Slide Elox

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Jean Claude Constantin has spoiled us over the years with his creations, with high quality puzzles and beautiful designs. As if all this wasn't already good enough, it seems this time he outdid himself. His new line of puzzles goes a step further in the quality department and the result pops out right in front of your eyes.

The Slide Elox is one of three puzzles currently being made with anodized metal. The other being the Nur 8 and the Farbenspiel 6x6. This material in contrast with the black frame makes an exquisite and unmatched striking colorful effect. Acrylic is also used for the sliding pieces, creating a perfect harmony with the metal and the laser-cut wood. The movement of the pieces is quite smooth against the wooden frame, providing a rather satisfying experience.

There are 16 small cylinders neatly placed around the perimeter of the frame, while inside, eight acrylic pieces have to be arranged so that the larger cylinders match with the same colors on the frame. With only a small gap in the frame to slide the pieces around, this will prove to be quite a challenge.

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Speaking of a challenge. There are actually eight of them for you to solve. Each challenge has a different starting position, meaning more moves as the level of difficulty increases, but they all share the same solution. This has been such an incredibly difficult puzzle that I only managed to solve one out of eight so far. I solved the level 2, while the level 1 has me stumped with only the two small squares being in a parity problem, where their positions are opposite one another.

Not surprisingly, this is rated as a difficulty level 9/10, as this is not your average sliding puzzle. One of the reasons is that the pieces have different orientations, where some move horizontally and others move vertically. The two small squares move more freely, but they still have their limitations when moving around the frame. It's truly a great challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 1 - Starting and Ending Positions

Closing Comments:

I'm a big fan of sliding puzzles. And when you combine one of my favorite puzzle designers and a beautiful, close to perfect, presentation it all clicks together in a one of a kind puzzle. The Slide Elox is now one of my favorite Constantin puzzles.

Availability: The Slide Elox is available from PuzzleMaster for $54.99 CAD. Check out also other great puzzles by Constantin.


Meffert's

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Which company/craftsman makes the most beautiful puzzles?

...The eternal question...

So far, I've been focusing on companies that make wooden and metal puzzles - my favorite - but there are other companies out there that make beautiful puzzles with other materials, for example, Plastic - such a simple and common material, used in pretty much everything you see around you, and that includes puzzles, Twisty Puzzles, to be more specific.

(Click to Enlarge) - Meffert's Puzzles in my Collection
Now, if you're an aficionado of Twisty Puzzles, chances are you've probably heard about Uwe Mèffert (or his company, Meffert's), and if not, well, you can't call yourself a true aficionado. Over the last 34 years - 1981 was the year his first-ever puzzle, the Pyraminx, was produced - Meffert's has done more for the Twisty Puzzle community than any other company, and dare I say it, it's today's most popular Twisty Puzzle brand, even more than Rubik's.

The reason why Meffert's puzzles are so popular is mostly due to his close relationship with the community's top designers and how well they all work together. He not only invents and makes his puzzles, but he also mass-produces other designer's puzzles. In turn, these top designers have themselves a close relationship with all the puzzle community, they participate in the forums, they take and give advice on puzzle making and designing, they get feedback and, ultimately, they inspire a new breed of designers that, in the long run, will be the future of the Twisty Puzzle industry. In short, there's isn't any other company with a practical and efficient business model as successful as Meffert's.

As mentioned above, Meffert's first puzzle was the Pyraminx, which is also his most popular puzzle, having sold millions of copies - only the original Rubik's Cube has sold more. Since then, Meffert's has produced more than a hundred different Twisty Puzzles - many of which essential to any starting collection - some variations, and other types of puzzles as well.

One of Meffert's most recognizable features in his puzzles is the fluorescent sticker colors. Its six-faced puzzles have a color scheme of green, blue, pale orange, bright orange, yellow and pink. Such bright colors make Meffert's puzzles stand out among other more bland-colored puzzles. It's like your Meffert's puzzles are the stars of your collection.

Fluorescent colors are nice, but Meffert's puzzles would be too generic if they'd make all their puzzles look the same. Variety is the key word for the success of Meffert's - A lot of variety. Another popular material used in Meffert's puzzles is tiles. These colorful plastic tiles are glued on the surface of the puzzles and are a nice alternative to the stickers, since they can't be peeled off. Not that their stickers peel off that easily, though.

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I have some old puzzles from Meffert's that still have their stickers in very good condition. And the tiles give the puzzles a totally different look. Some prefer stickers, others prefer tiles. Some of Meffert's recent puzzles don't have neither stickers nor tiles. They're just made using colored plastic parts. I used to prefer puzzles with tiles, but now I'm not so selective and I think it depends greatly on the puzzle it's for.

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In the subject of colored parts instead of stickers or tiles, Meffert's has gone even further and some of its puzzles now use metallized parts. These puzzles have a striking beauty, as they're coated with chromatic colors - the puzzles aren't made of actual metal - and are actually some of my favorite Twisty Puzzles. They're quite reflective and have a shiny and smooth surface, just like a mirror.

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Another rather popular type of puzzle that Meffert's brought to us, in collaboration with prolific designer Oskar van Deventer, was the gear puzzle. Ever since the introduction of the Gear Cube in 2010, dozens of other impressive designs were developed by Oskar himself and other talented designers, inspired by his original creation.

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The gear puzzles offer a completely different challenge, because when you rotate one face, it affects the movement of all the other parts in the puzzle. The first Gear Cube was relatively easy to solve, but the movement of other more complex puzzles can be extremely difficult to understand and solve. I only recommend gear puzzles for experienced cubers.

Contributing for its ever more popular brand, Meffert's created in 2010 the Jade Club - An exclusive membership that includes two very special puzzles, not available anywhere else, and discounts on recently released puzzles. These two puzzles are called Jade Pyraminx and Jade Cube, and they look absolutely gorgeous.

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No stickers have been applied. The surface of the puzzles have this soy-milky color (it's difficult to describe) and on each of their faces you can see a different type of symbol, raised and painted in pale colors. Meffert's later released another "Jade Puzzle", in 2012, called Chopsticks. It's not as good-looking as the previous two, but the design is still quite impressive and creative.

Some of Meffert's puzzles acquire over time some rarity and can even reach prices in the hundreds of dollars in auction. This is sometimes due to the limited production numbers, and when they're all gone you can't get them the regular way, hence the crazy high prices. It can also be a smart investment. If you buy several copies at the time they're released and let them gain rarity over time, you can get a nice profit.

Final Thoughts:

With the current business model Meffert's has, it will be a long while before we see the number of new puzzles dwindling. Always at the forefront of new ideas and concepts, at the same time keeping close to the people that know a thing or two about Twisty Puzzles, Meffert's has a bright future ahead, and I'll be sure to keep an eye out for what's to come.

Availability: You can find dozens of Meffert's puzzles at PuzzleMaster.

Links:

Meffert's Official Website

GearShift

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The GearShift is quite a striking puzzle. With just four gears, which complete an image of an Ouroboros, you'll be puzzled for a while trying to put it together.

Although not exactly the same, the concept is similar to Constantin's Modern Times, where you also had to spin four gears to create a pattern. The idea in these puzzles is that the cogs in the gears don't complete an entire circle. There are gaps which allow them to rotate independently from the other gears at certain positions. With these movements you'll be able to recreate the original pattern. Sounds easier than it actually is.

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Although the puzzle is made from plastic, the movement is surprisingly smooth. The hardest part is definitely the solving process, which will take some practice. You have to figure out how all the gears interact with each other and at what points they can be rotated independently. Understanding this logic is the key to solve it.

I did find it quite challenging, since you have to be very careful not to mess up what you already did while trying to get the other gears in place. Sometimes you need to undo what appears to be a half solved puzzle so that the other gears can be rotated. It might feel a bit frustrating at first, but with patience you'll eventually solve it. It has a difficulty level of 8/10, and I think it's a correct classification. It's a difficult puzzle, but by no means impossible to solve.

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Closing Comments:

This is puzzle you can solve multiple times and still have fun every time. Even if you're not attempting to solve it, just playing with it is quite stress-relieving. There's also another version with Disney characters.

Availability: You can get your GearShift at PuzzleMaster for just $19.99 CAD.


Vinco

Posted on by Gabriel | 3 comments
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Which company/craftsman makes the most beautiful puzzles?

- Over the last few months, I've been trying to answer this question and every time I attempt to do so, I come up with several more candidates for that prestigious title. And you know what? No answer is wrong. Each one of us have our own preferences. There are many talented puzzle designers out there that fulfill our requirements of what truly makes a beautiful puzzle. My job is just to focus on one of them at a time and hope I make them justice by showcasing their fantastic work and, who knows, maybe helping you to discover a new artist you didn't know about.

My previous articles have highlighted the creations of the highly popular Hanayama's Cast Series, the magnificent Japanese Puzzle Boxes and the prolific Jean Claude Constantin. This time, I will focus on another incredibly talented puzzle designer and maker, Václav Obšivač.

Born in 1962 in the Czech Republic, Václav Obšivač - better known in the puzzle community simply as Vinco - is an avid fan of skiing and biking, but what gets him the most recognition is his exceptional craftsmanship working with local wood. His puzzle-making adventure started in 2001, and since then, he has created countless designs, many with several versions featuring different types of timber.

Vinco mainly makes two types of puzzles, each one quite impressively made: packing puzzles (2D and 3D) and coordinate-motion puzzles. He has also ventured intro other types of puzzles, but I will focus more on the two mentioned above, since they're the ones that have been fascinating more puzzle enthusiasts all over the world.

First, let's start with the coordinate-motion puzzles. The term invokes something that seems difficult to achieve, as if you needed to be extremely dexterous to solve it. Well, in fact, it's not far from reality, because you do need some dexterity skills to solve these puzzles, especially when you're reassembling them.

So what exactly are coordinate-motion puzzles? As the term might've suggested already, you need to coordinate all your moves simultaneously in order to take apart or put together all the pieces of each specific puzzle. Each move will affect all pieces in the puzzle at the same time, and any other moves will result in no progress whatsoever. The best example to explain this is a figure, seen below, where all three pieces have to be pushed in at the same time, thus locking the puzzle until an opposite move can take them apart again. (figure courtesy of John Rausch from johnrausch.com)

(How Coord. Motion Works)
From this simple example you can then move on to much more complex structures and interesting shapes, naturally with more pieces. This is exactly what Vinco excels at better than anyone, and to prove it you can see below a few extraordinary examples of some of the most impressive geometrical shapes he makes.

(Coord. Motion Puzzles)
Not only do Vinco's designs impress visually, but the texture of each puzzle is also remarkable. To get a perfect finish on his puzzles, Vinco polishes and waxes each one so the pieces slide easily on and off the puzzle and have an extra smooth surface, but also to protect the wood itself against dust and other elements.

Vinco's coordinate-motion puzzles are strikingly beautiful. What contributes most for this is the high contrast between the various types of wood used in his puzzles. Vinco does this very effectively, from two up to several different colors, depending on the design and shape of the puzzle he's working on. The contrast always helps in the solving process, as the lines that separate the colors are usually the edges of pieces that move. You just have to discover in which direction they slide away from each other.

Another popular type of puzzle Vinco excels at is packing puzzles...extremely difficult packing puzzles. Just like its coordinate-motion brethren, this type of puzzles have a very distinct way of being made. Vinco takes small oddly-shaped pieces and glues than at different angles, resulting in even odder and bigger pieces. As expected, these puzzles are very challenging, perhaps harder than his coordinate-motion range.

(Packing Puzzles)
Vinco's packing puzzles may not be as visually attractive to some as the above examples, but in my opinion they're as impressive as any of his other types of puzzles. Packing puzzles come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and Vinco's are no different. Whether it's a 2D or a 3D puzzle, the design always gains from Vinco's great sense of style, with his contrasting wood colors and odd shapes. No two pieces are the same, which means that the patterns created are some of the most remarkable currently seen in the market.

There's another puzzle type by Vinco that I find quite fascinating, which is the interlocking spheres. Currently, I don't own any of these, but judging from the eye-candy designs and shapes, I can only imagine they're as extraordinary and beautiful as any other I've tried from this talented craftsman.

(Interlocking Spheres)
Final Thoughts:

Vinco is among the best puzzle makers around, and when it comes to wood puzzles it's almost impossible to find any faults or imperfections in his work. He's very passionate about what he does, and that's clearly visible with his incredible works of art, worthy of every penny they cost. If you have yet to discover the works by Vinco, please do yourself a favor and buy one, or two, or three...as many puzzles as you can and enrich your collection. You'll certainly not be disappointed.

Availability: You can find many of Vinco's puzzles at PuzzleMaster.

Links:

Vinco's Website


Cast UFO

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It's not everyday you review a puzzle from outer space. If you don't believe aliens exist, wait until you try to figure out how to understand this unknown technology and solve it. The Cast UFO by Vesa Timonen promises to keep you guessing for quite a while...

The design is really attractive, as it made in the shape of an UFO, with six pieces forming a complex structure that will surely be a test to your skills. The silver color adds to the mystery, but also gives this extra shiny and reflective appearance. It's a really beautifully made puzzle.

The pieces in the center sort of remind me of the Cast Marble mechanism, where you could rotate the sphere freely, but there was only one way to align the pieces so that they would be removed. However, the Cast UFO has four pieces in the middle, and aligning them seems to quite frustrating. Besides having to guess the correct alignment, you also need some dexterity, because it's very easy to move the pieces accidentally. It's like trying to move with suit shoes on an ice skating rink.

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The two main pieces can and will be separated, but only after you solved the problem with the pieces in the center. This mechanism could most certainly be used as a lock against burglars.

The difficulty is rated by Hanayama as a level 4/6, but since I'm yet to solve it, I'm most inclined to say it feels more like a level 5/6. I know it's a matter of time, and that by continuing to try different combinations with the pieces, I'll eventually solve it. But the guessing work is there, and that's what makes the puzzle so difficult and frustrating.

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Closing Comments:

Design-wise, the Cast UFO is among the best Hanayama Cast puzzles. The mechanism feels a bit too loose and relies too much on dexterity and trial and error, and not very much on logic, as I am accustomed to see in other Cast puzzles.

Availability: To find a copy of the Cast UFO or any other Cast Puzzle, stop by PuzzleMaster.


Euro

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There are many puzzles out there with the theme of the Euro currency, and Jean Claude Constantin has made another one to add to the collection. This one is very simple in design, but can be a little tricky to solve. Are you ready to to tackle the Euro challenge?

There's one thing that I like more about wire-only puzzles than the string ones - You can't make knots out of the wire puzzles, and thus it's much more unlikely to get stuck in the middle of the solving process. There are ways to get stuck anyway, but you have to be very creative to accomplish that.

The Euro puzzle is made from thick wire (3mm) and measures only 8.7cm in diameter. The design is made to resemble the shape of the Euro currency symbol, and the goal is to remove the ring (or to separate all three parts). The ring seems to be trapped between the two main parts, but a clever series of movements will be enough to solve it. Finding these moves, however, will be a bit tricky.

This puzzle reminds me of the classic Horseshoe puzzle, where you also have a ring trapped between two metal parts. The Horseshoe is much harder to solve for a beginner, but the solution is a bit different in the Euro puzzle. The two main parts are attached in a similar way as a hinge works. You can easily unfold the puzzle in 180º, but after that there's not much else to do. The key lies in the hinges, so my advice is to keep trying until you finally solve it.

It took me much more time to put the puzzle together in its original form than to take it apart. Figuring out how the puzzle works is the key to understand its mechanism, and until you do you won't be able to fully solve it.

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Closing Comments:

The Euro is a great puzzle that really gets you thinking in ways that you're not usually used to. I like that its all metal and no strings, so it's less frustrating to solve. You can lend it to a beginner and have no problems afterwards without knots for you to untie.

Availability: You can find a copy of the Euro puzzle at PuzzleMaster. As usual, Constantin has a lot of interesting puzzles, so be sure to check them out as well.


Boli-Loco

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I've been collecting puzzles for over 10 years now, and I've lost count how many countries I have puzzles from. But one thing I know for certain: up until now, I didn't have any puzzle from Colombia. Thanks to Nelson Robayo, who created the Boli-Loco puzzle, I can now add Colombia to the countries where I have puzzles from.

The Boli-Loco puzzle is a very clever design made with 19 marbles in three different colors (yellow, blue and red - the Colombian flag colors). The marbles are enclosed in a transparent box with notches on the cover that make it some sort of a labyrinth. You turn the puzzle from side to side, up and down, so that the marbles navigate the labyrinth and make the patterns you see on the bottom of the puzzle. There are six different patterns to solve, but as with any pattern puzzles, you can most certainly create your own designs, your imagination being the limit.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 2 & 4

What capture my attention in the Boli-Loco puzzle right away was the patterns you can make with the marbles. Puzzles that allow me to use my creative side are always a must-have for me, and this one is no exception. I loved it from the start.

The patterns presented all have various ways to solve except for the last one, which as you can see, you have to make the Colombian flag. The other patterns can have the marbles anywhere except for the colors marked on the challenge. For example, the pattern with the blue cross (above left). You only need to worry about the position of the blue marbles. The other colors are not important, which makes the first five challenges easier than the last one. From the patterns presented, I would say they are in sequential order from left to right, easy to difficult. Making the Colombian flag was definitely the hardest one to solve.

(Click to Enlarge) - Challenge 6
Closing Comments:

The Boli-Loco puzzle was a pleasant surprise, even more so because I didn't know the designer. It's a great design with an original and interesting concept, perfect for creative minds. Be sure to check back soon, since I have another puzzle from the same designer, which I'll be reviewing soon.

Availability: The Boli-Loco puzzle is available from PuzzleMaster for just $15.99. Check out more designs from Nelson Robayo.


Nimm 2

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If packing puzzles weren't already difficult to solve, Jean Claude Constantin makes them even more challenging by always adding a twist. After all, we like challenging puzzles, don't we? My recent addition to this ever-growing collection of difficult puzzles is called Nimm 2. The name indicates that there may be a first Nimm, but in reality Nimm in German means "take", so the name can be translated as "Take 2". Read more and you'll understand the meaning.

This is a nice small puzzle, measuring only 8cm x 8cm (3.2"). It is made from laser-cut wood, so the price is more affordable. There are 7 pieces, but they can be divided by two groups: one is a group of three trominos and the other a group of four tetrominos. Each piece has one or two screws attached to it, which makes for an interesting design. The idea is to have two screws in every row (vertical and horizontal). Diagonals don't count. It sounds simple enough, but believe me, this is a fiendish one to solve.

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Solving the puzzle without worrying about the screws is very easy. That's why the designer wanted to make it as simple as possible. However, packing the pieces with the one rule mentioned above is more than just a simple exercise. It requires patience, and much trial and error. But that's what most packing puzzles require, so it's asking you anything new. If you're used to solving this kind of puzzles you know how to go about solving them, at least in principle...

As you can imagine, this is quite a difficult puzzle to solve. It's rated as a level 8/10, but I reckon it's possibly even more than that. I'm yet to find the solution, which might be a unique configuration, and thus explaining why it's so challenging.

Closing Comments:

Nimm 2 by Constantin is a hell of a challenge. If you like this type of puzzles, you're in for a treat, because it'll keep you busy for a while. I liked the originality of the design. It's different from any packing puzzle I've tried before.

Availability: The Nimm 2 puzzle is available at PuzzleMaster for $23.99 CAD. You can also check out other cool puzzles by the prolific puzzle designer Jean Claude Constantin.


Jean Claude Constantin

Posted on by Gabriel | 0 comments
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Which company/craftsman makes the most beautiful puzzles?

- In my endless pursuit to answer this question, this time I will focus on one of today's most prolific puzzle designers out there - and my favorite - Jean Claude Constantin. The name suggests a French origin, but Constantin is, in fact, from Nuremberg, Germany, where he produces in his shop over 70 new designs each year; and having been a puzzle designer for so long, imagine the total number of different puzzles he's been able to make so far. I currently own about 100 of his puzzles, so I can only dream of having, one day, all of his puzzles...and at the current rate he's making them, it's an almost impossible feat.

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Anyone that's familiar with Constantin's puzzles knows what characterizes them, what makes them so appealing to puzzlers and collectors alike. Any seasoned puzzler can spot a Constantin puzzle quite easily, as his designs always feature something new and clever in their concept. Their presentation is very well thought-out and elegant, and despite his materials often not being top-notch (laser-cut plywood), you can always count on a high quality finished product at a very reasonable price.

Another impressive aspect about Constantin's puzzles is the diversity of designs available. Today, the majority of puzzle designers only dare to make one type of puzzle, and will perfect that craft over the years - That's the rule.  However, Jean Claude Constantin is the exception. He can basically make any type of puzzle, from 2D/3D packing/assembly puzzles to sequential movement, wire/string, interlocking, puzzle boxes...you name it. And yet, each puzzle will be superbly made as if it were his first-ever design, having its own personality and special features. No matter what your collection focuses on, one thing is certain: Constantin has at least one puzzle that satisfies all your requirements.

While most of Constantin's designs are made using plywood, he also has pretty interesting puzzles made from natural wood, like the Skyline, or the Eingeengt, or the Metalwurfel, or the Brochettes, just to name a few... As you can expect, these puzzles tend to be more expensive, but considering the materials used and their level of detail, they're still quite cheaper than many other renowned craftsmen's.

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Whether it's natural wood, or simply plywood, another important trait in Constantin's designs is the use of many different wood shades, sometimes combined with other materials such as metal. Since the colors are all natural and not painted, it results in a more beautiful and exquisite effect for all his puzzles. An example of this, seen in this rather simple design, the 1 x 9, nine different wood colors are being used for the pieces plus another one for the frame. Two other gorgeous puzzles that make good use of this design philosophy are the Jahresringe and the Pentag Zigzag, both made from eight different wood colors (pieces plus frame). Even when a puzzle consists of just two wood tones, he chooses two highly contrasting colors for maximum effect, like the Tetris puzzle (seen below).

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Packing Puzzles are one of my favorite type of puzzles, and Constantin provides me with way more designs than I can handle, so it's always a difficult task having to choose a couple of them whenever I want to place a new order at a puzzle store. Having been collecting puzzles for over six years now doesn't give me the time (or money) necessary to own every single packing puzzle he makes, but I believe the ones I already have are sufficient to have, at least, scratched the surface.

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If Packing Puzzles are not your thing, not to worry... Constantin has something for everybody, and one of the most popular type of puzzles lately proves just that. I'm talking about n-ary puzzles, of course, the favorite subject of experienced puzzlers that demand harder challenges and beautiful designs to go with it. N-ary puzzles are sequential movement puzzles that require a recursive solution.

The first n-ary puzzle was the Chinese Rings, invented in the 10th century. Because the solution is interpreted as having only two states (0 or 1), it's called a binary puzzle. Over the years, puzzles have evolved to ever more complex designs and today you can see ternary, quaternary, quinary...up to 15-ary (or quindenary) - this n-ary record holder belongs to Jean Claude Constantin's Generation Lock with a whopping 340,000,000+ moves. You'd need a few extra lifetimes to solve this one...

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Constantin is also an authority on puzzle boxes (also known as trick boxes), another soft spot of my collection and the subject of a few personal favorites. His designs are a bit different from the traditional Japanese Puzzle Boxes, but that doesn't mean they're not as impressive. Usually, his puzzle boxes are very well decorated and unlike their older cousins, only a couple of moves are necessary to open them. Mind you, a couple of very-difficult-to-figure-out moves. These boxes are considered as perfect gifts for puzzle enthusiasts, since you can always hide a surprise inside (money, jewelry, or other similarly sized objects) for when that person opens the box.

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Last, but not least, Trick Locks... This is yet another fascinating type of puzzles that has a wide variety of designs and concepts, and there are people that devote entire collections exclusively for these puzzles. As expected, Constantin has a very important role on the design of some of the most impressive trick locks out there. Trick locks can have between two to hundreds of steps necessary to unlock them. Some have hidden mechanisms, where you need to use other senses besides your vision; most of them don't even need a key in order to be opened, while others need a more patient solver, since there are some locks that make a clever use of the n-ary concept, and Constantin seems to be an expert in this field.

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Final Thoughts:

Whether you're a veteran puzzler or you're just venturing into this fantastic hobby, having a few Constantin puzzles will go a long way to enrich your collection. After seeing so many beautiful designs by this talented puzzle designer, I can truly say that there's nothing he can't do when it comes to wooden puzzles. What's mind-boggling is that he doesn't seem to be running out of ideas anytime soon, and for that I can hardly wait to see the next 70 or so new designs he has in store for us next year.

Availability: You can find many of Constantin's puzzles at PuzzleMaster.


Frame Pyraminx

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It's been almost 40 years since the invention of the original Pyraminx by Uwe Meffert. This puzzle not only inspired countless others designs, but it's still one of the best Twisty puzzles of all time. The Frame Pyraminx is one of the best-looking variations I've seen so far, but does it live up to the original design?

This is a really cool design, made by Fangshi, which also produces many other Twisty puzzles. The body is entirely hollow, only supported by a 3x3 core, which by the way, glows in the dark. The frame is made by attaching two triangles perpendicularly. The material for the frame is made from this bright and colorful plastic, adding to the overall beautiful design.

(Click to Enlarge) - Glowing in the Dark
Contrary to what you'd expect, the Frame Pyraminx is an edge-turning puzzle, unlike its predecessor, which is a corner-turning. So, the solution will obviously be quite different if you're used to the original Pyraminx mechanism. I'd say the Frame Pyraminx's movement is a little more complex, so the difficulty is definitely higher.

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To really mix the puzzle you can't just turn it on its edges, or you'd never be able to fully scramble it. You need to align the edges in such a way so that the 3x3 core can turn on its axis. This creates patterns that you can't see in a normal Pyraminx, which is really interesting. Not bad for a variation.

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Closing Comments:

I can highly recommend the Frame Pyraminx to any Twisty puzzle fan. It was a novelty for me, in terms of movement, but also the design is really eye-catching and original. A real stunner.

Availability: You can get your Frame Pyraminx at PuzzleMaster for $32.99 CAD. Check out other interesting puzzles by Fangshi.


Honey Copter

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It's been a while since I've reviewed one of these Twisty puzzles. After all, I'm rubbish at solving them, but I really do like the variety of designs available, compared to when I started my collection over 10 years ago. The puzzle featured here is called Honey Copter and it's a real beauty.

The puzzle is made by LanLan and it's a shape-mod variation of Oskar's Redi Cube. Each of the six faces features a four-leaf clover and you turn the puzzle not by rotating the faces but by rotating the corners. It makes a real cool effect. The colors are the 6 standard ones you see on most puzzles of this type (blue, red, yellow, white, orange and green).

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I couldn't comment of the difficulty since I won't dare shuffling it, unless I get a second copy to mess around. But judging by PuzzleMaster's classification of 8/10, I'd say that for an experienced puzzler, this won't be much of a challenge, but definitely a fun solve.

The movement is smooth, but not speed-solving smooth. Then again, it's not like I'll be speed-solving it any time soon... I like almost everything about the puzzle, but the stickers are just a notch below what I'd consider good quality. They're already showing signs of peeling off from the edges, which is unfortunate. Other than that, it's a great looking puzzle.

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Closing Comments:

What more could you ask for: a Twisty puzzle with four-leaf clovers. Feeling lucky lately?
The Honey Copter is before anything else, a gorgeous design and one that surely be the delight of any collector, even if you don't plan on solving it.

Availability: The Honey Copter is available at PuzzleMaster for just $23.99 CAD. Also, check out other puzzles by LanLan.


Cast Hourglass

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The sands of time will torment you with the new Cast Puzzle, the Hourglass. There's no time limit for this hourglass, but will you solve it in a timely manner?

The new Cast Puzzle was designed by Korean JinHoo Ahn and was launched in September 2018. The elegant shape of the puzzle is what gives it its name, but don't let its beauty fool you, because this is a very difficult puzzle, rated as level 6/6. It's not the most difficult Hanayama puzzle, but it will certainly put your solving skills to the test. Once you take it apart, a harder challenge awaits you, as putting it back to its original shape is even more difficult.

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There are four interlocked pieces, which at close inspection revels two groups, each with identical pieces. The goal is to separate all four pieces, one by one. The puzzle is small and the details even smaller, so you need to pay close attention as to where the pieces connect with each other and where exactly is the exit point.

Getting the pieces loose is not a difficult task. What's difficult is to find the correct sequence of movements that allows you to put the pieces where you want them. I found the puzzle a little confusing at first. I didn't know how to position the pieces for the next movement, so I had to use some trial and error until I felt I was close to the solution.

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Sometimes the expression "trial and error" is not very well received, since it's not logical thinking, but think of it this way: if you're trying to solve the puzzle for the first time, and you don't know how to solve it, you need to explore various routes and outcomes to see which ones point you in the right direction. This is not a puzzle to use logical thinking, it's more about dexterity and experimentation.

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Solution: If you get stuck, you can download the solution here.

Closing Comments:

The Cast Hourglass may not be for everyone due to its level of difficulty, but if you like a serious challenge with little to no clues about how to solve it, then this is perfect for you. The design itself is already a good excuse to add it to your collection.

Availability: You can get a copy of the Cast Hourglass at PuzzleMaster for $15.99 CAD. If you like Cast Puzzles, check out Hanayama's collection.


Loyd's 15 - Block & Roll Puzzle

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
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Loyd's 15 is one of the most popular sliding puzzles of all time. Comprising 15 sliding tiles across a 4x4 grid, the missing "16th" number provided an empty space to move the tiles around the frame and solve the puzzle in a variety of solutions. Ever since its first introduction at the end of the 19th century, countless designs of the 15 Puzzle were created. One of such designs was made by Doug Engel, and I love its originality. It's made by BrainWright and it's called The Block & Roll Puzzle, and instead of numbers, you'll be playing with colored marbles.

So, how does this work? Is it just a simple exchange of numbers for colors? Well, not exactly. At first glance, there seems to be very few similarities between this puzzle and the classic version, besides the fact that you'll be sliding your way around a 4x4 grid. And indeed, the two puzzles couldn't be more different... and that's a good thing.

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15 marbles make up the four groups of orange, yellow, purple and green colors. Unlike the original 15 Puzzle, here you'll be constrained by two barriers that will prevent you from freely navigate the marbles from one row to the other, just like a labyrinth. This is clearly seen in the photos, where two of the rows (one in the front and another in the back) have been cut in half and no marble can pass across it. This will, of course, raise the difficulty to a higher level than the original version.

One thing that I always like about puzzles is the ability to create patterns or to have multiple solutions. Here, The Block & Roll Puzzle does this in great style, as it offers you 44 different challenges with patterns to reproduce exactly as you see them. The challenges will be quite difficult, as the first two challenges seen in the photos took me around 30 minutes to solve. Not a bad thing, though, since I like a good challenge.

(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Challenge 1; Right: Challenge 2

Closing Comments:

Loyd's 15 The Block & Roll Puzzle is yet another great sliding puzzle that I'm happy to add to my collection. The concept is different from what I'm used to see in sliding puzzles, and the high difficulty will certainly test your patience and solving skills. Definitely recommended.

Availability: The Block & Roll Puzzle can be found at PuzzleMaster for just $14.99 CAD. Check out other cool puzzles by BrainWright.


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