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The late Nob Yoshigahara was responsible for bringing to us many of the Cast Series' greatest puzzles. On one of his journeys to find unique puzzles, he met with Professor Bakalar from Prague, Czech Republic and was introduced to the Cage puzzle. He later made a few tweaks to the design and released it as a Hanayama Cast Puzzle in 1996.
The Cast Cage is a very interesting puzzle. This concept has been used in many different versions and, as a matter of fact, I already own in my collection a rather similar replica in size and shape. This was even before I had knowledge of the Cast Series variety. I acquired this version in a job lot, together with other puzzles, so I'm not sure of its origins. It doesn't have "Cage" engraved on it, neither "Hanayama" at the bottom, so it's definitely a replica. The texture is also quite different, as the surface is very smooth compared to the rough texture of the original. You can see the differences in the photo below (original on the left and replica on the right).
|(Click to Enlarge) - Comparison Between the Original (Left) and a Replica (Right)|
The object of the Cage is simple enough to understand at first glance: There's a golden six-point star inside the cage and you need to free it by passing it through one of its four openings. Although with a different design, I also found the Cage to bear a slight resemblance to the Cast Star, where you have to free a similar six-point star, except it's trapped on a snake-like loop.
The Cast Cage is a Hanayama level 3/6, so difficulty-wise you won't find much resistance. I found that it's a little difficult to maneuver the star inside the cage, because of its small size, and if by any chance you have big fingers, you really have to struggle a bit to get the star out.
The openings on the cage are all different, so at first, you might find a little challenging to find the correct one. If you carefully observe the openings though, it's easy to see which one would be large enough to let the star go through. After I've got the star out, I tried the other three openings as well, but with no luck, so it's possible that it has indeed only one way to be solved.
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The Cast Cage is a very well thought concept. It's responsible for a multitude of other similar versions that use a cage-like appearance and various other objects to be freed. Personally, I reckon the design of the cage should've been a little bigger, as sometimes it's difficult to get a grip on the star. Other than that, I strongly recommend it to anyone with a slight interest in puzzles.
Availability: You can get a copy of the Cast Cage from the Finnish puzzle store Sloyd, as well as all the others in the series.
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)