got a chance to solve it myself!!!

    Thanks for reading Roxanne :D

    (Oh and depending how tight your Quartet is when it's in the alternate assembly, you could also have a figure of eight pendant too ;) )


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