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Nowadays, Trick Locks seem to be made from many different materials, as opposed to the traditional metal locks that can be seen everywhere. An example of this type of puzzles is the IQ Locker series by Mi-Toys, a collection of four different Trick Locks made from natural wood. There are some downsides associated with the choice of wood for Trick Locks, but the low production cost seems to weigh more in the end, and the quality is fairly decent to dismiss them, as they're a nice and cheap alternative to their more expensive metal counterparts.
The first puzzle from the IQ Locker series I've acquired is the Combination Lock, an intriguing design reminiscent of a number locking mechanism seen in many products, like suitcases. The only difference is that there's no numbers in the Combination Lock, but something more subtle instead... The puzzle seems well built, considering how low the price is, with a polished and clean look. Its dimensions are 14.5cm x 5.9cm x 1.8cm (5.7" x 2.3" x 0.7"), which is pretty nice overall for this kind of puzzle.
The mechanism in the Combination Lock is rather interesting, because it has its similarities to another known mechanism, but it still manages to differentiate itself from it with a clever design. The cogs, at first sight, don't seem to have anything special to them - Just three simple acrylic cogs. However, at close inspection, you'll see something surprising. The dents in each of the three cogs have different thicknesses and are spaced in different intervals. Now, I can't say everything about the mechanism, but I'm sure you can have an idea of how they should interact with the internal parts of the shackle. The goal is open and then close the lock.
|(Click to Enlarge) - Partially Opened|
The Combination Lock looks more difficult than it actually is. I also find it strange that it's classified as a level 5/5 - Far from it, actually. It took me less than 5 minutes to open it, but here's the kicker, I didn't know right away it was solved. Why? Because I was under the impression that I had to completely remove the shackle from the puzzle. It turns out that you only need to open the shackle twice as high as its original size over the top edge. It actually took more than 10 minutes to figure it out, so I guess you could say I took around 15 minutes to solve it. It all comes down to interpretation of the instructions, which only mentions "Open it" and "Unlock it". There are cases where you can completely remove the shackle from the puzzle (including one I've recently solved), so that's what my initial confusion was all about.
The puzzle has two different stages until it's fully opened, so you need to rotate the cogs one a time to pull the shackle all the way up. Closing the lock is much easier, since you can see how the cogs will interact with the shackle. Difficulty-wise, I'd say it's more like a 3.5/5.
|(Click to Enlarge) - Fully Opened (Without Revealing Much)|
The Combination Lock was a nice surprise, considering my expectations weren't as high as for a metal lock. Yes, you have better feedback from a metal mechanism, but in this case I believe you don't lose too much with the wooden/acrylic mechanism. Pretty good puzzle, overall, and recommended for Trick Lock enthusiasts.
Availability: The Combination Lock, as well as the others in the IQ Locker series, can be found at Brilliant Puzzles for just $10.95 USD each.