100th Post - My Top 10

Posted on Dec 16, 2011 by Gabriel | 0 comments


One hundred posts! It seems like yesterday that I've started to write on this blog. At the time, I was just listing my new puzzles and give them just a brief description, nothing more. Having said that, the first reviews are hardly worthy of that connotation. As time went on, I got more and more familiarized with the review concept and my writing just began to flow more natural.

As some of you might know, I'm not a native English speaker, so I'm more prone to get a few errors here and there, but I'd like to think that I've been getting better with time, as this has also been a learning process for me.

I began on May 2010 to be exact and since then, a lot of puzzles were reviewed. Many of them were great, but only a few were really amazing. To commemorate my 100th post, I decided to make something different and thought of making a top 10 from all the reviews I've written before. So, after browsing through past reviews, I've listed below my top 10 puzzles, from last to first. To get a more extensive explanation, click on their titles to read the original review.

10 - Cast News

This was one of my first Cast Puzzles. At the time, it was the one that caught my attention the most and still today, after having almost 30 of them, is my favorite. What I like most is the appearance of it, the N E W S font is absolutely superb and the golden color gives it an ancient look. This is what Hanayama does best - It takes an otherwise boring puzzle and turns it into an amazing work of art... Even the packaging looks good.

As most of Hanayama's puzzles, the goal of the Cast News is to separate both pieces. This is a level 6 puzzle, the highest and can be a real tough challenge for a beginner.

The White DOTS is an invention of Pantazis Houlis from Greece. His line of gravity puzzles are some of the most original puzzles you can have the pleasure to play. This particular one has many challenges you can do, from beginner to advanced.

Without touching the actual pieces inside, you have to tilt the ball in order to flip the 5 pyramids and solve a specific puzzle. There's a free space between the pyramids and this allows them to flip and turn inside the ball. It's a joy to play with it. The White DOTS has been re-branded and is now called Oginov.

8 - Bolaris

Coming all the way from Finland and designed by Hannu Hjerppe, the Bolaris are actually a collection of 4 puzzles, with each one having a different color scheme. The balls are essentially a 3D sliding puzzle where you scramble the pieces and try to get them to their original pattern.

The Bolaris Color is my favorite from the four, because it's not so difficult, but it sure provides a nice challenge without being too much frustrated. The Bolaris Globe, on the other hand, does look a lot better with the Earth representation, but it can be one hell of a headache to solve.

7 - Qubami

Custom built by Kelvin Stott from Switzerland, the Qubami is a fantastic 3x3 Rubik-type cube with a twist. Think of it like a 3D Sudoku. There's three different colors and three symbols, and you have to solve it so that there's no two of the same colors or symbols in any row or column on each of its six faces.

This is really hard to solve, but when you do, you really feel a good sense of accomplishment. What stands out most in this puzzle is its original look with bubble stickers and stylish color scheme. Definitely worth your time...

Designed by the genius of Oskar van Deventer, the Gear Cube was the first one in a new trend of twisty puzzles. There's been several new versions and sticker variations since its first release by Meffert's, but this one is still my favorite.

The gears that make the cube turn give a whole new dimension to this type of puzzle. Although it requires techniques to solve similar to the Rubik's Cube, it's still different in its own way and extremely fun to solve.

We were first introduced to the Revomaze by Chris Pitt back in 2008. At the time they were only being made in metal and were very expensive. In order to get to a wider audience and to new puzzle enthusiasts, the Revomaze Obsession puzzles were launched two years later. By switching to plastic, the cost of production was considerably reduced and so the final price, although the overall quality of the puzzles remais very high.

For the ones who don't know, the Revomaze is a hidden maze puzzle and the goal is to remove the internal shaft from the sleeve by navigating through a complex maze. The first version of the Obsession doesn't actually allow the shaft to be removed after you solve it, but this issue has been fixed with the V2, now available at their website. New review on these ones coming soon...

The Svetnashki is like a classic 15-Puzzle, but with a very cool concept that gives it a new life. Built by the Russian company Mif Predmet, the Svetnashki makes a very clever use of polarized filters to change a clear tile into opaque when it passes in from of one. There's no unique goal though - You can turn all the tiles dark or clear, or you can just make your own designs.

There were six different versions released (the one in picture is the 4x4 Classic), and the company had plans to release even more, but since then no others have been produced which really is a shame. I still love to play with them from time to time, just for the fun of it... I recommend it to everyone that likes slide puzzles or something out of the ordinary.

3 - Bicone

Vinco, or Václav Obšivač is a fantastic craftsman. His designs are worthy to be in a puzzle museum. The Bicone was my first puzzle from him. Built from cherry and maple wood, it creates a rather beautiful checkered pattern. There are many different designs for this shape - Ten to be more precise. This particular one is called the Bicone 2 and the objective is to take apart the four interlocked pieces, but the process is not that simple.

The method used to solve it is coordinated-motions, but once you're familiar with it, it just takes the time to find where all the pieces are connected. To find more of his amazing puzzles, visit his website. His puzzles are handmade and have very limited quantities, so don't just wait to get the one you're looking for.

One of the most sought after puzzles from enthusiasts all over the world are the Japanese Puzzle Boxes. They are built by the best craftsmen in Japan and are decorated with all these distinctive and intricate patterns. The puzzle itself is to find the correct sequence of sliding movements to open the box. The smaller ones are easier, but as you go higher in size and number of movements, it can get really difficult to open, with some of the hardest ones having hundreds of steps to solve.

The particular one in the picture is actually a 2-in-1. The main box is 2.5 Sun with 5 Steps and inside it, there's a smaller Mame box with 22 Steps to open. These ones, hopefully will be the first in many ahead, because I was completely amazed by their quality and the overall concept of the puzzle itself - to discover each correct movement to open them.

... And we finally get to my absolute favorite of the puzzles reviewed so far, and actually my favorite from my entire collection, because it holds a certain sentimental value that it's hard to get from a regular mass-produced puzzle. Call me egocentric, but how many people have the privilege of having a puzzle custom-made just for themselves? It doesn't get any rarer than this, as this is the only one in the world.

The Lexomino puzzles were created by Eric Harshbarger from the United States and are built from acrylic and plywood for the box. It consists of packing all of the pieces inside the box and be able to close the lid. It's a bit different from what you're used to, like in a simple Assembly puzzle, because the pieces won't just fit into the box by stacking them over each other. They interlock in many different ways to save space, and this is where it gets difficult, since there's thousands of possibilities, but only a fraction of correct solutions, maybe one in some cases.

There's now a popular puzzle based on this concept, also by Eric, called Digits in a Box, but if you fancy one made with your name, you can contact the inventor and ask in more detail what you're looking for. Be warned though, not all letter configurations are solvable, so it has to be checked by Eric if it's doable.

Final Thoughts:

... And there you have it, my favorite 10 puzzles from all my reviews. Who knows what puzzles I might choose for the 200th post? - Maybe a completely different top, but it would be very hard to change my top three.

I hope my reviews are helping some of you to know new puzzles or to decide whether or not to buy the one you were looking for. If I succeeded in that job, then my work was totally worth it.

Finally, I just would like to thank Roxanne Wong, Rob Stegmann, Georges Helm and Pantazis Houlis, for they're  the ones responsible for me to start collecting all these extraordinary objects. They are more than just collectors, they have been contributing for years, with their work and knowledge and sharing their experiences with all the puzzle community, in one way or another. To them, I'm very grateful for that.


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