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Last week, I reviewed Hanayama's Cast Ring, which proved to be quite a frustrating experience compared to other Cast Puzzles I'd previously solved. This week, I'll write about the Cast Ring II, and surprisingly enough I had a much easier task this time around.
The Cast Ring II, as its name suggests is Hanayama's second ring puzzle. It was released four years after the first Cast Ring, in may 2004, both designed by Nob Yoshigahara. This version, which is based on an original design by Jose Grant, is significantly smaller than their previous one, measuring only 4cm in diameter (1.6"). It's still too large to fit on a normal-sized finger though, but Hanayama chose functionality over aesthetics, as this size makes it easier to handle the puzzle.
|(Click to Enlarge) - Left: Cast Ring; Right: Cast Ring II|
There's another noticeable difference between the first Cast Ring and this newer version, besides their size: the Cast Ring II has five bands instead of four. If the first puzzle wasn't frustrating enough already, now they added a fifth band? - I was already stressed out before attempting to solve the puzzle, given the amount of time it took me to reassemble back the other one.
Hanayama rates the Ring II as a difficulty level 5/6 (for reference, the first ring was a level 4/6). The addition of the fifth band to the ring is expected to add a higher complexity level to the puzzle, as it would be harder to reassemble the puzzle with more parts to work with. Well, as mentioned above, I actually spent much less time solving this one. I honestly don't know if it was luck, experience for solving the first one, or even a mix of both. All I know is that it took me approximately 10 minutes or so to get the ring back to its original state. Here I was, expecting to have a highly frustrating session with this puzzle, and before I knew it I had it solved. I was so glad to have taken so little time to solve it, because I didn't know if I was capable to withstand another couple of frustrating hours with a ring puzzle. Let me know if you had a similar experience with your Cast Rings.
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The design of the Cast Ring II is in my opinion less attractive than its predecessor. This time, the motif chosen was Hanayama's own logo and instead of the two contrasting colors seen in the first puzzle, silver and gold, there's only silver. In a nutshell, they made the second puzzle smaller and having only one color for the finish - It's like they were cutting back on production costs. Usually, the second version is supposed to be an improvement, not a step back. Nevertheless, I did find the second puzzle to be much less frustrating than the first one. However, if this is your first experience with a ring puzzle, you've been warned...
Availability: Sloyd, a puzzle store in Finland, sells the Cast Ring II, as well as all the others in the Hanayama 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)