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Akio Yamamoto is the talented designer behind the fantastic Marine Series from Hanayama's extremely popular Cast Puzzles. He designed six themed puzzles with the ocean life as the main focus. These puzzles have the particularity of not being overly difficult - They range between level 1 and 3 out of 6, although they're great to play with. First released in 2000, the puzzles had a much deserved re-release, eight years later, with refined designs and a new coating finish.
I have previously reviewed four of the Marine Series' puzzles (please refer to the reviews of the Shark, the Starfish, the Claw and the Seahorse). Today I'll be reviewing the fifth in the series, the Cast Reef (formally known as the Coral), with only the Seabream left to review - stay tuned.
The Cast Reef depicts two gobies that were laying eggs in a coral and got stuck due to the current. Your job is to get them out of the coral and then put them back together - Poor gobies. The puzzle follows on the same design principle as the others in the series with one part chrome and the other golden, which makes for a nice contrast and a striking visual effect. You can also use it as a keychain, although bear in mind that that would scratch your puzzle pretty easily.
As mentioned above, the Marine Series' puzzles are not that difficult to solve, and while the Reef is actually one of the hardest alongside the Seahorse, it's still rather easy compared to others in the main Series. Its difficulty level is a 3/6, but it might surprise you...
The main part of the puzzle, the coral, has a few bumps and grooves that will difficult your task, so expect a some dead-ends along the way. The first thing you should do is to try and figure out where the two gobies should exit. If you succeed to do this, it's easier to solve the puzzle, because you have an idea of where the gobies should travel, instead of just randomly fiddling with them until you eventually discover the way out. Another thing to keep in mind is to make use of the entire length of the space between the gobies, as it will prove to be crucial in travelling around the coral.
Solution: If you still require further help in solving it, you can download a solution at Sloyd's.
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The Marine Series by Hanayama is a wonderful addition to the already marvelous Cast Puzzle collection. My favorite from the six is still the Starfish, but the Reef is a great puzzle too. Akio Yamamoto has really outdone himself and the result is obvious, an extraordinary selection of puzzles that look absolutely gorgeous and a must-have in any collection.
Availability: You can get the Cast Reef at Sloyd's, in Finland, as well as all the others in the Hanayama collection.
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)