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Continuing my reviews of classic puzzles revived by Hanayama, this week I bring you the Cast ABC. One of the very first Cast puzzles released by Hanayama, back in 1983, along with the Cast Star and the Cast Key, the ABC is a new version of the 1911 classic puzzle from England. The key word for the ABC is "tracks".
Design-wise, the ABC is practically identical to its classic counterpart, expect for its overall appearance and dimensions, which is about double the size. You can also make a keychain out of it. I took a comparison photo with an older version that I already had in my collection (don't know if it's the actual original version, but it looks old), and as you can see, it's much smaller (photo below). It also looks like it's made from aluminum, judging by its color and light weight. The Hanayama version, on the other hand, appears to be made of brass, with that characteristic awful smell of metal. I reckon they could have added a coating finish to it, but my guess is that they wanted it to look as more authentic as they could, which is why it has this rough surface and old-looking appearance.
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The object of the puzzle is very simple: just separate the C piece from the AB. The concept is very similar to the Cast Bike, another classic, in which you also have a small piece that has to travel across a path full of indentations in order to be freed. The ABC is exactly the same thing, as you try to free the C piece by going through the same type of indentations.
The ABC is one of the easiest in the Cast Series and it's great for someone unfamiliar with this type of puzzles. It's rated as a level 1/6 and as expected, you won't feel much challenged by it. However, I do think that it's a very fun puzzle to fiddle with, just like the Cast Bike is - One of my favorites, actually.
As you travel across the paths, or "tracks", as hinted by the late Nob Yoshigahara, you'll find some dead-ends along the way. Sometimes you might need to flip over the C in order to get it to pass through another indentation, but overall, that's about as hard as it can get.
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There have been quite a few other versions of the ABC puzzle throughout the years, but from what I've seen, Hanayama's version is unrivaled with its superior quality. My only complaint is the choice of brass, because it leaves an unpleasant smell on your hands afterwards.
If you want a tough challenge, you have to look elsewhere. The Cast ABC is basically for beginners and collectors. If you liked this one, I recommend you to try the Cast Bike as well.
Availability: The Cast ABC is available at Sloyd, from Finland, for about €10. If you're interested in getting others from the Cast Series, check out the store's special Hanayama section.
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)