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Skyline is a fascinating and dynamic packing puzzle designed by the talented Jean Claude Constantin. It's a dynamic puzzle because it has many solutions depending on where the metal rod is placed in the wooden tray.
The Skyline puzzle is quite heavy, actually. The pieces and the tray are made from natural wood and its size is rather big, measuring 18cm x 18cm (7.1"). Constantin also uses various colors for the pieces, giving the impression of an eclectic ensemble of buildings and high-rises.
This puzzle has a very interesting concept, since you can alter the way the "Skyline" looks. For that, there are 13 holes in the base of the tray where you can place the metal rod. Once you have chosen a spot, the goal is to place the pieces around it and occupy every empty space. The area of the puzzle is a 7x7 grid; the pieces occupy 48 units in the tray and the remaining unit is then occupied by the rod. Each piece is irregularly shaped, some with eight wooden pegs, others with only two. The pegs themselves have different heights and can either have straight or slanted tops. The appearance after solved is indeed very cool, as it's reminiscent of a city landscape viewed from afar.
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What could've been a simple and ordinary puzzle is actually turned into a great challenge, since it has multiple solutions. This is a perfect puzzle to have in your coffee table and because you can change how the overall piece arrangement looks you'll never have the same display pattern for too long.
There are 9 pieces, so it's not a very challenging puzzle, and the pieces can have up to eight pegs. Nevertheless, one pattern can take you between 5 and 10 minutes to solve. I believe there's at least a couple of solutions for each of the 13 holes scattered around the tray, since you can change the overall appearance of each solution ever so slightly by rotating and swapping a few pieces around.
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I know I must have said this a few times for a Constantin puzzle, but I reckon the Skyline is definitely one of his best designs to date. The idea was to create a puzzle that was able to capture our imagination, to look at it and imagine a city full of life and with a breathtaking landscape. In that sense, I believe the designer greatly succeeded.
Availability: The Skyline puzzle is available at PuzzleMaster for $56 CAD. To see the range of beautiful Constantin puzzles, click here.