Bolaris Puzzles

Posted on by Gabriel | 2 comments
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The Bolaris puzzles were invented by Finnish industrial designer Hannu Hjerppe. Since late 2007, his company, Diff Design, located in the lovely Fiskars village, produces all the puzzles that are now sold across the World (See end of post for a list of online stores). With the exception of the Bolaris Color, the other three versions were entered at the 2009 29th IPP Design Competition.

The puzzle is essentially a 2D sliding puzzle, except it uses a ball for a frame. Only the rectangular tiles slide, as the triangular ones are static, so a little more difficult than you'd expect. This particular triangle feature will prove to be very useful, to correctly orientate the rectangles in two of the puzzle's versions, as you'll see below in the individual descriptions. There's an empty slot, just like any other 2D slide puzzle, that enables you to move around and it will always be at the bottom, in the solved state. 

The Bolaris uses a clever locking mechanism that prevents any unwanted movement, so you will only move one tile at a time. The rectangles aren't cut in a straight line, instead they have a curvy boarder that avoids locking with other tiles (another nice touch to the already great design) and you can slide them with ease through the rails of the frame.

There's four distinct designs for the Bolaris and I'll describe them one at a time:

Bolaris Harmaa/Grey

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This is the easiest of the four Bolaris and the one that you should start, in order to familiarize yourself with the solving process. After you have scrambled it, the main goal is to have a grey scale, starting with the "North Pole" (white) and make each layer having a darker shade of grey.

You can also try a second challenge, and a bit more difficult, which is to have a checkerboard pattern with the darker tone at the top.

The company is now producing this version for customized promotional gifts. Your logo will be printed on the white tile, making it an elegant and neutral puzzle. With the added part of not being so difficult to solve, it's the perfect gift for any puzzle enthusiast.


Bolaris Vastaväri/Complementary Color

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The Bolaris Color, perhaps the most popular of the four designs, for its colorful appearance, is the next in difficulty. Described by the inventor as a color wheel in 3D, you solve it by following a harmonious tone shift between tiles, where one color will be followed by a slightly lighter or darker rectangle. While you aren't going to have any problems, regarding how to orientate a tile, this will be more challenging than the Grey one, because you have to know where each tile goes and where's its correct position in the frame. 

Here, you'll have the white and black triangular corners to help you. Around the white corner, there'll be all the light tones, whereas the dark tones will be around the black one and the complementary colors will be on opposite sides of the ball. 

You can use the back side of the puzzle's box to guide you as a last resort, as there's a diagram of the four sides of the ball with the correct color positions.


Bolaris Domino

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The Domino is where the more difficult solving process begins. With this one, you'll have to worry about the orientation of the tiles. To solve it, every tile has to match the point value of the adjacent tiles around itself, so you'll need to have a continuous matching chain of dominoes over and around the ball, from the equator up.

I don't know if every Bolaris Domino comes unsolved, right out of the box, but this one did. This made things much easier, because I didn't have to scramble it or worry about the fact of having to return it to the solved state. As it was already messed up, I could play around with it and explore how it would work. After having finally solved it, I can tell you that it's a very rewarding feeling, being able to return it to the original state.

After you study where every tile should be, you can start by one face at a time (by one face, I mean a side of the ball where four corners are facing you). You can also use the back side diagram on the box to help you here. When you need to orientate a tile, you'll have to use the corners. Notice that, when you rotate a specific rectangle around a corner and every time that it returns to the same exact position, it will have a different point orientation, as it will be 90º sideways depending on the direction that you made the rotation. When you're left with just one tile to orientate and it's already where it's supposed to be, you can use three of the blank tiles to help you rotate it to its correct position, thus not messing up the other rectangles. You can do this by using one of the corners and make that continuous sliding movement around it until the tile is in the desired orientation. Now you just need to return those blank tiles to the bottom of the frame and your Bolaris Domino is solved.

There's two color tones on the domino (not counting the blank ones), and each one will have the same point sequence for every tile of the same color (1-3-2-4 for the purple ones and 1-2-4-3 for the green ones, with a clockwise rotation). 

This is the most fun version to solve, as it's challenging enough to keep you guessing where each tile needs to be, but not so frustratingly difficult that could make you put it aside after many unsuccessful attempts.


Bolaris Maailma/Globe

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The harder of the four versions, but also the most beautiful and spectacular one, the Bolaris Globe is for those enthusiasts that like a really good challenge. The picture used in the puzzle is the world as seen from space, covered with clouds. Your guidelines here will be the continents, coastlines and the cloud patterns all over the globe.

Described in the package as difficulty 3 out of 4, might as well be difficulty 4, because it sure is more challenging than the domino, as the picture pattern around the ball can be a bit difficult to discern, once the puzzle is scrambled.

You will have the same tile orientation problem explained above, because each rectangle needs to be in a specific position.

As a nice feature, you'll notice that when you slide any tile to another position, it will be visible on the frame, underwater and sub-continental landscapes. A wonderful puzzle, indeed.

This is also the most expensive of the four models, although you have to take into account that, each puzzle uses a special UV-inkjet printer to make that image on the puzzle and requires manual work to lay out all the parts into place.

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Closing Coments

I was very impressed with the overall quality of these puzzles. From the presentation of the box, with one of its corners cut, to actually see what's inside, to the clever mechanism used to slide the tiles, you can see that every aspect of these puzzles was well studied and well executed, before its release to the market.


It's a must have in every puzzle collection and a great gift for the occasional enthusiast. I could recommend you all four versions, because each one has its own different challenges and with four degrees of difficulty, there'll be one that suits your needs for a nice and pleasant challenge. If you can purchase all of them, go ahead. I can assure you that you won’t regret it.


Click to Watch the Youtube Video

The Bolaris is available around the world and you can find them in the puzzle stores below:

In Finland - PulmaPuoti (Sloyd) (also in English and accepts international orders) / Pinjata

In Europe - PuzzleShop.de (Germany) / Science Gallery (Ireland) / KubusWinkel (The Netherlands)

Rest of the World - PuzzleMaster (Canada) / Mr.Puzzle (Australia)

Offline Stores - Puzzles Bonaire, Palma de Mallorca, Spain / Department Store Isetan, Tokyo, Japan

For wholesale orders or more information, contact Mr. Hannu Hjerppe at info(@)diffdesign.fi or hannu.hjerppe(@)diffdesign.fi (remove parentheses from the e-mail addresses to work).

2 comments:

oyun said...

What is this? It's amazing. lol..

Marco Brenco said...

I was about to try a similar idea with my 3D printer, when I found it's already been invented :)
I'll purchase one for sure!

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