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Since Hanayama started to produce the Cast series, back in 1983, they've revived several classic designs from the turn of the 20th century, so that a new generation of puzzle enthusiasts could enjoy them as well. The Cast Devil, also known as the Devil's Claws since 1905, is another great design brought back by Nob Yoshigahara, in 1994, with Hanayama's top-notch quality. The key word for the Devil is "Claws".
From the official picture, the puzzle looks smaller than it actually is, so I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw it. Made with an unusually thick metal (about 5mm or .2"), the overall feel of the puzzle couldn't be better.
The two parts comprising the puzzle, or should I say "claws", are completely identical. In order to be able to separate them, you should know exactly where the exit point will be. Even before you have the puzzle in your hands, just by looking at its configuration in the pictures, you'll probably figure out how it's solved - Well, you'll know the exit point to be more precise, but the tricky part is to get there, and here lies the beauty of the puzzle's concept.
The Devil is rated by Hanayama as a level 4/6 and by PuzzleMaster as a level 8/10. Like most of the Cast puzzles, the level of difficulty is somewhat subjective and could be a topic of discussion. I reckon it's only a level 4 if you're not experienced with this type of puzzles, otherwise it's a level 2 or 3 at best. Solving time was approximately 5 minutes the first time and a couple of minutes the second. With multiple attempts, I have now learned the exact movement and can solve it in a few seconds.
Until I've learned the solving method, and whenever I'd put it back, the little Devil would be entangled almost immediately. This was a little frustrating, to say the least. On the positive side, after each successful solve, you could have another go at it and still have a tough challenge. But, since I believe a puzzle is not truly solved until you can disassemble it and assemble it back without a hitch - Thank you for that Kevin Sadler! - I insisted until I completely understood its method.
Solution: Click here to download a solution guide, if you get stuck.
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The Cast Devil is a wonderful puzzle in the true sense of the word. The puzzle draws you in as if it were trivial to solve it, but until you've learned its secret, you're stuck by the Devil's Claws. Highly recommended to any puzzle fan and a fantastic gift to frustrate your friends.
Availability: The Cast Devil came from the Canadian puzzle store PuzzleMaster and it's available for about $13 CAD. You can also take a look at all the other Hanayama Cast Puzzles here.
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)