Cast Hexagon (巡)

Posted on Nov 30, 2015 by Gabriel | 0 comments
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The Cast Hexagon is the latest Hanayama puzzle in the popular series. First created in 1983, the series has seen about 70 puzzles now, give or take a couple. Many puzzle designers have contributed with their creations, and Mine Uyematsu from Japan is now adding his second design to the series, after having designed the Cast Quartet. The theme for the Cast Hexagon is "Go Around".

The Hexagon has quite an interesting design, and contrary to many other Cast Puzzles, its goal is pretty clear right from the start (remove the three pieces from the frame). However, just because its mechanism isn't ambiguous it doesn't mean that it's not a difficult puzzle. Classified as a level 4/6, you can be sure that this isn't a puzzle you'll be solving in just a couple of minutes.

When seen in its initial state, all three pieces form a shape that resembles three hexagons put together. Moreover, even before you've made your first move, the pieces look like they have the same overall shape. That's not the case, as you'll soon verify after the first two moves - all three pieces have a different configuration.

Solving the Cast Hexagon requires creative thinking and finding the correct sequence. It requires a total of 24 moves to remove all three pieces, but I reckon you'll need a few more on your first time, as it also happened to me. The pieces slide quite easily around the frame, although they're locked inside the small area until you remove them. The empty space is very small, so you'll have to keep those pieces moving and rotating them quite a bit to make room for the next move. It may sometimes be a little frustrating finding that there's no space for a move you wanted to make, but just keep trying until you remove the first piece. After that it's a piece of cake to remove the remaining two.

Putting the puzzle back together can be even more difficult if you don't have a guide. Be sure to know the order the pieces were removed and you'll eventually will be able to put it in its original state.

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Closing Comments:

Hanayama never disappoints when it comes to their flagship series, and the Cast Hexagon is no different. I was a bit skeptical at first, because of its unusual design, but after playing with it, I have nothing negative to say about it, and I can recommend it to anyone who likes Cast Puzzles.

Availability: I got the Cast Hexagon from the Spanish store PuzzlesdeIngenio.com. Others in the series can also be bought here.


New Hanayama Website (in English)

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)

Cat Lovers

Posted on Nov 11, 2015 by Gabriel | 3 comments
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If you're a cat lover, like myself, you're in for a treat, as Creative Crafthouse's new Picture Frame Puzzle designed by Dave Janelle, the Cat Lovers, promises to deliver a good dose of fun and feline puzzling. Ten different breeds of cats are represented in this puzzle in various sizes and poses, and one unlucky little mouse, which found himself trapped among this clowder. Your task is to find a way for all of these little pranksters to get along inside the tight space of the frame. There's only one way to do this, so get creative...

Made from at least four different types of hardwood, which results in several different colors, the puzzle is a beautiful showcase of the craftsmanship achieved at Creative Crafthouse's shop in Florida. Each cat is a close representation of its living counterpart, made with spots and stripes by delicately carving the wood with subtle lines. Their Picture Frame Puzzles are also quite big and look great on display, measuring about 19.3cm (7.6") in diameter. The puzzle also comes with its own lid so you won't run the risk of losing any piece - it will only close when completely solved.

The Cat Lovers puzzle features a total of 10 different cat breeds, some of them quite exotic and rare, which I even didn't know existed. These are: Maine Coon, Korat, Kao Manee, California Spangled, Nebelung, Bengal, British Shorthair, Aegean, Persian, Peterbald. The rest are kittens, and of course there's the lonely mouse for a total of 12 pieces.

As expected from this type of puzzle the level of difficulty is very high, so you can be sure to be challenged to the limit of your skills and then some... The cats, and mouse, won't occupy the entirety of the frame's area, but the empty spaces between them will be very small. The trick here is to maximize the waste of space by finding parts of pieces that can be joined together as much as possible, as if you were solving a jigsaw puzzle. Leave the mouse for last, since it won't have any real impact in the solving process and can be fitted in one the remaining empty spaces.

Closing Comments:

Picture Frame Puzzles can be easily picked up by anybody, since the concept is very easy to understand. However, few will be able to solve one of these, as their high level of difficulty can bring along some frustration. If you happen to solve one, then you'll experience a great rewarding feeling. The Cat Lovers puzzle is the ultimate gift for all cat lovers out there.

Availability: I got the Cat Lovers puzzle from PuzzlesdeIngenio.com, in Spain.

Lock and Key

Posted on Nov 2, 2015 by Gabriel | 0 comments
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Trick Locks have always been a favorite of mine. I love to discover their secret combinations, finding out what mechanisms keep it locked. It's always a mystery when you're trying to solve one, you never know how much time it will take you until you finally open it. Today's Trick Lock is certainly one of those that's still keeping me from uncovering its secret - but that's a good thing, it means it's a good one.

The Lock and Key puzzle is one of four Trick Locks from the IQ Locker series by Mi-Toys. These puzzles are made from laser-cut wood, to keep the final cost affordable, but they function pretty well, considering their price. The Lock and Key comes with a key (as its name suggests) and your goal is to open the lock - Simple, no? Well, not quite... This one is actually the most difficult of the series to solve, and so far I have no clue how to open it.

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At the bottom of the puzzle you'll find a keyhole, but soon you'll find out that it's not as straightforward as putting the key inside and turn. If you do shake the puzzle you'll hear something jiggling inside, letting you know that there's more to it. The description of the puzzle mentions a maze, but even knowing that it still doesn't help you that much. The key seems to push something inside with an elastic, but it doesn't look like it produces any visible results.

Compared to the other puzzles in the series, this one is by far the most challenging. The others, I had no problem solving them, mostly because their mechanism was easier to figure out. This one gives you very few hints, so you'll need some creative thinking to unlock it.

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Closing Comments:

The IQ Locker series was a pleasant surprise, because at that price I wasn't expecting much. Turns out these are very interesting puzzles, with intriguing and original designs that you can purchase for about $10.

Availability: The Lock and Key puzzle, as well as the other puzzles in the IQ Locker series, is available at Brilliant Puzzles.

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