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The Triazzle puzzles date back to 1991. An invention by Dan Gilbert, who later had the collaboration of Fred DaMert and his Company for mass-producing the puzzle. Twenty one years later, the puzzle has sold over five million copies in a wide variety of designs and has won several awards.
Given the fact that I'm an Astronomy buff, the design that I chose to review is the Space Fantasy, depicting six different Cosmos' and out of this world objects.
The Triazzle is a Pattern/Edge-Matching puzzle with 16 cardboard triangular pieces. Pattern recognition and an utmost attention to detail are two of the required skills needed to solve this type of puzzles. Each piece shows half of an object's image on the edge of its three sides. Your task is to remove them from the frame, mix them up and finally, place them back so that the entire puzzle is seen with 30 matching objects.
Since I've been collecting mechanical puzzles for a few years, I already knew about the Triazzle's existence, although I've never played with one before. Because of this, I didn't know the exact size of the puzzle until I actually saw it... And it was larger than I was expecting. The frame measures approximately 35cm in diameter (almost 14") and each triangular piece about 8cm in length (about 3"). Other square-shaped puzzles that use this pattern matching concept can become this big when assembled, but thy come with their pieces in a tiny box. Not the Triazzle, I'm afraid, as the frame won't collapse to a smaller size. It does have its advantages, though, because its beautiful aesthetics can be proudly displayed in a desk or a shelf.
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Solving this type of puzzles can be deceptively hard. The Triazzle puzzle, in particular, has thousands of combinations, all wrong but one. Although it took me about 15 minutes to solve it, I wouldn't be done without a few unsuccessful attempts first.
Since there's no exact way of solving this, a systematic approach is probably your best option. One important thing you should know is that there's no two identical pieces. Some of them may share two identical images, but never three. The fact that several pieces may appear to fit in the right place, but aren't exactly the correct ones, is what makes the puzzle complex. If you can't fit one piece, you should try and swap the problematic one with a similar fit.
When you start solving the Triazzle, the piece you should probably place first is the top one, with the logo seen at the bottom. Placing that first piece is as easy as it gets, because there's only one that has the correct half objects. This will certainly give you a false sense of easiness, as the subsequent ones won't always be the first choice. After you've solved the challenge with the frame, try solving the puzzle without it. It'll be a little harder, given that you don't have the guiding pictures from the frame anymore, which tell you you're going in the right direction.
If you're new to this type of puzzles, you can try to assemble, out of the frame, a smaller pyramid with 9 pieces (Junior Size). Once you get the hang of it, go for the ultimate challenge.
(Click to Enlarge) - Junior Size
The Triazzle - Space Fantasy, along with several other designs, are widely available in many physical and online stores. Amazon.com is just one of them, but you can check this page for other options. There's also a cool computer version of the puzzle for PC and Mac called Triazzle Island, and you can try before you buy it.
The Triazzle was a nice surprise. I already knew the concept and own other types of pattern-matching puzzles, but not like the Triazzle. The history behind the puzzle is inspiring and the design is something that clearly shows, a lot of effort and creative thinking went into its making. I highly recommend it to any puzzle enthusiast.