Friday, April 10, 2015

meeting another puzzler

Around 4 years ago I had received a private message from a young puzzler asking if I might show his creations to my friend Uwe in the hopes that they would become mass produced.  Being the nice lady I am, I of course said yes and the puzzles were on their way to me.

A little while later another puzzler sent me another copy of one of the puzzles and I was ready to head to the manufacturers.

I'll be honest, while they are lovely puzzles, I knew when I looked at them that they would not be made. Too many parts, not appealing to the mass market, to small and to make it big enough would be to make it huge....I could hear Uwe already and I hadn't even shown him.  But I was duty bound and I took it over.  Sure enough, That's what he told me.

I didn't give up hope though and took the puzzle on to Mf8 and CubeTwist.  Both said similar things. Well, I boxed up the puzzles then and sent them back to the designer.  A few months after I saw the other puzzler at IPP in Berlin and hand delivered his.

To my surprise, when I got back from IPP I had another package from the young puzzler.  I opened it right away and inside were the two puzzles I just sent him.  Not delivered, return to sender.  I took the puzzles out of the box, put them on my shelf and forgot about them.  I showed them to a few other manufactures that year, but then....

Fast forward to last month.  I got yet another private message from that same young man stating that he was in Singapore and would be in HK soon.  Would you care to meet up Rox.  Well heck yes!  Why not?

I was thrilled, but he didn't send me a date. Well, he did.  But I missed it.  What a debacle.  I had to work, then had a dinner and totally messed up.  To compensate, I ran to the airport as he was leaving so I could deliver his toys and finally meet him. We met up, had a drink and a nice-although short-conversation.  Tanner is a very nice young man.  I'm glad I had the chance to meet him.  The puzzle he designed was brilliant for the age he was at the time.

I've never shown these to anyone outside the designers, and I now have his permission to do so. If anyone is interested, contact Steryne over on Twisty Puzzles.  I'm sure he'd be thrilled to hear from you about them.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Le Astronaute

Today i give you yet another Berrocal.
Astronaute hommage á jules verne (1979-1980)
I paid a small fortune for this puzzle, but it was well worth it.  I'd seen it before on the internet and was intrigued.  When fellow puzzler Jim was cataloguing his puzzles, I asked him for a disassembled photo of it.  He obliged and I jumped on the puzzle!  This girl loves her Berrocal's and when it's jewelry!  Even better.

The puzzle consists of 35 pieces.  Sadly, when I received mine 2 of them were missing but it's not a problem. I have already gone to the jewelers and am having them made.  The missing pieces are the holders for the earring balls.  Not a large missing piece and easily replaced thanks to the photos in the book.
Mine is number 308.  I'll be honest, it took me a long time to find the number. I must be blind.  I looked and looked and while chatting with a fellow puzzler just stumbled across it.  Not a noticeable number like on the other Berrocal's I have.   The dimensions follow:

130x162 mm
Head 66x108mm
1000 bronze exemplars, The rings are silver.
200 silver exemplars (I've just been told these have been changed to stainless steel not silvr-thanks Jim) and
6 18k gold exemplars.  It was made using lost-wax molding.  Which is different from the other Berrocal's I have.  The rest are cast.

This puzzle starts out with the removal of three chokers.  After the removal of those comes the removal of 3 bracelets.  After that it pretty much falls apart.  This one isn't a difficult puzzle to take apart or put together, but it was fun every minute of the way.

The next part of the sculpture makes up a divers helmet. Pretty neat. It is pictured to the left in it's stand alone position.

Once the helmet is removed, you can take out the brain and the face. The eyes come out next followed by the cheeks. As I write this, I can't help but think of butchering a human-Hannibal Lector style.  What a horrid thought.  The eyes are 2 silver rings that are enameled and the cheeks are made up of a folding ring.  One side is a moon and the other is the sun  The two pieces have a clasp that holds them together. Both the brain and the face can be worn either as pendants or as charms on the bracelets.  They can also be connected together.

Under the parts of the head, there are a few parts that make up a rocket ship that can take you to the moon.  This puzzle just keeps getting better and better doesn't it.  Pretties to wear AND a rocket!

Below the Rocket base is a set of three round plates.  Each of these can be made into a pendant. These have cylindrical and conical anamorphoses of a male torso which are viewed using special cylindrical and conical mirrors contained within the sculpture.  The mirrors are the upper most parts of the rocket ship shown to the left.

I attempted to photograph the pieces, but I cant do it justice so I've added a photo from the book.

Below you can see the jewelry all put together. The base that the sculpture stands on can be used to hold the 3 pendants.  A very clever design if I've ever seen one.  The genius of Berrocal never ceases to amaze me.  And because of this, I know I'll be hunting down more....

 As a final set of photos, I have put some of the various pieces of jewelry on.  I just love my Berrocals!

As a final treat, thanks to Oli, I've put together a video of the puzzle being put together. It's a bit shaky, and I warn you, it's long!  Enjoy.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Puzzle rings

It's no secret that I like a good puzzle and when it is combined with jewellery I'm even happier.

Today I present you with a pile of rings that I have picked up over the past 4 or 5 years.
You'll notice a lot of color on there.  Shapeways is a great place to pick up little bits and pieces...And of course puzzle parties too.

Starting from the right, I've ordered the black rings or at least one of them off Shapeways.  This is a very simple design that takes about 2 seconds to solve.  It is quite fun though because if you hand it to a non-puzzler, it very easily falls apart and takes a minute or two for them  to reassemble.  The wider 2 band black ring I have no idea where  I got it from.  I thought I bought it off Shapeways, but I can't find the order.  So much for that idea.

Next up are the two Japanese flags. I purchased those at my first IPP (30).  I'm not sure who I purchased them from, but based on the first orange/white puzzle, I'd guess it is a Vesa puzzle.  The design is similar. Both Flag puzzles break into 2 pieces that twist around a center core.

The next 4 rings are from Vesa. The 3 nylon ones I purchased from his shapeways shop and the metal OCC was a gift from him when I attended FPP last year. I think this year I'm going to purchase the jigsaw ring he designed...if I can work out how to put it back together....

The next batch of 7 nylon rings are all Oskar designs.  Oh, I'm getting this wrong, Bram also helped with them. I'm really fuzzy on the relationship here so forgive me. They are real pains in the bum to put together. All of these bands have a clasp around them and I will kill the fool who opens it!

Next up are 2 rings I purchased from Jeff Bell at his webpage.  The first is sixth sense by Bram Cohen, and the next is called fire. I liked the pretty red color.

After that is a simple traditional 6 band ring that I picked up god knows where followed by a gold and sapphire ring I just bought in Cambodia.

Now I know you are going to ask if I wear the nylon ones, and the answer is yes. They come with me to puzzle parties and are on my fingers when I play.  Fun fiddle factor, and it just might get people to talk to this shy girl.....

 One last photo for you all. Sixth sense in all the versions I have.

And before anyone asks, no I haven't played with any of the Oskar/Bram puzzle rings. Those two are just plain evil!

Friday, March 20, 2015

And then there were three

Berrocal Micro's that is.

Anyone who reads my blog and some of the random rubbish I post on Facebook will realize that I have been on a bit of a mission collecting the Berrocal Mini puzzles.  I managed to win Micro-David a few years back and have been looking for Micheline X, Micro-Maria, and Micromento ever since.

Well, I did it.  I found 2 of them!  Both were sold through auction houses recently, and I can now say I have only Micromento to look for.  (I know, I know.  That won't be the end of my collecting, but it will be the completion of the set.)

I was asked if the micro puzzles are the same as the mini puzzles and the answer is yes, but no.  They have a similar outward appearance, but the insides are just a bit different.

The first biggest difference between the micro's and the mini's is the ring. The rings inside each of the micros is a mesh band that can be folded around one of the internal pieces.  In the Mini puzzles, they are a solid banded ring.  The micro rings are a size 6 while the mini's have a 6.5 or 7 depending on the puzzle.

Starting with David, the Mini David has 22 pieces while the micro has only 17.  David was injection molded in 1968, while micro-David-off was made in 1971.

Michelle has 17 pieces while Micheline X has 23.  Michelle was produced in 1969 and Micheline X was made from 1975-1976.

Maria has 23 elements in both the mini and micro edition.  Maria was made in 1968-1969 while the micro version was made in 1973.

These are beautiful additions to any collection.  I highly recommend them to one and all!  I can be seen sporting these puzzles at puzzle parties worldwide, and love to have my friends share the pleasure of taking them apart. If you happen to see me with one, ask and I'll gladly hand it over for disassembly.

For more information on Berrocal, please see his website.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

One last night with Otis

We decided to have one last dinner before Otis left for Beijing again.  This time we met at a Chinese/Western restaurant and had a nice meal and a good chat.

There is not much to tell because most of what we spoke of it top secret for now....but we did have a few good laughs-mostly at my expense. Solved a few puzzles and just had a very pleasant evening (no beer!  are you shocked?)

Otis returned my Stickman Pirates Wallet having not finished it. It seems that the humidity managed to finally get to a Stickman.  No matter, a few days in the dehumidifier box and all is right again.

I brought two Berrocals for him to fiddle with, and a burr in a bag that I have not been able to get open!  Do I feel the fool.  It was such a simple puzzle....

Sadly Otis and I parted company around 10 and I won't see him again until April. As always, it's so hard to say goodbye to the boys.....

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A HK gathering

Chinese new year came and went and as usual, Otis was in town. What better excuse to get together for a puzzle dinner than a friend being home!

Before we went to dinner Otis and I met and headed to Victor's warehouse to get in a bit of puzzling and to purchase a few toys.  He very graciously gifted us a mathematical puzzle that could be solved in 5 different ways.  He said it was an old design, but I hadn't played with it before.  I had great fun with a 3D printed maze, and enjoyed a pingpong ball packing puzzle that he had made.

We met for a nice hotpot dinner in HK.  I can't remember the name of the place, but the food was good and the company was better.  Puzzles a plenty were played.  This year the boys cooked the dinner :)

This years dinner we were joined by Wai and his wife.  Along with Ricky, Victor, and Teacher Wong.  Of course Smaz and I were there too.  Wai brought along the cricket bat and the boys had lots of fun with that.

As usual, I brought along a Berrocal and let Otis give it a try. I think he's caught up with them all now.

I brought along Splinter's lock and we had a nice time trying to open it.  Ricky solved it, but then the problem of relocking began and that puzzle ended up being good value for money.

After digging into the puzzles, the food began to arrive, and as always we ate and puzzled at the same time.  Ricky is a bit of a charmer and soon had the beer girl attempting puzzles with us.  He even gave her one of his handmade puzzles to take home.  Gifts were exchanged as usual and wonderful company rounded out the evening.

We had a rather serious talk for a bit about a future puzzle party and carried on from there.  It wasn't a long evening, but it was a great one to share with friends.

Friday, February 6, 2015

A small Hong Kong puzzle gathering.

Back in November when we went to GZ to visit with Ron and Hanneke AJ mentioned to me that he was running the HK marathon in January.  As I was too, I invited him to stay with us for the weekend.  Hotels here are a bit pricey, and we have a sofa so why not save a bit of money?  AJ readily agreed and that was that.

Fast forward to the 24th of January and i got a call asking me to come pick him up.  We had a quick lunch then ran off to pick up AJ's race number.  From there, we headed back to my house which AJ aptly renamed "The Puzzle Hotel".  As it was still very early in the day, we headed into my bedroom and I showed him a few toys.  Of course we had to take the obligatory photo in front of my wall of shame....

Aj puzzled for about 3 hours, and I just kept pulling down one toy after another that he simply had to see. Most of which were of course Twisty Puzzles.  I have quite a few that are a bit uncommon and even more that are fairly rare.   Of course I also had to have him take a look at my pride and joys and I even let him disassemble a few.  Sadly, he couldn't get Maria back together so we chucked her in a bag to bring to Otis to assemble later.  I took out my Hanayama's and showed AJ a few of the test colors, and a few of the other special pieces I have in there.

We puzzled until Mr. Man came home and then we had dinner.  I discovered that AJ likes packing and tray puzzles, and pulled a bunch out for him to try.  Around 11 I chased everyone to bed because we had a little jog to get up or in the morning.

We woke at 6:00 to get ready.  Lucky for us, Mr. Man was awake and took a photo of the two crazy ones. AJ started at 8:00 and I started at 9:30.  He of course finished his run very quickly, while the old girl took much longer.  The night before I realized that Timur was going to be in HK and we arranged to meet up for lunch.  Thank heavens Otis is in town, because he picked Timur up and met us after the race.  I had to apologize to Timur.  I was not my usual bouncy self.  I was exhausted-three hours of running really took it out of me.  And!  I stunk!

We met in WanChi and had a local lunch.  Puzzled a bit and just enjoyed the company.  Timur needed to buy some gifts for his nieces and nephews so we took him over to the nearby toys street.  No puzzles to be found though today.  Sadly he was only in town for a few hours and we had to art company around 4 pm.  Otis took him to meet his co-workers while AJ and I headed home for a long overdue shower.  Otis later joined us at the house and some more puzzling.  We stuck around for about 2 hours then headed out to meet Michael for dinner.  As usual, we ended up in the same restaurant in Shum Shui Po.  We like the food, and the owner joins us when he has time.  

 Tonights dinner was just a small affair with only the four of us.  We will have a much bigger dinner next week with more of the HK puzzlers.  This one was just in honor of MY AJ being in town.

We really didn't have a lot of puzzles, but we had a lot of fun.  Otis brought a few as did I.  We had the two of them put together Maria.  And I had a good laugh at AJ's steadfast refusal to insert the key piece below.

As a parting request, if anyone knows a source for the puzzle below, I would love to know.  I've had many requests for it over the years and would love to buy a gross just to be able to give them away to people,  The one pictured here is called a "Tracy puzzle"  it has a coin inside that has to be removed.  

AJ and Otis wrote about the meetup over on Mf8 and you can read it there.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hong Kong Toys and games fair

The toys fair was a bit late this year, or maybe my term started early. Either way, I  didn't have much time at the fair this year. I managed to spend 11/2 days at the fair this year.  Not long at all.  I must also admit to not seeing any booths other than those of my annual 'friends' and I even missed a few of those.

I have this horrendous schedule this semester: 18 hours of teaching!  Monday's in particular suck.  I teach from 3:00-10:00 pm!  Who signs up for a class at that time of night? 11 of my students that's who. Silly fools. This class meant I couldn't see any of the fair or my friends on the first day of the fair.

Tuesday morning I woke bright and early and headed over to bring Hendrik a few puzzles that had been delivered to my house the week before and my pocket wifi so he could be connected while he was in town (we just can't live without internet can we?). I didn't stay very long as I had class at noon so off I ran again back across the harbour to go teach.  I managed to get back around 3 in the afternoon and the first stop was Uwe's booth.  Jing and Adela were there as well so it was hugs and kisses all around.  Uwe wanted me to go get some KO cubes for him and took me for a little walk down the aisle.  He thought I could walk up, get some samples and be done with it.  Sadly, it doesn't work that way anymore.  I'm fairly well known now.  Back to the booth to meet up with Hendrik and we then went off to say hey to Mr. Tangle.  This year Guido was in town working the booth with Uwe so we had to say hello to him as well.

Uwe is bringing out a bunch of new egg shaped puzzles, they should hit the market within a few weeks.  Shiny!

Because I arrived so late in the day, that was it.  Nothing else to do or see.  What a girl I am.

That night we had dinner with Meffert's, Puzzle Master, Ventura toys, and a magician friend of ours.  Hanayama had the table next to us so it was a big puzzle dinner.
The place we ate is famous for a dish called beggars chicken.  It has to be ordered 24 hours in advance, and when it comes to the table, you have to open it yourself.

We had very nice conversation and talked for around 3 hours.  When it was time to go, Hendrik and I walked  over to TST east to meet Michael and Ayi for a drink or two.  That as usual turned into way way too many....I got started on the B52's and that was all she wrote.  Someone ordered tequila... Might have been the whiskey, could have been the gin... I vaguely remember switching venues, and watching the sun come up.  It has to happen at least one night of the fair.

Wednesday saw us returning to the fair to pick up a few samples and say hello to a few more friends.  It was a rushed day because Hendrik and I both mucked up on his departure date. Yes he was leaving Thursday.  At one minute past midnight!  How did we miss that?  We packed up his bags, said our goodbyes and I took him off to the airport.

This year I didn't collect many samples.  I did see some new boxes that are coming from mimi toys again and expect that Otis will get me samples of them before the year is out.  My photo of this years toys include those brought from the GZ day.  Sorry guys.  I really had no time this year.  Next year I'll have to just call in sick.  Oh wait!  I did that on Wednesday and I'm glad of it.  No time with Hendrik if I hadn't, and friends are the best part of the fair.

As always, it was great having friends in town for the fair.  I love this time of year.  I get to see some people for a few minutes and catch up, others I spend days with.  Both are equally important to me.  See, I don't think I really collect puzzles, I think I collect boys!  And there ain't nothin' wrong with that!