Cast Key II (鍵)

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(Click to Enlarge)
About a year ago, I reviewed the Hanayama Cast Key, which was one of their first three Cast Puzzles released in 1983. A few years ago, in April 2006, Hanayama released an updated version of this puzzle designed by Otake & Wong, the Cast Key II with a different look, but maintaining the classic appearance.

There are a couple of differences between the two versions, although the main concept of the puzzle remains the same. In other words, if you solved the original Cast Key, then the Key II is pretty much the same, except the solution is less obvious. The first noticeable difference, besides the design, is the metal alloy used in the two puzzles: the first looked like it was made in brass, and judging by the smell it leaves in your hands, it must be; the second has a more clean, polished and smoother finish with a silver coating. Another difference between the two is their size, as the Key II is about 1 and 1/2 times the size of the original.

(Click to Enlarge) - Key & Key II

If you've never solved the first Cast Key, the goal is simple: separate the two entangled keys and then, return them to their original state. Since both puzzles are basically solved in the same way, one wonders why the Cast Key is rated by Hanayama as 1/6, while the Key II is rated as 2/6 - I like how Hanayama uses the design of a die to represent the level of difficulty - If you have both puzzles and carefully analyze the two, it's easy to understand why... The Cast Key had these grooves that were marked along one of the keys, giving away part of the solution, but the Key II succeeds very well in hiding these subtle features much better, which adds a little more complexity for a casual puzzler, hence the difficulty 2/6.

Giving the fact that I have solved the first Cast Key in over a year, I completely forgot the steps required to untangle the new keys. In fact, I didn't mind that, because I got to enjoy even more solving the puzzle again, although I was still able to solve it within 10 minutes.

The solution, although not so straightforward as the first one, is still quite simple. Looking at the puzzle, it's clear that the key with the gap in the blade is the one that should be freed. A couple of turns around the two small knobs in the main key is enough to get it near the bow. Another couple of twists and turns around the bow and the key is finally freed. Getting it back to its original state shouldn't be any problem, even easier, actually.

(Click to Enlarge)

Closing Comments:

Back when I got the first Cast Key, it was one of my favorite Hanayama puzzles, because of this mystic and mystery feeling they give out. Now, I like the Key II even more. Definitely one of the best looking Cast Puzzle.

I am just recently a proud owner of the entire Cast collection and I can now fulfill a goal I hoped for when I started to collect them, which is to review them all. I expect to achieve this by the end of the year, although by that time, Hanayama should have a couple more out there, since they release about four new design each year...

Availability: The Cast Key II came from Sloyd and it's available for about €10. For all the other Cast Puzzles, check out their Hanayama Cast page here.

A little bit about Sloyd: This is a Finnish puzzle store, in business since 1989, and has a wide variety of mechanical puzzles and games. Browsing some of their inventory feels like a wonderland for any puzzle collector, as they have several puzzles that are very difficult to find anywhere else, like some from IPP Design Competition or from designers around the world, like Vesa Timonen or William Strijbos.

Note: This review marks the reaching of 100.000 page views of my blog, since May 2010. With a growing average of about 400 page views a day, and soon reaching the 200th review, I couldn't be happier by sharing my puzzling experiences with this wonderful community. Thank you to all my readers and please, look forward to what's next. There's always great puzzles out there to talk about... ;)


Hanayama Cast (in English) - Very useful website in English, with plenty of information on all things Cast.

Hanayama's Factory Visit (Many thanks to Roxanne Wong for sharing these pictures)


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