|(Click to Enlarge)|
The Cast Enigma is probably one of the most elegant puzzles in Hanayama's Cast series, alongside the Cast Radix - Their design is pure art. The Enigma is an original design by Eldon Vaughn, patented in 1975, and Nob Yoshigahara gave it new life in March 2004 when he decided to add it to the popular Cast series. The key word for the Enigma is "twist".
The puzzle consists of three distinct parts - When I first looked at the puzzle I immediately thought about musical instruments, specifically a horn - All three parts must come apart and then should be put together again. This task is anything but simple and you should prepare to be extremely frustrated with this one.
Regarding difficulty, the Enigma is in the group of the most difficult ones by Hanayama. Its rating of 6/6 should be an indication of what to expect, although I must say, this is no Cast Nutcase or even the Vortex (the two most difficult in my opinion). It doesn't mean that I didn't have a hard time with it, because it got pretty frustrating at times, but I always felt that I could solve it if I was a little more persistent.
I lost count of the times that I tried to solve the Enigma without success, but it wasn't in a couple of sessions, that I can tell you. At close inspection, it's easy to see which piece is the key to solve this challenging puzzle, as it's the only one that has a small path to let the other two pieces slide from one end to the other. Figuring this part is easy, but how do you go from there?
In a couple of times I was able to do the "brilliant" job of getting the pieces to become so entangled, to the point they were completely stuck. I eventually did get them disentangled, but nowhere near to the solution. This is one of those puzzles that even if you manage to get the pieces apart, you're clueless as to how you were able to do that. This is precisely what happened to me. At some point, I succeeded at removing the B-shaped piece and was quite surprised to finally see it free. I immediately thought the puzzle was finally solved. Now all I had to do was separating the other two pieces. Oh, how wrong was I...
The remaining pieces were giving the same headache just like the whole puzzle. I was constantly passing the gap of one piece through the path of the other back and forth, but the result was the same. Over 10 minutes passed until I was finally able to get the final two pieces to come apart. Since I was still so frustrated by the whole event, I couldn't get my mind wrapped around the fact that I had to do it all over again, this time in reverse, to get the puzzle back to its original form. I had to resort to a video showing its reassembly and be done with it.
|(Click to Enlarge)|
I have mixed feelings about the Cast Enigma. On one hand, there's this harmony between the parts that almost feels poetic - The design is indeed a masterpiece. However, on the other hand, I felt like throwing it out the window on my most frustrating moments. It was quite rewarding seeing it solved, though, so I guess it's worth it. Be advised, this is one hell of a challenge.
Availability: I got the Cast Enigma from Sloyd, in Finland. They also carry the entire 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)