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The Cyclone, by The Lagoon Group, is a fantastic puzzle and one of the most stunning in my collection. The mesmerizing swirling shapes create a wonderful pattern to look at, however, quite intimidating to solve. Holger Strøm, a Danish designer, created the puzzle in 1973.
The Cyclone is comprised of 30 identical pieces that interlock to form a spherical shape. The material is a highly bendable plastic, so there's no risk of damaging it during assembly. It comes already assembled and the idea is to take it apart and then reassemble it back to its original shape. It's one of the lightest puzzles in my collection.
I've had this puzzle in my collection for quite some time, and I remember that it took a while before I gathered some courage to take that perfect shape apart. Obviously, I was afraid it would be too difficult to put it back together or that I wouldn't have the patience to finish it... As it turns out, it wasn't so difficult as I was expecting it to be - it just looks scarier than most puzzles you're used to.
The puzzle comes in several different color schemes, and some are harder than others to assemble. Mine is a two-color scheme (red and black), but there are three colored ones that need a different approach to be solved, because you have to respect a simple rule: there can't be two of the same colors directly touching each other. In other words, straight edge can't touch a curved edge, but they can be touching at a vertex.
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PuzzleMaster rates this as a level 8 out of 10, but if you have a knack for assembly puzzles, it's a more like a 6 or 7, at most. I believe it took me around 30-40 minutes to reassemble the puzzle, and as I was solving it, I felt it becoming easier with each piece connected. At first, you might feel a bit overwhelmed with all those identical pieces lying around, but as you keep connecting more pieces, the shape begins to take form and it's actually very fun to assemble.
As soon as you understand how the pieces connect, it becomes more of an easy task than an intimidating one. A piece can be viewed as a rhombus with one straight edge and one curved edge. The connection between two pieces is made by having a curved edge connect to a straight edge. This definition is true for all pieces of the puzzle. You can start by connecting five pieces in a circle (they will share the same vertex). When you have that shape, continue by connecting new pieces in a circle. In no time, you'll see the spherical shape coming to life. Not all vertices will have five pieces, though. For each vertex with five pieces connected, there will be five other vertices with only three pieces around it - quite an interesting geometry.
The designer has found other uses for this shape, including an impressive range of lamp shades. These are explained in more detail in the IQlight website.
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The Cyclone puzzle was a joy to assemble, despite the initial fear of having an unfinished project in my hands. The assembly process becomes very intuitive with only a few pieces in, and depending on your skills, it shouldn't take more than an hour to put together. It'll look great on any work desk or on a shelf together with other nice-looking puzzles.
Availability: The Cyclone is available at PuzzleMaster for $16 USD. There are currently 3 color schemes available.