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Another one of Hanayama's revitalized puzzles, the Cast Plate is an update of an old design, found at Jerry Slocum's collection, by the talented hand of Nob Yoshigahara. It was first released in February 2005 and the key word is "succession".
The Cast Plate is essentially a disk with 23 holes scattered around its surface and a disk with a gap that allows it for travelling around these holes, sort of like a maze. The object is to remove the ring from the plate and then return it to the "Goal" position.
Prior to know about the Cast Plate existence, I purchase a few years ago a box full of vintage puzzles, and in there was this puzzle bearing a striking resemblance to the Plate's concept. As you can see from the photo below, it's about half its size and it's made in aluminum, which is much cheaper to produce. I'm not sure if the old copy I have is the real thing, but judging from the appearance of the box that came with it, it sure looks like it's from a few decades ago. The older version also has a starting position. Here's the one from Jerry Slocum's collection (Disc and Ring Maze), the one that inspired Nob for the updated version.
(Click to Enlarge) - Comparison between a vintage maze puzzle (left) and the Cast Plate (right)
Even though the Cast Plate should be a modern version, it still looks like a vintage puzzle, and in terms of quality it leaves much to be desired. The ring often gets jammed and stuck in the holes, needing some force to free it. The disc itself looks great, though. It was very well polished and has a clean smooth surface, although not flat. Maybe if the holes were a little more wide or the ring a little more thinner, the problem would be easily fixed.
Hanayama rates the Cast Plate as a 2/6 puzzle, although in my opinion it's no harder than any of the level 1 puzzles. As far as I'm concerned, very little skill is needed to solve it. As the key word suggests, a succession of moves will suffice to eventually free the ring. Some people might solve it faster than others, depending on how many dead ends you encounter on the way, but in the end it's just a question of trial and error, luck and intuition. After you've solved it, you can try again to see how much of the path you still remember and get a faster solving time.
After you make the first moves, it will be easier to see where you can place the ring next, as the distance between the holes becomes predictable. You can also tackle this challenge backwards by imagining the ring entering the disc and work your way to the "Goal" position.
Note: At the back of the disc you can read "Nob's Last Present". Knowing that Mr. Nob passed away in 2004, it's certainly related to the last project he did for Hanayama.
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The Cast Plate is not Hanayama's best work, but it's still a nice puzzle. Also worth praising is the fact that they try to give new life to old puzzles, making them widely accessible again for people that otherwise wouldn't have the opportunity to play with them.
Availability: The Cast Plate came from the Finnish store Sloyd.fi and it's available for about €10 (worldwide shipping available). For all the other puzzles in the Cast Series, check out their Hanayama page.
Solution: You can order the solution for free in the puzzle's description page at Sloyd's.
Hanayama Cast (in English) - Very useful website in English, with plenty of information on all things Cast.
Hanayama's Factory Visit (Many thanks to Roxanne Wong for sharing these pictures)