You all know the beautiful Mecanigma and Architecto Kit by NKD puzzles and you all know the nice puzzles by Karakuri Group, right?
Now let me intriduce you the Karakuri Kits. Well these are not new, but almost (if never) never reviewed anywhere, while they really deserve it !
The goal of this kit is to build a wooden box with a drawer that can only be opened if you manage to solve the puzzle.
The kit is composed of 26 pieces: 23 wooden pieces to assemble and glue with wood glue (not included), 1 transparent plexi plate, 1 metal ball, and a spring. All the elements are of very good quality.
The assembly instructions are entirely in Japanese but the illustrations are clear enough not to need the text. The diagrams in the instructions are precise and the use of color makes it easy to see which parts to use and where to use the glue.
The assembly itself is very satisfying. The wooden pieces seem to be a kind of improved plywood. There are 5 different layers (probably glued at very high pressure to get a good final quality), 3 inner layers for strength (a kind of medium glued in opposite directions) and 2 outer layers of veneer for visual appearance.
The pieces are cut (no laser cut so no blackened side) with extreme precision. Everything fits together perfectly. Nothing protrudes. It is impressive !!
The assembly is relatively fast, 30 minutes should be enough. Once finished, the box is solid and inspires confidence. There is no fear of breaking it or damaging the mechanism.
The fact that you assemble the mechanism yourself allows you to understand both how it works and the technical details so that it can be assembled easily. It is ingenious.
The puzzling aspect
Here you have to use a ball to operate a mechanism visible through a plexi plate. When manipulating it, the sound of the ball against the wooden plates is very pleasant.
I find the box pretty and intriguing because the mechanism is visible from the outside. We can see immediately that we are dealing with a secret box! And one is irresistibly tempted to manipulate it to try it. Although the resolution is not surprising, it remains very satisfactory. This is due to the quality of the material (everything slides smoothly), to the sound of the ball hitting the wood, to the simplicity of the mechanism that makes you want to understand it right away, etc.
I left it at home on the table and all my friends wanted to try it, and even when they had found the way to open it, they wanted to do it again, and again.
The puzzle is extremely simple. It's more of a marble game than a puzzle. It might disappoint, but I don't think this kit is intended to be too complex. The interest, for me, is to build and perceive the difficulties and ingenuity necessary to create a puzzle. The goal is also to have an object that you made yourself and that has a particular value to the one who made it. It is also possible to personalize it (paint it, stick pictures, stick small objects in the mechanism area, make it more or less complex by adding obstacles, etc ...).
Who is it for?
For those who like to understand the mechanisms of a puzzle. For those who like to build lego and furniture kits. For those who want to have or offer an original and personalized object. The box can also be the box that contains the 'real' gift in its drawer.
This kit could also be very well suited to a parent-child activity (perhaps from 10 years old?), there is indeed no particular difficulty in the assembly or solving the puzzle.
The construction of this kit is very satisfactory. This is particularly related to the quality of the parts and the precision of the cutting which allows a perfect assembly!
The object is pretty and intriguing. We immediately want to take it and try it. The handling is satisfying and makes you want to do it again and again.The puzzle itself is not surprising, it is more of a game than a challenge and that is the goal.
Many other kits are available. You can find some pictures below.