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Jean Claude Constantin always surprises me with all these extremely creative ideas for his many puzzle designs, and the Smiley Lock Puzzle is no exception. The unconventional concept is nothing short of extraordinary, and if you have experience in opening other types of locks, don't think for a moment that this one's going to be a walk in the park.
The Smiley Lock Puzzle is comprised by five knobs that, when turned in the right direction, will open the clever mechanism that keeps it locked. Besides being able to spin these knobs in any direction, you can also move them up and down, which ultimately makes it a bit difficult to figure out what's their correct positioning.
My only gripe with the puzzle is its name, aside from its quality, but that's because it wasn't built by Constantin (more of that below). Honestly, I don't see a smiley face, but maybe that's just me. I do see a grumpy face, though, so maybe there was something lost in translation, as the designer is German.
Regarding its quality, as hinted above, it's just not good. If you ever got something from Bits and Pieces, you know what I'm talking about. This time, I didn't even noticed it was manufactured by them until I started to research for the review. At the time, I only paid attention to the name of the designer, which is more than enough to convince me. The chosen material is of poor quality, which is some kind of plywood, and knowing this type of puzzles require a different approach, a stronger type of wood or metal would have made a world of difference. They do warn you to be careful and not to use force in the solution sheet, but I don't like to see the solution sheet before I've solved the puzzle, so breaking it is almost inevitable.
Even though the quality of the puzzle almost ruined the solution for me, I was still able to figure out the secret that was keeping it locked. Without ruining the experience for you, I'll just say that this lock won't open like a conventional one, but you already knew that, didn't you? - I can give you another hint: It has more in common with a Jigsaw puzzle than you'd think...
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PuzzleMaster rates the Smiley Lock as a level 8/10, which is about right given the level of complexity of the locking mechanism. The solving times will vary depending on your level of frustration. If you keep it cool, you can do it within 30 minutes or so, otherwise you'll spend several hours torturing yourself.
Solution: To see a photo of the Smiley Lock opened, click here.
The Smiley Lock is another example of a great puzzle that could have been much better, had it been manufactured by a company that actually cares about puzzles. The concept is brilliant and very well designed, and despite the quality, you can still have fun with it and feel quite challenged.