(Click to Enlarge)
This is my second review of a Jean Claude Constantin puzzle in a week... No wonder, I'm becoming more and more a fan of his work. Each and everyone of his puzzle designs is unique and very original. I own several puzzles of him in my collection and I love all of them.
Today, I present to you an Assembly/Packing Puzzle by the name of Apothekerschrank (that's German for Apothecary Cabinet), but it's also known as the Pharmacist's Cabinet, the Apocathary Chest or even the Drawers Chest. It seems that every store selling this puzzle, calls it a different name. The latter is named by Brilliant Puzzles, where I got mine.
The Apothekerschrank is beautifully crafted in wood to resemble a cabinet full of drawers. The handles are made from a darker wooden tone, that accentuates the contrast between the frame and the pieces. When I first saw it online, it looked bigger, but actually it just measures 14cm x 10.5cm x 3.5cm (5.51" x 4.13" x 1.37"). By the way, the measurements at Brilliant Puzzles are wrong and apparently, I have the exact same version.
At first sight, all the drawers look exactly the same, but once you start analyzing each one, you notice that every single one has a slightly different configuration. All sixteen drawers occupy the tray area in a 4x4 arrangement and each one is unique, although they follow a simple rule when you group them together.
Before my first attempt, I was a bit afraid that it would take a long time to solve, because it seemed a lot more complex than it actually is. The unique configuration of each piece led me to think that only one solution was possible.
(Click to Enlarge) - Solved
I started by selecting the pieces that could fit in the first slot and when I chose one, I just continued with that strategy. When I was almost done, only three pieces remained, but couldn't fit them anymore. So, by swapping a couple of pieces I was able to fit one more. Now there were only two pieces left... After swapping places with just a few more drawers, the puzzle was solved... I couldn't believe it! It only had taken me just about 10 minutes to solve the puzzle and I thought to myself: "Well done, you genius!". I was a bit suspicious, though, and with that in mind, I took a look at the solution sheet provided. I was then able to confirm that it had at least, more than one possible solution.
Later, I searched for information about it and found on the designer's website, that he classified it as a two star level puzzle out of six. Moreover, PuzzleMaster classified it as a 6 out of 10. I was a little disappointed, as indeed, it wasn't a stroke of genius, because the puzzle is pretty much, easy to solve. Because of this easiness to find a solution and even though I'm not sure, I can most certainly assume that it has several other solutions.
When I was separating the pieces for the photos and grouping them in similar pieces, I discovered an even easier solution. All the pieces are different, but not in a random way. They form an easy to spot pattern that proves to be very helpful to pack them. You can see this in the photo below. Although, the arrangement seen isn't the final configuration, it doesn't differ much from the actual solution.
(Click to Enlarge) - The Pieces and the Tray
As pointed at the beginning of the review, there are a few online stores that sell the Apothekerschrank, but as you can verify for yourself, the most affordable option is the Brilliant Puzzles' version at $16.95. PuzzleMaster sells a much more stylish version with the drawers' handles in stainless steel, but at about $44 and more than two and a half times the price that I paid, to me, it's simply not worth it. There's also a version at Creative Crafthouse, very similar to the one I have, for $22 and finally, in Europe, Sloyd.fi sells another version for €33 (≈ $43).
Even though the solution is deceivingly easy, I love the concept of the Apothekerschrank and it's extremely fun to solve. It's ideas like these that makes me appreciate puzzles even more and ultimately, collect them.
Having several more Jean Claude's designs in my collection, you can expect more reviews of his puzzles soon...