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Usually, it's a mystery where Jean Claude Constantin gets his inspiration from to design most of his puzzles. However, judging from the puzzle I have here today, I reckon he even gets inspiration from his breakfast. Meet the Blume Orange, a nice little puzzle in the shape of an orange cross section.
The concept of the Blume Orange is a bit similar to another puzzle by Constantin that I already reviewed a while ago, the Marguerite. It also reminds me of the Transposer Puzzles. It consists of four layers, each with twelve segments - curiously enough a typical orange has ten segments - of which nine are hollow and the other three are covered. By rotating the four layers in any direction you'll need to cover all hollow segments so you can't see through the puzzle.
The puzzle is quite small, with a diameter of 6.7cm (2.6"), which is actually slightly smaller than an average orange at about 7.5cm (3") - Yes, I do research these numbers so you don't have to... The material used is not high quality wood - looks like plywood - but it gets the job done and the rotation of all four layers works really well. The chosen color for the puzzle is pretty good though, with a pale orange tone, apparently with a glaze finish applied.
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Solving the puzzle was actually a pleasant surprise, having found it a bit harder than I was expecting. At first sight, it doesn't look much tough given the fact that you only see four layers and there seems to be not enough to pose a real challenge. Wrong! In fact, although both the Blume Orange and the Marguerite are classified as a difficulty level 8, I reckon the Marguerite is more like a level 7 and the Blume Orange a deserved 8.
It took me about 20 minutes to solve this thing. I'm not sure of the exact number total positions but it gets mixed up pretty quickly as opposed to solving it. Also, I believe there's only one solution, seeing as there are four layers, each with a different arrangement of hollow/covered segments, and there are three covered segments for every nine hollow ones.
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The Blume Orange is a typical Constantin puzzle: An original shape combined with an interesting concept that looks so simple and yet quite challenging to solve. The goal is so straightforward that anyone can pick it up and try his luck. Some may quit in frustration, but I'm sure everyone who tries it will love it.
Availability: At the time of writing the Blume Orange is out of stock at PuzzleMaster, but be sure to check it out often and you might get lucky. In alternative, you can browse many other great designs by Constantin.