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!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

GZ Boys and Toys

I have been remiss in not keeping up to date with things.  But who can blame me?  I've had a very busy month.

January is the HK Toys and Games fair month and as always, I had visitors from out of town. Once again my Hendrik came to stay.  I knew we would have to have a party for him. This time I managed to convince him to get a visa for China and off we went.

The weekend was pretty dull as far as boys and toys go.  I had things to do so we didn't spend a lot of time with the guys.  A Saturday night party was planned and i have to say, I'm very  proud of Hendrik.  He survived a boys and toys and did it with great gusto!

We met Ming and had a late lunch, then headed over to Mr. Fok's warehouse.  After gathering at the old one, we headed off to the new place and took a look around.  Talk about being in the right place at the right time. Mr. Fok announced that if we would assemble them, we could have a new puzzle.  We set off!  7 people, almost 2 hours later, and we were finally able to assemble 6 puzzles. One for each of us.   Truth be told, Hendrik and I didn't do much assembling.  I put the pieces in together and Hendrik did all the screwing.  As for assembling the actual puzzle, we really struggled with that part.

After assembly we went to a restaurant near Mr. Fok's old warehouse for dinner and puzzling.  There were around 20 of us there.  Many had flown in from far parts of China.  I'd like to say it was to see me, but I'm pretty sure I am no longer a guest of honor.  I've been one of the boys for too long.

I had jokingly told Ming before the dinner that Hendrik only ate pizza, and he offered to go run buy some for his dinner.  :)  See, we aim to please.  In the end, he even managed to use chopsticks!

At dinner we all chatted and ate as usual. Beer too of course.  As usual, Rox got pretty drunk pretty early on so she doesn't remember all who were there but I'll give it a go.

Witeden brought along his new 2x2x2 megaminx and handed one out to Hendrik.  A lucky draw was done for two more and your girl managed to get one.  Yipee!  We were also both gifted a transparent Mixed up Cube.

Da Yan, Mr. Fok, Ming, AJ, Michael....The usual suspects.

Ayi came down and brought his newest metal puzzle along, Gan brought his, goodness, my brain is addled after all this time.  There were many many more.

I had made some hinged cubes for everyone and brought long a burr and a wire puzzle for the first two people to assemble them.  A good 10 minutes worth of fun that was.  Those boys are quick!

DaYan gifted us a copy of his new pyraminx and signed them for us.

Hendrik very kindly passed out some of his exchange puzzles to the organizers and a few puzzlers that were there.

As usual, as we ate we puzzled.  There were loads on the tables.  After most of the food had gone, conversations started up and people started to move around.  Hendrik taught us a rope trick, Michael gave speeches, Ayi took photos.

Eventually we decided to leave and ended up in the usual KTV club.....Now I have to say, this was probably the best time I have ever ever had in a karaoke club!  I wont bore you with details, but fun it was. We went the distance.  Headed back to the hotel around 3 in the morning, and after just a little bit....I was sound asleep.