Cast L'œuf (玉)

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The Cast L'œuf (The Egg) is another great contribution of Oskar van Deventer for Hanayama and it was released in March 2004.

The L'œuf has a similar concept of the Cast Laby and Oskar's Cube/Maze (another Oskar's creation), in that you face multiple paths and in order to solve the puzzle, you have to think of them as one single labyrinth. You may think that, because both labyrinths are made of only one continuous path, without dead-ends, that it's not really a labyrinth or a maze. Well, you'll find out soon enough that it may actually be considered a maze, after you solve the puzzle...

The goal couldn't be simpler... You have to separate both "eggs" by guiding the two pins along their paths. Now, doing this can be a bit trickier than it looks. Both paths are different, and this is where the beauty of the puzzle is: you'll need to flip the puzzle constantly to look at the paths and see where your next move takes you. The overall path (the combination of both paths) will not be linear, so there'll be occasions where you need to go backwards a little on one of them and try to move the other a bit more forward. This is what I was saying earlier about the maze classification, where you can consider these back and forth motions the dead-ends of a labyrinth. Pretty clever...

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The difficulty on the Cast L'œuf is rated by Hanayama at 4 (Fairly Hard) out of 6, although I think difficulty 3 would be more suited. The puzzle is not that easy, but when you look at it for the first time, you'll probably know  exactly what you're supposed to do in order to solve it, so it'll be just a matter of time with some trial and error. However, this is not true for other difficulty 4 puzzles, like the Cast Rattle or Cast Marble, where you need to do a more thorough close inspection, before attempting a solve.

The design of the puzzle is very elegant, and that's what distinguishes Hanayama's Cast Puzzles from other metal ones. Presentation is everything and the utmost attention for detail is superb. There are two egg-shaped metal pieces, one golden and the other silver, and on the upper side of the golden egg there's a chicken carving. In terms of size, it's a little bit bigger than most cast puzzles. Not sure if it's the bigger Cast Puzzle, but definitely the biggest I own so far (for size comparison, it's just slightly bigger than the Cast Duet).

The Cast L'œuf can be purchased at PuzzleMaster, as with most of the Cast collection.

Hanayama Curiosity (courtesy of Roxanne Wong)

Hanayama tries to release a new Cast Puzzle four times a year. Check out their website and you can get an estimate of when the next one could be out.

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Links:

Hanayama's Factory Visit (Many thanks to Roxanne Wong for sharing these pictures)


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