Tuesday 26 February 2013

Eric Fuller Package: Part I

I haven't blogged in a while. The main reason for this is the abundance of puzzles that have landed on my doorstep. In total, since my last blog post, I have received a total of 17 puzzles!!! (and I'm still waiting on one more!). They are made up of a large shipment from Mr Puzzle in Australia, several auctions I have won recently and puzzles that have just been recently made (one from a fellow blogger!!). But now I have 10 days off work, I should be able to solve a great deal of them and knock out several reviews while I'm at it.

The latest shipment from Eric Fuller
The ones I'll be reviewing today are the ones I've recently solved from Eric Fuller, a brilliant craftsman from America. I reviewed two other burrs from Eric a while back, the Burr Circus and the Uranus, so check that one out if you haven't already.

These two burrs then are from his latest batch of puzzles made this month, from his website Cubic Dissection. I bought four of them in total, but the other two I haven't completed yet, so I'll review those later ... plus it breaks down the blog post nicely!! (hence the "Part I").

Monday 11 February 2013

Midlands Puzzle Party 9 (MPP9) 09/02/13

I've been on the Revomaze Forum since March 2011. Since then I slowly got more and more interested in puzzles and last year (2012) I properly started collecting puzzles. I also kept reading about this Midlands Puzzle Party and looking at all the pictures people have posted on the forum and their own blogs. 

Unfortunately for me, because I work nights, it has been difficult for me to get the time off to go, as it's always held on Saturdays. However, this time I managed to shift a few holidays around and actually get there and I'm glad I did!!!

First I must apologise for lack of pictures. I was too busy playing with all the wonderful puzzles to stop and take pictures and before I knew it people began leaving and then it was time for me also to trek back home!!

The party was held at The Gap Community Centre in Warwick, which is about a two hour drive for me. But the drive was good, no real problems there, apart from the little snow storm which I had already expected. I actually arrived earlier than I expected to (without breaking speed limits, of course!!) but luckily Nigel, the event organiser, Chris and Bruce were already there setting up. After the brief introductions, we all carried on unpacking as several more turned up.

One of these was a quite a strange character, who later turned out to be "The B*****d" of the group, Allard!!! I had already sort of gathered that from the Revomaze forum but I quickly experienced it first hand when he questioned why I didn't have a puzzle in my hand, promptly handing me a piece from his prized Stickman collection. By the way, he's the one that "pays" people to dismantle puzzles that they know they won't be able to put back together themselves and then offers no hints to help them reassemble them!! Fortunately, the Stickman he gave me was the easy one, the Chopstick Box, which I must say is brilliantly simple and very elegant. His other Stickmans were beautiful and I daren't touch them knowing how much they cost!!

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Wil's First Box

This is another review of one of Wil Strijbos' sequential discovery puzzles, like the Lotus Puzzle that I reviewed not so long ago.

It is called the First Box, which obviously means it's the first box puzzle Wil designed: 
"I designed this puzzle around 1984 and it was my first puzzle box. At that time I produced only six of them (for Jerry Slocum, Nob Yoshigahara, Dick Hess, Edward Hordern and James Dalgety). Now I have reproduced this design in an improved metal version (previously it had been made of Formica or a similar material)." - Wil
Wil's First Box
This redesign is made completely out of Aluminium and is anodised in Wil's trademark blue with his signature in one corner. The box itself is quite weighty (in fact it weighs about 745g!!), which kindly suggests there isn't a lot of space inside. Shaking it, you can hear a few things rattling but it's difficult to tell exactly how many. There is a rounded nut on the top, one hole in the left side and a hole in the bottom. Because of this, one of my mates expertly resembled it to a "Fat Tardis"!! Through the hole in the bottom you can see a smiley face (sad face actually!!) that you've helpfully been told that you have to remove. Other than that, there is nothing else to this puzzle ....  EASY, right!?!

As is with all of Wil's puzzles, no magnets, no banging, no external tools (or power tools!!) and no force in any way, is needed to open this box!!

The only concern he had with the first version of the first box (first first box!?!) was that it came with a separate tool. Since the redesign, he's found a nice little solution to overcome that.

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!!