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Cast Elk, a concept that's been around since the 19th century and perfectly redesigned by NOB (Nobuyuki Yoshigahara), is one of Hanayama's best in their Cast series. The Cast News is another one of the great NOB's designs. The Elk was the fifth Cast puzzle release by the company, way back in 1986.
The design is in my opinion, one of the most original ever made by Hanayama. Its appearance is made so that it looks easy to understand, but a pain to solve. You are presented with two identical pieces depicting an elk's head with its horns. Can you separate them in less than an hour? ...Well, think twice before you underestimate its complexity, as this is probably among the hardest Cast Puzzles around.
Rated by Hanayama as a level (6 out of 6) and 10 (out of 10) by PuzzleMaster's rating system, you know that you're facing a serious challenge. As you pick it up for the first time, you'll see that most movements are blocked, due to the cleverly placed spikes around the "horns". It's a little hard to explain the solving process in words, also because the first time I solved it, it looked like an "accident" and I didn't know exactly how I got the pieces separated, so repeating it looked like another challenge. Solving time... I would say that since I got the puzzle, I've been trying regularly to solve it and it took me several weeks to figure it out, so I can tell you that if you're persistent with it, you just might solve it in a few days... If you're having trouble with the solution and feel a little impatient, you can check out PuzzleMaster solution here.
A simple and yet, beautiful design with a masked complexity, makes this puzzle a must have for any puzzle buff. It will provide you with many, many addictively frustrating hours of head scratching, so what more could you ask for?
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Hanayama's Factory Visit (Many thanks to Roxanne Wong for sharing these pictures)