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Shape-shifting puzzles have been around for quite some time. The Rubik's Snake comes to mind, for example, but there are lots more. Puzzle Crafthouse has taken this concept and created the Shapeshifter, with larger wooden blocks and a bigger length.

The Shapeshifter, as the name suggests, can create many different shapes with a chain of 27 blocks held together by an elastic string. The puzzle comes in a cube form with a checkered pattern, but there's no single solution. The solution is just to build the shape you're thinking of. To get you started, comes included with the puzzle, 18 shapes for you to build. Some are easy to do, but others can get pretty complex.

You also have the choice of three length sizes: A smaller one with only 18 blocks for a beginner; the standard size, the one I'm reviewing, with 27 blocks in a 3x3x3 cube and finally, for experienced puzzlers, a large version with 64 blocks in a 4x4x4 cube.

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When you first try to make any given shape, you'll notice that the blocks won't just turn in any direction. They're grouped together in small rows of three blocks and only at every third block, the direction can be changed by 90º. Well, there's a reason why each block has two straight indentations in opposite directions. They are used to let the elastic string come out in a different direction, thus allowing to shorten or extend the length of a block row.

This clever features allows a wide number of possible shapes, otherwise impossible, and this is the key difference with other similar puzzles that used an elastic string. I have in my collection one of such puzzles, the Elastic Cube, and by having only solid cubes, the possible number of shapes you can build with it are greatly reduced.

Once you understand the workings of the Shapeshifter and built all the shapes provided, you can start building your own creations. If you've create something cool and want to share your design, send an e-mail to Puzzle Crafthouse and they'll make sure to include it in a log on their website.

(Click to Enlarge) - Right Pic: The 27 Blocks Unfolded

Closing Comments:

Having played with various shape-shifting puzzles, the Shapeshifter by Puzzle Crafthouse is a welcome addition to any collection and a fun puzzle to keep around for killing time. If you have a creative mind and can come up with all sorts of shapes and forms, I strongly recommend getting one and give it a try. If you're feeling ambitious, why not try the 64 block version instead?

The Shapeshifter can be ordered directly from the Puzzle Crafthouse website $9.95. The 18 block version costs $7.95 and the 64 block version costs $15.95 USD.

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