Cast Horse (馬)

Posted on by Gabriel | 3 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
A good part of Hanayama's Cast Puzzles are updates on classic designs, mostly found by the late Nob Yoshigahara, who gave them new life, and almost every time, making them look better than the original. The Cast Horse, first released in 1984 at the dawn of the Cast Series, is a perfect example of a classic puzzle manufactured with Hanayama's high-quality materials. The design was re-released in October 1999 with a portable strap, and a new coating finish. The key word for the Cast Horse is... You guessed it:  "horses" - I'm yet to find any of these key words or hints helpful towards solving the puzzle, but maybe it's just me...

I wonder why they called it just Horse and not Horseshoe. After all, the puzzle is comprised by three horseshoes. If I didn't already know what the puzzle looks like, I'd say that it probably had something to do with a horse figure. I reckon "Horseshoe" would be a more appropriate title, but as we've come to expect from Hanayama, they like to keep the names as simple as possible. Anyway, who am I to question their decisions? - They've built a successful company over the years, so whatever they wanna call their puzzles, it's fine by me, because I'll certainly enjoy any puzzle they produce.

As mentioned above, the Cast Horse has three horseshoes, two are linked together and a third one, with a closed loop, is entangled at the center. The object is to discover how to remove the closed horseshoe without breaking the links, of course.

Hanayama did a wonderful job with the design. It managed to revive the puzzle and still kept it simple. I have an old design in my collection with the same exact concept, except it's made from wire. As you can see, the difference is staggering. The puzzle closely resembles real horseshoes, and although the scale is smaller, the shape is perfectly made. On top of that, the coating does wonders at making the surface of the puzzle extremely smooth and reflective. If it were for me, I would change the color of the central horseshoe to a golden tint, like they do in some puzzles, to emphasize contrast. Nevertheless, It's a great looking puzzle.

In terms of difficulty, the Horse is not considered to be a hard puzzle. In a scale of 1 to 6, it's a 2. However, like many of Hanayama's ratings, the level of difficulty is far from being consensual. I remember trying to solve that old Horseshoe puzzle years ago, and had trouble understanding how would it be possible to remove the central part. I know I'm not the beginner at solving puzzles, like I was a few years ago, but I reckon that while the movement performed to solve the puzzle is quite simple, it's not so simple to someone not used to this type of puzzles. And even if you remove the central horseshoe, you still need to understand what you did in order to put it back again... And here, in my opinion, lies the true challenge - Getting it back to its original position. Since I knew how to solve the Horseshoe puzzle prior to getting Hanayama's version, I didn't have trouble solving this one. If you're trying it for the first time, it might take you some time to figure it out.

If removing the horseshoe is a level 2, then putting it back might as well be a level 4. I gave the puzzle to a few family members to try and solve it, and even after I explained the trick, they still had trouble to grasp the exact movement. This is to show that the puzzle is not as simple as Hanayama makes it seem.

Solution: To download a solution, check out the puzzle's page at Sloyd's.

(Click to Enlarge)

Closing Comments:

As I said, Hanayama is a master at reviving old designs. The Cast Horse is a brilliant concept and is sure to intrigue anyone curious about mechanical puzzles. Above all, don't underestimate it, as it can prove to be one tough nut to crack.

Availability: You can get a copy of the Cast Horse at Sloyd.fi for about €10, as well as all the others in the Cast 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)


George said...

I like the text on the box:

A word from the designer: "Back in America's Wild West days, cowboys used any means available to prevent their horses from being stolen. According to legend, one resourceful cowboy had the idea of rigging horseshoes to work as a lock, which served as the origin of this puzzle"

As someone who lives in the Western US, I believe this explanation is a complete myth (as in untrue). But it is an amusing myth!

George said...

I think it is a wonderful puzzle, though. There are many versions of this puzzle and Hanayama's is the best made. The Hanayama "Cast W-U" is not nearly so well-made.

Gabriel said...

I agree with you, George. I have also seen many versions of this puzzle, and Hanayama's is simply the best :P

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