(Click to Enlarge)
The Kinato (also known as Smart Kinato or Kinato 16) is a very nice Assembly/Pattern puzzle that I recently bought from the Meffert's store. It was invented by Lawrence Lau and manufactured by Jeruel Industrial. It was entered at the 22nd IPP Design Competition, in 2002 and a year later, two other versions, the Hexagon Kinato and the T-Kinato were also entered at the 23rd IPP.
The puzzle has two contrasting colors and is comprised by 16 plastic equilateral triangles, 10 pink and 6 green. Each triangle is connected at one corner, and all of them linked together form a continuous chain that allows to build countless shapes, reminiscent of Tangram, or form within the limits of a large triangle tray (provided in a CD case), more than 80 patterns. It's also possible to link one or more additional Kinato puzzles to make even more complex shapes.
(Click to Enlarge) - Left: The 16-Piece Chain; Right: Windmill
Since I'm a big enthusiast of Pattern Puzzles, I went straight ahead and tried to solve some of these first. The triangular tray is very practical, as it's easier to get the notion of its shape limits. Any single triangle can be flipped upwards or downwards or turned from left to right. This way, you get total control of the chain's direction. One important thing to keep in mind about the chain is that it cannot cross itself. It's wise to plan your packing strategy before making any attempt on a particular pattern, otherwise you'll most certainly get stuck in the middle of it and have to start over again.
(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Kite; Right: Diamond
Depending on the specific pattern you're trying to do, some of them can be quite challenging and starting at one corner of the tray won't always be the best option. Knowing the configuration of the stretched out chain is crucial to understand how they connect and ultimately, how to solve any pattern.
Building the Tangram-like shapes can be very fun and challenging as well, although I found the triangular patterns harder to solve. Without the triangle walls of the tray to limit your movements, you have much more creative freedom to build any shape you like... Not only that, but there's hundreds of possible designs you can create. Unlike the pattern challenges, color combinations are not important in shape creation, which is a huge help.
(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Sun; Right: Star
Because the Kinato puzzle was released roughly ten years ago, it's now much harder to find it. I bought mine from Meffert's, but apparently it was the last one they had in stock and it wasn't even my first color choice. I believe it's possible to order from the actual manufacturer, but I'm not sure if they ship overseas. Ravensburger was the international distributor for the puzzle, but at least on their website they don't carry it anymore. Jigsaw Jungle in Canada still sells it, although it costs more than double the price I paid for mine at Meffert's.
The Kinato is certainly very fun to play with. Even though the pattern challenges are a bit harder to solve, I enjoyed those the most. It's a shame about its availability, as it can be played by anyone, puzzler or not, but if you're a collector, I suspect you may already have one.
(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Cat; Right: Apple