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Tangram-like puzzles have come a long way since the original was brought to the west in 1815. The concept is so simple and yet it has been captivating the imagination of so many people for centuries. To me, there's nothing like the classic Tangram, but some variations still deserve our attention, if not for their originality. That's exactly what I feel about the Logic Egg (a.k.a Magic Egg or Columbus Egg), with the first versions introduced by the Richter Company in the 1890's.
The Logic Egg is made out of 9 pieces: four of them have an identical counterpart and only one piece is unique. When put together, the pieces form a flat egg-like shape. The version I got is very well built with natural wood and is presented in a nice box with a closing lid. Inside, you can see the pieces neatly packed into the egg shape and a slot with 54 cards with bird shapes. The theme of the puzzle is very original, showing you first the egg shape - where all birds come from - and from there all 54 shapes can be built with the nine pieces - you must use all the pieces in every challenge.
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At first, I was having trouble solving the challenges, because the pieces have a very unique and peculiar shape that usually are not used in other puzzles: only three pieces have a regular shape, a triangle (two large ones and a smaller one). Also, the cards are not divided in difficulty levels, so you can't start with the easier ones - they're all challenging. As I went on, though, I started to recognize patterns within the shapes that could only be accomplished with certain pieces, and the puzzles were slowly becoming easier to solve (emphasis on "easier", since these puzzles are not easy to solve).
I believe the puzzles on the Logic Egg get easier as you progress through all the cards, and this is where I reckon it lies the big difference between the original Tangram and other variations. Some Tangram shapes are still very difficult to solve, no matter how many you've managed to solved. It seems there's a special harmony between all seven pieces of the Tangram, a mathematical beauty, like no other puzzle has ever been able to achieve.
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Packing puzzles and the likes are among my favorite puzzles. I love the idea of picking up a few pieces and turn them into something else, a recognizable shape, a symmetrical image, or simply anything your imagination commands you to. For this, I can easily recommend the Logic Egg to any puzzle fan out there.
Availability: The Logic Egg is available from Brilliant Puzzles, in the US, for $27.95. If you like egg-shaped puzzles, check out their other offers.