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Vinco (Václav Obšivač) is best known for his extraordinary coordinate-motion puzzles. However, the one that I have for review today is not one of them. The question is, does it compare to his best work? - Keep reading to find out.
A few months ago, I reviewed the Triangle Vinco, with a somewhat similar style to this "mini AC3". As the name suggests, this is the third version of this puzzle. The first two have a slight difference in the piece configuration, albeit looking identical. The six pieces are all dissimilar, being a combination of two different sized right triangular prisms, glued together at different angles. When solved, the puzzle forms a perfect square prism with dimensions of 5.5 x 3cm (2.2" x 1.2").
Viewed from above, the puzzle has a beautiful eight-point star appearance, accomplished by overlapping the squared puzzle shape with the frame at a 45º angle. At the corners of the frame's base are four triangular prisms, the same size as the bigger ones seen for the pieces. These columns help to give a clear notion of the puzzle's borders, thus making a bit easier to assemble it back to its original form. Even so, there's nothing about the puzzle that makes it easy... Quite the opposite, actually.
(Click to Enlarge) - Partially Disassembled
The mini AC3 came from PuzzleMaster and it's rated at 9/10, just shy of the hardest difficulty. It's not a 10, because there are others, also from Vinco, that are a daunting task to solve. It's more like a training if you plan to get any of the harder ones. I have the Square AC2, which fits this category, but that's for another day...
Because I had a bit of solving experience with the Triangle Vinco, I wasn't caught off-guard, as I was already expecting that kind of non-intuitive piece interactions. Since the pieces don't fit exactly in an orthodox way, it can get rather difficult to recognize the correct patterns and how a specific piece can be placed in the frame. There are at least two pieces that are easier to place than the others, for their peculiar shape. In the photo below: top layer, middle piece and bottom layer, third piece.
(Click to Enlarge) - All 6 Pieces
The first of these two pieces is the easiest and can be placed between any of the four corners. The second piece is not so straightforward, because there are other three pieces that can fit together with it. A trial and error approach is the best option here, but with the first piece already placed, it shouldn't be that hard. The other pieces don't offer any type of hint whatsoever, as to where they might be placed. It took me approximately one hour to figure out the correct configuration, and even then, I tried to solve it a second time after taking the photos, and it took me another 15 minutes or so to solve it. Definitely a tough challenge.
At the beginning of the review, I asked if the mini AC3 could be compared to Vinco's best work. My answer is, absolutely! - This puzzle is a serious challenge for any experienced puzzler and the exquisite design is just what Vinco has been presenting to us all these years - A truly satisfying solving experience.
Availability: The mini AC3 is available at PuzzleMaster for a very affordable $12 CAD. Also available, are many other puzzles from Vinco with the same type of pieces and a similar concept. Ahead is a small list of such puzzles: Eight Houses, Cube 3, Minibox C2, Minibox Q1.5, Three Wedges, Triangle 9x3, Triangle AC2, HCP1, HCP2, HCP3, Hexagon AC, Rectangle AC2, Sandwich, Square AC2 and Square AC3.