Ivan's Hinge

Posted on by Gabriel | 5 comments
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(Click to Enlarge)
Over the next few weeks I'll be reviewing 5 of Ivan Moscovich's puzzles currently available at Fat Brain Toys. First up is Ivan's Hinge - A simple concept and yet so fun to play with and extremely addicting.

The premise of this puzzle is pretty simple. 16 colored triangles are connected by articulating joints in a closed loop and by flipping and folding it you can create several different shapes and patterns. It's a straightforward concept that's quite easy to understand, however, a tough one to master.

The puzzle is very well built from a strong hard plastic, which is a must if you want it to withstand all kinds of twists and turns and still be playable for a long time. It has a nice portable size (the square shape fits in the palm of your hand) and instead of stickers, which would peel off after a while, the colors are painted right onto the triangles. The hinges behave exactly as you would expect, very flexible, although sometimes they do get stuck, but nothing that a small pressing of a finger won't fix. It's a mechanical puzzle, after all.

(Click to Enlarge) - Folding into a Square

(Click to Enlarge) - Square-Shape Challenge (Front & Back)

Included with Ivan's Hinge are 56 challenge cards that range from easy to very hard, which will put your visual spatial skills to the test. The challenges are separated by five different shapes and within each shape you're required to build several different colored patterns.

At first, being able to solve any of the challenge cards is frustrating to say the least. Folding the puzzle into one of the five shapes is challenge enough, let alone combining that with a designated pattern. Whenever I succeeded at getting a shape done, I would go the challenge cards and think to myself "Which one did I manage to solve?" - And voilá! There it was, some random challenge solved by accident...

It took many tries of trial and error until I was able to solve a specific chosen card. After untwisting and unbending too many times, I was finally on the right track. Now the next goal would be to chose a challenge and solve it on the first try. Ambitious, but perfectly doable.

You should start by the first challenges, the square-shaped ones. Those are the easiest shapes to manipulate into, and after mastering those you should be able to tackle the more complex ones. When attempting to solve any challenge, you should try and focus on one of its smaller squares. As you may know, all of the shapes that you can do with the puzzle are called tetrominoes. In other words, each shape can be divided into four small squares.

Take the square shape, for example: In order to solve one of the square colored patterns, try to match one of the smaller squares (top right) to the beginning of your loop - that should be one of its four segments. Then, just fold the puzzle around that smaller square, always remembering where it belongs into the whole shape.

Curiously enough, I found out that in order to get from one shape to another, all you need to do is a couple of flips and folds. Usually, the colored pattern you get on one side is different from the backside. May be the same coloring pattern, but with different colors or a completely different pattern altogether. It's up to you to find out which ones are equal on both sides.

As with everything, practice makes perfect, so just keep trying until you're able to solve all 56 challenges.

(Click to Enlarge) - L-Shape Challenge
Closing Comments:

Ivan's Hinge turned out to be a really pleasant surprise. I really loved the mechanism of the puzzle and how easy it is to manipulate. It's not as easy as it looks when it comes to solve a particular challenge, but it never gets to the point where you just want to give up or feel discourage to keep trying. With patience, you'll eventually get the hang of it, and after that, it will be difficult to put it down. Also a great puzzle to have around to just fiddle with it.

Availability: Ivan's Hinge is available at Fat Brain Toys for about $13 USD.

Video: Check out a video demo of Ivan's Hinge in action.

More Shapes and Challenges:

(Click to Enlarge) - Square-Shape Challenge (Front & Back)

(Click to Enlarge) - Square-Shape Challenge (Same as Front & Back)

(Click to Enlarge) - I-Shape Challenge (Front & Back)

(Click to Enlarge) - S-Shape Challenge (Front & Back)

(Click to Enlarge) - T-Shape Challenge (Front & Back)


Roxanne Miller said...

I knew I'd seen this before. I have one similar. No hinges on mine, but same basic principle. http://www.twistypuzzles.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9&products_id=78

Gabriel said...

The concept is indeed similar, but I tried to make some of those shapes and it's not possible. The other one may have more segments or a different mechanism.

Roxanne Miller said...

I just found and photographed mine last night. Haven't had a chance to play yet, but will give it a go soon. I'll let you know how they compare :)

Michel said...

I had a look at the link you provided Rox and it is indeed the very same puzzle. I had no problem to copy the samples on twistypuzzles with my Ivan's hinge. Guess you'll have try again Gabriel ;-)

Richard Buckman said...

One challenge that I set myself to was to make a 2x1 rectangle so that the height on each square is even. At first I thought it was impossible but then later I stumbled on it accidentally.

I also find it fun to do the shapes inside out so there's only black showing.

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