Friday, 22 December 2017

Nice games

I wanted to speak about a new puzzle shop I discovered on the internet and their puzzles/games they are selling.
It's always good to see more and more shops created as it means more ways to get some games and/or puzzles. The name: Art of Play.

Several things are here: a disentanglement puzzle, a deck of cards, a metal puzzle and a ball of whacks.

The disentanglement puzzle is nice, not easy for a beginner like me but I managed to solve it. Unfortunately I cannot put it in the original state, but I will still try.

The metal coil with the ring to free is a famous puzzle. Very easy and can be solved super fast when you know how to. I will let try totally beginner to play with and see if they can find the trick. Despite being an easy puzzle, the quality is very good, so it's pleasant to solve it again and again. For me it would be more like a stress ball :-)

Now, what about the "ball of whacks"? It's a magnetic toy made out of plastic. The goal is to use your own creativity to create shapes and to try to achieve the challenges (that consit of making such or such shapes with some hidden pieces) written in the book.
I like a lot this concept because you can do what you want (well you're still restricted by the number of pieces) and for someone like me who likes geometry, it's interesting! And the big plus is that it's suitable even for children. Indeed the pieces are not sharp and despite the magnetic attraction that works perfectly (the pieces snap fast and easily with each other), it's not possible to pinch your fingers, which may happen when magnets are too strong. Good point so!

Finally if you look carefully in the first picture, you can notice a deck of cards. What's special about it? Well it's pretty original and looks very nice in my mind. I think some puzzle collectors collect also cards, so it may be worth to get the deck :-)

Have a look at what they offer, maybe you will be able to find things you did not find in other online shops!

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Genie bottle

Designed, made and exchanged by Stephen Chin at IPP 2017 in Paris, this wooden puzzle has something similar that you can see in other Chin's puzzles: the wooden circles and the wood turning that he is famous for.

The goal is to open the puzzle and get your reward.

The puzzle has several steps, not unique mechanisms but all the steps are well implemented.

From the picture above there is one wooden ring with something special, maybe this is useful to solve it? (false question, I already know the answer!)

As all Chin's are very difficult to get (especially because he does not make a lot, and does not run a puzzle business), I am very please to have it. Not difficult but nice puzzle.

On the top of the puzzle is something special. Do you think using it will make the genie appear from its bottle? I am sure you will need to use the reward after ;-)

Friday, 8 December 2017

Wunder puzzle take apart

This series of 3 puzzles was crafted in 2011. The original designer is unknown but Eric managed to get an original copy and made some variations of increasing difficulty.

Each dovetail has different mechanism: the first is easy and you should not have any difficulty with it, the other 2 have some tricky mechanism that will challenge you a bit more.

Each dovetail has 2 wooden parts and the devetail joints have a strange shape, well that not the usual shape for these kind of puzzles. And the trick is also, when you have unlocked the mechanism, to slide the 2 parts in the correct way, which needs a bit of practise. No force required!

The craftmanship is very good and very precise. Well, precision is the key for dovetails.

After some time and pain in he hands I managed to open all the dovetails. I liked all of them and there is a real progression from one to the other puzzle. I think this is nice to have made a series of 3 puzzles and not just one puzzle: more puzzling fun! I also like that Eric does not produce a lot of dovetails so, it changes a bit and this is very appreciated.

I won't comment on the precise mechanism, I will just tell you that it's not super complex inside, but well implemented and very efficient.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Plate box by Strijbos

This puzzles was the exchanged puzzle by Wil Strijbos and crafted by Griffoen long long time ago and seems to be pretty rare as it has never popped up at any auctions nor nowhere contrary to supposely rare puzzles that always appear at auction...
Rare means rare, right?...Anyway...

The name of the puzzle suggest that it's composed of plates and we can easily notice that you will have a total of 12 plates to assemble (2 per side of the cube) in an interlocking way.

The box is pretty big but very light. In fact, the material used seems to be not hard woods, but more likely a composite.

If you were to try this puzzle, it would be a more challenging puzzles if it disassemble. Indeed when assembled, it's easy to solve and the first plate is freed after only one move. Then you try to push and puzzle the remaining pieces and at the end: solved!!

Starting with the pieces like below is a way more difficult challenge!

In my opinion, this is an interesting puzzle, I like 2D shapes that make 3D solid at the end. And this puzzle, despite not being made by Strijbos, is associated to him. So in a way, a complete collection of Strijbos' puzzles is nice to have this puzzle.

I am sure that you know Wil's current face. OK. And I am sure you want to see how he looked before. Well, click on the below spoiler button :)

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Free the marble

At this year (2017) IPP design competition, there was a puzzle awarded by a new (or let's say someone who is not used to crafting puzzles and does not belong to the puzzle community) puzzle designer: Laurence Grenier.
She designed and crafted a wooden puzzle "free the marble" which, as the name indicates, goal is to free the marble from the interlocking wooden pieces.

The craftmanship is very nice and precise, congrats for this nicely made puzzle!

Several steps are needed to solve the puzzle. First you need to disassemble the pieces, which is not that obvious because you cannot see how the marble intereacts with the wooden pieces. Sometimes it blocks any moves, sometimes a wooden piece can move it the marble is in the correct place.
Then when you have all he 3 pieces that move freely, you can think that the solving process is over. NOOOO!!! You still have a nice challenge which is not that easy. What is funny is that now you see the inside of the wooden pieces and you see the marble. Still, it took me pretty long time before solving completely the puzzle.

Guess what? The wooden pieces cannot be disassembled and that surprised me a lot. Maybe some more puzzling could have been even added with this challenge which would have consisted in separating the 3 pieces. And I am sure it's more difficult to craft 3 connected pieces than 3 separated pieces!

Not many of this puzzle were crafted and I am proud to own a puzzle made by a French person! It changes :)

I think this puzzle is a very nice idea for Hanayama cast series, and I am sure it will be successful. Let's see if Laurence asked them...

Friday, 10 November 2017

Egyptian gloves

This time an unusual puzzle, I'm calling it a "covering puzzle". Why? Because the goal is to cover a geometrical structure with fabric.
Let me introduce you the Egyptian gloves designed and made by Jon Leaman. It was his entrant for 2017 IPP competition contest.

You're provided with 3 different challenges. For the 1st one you need to cover the pyramid with a squared bag. Normally you should not have a lot of difficulties to do so, especially if you've ever played with Iwahiro's puzzles. I managed to solved it. The dimensions are very precise, so no need to use any force at all.
For the 2nd challenge (see picture above), you're provided with a band of fabric and I managed to solve this challenge as well. However, my solution was different than the official solution :-)
For the last challenge, you're provided with 4 triangle pieces, I'm still strugling with this challenge.

I am very pleased to see new kind of puzzles. In my opinion, this is a real novelty and it changes from the "usual" puzzles. Plus, here you have not only one, but three puzzles!

I really like this puzzle: it's original and fun and also challenging. I do hope that Jon will come up with new challenges with the same pyramid or with other shapes.

If you're interested, Jon has an etsy page where he sells his creations and the price is very reasonable.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Yosegi pattern puzzle box

Not an original name at all, but very representative of the puzzle, and what a puzzle!
Here is the new creation by Jesse Born, a yound US puzzle designer and maker. Always great to see new artists "poping up" in the puzzle market :)

So what's special with this puzzle? Well, if you notice carefully, the finish is very good and is varnished, which is pretty unusual for puzzles. So it gives a nice glossy finish to the puzzle. The puzzle itseft has a good size. And you can clearly that the name of the puzzle box comes from the yosegi on the top of the box.
I saw several videos of making yosegi and I tell you: it takes a lot of time and precision to do that!

The solving process has some new kind of ideas, which changes from the usual banging and spinning of usual puzzle boxes. All the steps have a special things and they are far from being easy to find. They are well hidden and require some thinking.

Once you solved completely the puzzle you will be able to see the mechanism and I am sure you will like it!
Reassembling the puzzle is just following the same steps but in reverse order, should not be difficult.

Always a puzzle to take a picture in the solved state without spoiling!! :)

I think Jesse has enough skills to be compared to all puzzle box masters in this world, and if he still improves his skills and level up each time his puzzle projects I am sure he will be the best.
I really like this puzzle: good quality, great solving process. Did I mention that Jesse is a nice guy to chat with? It has to be mentioned because.... (I am sure you know why!)

He has a facebook in case you're interested! (I am sure you are!!!)

Sunday, 17 September 2017

S paid in full

It's very great to see more and more 3D printed puzzles out there, and this one is very nice and so cleverly though that it deserves a review.

It was designed, created and exchange by Scott Elliott during IPP 37 in Paris.

I know that cast diamond by Hanayama is the result of a previously made puzzles by Scott, and I really would like to see this puzzle made in metal by Hanayama as well.

Ok so S paid in full is a cast puzzles with only 2 pieces that need to be assemble. The puzzle comes disassembled.

It looks easy, right? Honestly this is not an overly difficult puzzle indeed but....I am sure it will puzzle you for some time.
And the funny part is that each time I managed to assemble the 2 parts and then disassembled them to do again it took me some time and I never managed to solve super quickly. So I feel that this puzzle is very fun to solve again and again. It's du to the fact that you must perfectly match the 2 parts and make the perfectly right move.

To conclude: a really nice and interesting puzzle!!

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Moulin rouge

This puzzle was made by Stephan Baumegger and exchanged during IPP in Paris.
This one really fits the IPP theme as the moulin rouge is a worldwide famous cabaret in Paris.

The goal is to free Colette who was trapped inside the moulin rouge.

Usually Stephan crafts burr puzzles (high level of burr), but from time to time he comes up with packing puzzles or other kind of puzzles. Not being a super fan of burr puzzles, I jumped on the occasion to get a nice puzzle made by this very seasoned man!

The craftmanship is very nice, I love it. The internals, not being a new kind of mechanism is well implemented in the puzzle.

I did not find this puzzle to be difficult, it's not staightforward because you can be blocked sometimes but very manageable for anyone. I knew what I had to do and it did not take time before I released Colette. However, I thought what blocked me was something a bit different, so I was a bit surprised.

Stephen provides a tool to free Colette but in my mind this is not useful because the stand of Colette was pretty tight attached to the internals (yes, I know what I say is confusing, but not sure how to say without spoiling...).

To conclude, a very nice looking puzzle and fun to play with. No doubt why it was awarded!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Coke bottle #5

In the series of the coke bottle puzzles, I will review #5.

As usual, the goal is to free the marble that is trapped and you should not need to use external tools.

So here you see a red rod with screw in 2 places and an hexagonal screw that may be useful at some point.

You definitely need a bit of dexterity (especially when you reassemble the puzzle) but you also need to use the tools in the appropriate way.

I liked a lot the steps and I did not find this puzzle fetched contrary to a previous puzzle bottle with a black top. I feel that the tools are used in a clever way.

About the difficulty, I would say it's moderate: not overly difficult, but not that easy. So a nice challenge. I am sure you would like it.
I am sure you have seen that it should not come out that way :-)
To conclude: one of my favourite Strijbos' coke bottle puzzles!

Friday, 4 August 2017

The 3 circles

Among the recent puzzles sold by Wil Strijbos, this one is the other pretty cheap (I reviewed the other one previously). The puzzle is called "the 3 circles"...and is composed of....3 circles! What did you expect :)
And the goal is not to disassemble the circles but to assemble them  to make like a ball shape.
So when you will receive the puzzle, I tell you it's not solved!
How it arrived

In terms of quality, I fear I will tell you the same thing as the previous small puzzle (cross the ball): the quality is way below Wil Strijbos' standards! But you will notice that by yourself if you don't trust me. I feel this is a pitty. Especially because sometime the pieces seem to be able to move uing a bit of force and you don't really know if you should force a bit (because of quality issues) or if you should take another path to move the pieces...

How it looks when disassembled

One may think this is a burr puzzle, I don't think so. But I let more burr-experienced people argue on that :)
This is not a so easy puzzle and you will have to make several attempts. Maybe some rotations are involved? never know...
By having a quick look at the pieces, you should see how each piece should go with which piece. The difficulty is to get them all assembled.
How it looks when solved

Despite the poor quality, I think the puzzle has a good puzzling value for its price. And I am sure that the challenge will suit your taste.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Cross the ball

Long time I have not published a quick review of a puzzle, and this time no one has reviewed this puzzle (well, I think so...).

This is a puzzle made by Wil Strijbos (or most likely he has made it by his official Chinese maker) and designed by Mr Gong. (who's that man, by the way??)

Not a usual puzzle sold by Wil as this is one has several colors and is a sliding puzzle compared to the usual "sequencial discovery" puzzles offered by Wil.

What about the quality?
I must admit that the quality is below Wil's standard. Don't get me wrong, this is not bad quality at all. I don't say that. I only say that usually the finish is better. And you will notice that quickly when you hold the puzzle. Some pieces are a bit rounded, and this is not intended for the solution. I guess that this is not the same metal as Wil's usual puzzle. However this is still nice and it's not common to have metal puzzle with several colors!

What about the goal and difficulty?
The goal is to "cross the ball". Despite Wil's picture of the starting point and goal, I did not really understand at a first glance because everything seems to be identical....But if you look more carefully you will notice that the right part of the cross is hidden by a bit of a dark metal piece whereas it's not when the puzzle is solved! The marble is useless you have to take it out to solve the puzzle. This is just intended to keep the pieces in place.

In my opinion there are 2 challenges compared to the only challenge given by Wil.

The first challenge is shown by the picture and is not that difficult to be done. You have to move the pieces with several kind of moves and it should not take you too long to solve and reassemble.
First challenge done!!

What about the second challenge?
Well: separate all pieces and then reassemble them. For that challenge, this is not that straight forward to solve, you will need many more moves. I almost thought it was impossible and that the pieces had been crafted in such a special way not to be separated. But I was wrong, you can separate the pieces!!
I advise you to take pictures of the disassembly, because reassembling the pieces will be a harder challenge...
2nd challenge done!!

To conclude, this is a nice puzzle. I like the colors, I like that this is not an usual puzzle. I also like the pretty small price (compared to the usual Wil's prices). I like a bit less the quality. But I would still advise you to buy it if you like sliding puzzles and you want to add a bit of metal to your collection.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Slide packing

This puzzle was awarded a prize at IPP competition in last summer (2016) and it seems many people like it.
At a first glance you can wonder why it received a prize as it looks a pretty "basic puzzle". Well, it's not!

Ok, so nice presentation (like usually with Japanese products) and easy-to-understand goal: just put the wooden pieces in the box and close it.

You're provided with 3 identical pieces and a weird one. Putting the identical pieces in the box and closing it is super easy. Putting all the pieces is far from being easy. Yes, this is a packing puzzle, but in my humble opinion, one of the most original packing puzzles out there. It's not only about putting pieces in a box, it has something more, which gives this puzzle all its originality and that may be the reason why it was also awarded!

About the crafting: this is super well crafted, the box is wonderful, no friction between pieces. A very very good job! And the wood is very nice too.

What about the solving process? This is very pleasant and force you to think. With packing puzzle, honestly you just put pieces here and there. You cannot really think. Here you can. While it will not take you hours and hours to solve it, I think the difficulty is nice: not too low, not too hard, so that you will not be reluctuant to solve it many times. Did I tell you that closing the box is also very pleasant: smooth? Now you know :-)
I swear that all the 4 pieces are inside the box. Puzzle solved!!

To conclude, definitely a nice puzzle you really should own. And the Japanese post is the best in the world! I received my package in less than one week! Just amazing!!!

Thursday, 25 May 2017

The captive coin

Why captive? Just because you have to free it!

As you can notice, if you're a bit aware of this kind of material, this puzzle is made out of corian, which is not a natural material. It looks like stone.

The goal is easy, how to achieve it is a bit more complicated, especially because you cannot really see the mechanism. However, you can still have an idea of it.

What can you hear? Thing(s) ratling inside.
What can you do? You can depress the lid!

Now you understand that you need to depress it enough so that the coin reaches the same "level" as the hole to free it.

If you have ever played with this puzzle, I am sure you have managed to solve it several times, but not always on the first attempts. The hidden mechanism (simple, if I am right) is the roots of that.

A unique design, crafted by Frank Chambers, this puzzle is also pretty scarce.
The difficulty is not high but solving it is pleasant, and remember that usually with Frank Chambers' puzzles, don't expect to spend hours and hours on a single puzzle.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

A-mazing drawer

As the name suggests this puzzle is amazing and is...a maze with a drawer to open!

Designed and crafted by Simon Nightingale, this unconventional maze is not for the faint of heart, this is a very difficult puzzle!!

The goal is to open the drawer, the puzzle is solved when you've done that, you cannot remove completely the drawer and thus, you cannot see the mechanism, unfortunately...

Immediately after handling it, you will hear something ratling inside, like a marble, and you will assume (and you sould be right to do so) that you will have to carry the marble to a certain place where, by pushing the drawer, it should be released.

The biggest difficulty is that you have no idea of the design of the maze, nor really where you are, especially because the puzzle has some tricks (no banging by the way) that I cannot tell without spoiling. I manage ot solve it....without really understanding the puzzle and I fear you cannot really understand it without seeing the mechanism. Hence, in my opinion, this is not an easy puzzle to repeat.

Amazing by its difficulty and mechanism, I think this puzzle is a nice addition to your collection provided that you're ready to be frustrated :-)

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Exchange bottle

Exchanged by Wil Strijbos, this puzzle have some uncommon features.

First, it differs from Wil's usual bottle that are in glass. Secondly this one has 2 goals. And finally, guess what? The bottle is normally used for pee tests....!!

OK so one goal is to free the ball. The second goal is to put the metal ring that is inside same as in the right picture. Indeed at the beginning does not "cover" the shackle of the lock but only goes through.
The bottom of the bottle has a hole and maybe this can be useful. Ah...and I forgot to mention, don't even try to open the bottle: this has been glued!! What did you expect??
Like another of Wil's bottles, the keys are outside. Surely they will be useful in some ways.

So despite its original look and its "must-have" value for a collector, what about the solving process?
Tying to not spoil, I would say that this is a dificult puzzle. Of course, you have to get clever ideas in the right moments, but even if you have these ideas, the puzzles requires dexterity, I would even say a pretty hard dexterity, especially for one goal.
And you have also to pay attention to not use brute force and be careful to avoid damaging the plexi. This is not a strong plexi, so be careful. Not to put in every hands...

What do I think about this puzzle? I like it a lot...but I would have liked even more with less dexterity (and why not more steps) and in a thicker bottle.
In Wil's flickr you can see some other bottles. A strange one has even a lot of things inside...would be worth the case to make some more! :-)

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Twisty & magnetic puzzle

I recently received 2 puzzles: a magnetic puzzle and a twisty cube 3x3.

About the magnetic puzzle, it comes from CubeZZ
The puzzle comes in a small rounded box and sealed. It is composed of many magnetic balls, the goal is to make a cube, but of course you can experiment making any kind of shapes.
The color is bright and attractive. The good point with this magnetic puzzle is that it's suitable for anybody including children as the magnetic force is not too strong, so that it's not possible that the balls pinch your fingers.
I am still trying to figure out how to make a cube, if anybody knows please let me know :-)

The second puzzle is a twisty cube coming from SpeedCubeShop.
It's a Gan air 356 that you can see here:

I have already reviewed a cube in the same series. This one is as good as the previous one: very smooth, easy to make corner-cutting, very enjoyable!
The difference is that here you're provided with a tensioning plastic tool, and for my previous review there was a metal tensioning tool with additional nuts.
But unless you're a super top level of high speed cubing, you won't touch to the screws of the cube. But maybe you still want to experiment different smoothness.
A very good cube again!

Saturday, 29 April 2017

Haleslock #2

Why #2? Why obviously because another one was released before :)

I already published a review of the haleslock#1 here, so time to speak quickly about this one.

Shane Hales, designer and crafter of this haleslock series learnt about his mistakes and released more of this lock. Guess what: it was sold out super fast, and maybe even faster than what he thought.

What are the differences and common points between this puzzle and the other one.
First, both are not crafted from scratch but are modified locks that can be bought in the market.
Then, both require several steps to open even if this one require fewer steps though.
Both are very niceley designed and are quality locks that a serious metal collector and/or serious trick locks collector should have in his collection.

 Like the previous lock in the series, the keys (here 2 and not only one as for haleslock #1) are attached to the lock. However here the keys can be used directly inside the lock because the chain is long enough, which was not the case for the preceding lock.

In my opinion, this trick lock is closer to a trick lock (ie: more a trick than a sequence of moves to solve) than to a real sequencial discovery trick lock.
Indeed it does not have a lock of steps. The hardest being the first one and after that it's pretty straight forward. If you have ever played with haleslock #1 you will notice that the difficulty is less high. The price also is less high.

I wish the puzzle was a bit more difficult but I like the effort put in this lock and I think Shane Hales is definitely a genius. I hope some more in the series are in the mind of Shane.
If you have a look at his website, several puzzles include locks or keys, like his imitation locks and the puzzle called "turn the plug" which I hope he could craft some more.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Time to fold....astonishing foldings!!!

Below you will find some foldings I folded recently. Only one sheet of paper. No glue, no scotch tape used!
For some I put the 2 sides and when the folding is backlit. For other (like 3D foldings), as they are not suitable to be backlit, I put only 2 pictures. They are super time-consuming, but the result is worth the effort I feel :-)

Hope you will enjoy them. And as usual they can be sold!