Cast Loop (合)

Posted on by Gabriel | 3 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
When you think of a good Cast Puzzle, the hardest ones are the first that come to mind (Cast News, Cast Enigma, for example). However, a good puzzle doesn't necessarily need to be hard to be fully enjoyed. Vesa Timonen's Cast Loop, released by Hanayama in 2007, is one of such puzzles. Also, the folks at the 27th IPP seem to think the same thing as well, as they awarded it the Jury First Prize and the Puzzlers' Award. The key word for the Loop is "Synthesis".

The included description of the puzzle is quite interesting, because it tells us that the design is based on an actual puzzle ring Vesa created for his girlfriend. It's amazing what you can come up with when you have motivation. The description also indicates that the puzzle can be used as an accessory when solved - a pendant, maybe?

What's interesting about the Loop is that it's presented in a different way. In other words, it has a different approach, solving wise: Instead of the usual presentation, where you first see the puzzle in its solved state and you need to take it apart, the Loop is the exact opposite. Right out of the box you see the loop in a state where it appears to be impossible to close it (see photo below). The first tries to solve the puzzle seem to end in the same position, over and over again, and closing the Loop looks like an impossible task - That's the beauty of it, because you're led to think the two parts only interact that way. There's more to it than meets the eye, though...

(Click to Enlarge) - Initial State
After some unsuccessful attempts, you begin to realize that in order to solve the puzzle you need a different approach. What intrigued me the most when I first tried to solve it was that this was a level 1 difficulty out of 6, and there I was, completely confused, trying to make sense of it. It took me almost 10 minutes to have that aha moment, when you finally discover the correct way to join the two pieces.

The simple and yet genius concept is accomplished by this spiraling, corkscrew-like mechanism where the two parts - they're identical, by the way - are joined together. The finishing touch is done by two small magnets at the ends that keep the loop closed. Mine doesn't close perfectly, though. The two parts are slightly offset, maybe due to a bad positioning of the magnets. It's not clearly visible from the photo, but it's there.

(Click to Enlarge)
The trick to solve the puzzle lies in where you meet the two pieces in order to spiral them into a closed loop. It looks easy when you finally know how it's done, but I reckon it's not that simple. I would be surprised if you actually solved this within the first minute... Or even second.

Hanayama released a couple of years later, a Disney version of the Loop, although the concept is exactly the same. It's the perfect gift to get your kids initiated into the wonderful puzzle world, though.

(Click to Enlarge)
Video: Click here to see a video solution of the Cast Loop.

Closing Comments:

Surprisingly harder than I was expecting, the Loop is a brilliant concept made simple. Don't let the level 1 difficulty keep you away from a definitely enjoyable experience, despite the apparent easiness of it. Even if you're an experienced puzzler, I guarantee it, you'll love it.

Availability: The Cast Loop is available at the Finish puzzle store Sloyd, as well as the others in the Hanayama collection. Worldwide shipping available.

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)


katsmom said...

I always have a puzzle with me. On my keychain, a ring, this one I've attached a nice leather cord to and it looks fantastic with black. No one knows it's a puzzle till I show them. The Disney loop doesn't have the magnets but makes a nice little ring if you are so encluned. I seldom wear it though because it opens easily.

Oli said...

This is still one of my absolute favourite puzzles! The design and solution are both just so elegant.

Gabriel said...

I agree, it's one of the best designed Cast puzzles. Easy, yes, but not like it's advertised. I handed it over to my brother, two years younger than me, and he wasn't able to figure it out. I'm surprised the Disney version doesn't have the magnets. Were they trying to cut on manufacturing costs because of the extra material for the ears?

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