Sunday, January 29, 2012

Edgewise

It seems to me as I read through people's blogs (and in some cases websit postings) that we only see great applause for those puzzles we CAN solve.  Never for those we CAN'T solve.  Therefore, I've decided to switch things up a bit!  Aside from the very obvious puzzle of the opposite gender, I'm going to talk about one really great puzzle that I just can't seem to get my brain around. 

EDGEWISE.  This was Pavel Curtis' exchange puzzle at IPP 31.  At first glance, it is not much more than a 25 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Easy enough right?  Well no, wrong.  This is a very clever little jigsaw.  Those 25 pieces aren't like your ordinary jigsaw.  They connect with each other in a miriad of different ways.  I brought this one along for my inbetweencandidates boredom reliever and had a great devil of a time just getting them to fit. I dumped the pieces out on the table in front of me and had around an hour and a half of piecing the bits together before I got that ah ha.  When you first dump them out you can see there are little phrases on them.  One says "commence here..." deceptive thing! Another has a box with 25 dots in a 5x5 grid.  So starting with that premise, I began to look for ways to assemble this thing.  Let me tell you, I came up with a number of funny shapes this morning, and none of them was that grid.  Right after I came back with my lunch I attempted it one more time.  I was about to give up on it yet again, when I got a bit of an idea.  A small one, but an idea all the same.  Yep! That did it! I got my grid!

So "commence here..." yeah right.  Those pieces may fit together, but the letters sure don't. They don't even point in the same direction.  They are turned evey which way, but I have a feeling having done a few of Pavel's other puzzles that direction is of no importance.  So now what? Well, on the box it says "All of the most interesting stuff happens at the edges". Hm.  Ok, so looking to the edges I start to notice that some of the pieces can be swapped around. After a few of those moves, I realize I've gone no where yet again.  So it's back to the beginning.

Mind, it is now 5:30 in the afternoon and my last candidate is about to walk in.  Where am I? still stuck with a grid! Guess what puzzle I'm bringing along yet again NEXT weekend, and the weekend after that and the weekend after that.....

Even though I have yet to solve this one, having solved two of Pavel's previous puzzles I look forward to a day when I have the time to sit down and really give this one a good think.

You can find this one and many more at www.pavelspuzzles.com

Only go below the line if you want to see the 25 pieces in one of the many configurations I found today.  Warning!  This might lead to a solution, but I highly doubt it.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Otis' visit

Through the wonder that is the internet, a year or so ago I 'met' a puzzler from Beijing.  He said he was coming to HK for a visit and would like to meet me.  Ok says I.  SmaZ's shop.  (well, you can't be too careful, you never know what kind of nutters you meet, and although I might be a tough cookie, physically I'm still a 'little girl') So meet we did and as it turns out, he's a nice chap.  Well mannered too.  His momma taught him right.

So last year I invited him over to see some of my toys.  He really seemed to enjoy it from his posts about the visit both on TP and on Mf8.  Since it is the Chinese New Year holiday and I knew Otis would be coming to HK to visit his family again, once more I invited him over.  Last year we looked under the bed. This year, I let him open a balcony cabinet.  He only managed to open 3 plastic boxes and two cardboard ones.  He also found a big blue bag full of wooden puzzles.

I had to laugh because when he opened the first box he began to pull out puzzles and kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to keep those on the balcony.  Mind, I understand that when you don't have something you desire and I just casually toss them all on the balcony it's a big deal.  In this case the big deal were 4 dogic's (yes, one was the Hungarian original and to please Otis, it is now in the house!), a logi-VIP, and a florescent stickered megaminx.  Ok, so I've had these all for quite some time, and simply don't care where they live as long as they live and I can pull them out every now and again.

The first box he reached into was full of odd shaped puzzles: dodecahedrons of varying types, pyramids, octahedrons...you name it, it was in there.  The next box was full of balls. The big blue bag was next, and that was later followed by boxes of puzzles from IPP.

Otis mentioned that he was more of a sequential twisty type person so I showed him a few nice ones that I managed to pick up this year.  And he took photos of probably everything he saw. Well, most everything.  There were still loads of IPP puzzles he didn't photograph.  And me being the good friend I am pulled out the light box and set it up so he could take some nice photos.

He very kindly gave us a CNY gift.  And bug just loved the Paul Frank gift he brought her!  Thank you so much Mr. Otis.


He also very nicely helped me to reassemble a puzzle that had gotten broken a while ago and I'm grateful.  It was a two person job!

As for the rest of you.  As long as you're willing to meet me at SmaZ's so I can suss out the safety concerns I always have....You are more than welcome to come visit my little puzzle mess.  Mind, you do have to pick up after yourself! (I made Otis put everything back the way he found it-minus one or two puzzles I decided I wanted to try!)  Next year?  We open another balcony cabinet!  There are still many many more puzzles he hasn't gotten into.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Soduko ball and gem 4

Yet again Chinese new year holiday has come and gone.  From an outsider looking in, the holiday is similar to Christmas in the States.  Displaced/relocated families that need to travel sometimes great distances to visit family.  too many kids, in-laws you would rather do with out...too much food.  I guess the one major difference is this thought that only men drink alcohol and then, that it is only the 'mature' men. My holiday scene includes tv's blaring because one cannot hear it over the mahjong tiles rattling, which leads to shouting because you can't hear the person next to yup because of all the other noise in the small 300' living room filled with a family of 30 or so. 

So what's a girl to do then?  Why pull out a puzzle, pop in the earbuds, crank up the tunes and puzzle the night away (until the good brother-in-law realizes that you have yet to ave a drink 3 hours into the night).  And before you go getting bad ideas about me, no I'm not an alcoholic, I really don't drink at home, but alcohol sure helps when you really don't speak the local lingo. 

My puzzles of choice this year? Meffert's new soduko ball cube and a Da Yan gem.

The Soduko ball is quite the challenge and I'm embarrassed to say I still have not solved it.  The object like any soduko is to have 9 different colors on each of the six faces with no two colors being the same.  This was made with a bit of help from Geert Hellings.  There is a nice little write up over on Twisty Puzzles by Geert about it.  I know a lot of people don't like this one for its appearance, and while granted it doesn't look cube like, it is a nice design.  You see, not all puzzles are puzzles for puzzlers.  (say that three times fast I dare you!) Uwe is very excited about this as a toy/game/puzzle for seniors and very young children.  He is keen on making a puzzle that will keep the cerebral neurons firing and stay off the affects of aging.  Here's hoping he's right and playing with toys will make that happen.  I plan on spending at least a few years after I retire playing with these things.
My other puzzle of play this holiday was the toss off I got from Da Yan in January.  The Gem 4 to be exact (I had to just ask Otis to get the number on this one)  Now this one is still a doddle to solve.  If you can solve a helicopter, then you can solve this.  Or if you can solve a dino cube, then you can solve this.  Me?  Yeah. It's been solved and played with again and again.  This puzzle is the one that turns on the faces like a megaminx AND along the middles.  I've just been told it is a 'deep cut' puzzle.  Ok, I'll believe that. 

And now I had best get back to my company.  I've a friend from Beijing here going through boxes and boxes of puzzles.  I'm not at all sure what he's found, but he seems to be having fun.  


Monday, January 23, 2012

My rarest puzzle (and a loaner from a friend)

On 6 January of this past year clausewe posted a thread on TP entitled "extreme rare twisty puzzles".  This in turn prompted Andreas to go looking for something he saw along the same lines, and he came up with this thread.  Of course he had to send me a message right away asking what I knew of these puzzles, and I was more than happy to answer.

Now way back in 2000 I got my hands on a Chi Gung Ball.  Bug used it as a play toy when she was still a tiny little thing.  I have had that one lounging around for such a long time, I honestly forget I have it until someone asks me about it.  Then it's a bit of a dig and out it comes.  Well, Andreas' post and Uwe's proximity and his wanting me to rewrite that little something that is on the brainstick that was found in Oskar's Treasure Chest  made me think to pull in a favor.  No, really, all I did was call Uwe and ask him if I could borrow the space massager for a week or two.

So what's the big deal with these two puzzles?  They are fairly rare.  No, I changed my mind, these two are extremely rare.  Uwe has told me that he's only got that one sample of the space massager left or he would let me have it. And the Chi Gung Ball?  We know of 3 that exist now.  His, Mine, and Jerry Slocum's (who else?)
OK, so here you go.  We need photos right?
First up is the Space Massager.  This one has 6 sets of 4 balls in each of the following colors:  blue, green, orange, yellow, white, red as well as 10 pink balls.  All are transparent and the base of the puzzle itself is a pure white color.  (Now, if you look closely, you can still see bits of that white-I wonder if Uwe has taken up smoking and not told anyone, or if the pollution in Shenzhen is discoloring the plastic) The object of this is quite simple.  Make all the colors line up in a row.  As you can see here, I've managed to muck up this one a bit.  The pink and yellow are not in order.  It turns on each of the four center dials, and the endcaps can be rotated into one of the six different directions.  It's a tricky bugger to solve those last few pieces, but completely doable.  More difficult than the Babylon tower that's for sure.

Next up is the Chi Gung Ball.  Now this one is one hard puzzle to turn. You can see it here from the top view, and while it looks the same, it's slightly different from the above.  First off, the puzzle cannot turn along the center lines.  I've shown it from the top and side here, and as you can see, there are still 8 columns that must be ordered. There are still 4 balls per column, but this one is a bit different in that there are 8 of each color instead of just 4 as in the space massager.  So I guess technically, this one is a bit easier to solve.  Each ball has more places that it can stay in.  You will also notice a black ball on this one. That is a place holder and there is only one in this puzzle.  The other major difference is that the centers don't turn. They are held in place with one solid piece. And I do mean solid.  This puzzle isn't a lightweight one. It's got some mass to it.  Like all good puzzles of the 80's!

Ok, so solving wise?  Well, it did take a while to do so, but it's still fun.  It reminds me of the hungarian towers or the Otto Wu ball.

Last photo for you all:   A rare look inside!

Don't ask me where you can get one, I don't know.  As I said, I know of one and three samples of both.  If anyone else has one, I'd love to hear of it.  But I can tell you something you can do if you are sincerely interested in getting one of your own.  Go over to Meffert's and scroll all the way to the bottom and click the boxes to have him remake these.  If he gets a few thousand people who will order.....well, if not, then we all wait until I get old!  50 to be exact.  You see, he's promised me this for my birthday present.  But sadly, I'm such a young thing so it will be a while yet....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's a small world

 I know people say that, but really, it is!  I have proof right here!


Apparently I know this guy.  Ok, so here is a story for you.  At IPP last August, we took this boat ride.  Katherine being herself got bored and decided to go bother people.  Me being me went hunting for her.  She found this little guy that she thought was adorable and began chasing him around the boat.  I'm not sure who enjoyed that more, him or her.  So IPP is over and we all go on our merry way...
Fast forward 6 months and enter SmaZ's shop. It was one of those days.  I spent a good 3 hours in a meeting, fielded around 70 emails about wiki being down-at least 50 came from one rather um....challenged....young person who couldn't find the library even though it's right in front of you when you enter the campus, and when he did find it didn't know how to use the card catalog, even though it's on line, dealt with some puzzle nonsense that I'd rather not deal with, and Michael asked me a question.  Well that was all it took.  I was on a Rant!  A long winded rather vocal one.  And all the while the man in the photo above is standing in the shop.  I paid no attention until he asked a question about a cube.  And there you have it folks.  Rox sticking her foot in it again.  Well, he stayed and chatted for a bit.  Solved a mimi puzzle, played with the washer cylinder and discovered a little something I hadn't (still not solved though).  SmaZ gave him a gift of a puzzle, and he purchased a dino barrel and left to go back to Denmark.  Talk about great timing.  Things like this just don't happen do they?  Ah, and go take a look at his webpage.  A bit of eye candy there, that's for sure.

So why go to SmaZ's in the first place?  My friend Otis is in town for the holidays and we agreed to meet up over there.  (I'm sure he'll come to the house and play for a while next week, but we had some puzzles to swap out with each other....) After we met at 6:30 or so, we stayed a Michael's for a few more hours before heading out for dinner.  As always we each brought a few puzzles along to play with/brag on so out they came during dinner!  Otis brought that beauty of a TomZ puzzle with and I quite enjoyed twisting it around.  Lots of puzzle talk, lots of playing, one unsolved as I left, and no puzzles harmed during the night!

And now for the real reason to get together last night.  Puzzle exchanging!
I gave Otis my 'springtime in Wisconsin' and a puzzle monster.  I think he liked them.  If not, he smiled nicely.  He brought me a set of 6 dice boxes from mimi puzzles that Gabriel blogged about, and that I can't get locally.  Surprise, surprise, he ALSO brought along a BLUE puzzle for me, and 3 chinese knots....

Michael and I did a bit of swapping as well.  I got one of his new Soduko cubes, and gave him a Oskar's treasure chest.  Yes, I'm generous like that.  Don't tell on me though.  I'll get in trouble.  The full set of what I brought home is to the left.

Now when I got home, I had another surprise waiting for me!  I picked up the mail and inside was a late Christmas gift from my friend Charlie!  I thank you so very much.  A nice job it turned out to be.  And how ever did you know that blue is my favorite color????  Thank you again my friend!
 reviews of these will all come eventually.  In the mean time, I have this thing called a job that I'm supposed to be doing, and I've got about 10 minutes to cut off my time so I need to get back out and get working a bit more.  I can't let a person 10 years my senior beat me in the next race, and as it stands, if I don't start moving and stop puzzling that's exactly what is going to happen.  Have a great weekend all!  And in case I don't get another post in before Monday: 
新年快乐

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1x2x5

In September of 2009 I purchased my first 1x2x5 from Olz. It was a good price, he was (and still is) a young builder, and I was just starting to really collect handmade puzzles.  (I'm still not into that whole shapeways thing.  They make my hands feel dirty) Eventually I got the puzzle and enjoyed it.  A very easy little thing to solve isn't it.

In August of 2011, one of the gents from Hanayama brought a 1x2x5 to IPP and showed it to Oskar.  Now, being me, I grabbed it and snapped a photo.  This got me into a bit of trouble with Olz who of course knew it was coming out, but couldn't say anything (it's a shame that the designers are not able to shout it from the rooftops).  But then, why should it have done so?  I asked permission, and I did have a handmade copy, AND I purchased a puzzle that was already listed on the website, as well as being sold in Japan.  When I got home from IPP I went on my puzzle videoing marathon and put this one up that shows both versions that I have.

So a few months back I was searching for the new Hanayama Crystal Puzzles (bug simply loves the things) and I stumbled across a set of keychains. Yesterday I was lucky enough to get my hands on a set.  and what a set it is!  16 new puzzles in one batch.  Now there is a lot of solving...or not.
See these are so simple it's not funny.  They are great little puzzles to give to kids though.  Mind, this set will probably break. They have tiny little bits in them.
So how do they turn?  Well, they are a bit stiff.  Tight maybe?  They also have this clicking thing when they are lined up which I think is completely pointless.  The puzzles to the left are a bit more difficult than the first one I purchased all those years ago, but only because That one only had 6 colors and these have writing that I can't read.
There are 2 in the set that are tubular.  These are a bit harder to turn simply because they are hard to get my hands on.  The rectangular ones are easy enough, and the 1x2x2 (I'm not sure of the designer) are more difficult to mess up than to solve.  I've made videos of them all as usual  (I'm doing pretty well on the-I'll video it as it comes in the house-front.  Photos of the individual puzzles can be found here.

These can be purchased through Hong Kong Now Store as well as Torito.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

HK Toys and Games Fair

SmaZ and I left GZ on the 9:45 train for Shenzhen.  By the time I got home it was midnight.  I know he had further to go so I feel for him.  The next morning I was up by 10 and headed straight over to Wan Chi for the toys fair.  V-Cubes had a booth there again this year and I looked forward to seeing my friend Konstantinos again.  When I got to the booth, he was no where to be found, but ther was a lad inside with a funny accent, kind of tall, dark eyes....I took a gamble, gave him a hug and said "you must be the cousin" gamble paid off.  This was cousin Bill. He's a nice handsome fellow with another of those verdes smiles. A tall drink of water as well.  I spent the better part of the fair looking up. 

 So.  The fair.  I'm disappointed this year.  I mean I did see lots of old friends but there were so many more I didn't have the chance to see.  My normal 'fair' is to stay and work the booths with someone for the full 4 days.  I take time off work, reschedule classes, what ever...well this year I had blasted meetings didn't I? Way too many of them truth be told! Wednesday morning I went in for my class and figured I'd spend at least the aftrnoons with the boys.  No such luck! I was stuck all day.  So Thursday then.  Well nuts if I didn't have another meeting Thursday morning so I ran like the wind to get to the fair by 1.  I was meeting puzzle master there and didn't want to miss them.  We chatted for a bit and I went off for a few hours to find oth old friends.  I found east sheen and had a good laugh about getting a taiwan puzzle in HK.

 It seems my friend Wil told a company from HK about me in Germany last year and I had to go take a look at their new products.  I laughed because I met them a couple of years back, talked about puzzles in schools and had a nice convsation.  They wouldnt sell me a sample though because they thought I would copy it.  Thanks to Wil, I now have samples on the way after the NY fair.  This one I purchased from Wil I think in Japan.  Go figure.. But so very typical.  Think of my problems with getting Hanayama puzzles in HK.

  Took a look at what smart games had on offer then visited with the folks from Dilemma for a bit.  Next stop Beverly to place an order for next month when the next fair is over.  They have a few new crystal puzzles coming out.  I stopped by and said hello to the bouncy ball guy and got  a few for the bug (you can never have too many bouncy balls can you) picked up a Teddy bear for her and went back to the booth.  No tangle this year.  So sad.  That means I have to go during the summer sourcing fair.  Oh well, more fun. 

Calvin and Tiffany came by and we started to pack up.  Konstantinos wanted a dress for his girl so we headed out to do a bit of shopping.  We said goodbye to them in causeway bay, then headed back to the hotel because Bill said he needed a change.  I hopped a cab with them and off they went to the airport.  Because of strange scheduling next year, I'll have the whole fair off.  Konstantinos has threatened to stay home and have cousin Bill do it himself.  Fine by me, I'll enjoy his company just as much! 

No photos of this one today. Sorry guys.  I flubbed up making a video of a puzzle (which has since been removed) I want to end this posting with an apology to V-Cubes and Konstantinos.  All the rubbish and nasties I kept reading, I made the video to show how great the new one is.  I didn't stop to think at all about your wishes.  I do hope eventually I will be forgiven.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mf8-8th anniversary dinner

So Da Yan had come from a factory in the south part of the country and had a bag full of goodies.  What they were is anyone's guess.  He pulled out these orange pillowed pyramidically shapped things that look well...orange.  I think initially he had around 11 of them and as the day went by his stack got smaller and smaller.

By the time we all got to dinner there were only 5 left.  I saw two that looked "normal" the rest were variations on the planet theme the duo have been producing.  After foolishly posting on TP that these had the normal 6-armed core, I was told else wise.  So I took mine apart during the video I did and yep, I was wrong.  It is only a 5-armed core.  I am pretty certain these are not the final color of this puzzle.  See, when they make samples, the molds are placed in the machine and whatever plastic is there already is what is used.   Da Yan and i had an interesting conversation about colored plastic puzzles vs. Solid colored puzzles.  This is a DejaVu thing for me now. Now I know I have written this else where but I will repeat myself.  For the "crazy/planet" puzzles, some of the pieces a just too small to sticker.  Remember, the stickers all go on by hand.  So it saves a lot of money and manpower to do the multi colored plastic.

As always happens at these things, one topic blends into another and we were next talking about how to sell the puzzles.  It seems that the planets-all 8 of them in what? a dozen different versions now? Don't sell as well as they would like them to.  When asked why I don't have all vsions of the Bermuda cubes for example, I just said it is pointless for me now.  I collect.  Not solve.  Too much money for just the same old shape, different solution. (see, I DO have some willpower and say NO on rare occasions)  I suggested a kit that can make all the versions at 3-4 times the price of an individual cube.  The company makes a bit if money, the customer/puzzler is pleased because they have variety at a slightly lower cost...to me, everyone wins.  We'll see.  If it happens, remember-my idea! :-)

 OKOk, so Da Yan showed his toys, and SmaZ pulled out. Time machine or two and some mini time machines.  I had my "springtime in Wisconsin" on the table and hard eight/easy eight out as well.  It was a rather puzzling lunch.  Then Tom pulled out a bunch of washer cylinders that were being passed out and the next thing I knew 3 hours had passed!  Back to the hotel to pick up the morning purchases, and over to another puzzle seller in GZ.  This stop was a quick in and out before heading back to the hotel and rushing off for the dinner.

Dinner.  I've not worked out why people eat the food they do.  I simply cannot stomach the idea of eating ofal.  There is just something not right with that.  But hey, to each his own right?   Now my friend SmaZ has worked out what I can and cannot (or will not) eat and every now and again he'll lean over and say dont eat that.  It's like having my own personal taster.  Ok, so why so much talk of food? Well because this was an anniversary DINNER! And I give you a montage of the food:

Ok, dinner wasn't all about the food.  It was more about the company and the puzzles.  The tables were full of food, but they were also full of toys! I think very person there brought at least one.  Most of us brought 5 or more to pass around.  We twisted and turned and placed and groaned and shouted for joy when we got it all worked out.  The reason for this get together was the 8th year of the Mf8 forum being live online.  AND 8 years worth of modified puzzles on that forum.  What happened next kind of surprised me.  I was expecting a competition of sorts, but rather it was an exchange.  Each of 8 builders names were put into a hat and Da Yan drew them in pairs.  The two builders then exchanged puzzles with each other.  A very nice thing to see happen.  Different, but nice. 

Next up were my puzzle monsters, and since SmaZ, Ming, and Mr. Fok had already seen them, they suggested we play a guessing game. I.e. Who is this one.  It was quite fun.  Leslie was guessed with the mini tuttminx; SmaZ with the hammer, and a wild stab was made at Mr. Fok's.  I explained the stories behind each as they were handed out, and the laughter I was looking for was had by all. 

We then went on to a give away.  Mf8, SmaZ, and Da Yan all chipped in puzzles and everyone who attended left with a new toy (in addition to a monster :-) ) the funny thing was, no one got a puzzle they already owned.  I drew 12 and got a Mercury bermuda cube.  AJ was sitting next to me and was pleased as punch to draw a 3x4x5.  Tom got a Bermuda, and to be frank, I was so far into my cups by that time that I can't remember who got what-and before you call me a lush-remember, I don't eat ofal and add to that seafood allergies and for me only the beer was really safe.  (it's nutritious isn't it?) well, that was it.  The next thing I knew, AJ was passing out the starfruit and we were all heading out the door. 

Next stop: karaoke. Now that was a laugh, and I'll just say they did it.  They finally got me to sing. (must have had more beer than I thought).  

We were kicked out at the 2:30 or there abouts closing time and it was off for a bit of late night eating China style.  Noodles, fish, seafood congee-and of course more beer!  Me? Well nuts, I was starving.  Alergies be damned, I ate the congee, took the shot and passed out.    Everyone has their breaking point and mine is definitely 4 a.m.  When I was called about a lost ticket-I wanted to kill my friend.  Yep 4 a.m. Is my cutoff point.

The next day I got a call from SmaZ to put my luggage in Da Yans room and off we went in search of toys for our children.  Seriously! The kids ended up with mire toys than the adults.  Tom bought squeaky things and stuffed things and flying things and dancing things for his daughter (and you thought bug was spoilt-toms little girl is only 3 months) a really cool transformer was purchased and a couple of helicopters.  Lunch was another three hours and then one last trip to say goodbye to Mr. Fok.  While there we decided to fly those helicopters we bought.  What fun! smaZ was able to get them to go very high.  And then, Leslie had a go....disaster.  It went high alright, right into a tree.  So now we have 5 adults staring up at this flashing light in the tree.  Da Yan is the tallest of us but he was still about 3 feet short.  After pondering a few more minutes some one said something silly and Tom and I lifted Leslie into the tree and we got the toy back.  (He is super tiny! He might have had a great career as a Jockey were he from HK). We said our good byes and went back to eat dinner and get the luggage. 

Now this next bit impressed me.  When I have been to other puzzle parties, you give a hug goodbye in the lobby of the hotel and be done with it.  Not so in Guangzhou. Over there, the entire party gets on the train with you and they deliver you to the main station!  It's always sad to say goodbye, but even sadder when your friends are on the opposite side of the gate waving at you...until next time!

(And no, I don't know the big man in the foreground-he wasn't with us.  Just some random person who ruined my photo.)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pre-Mf8 8th anniversary MOD dinner

The 8th of January was the 8th anniversary of Mf8.  Now if you know anything about the Chinese, you will notice that the previous sentence had 3 8's in it. And that my friends is super lucky!  Well such an auspicious event needs celebrating, and that is exactly what we did!

My friend SmaZ and I met at the Hung Hom station around 7 pm and headed off to Guangzhou.  We stayed in the same hotel as usual, and once we dropped off the suitcases we headed out to meet Mf8 and Ming.  Over to the warehouse for a bit of a chat and then it was off to dinner.  When we entered the place, Mr. Fok very nicely (er....right-I should say very jokingly) handed me the new 3x4x5!  It's a nice puzzle.  I've just been chastised and told it shapeshifts, not jumbles and I knew that, I'm just still very tired. It's been one heck of a week for me!
Over dinner we got to discussing my exchange puzzle and I'm pleased to hear that Mr. Fok sees my vision exactly like I do.  Not like SmaZ who had a different thought in his head.  :-)  We didn't make a late night of it because we knew Da Yan and Tom would be in the next day.

Sunday morning saw us up and running to a very different shopping area than I had been to before.  (I hope that link will work) I told Michael (SmaZ) that every time we go I see something new and exciting.  This time we were hunting balls for something else, and I snagged a few packages of beads for the bug who has a new hobby.  We went from bead shops to man tool shops to hair dressing supplies to wooden bathtubs all on one street!

While out and about, Tom called to tell us he was waiting at the Train station and we ran over to pick him up. Upon entering the station, who should we see but Da Yan.  Now all that we needed was Leslie and we would be all set.

Next stop, Late lunch over near the hotel and drop off those morning purchases.  We got a bite to eat then went out to do a bit of shopping and finally ended up over at Mf8's warehouse again.  While there, the people started piling in. By the end of the night, I think we had 19-20.  It was a good gathering!  A lot of puzzle playing before dinner was done by all.  I brought along hard eight easy eight by Bob Hearn and that was a real hit.  A couple of packing puzzles (football and  triangle ) that I later was given were a great hit too.  It always tickles me when I see these "twisty people" enjoying a packing puzzle or some other non-twisty!  Spreading the puzzle bug I am. :-)


Ok, so an hour or so later and we headed off to dinner and loads more fun.  But that is for tomorrow because  even though it has been a week, I'm still very tired.  (HK toys and games fair followed immediately after and I worked the v-cubes booth a bit again this year)  There has been no time for real sleep!  Don't worry, by the time I'm done you'll have learned all there is to know about my past week.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A lot of puzzles to solve...

If you read my blog, you'll realize I was in Guangzhou this past weekend for the 8th anniversary of the Mf8 forum.  While across the border I met up once again with friends old and new.  I really do love these guys.  We have so much fun! It's odd. Kevin from PuzzleMad once called me one of the guys.  Well, when I go over there, that is just exactly what I feel like.  I was explaining "he is my brother from another mother" to Tom, and after that, it was done.  I was called "my brother" the rest of the night.  Now most ladies would probably be upset by this, but for me it was a great pleasure.  It means that gender bias thing is gone! What a relief that I never again need to worry about that different gender thing. and I'm also very pleased to report that the guys were still gentlemenly enough to carry those super heavy bags for me.  (they also carried Michael's so that's not saying much!)

ENOUGH!  I'll write up a full trip report when I can find a bit of time in the next week.  In the mean time, I wanted to tease you all with some puzzle photos.  Normally when I go over there, I come back with upwards of 100 new toys.  this time?  I didn't really go do any shopping, and didn't see any toys in the stores that we did go to that caught my fancy.  That's not to say I came home empty handed. I did have a few toys by the end of the weekend.  I was very graciously given a number of puzzle gifts from my friends.  I was happy that I could return the gesture with my puzzle monsters (which by the way were a real hit!)

This trip netted a whopping 10 puzzles!  But each and everyone is very special.  They were gifts (all but that 8x8x8, but that's another story)  Yes, I know there are only 9 in the photo, but I also got a nine piece burr that was hiding in a box.

So what have we here?  I only know the names of a few.  The orange one is a upcoming release from Mf8 and Da Yan.  The silver one laying on the side is Wil Strijbos washer cylinder.  This one has been reviewed by Kevin, Oli, and Allard.  Unlike them, I haven't managed to open mine yet.  I will one of these days I swear I will!

A TomZ/Mf8 3x4x5 is in the bunch.  I told Tom if I didn't get one, I would have to kill him next time I saw him.  (see the prototype for my exchange puzzle was put on hold for TomZ's puzzle-but since it's a nice one, I'll forgive him!
Let's see, the green football puzzle and the wooden 4 piece are gifts from the teacher-I must go through my boxes and find a few for him.  The black and white 4x4x4 is actually an AJ's version of the camouflage 3x3x3.

The orange one is a 5 layer 6 armed core thing without a name :-)  I don't know what to call it, but it's from the Duo of Da Yan and Mf8.  As is the dino thing there. That was a hoot.  He just looked at me, said here Roxy and tossed it over.  In the bag it went! Yes, now I canfinally play with it.  The other one I have is signed so mucking is out of the question.

But it wasn't all fun.  I did have some puzzle causalties.  3 to be exact.  My Rattle box from Eric Fuller doesn't bounce.  It hit the floor in the hotel room and one piece snapped off.  The 5^5 Octahedron I got from CuberVietnam now needs a new core as somehow that got broke, and I lost my Leesho puzzle to SmaZ.  (Well, ok, he liked it so I gave it to him...but that's just semantics isn't it?)

Right, Those are the puzzles of the weekend.  Reviews of them may or may not come at a future date.   Trip report and Hong Kong toys fair update coming early next week!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Havana box #1

Wow is all I can say!  I want a better cigar!  Ok, so I bought this box at the last minute.  It was one of those impulse buy type things and I seriously thought I'd not be able to get one. (Thanks Eric for letting me sneak in the back door to get it.)
(forgive the lousy photos-iPhone) My understanding is that this is a set of 6. Now since I've purchased the first one, I'll have to order the next 5 won't I?  Well, this one was a surprise for me solving wise.  I was being a smart alec and typing up about peanuts and boxes and such while playing with the puzzle at the same time.  I think it took me less than 2 minutes to solve!  Seriously.  But then that could have been a fluke, so I tried it again and much to my shock (and pleasure I might add) I could do it again. This box is simply brilliant.  It's difficult that a puzzle builder I know handed it back frustrated, and simple enough that my bug has worked out how to open it time and again.  I'd tell you to buy the next ones that come out, but if you do, that means I might not get one.  So do me a favor and wait for me to order mine first.

Ok, so what's inside? Why it is a cigar box....
A cigar what else? This is really why I got this puzzle. I wanted another cigar.  Seriously.  No joke. I quit smoking the cigarettes at Easter, but still crave a cigar every now and then.  I figured if one came in my puzzle box I had an excuse to smoke it.  (I couldn't just go out and buy some now could I?  That would be too much like cheating and Mr. Man would be so angry.)  Eric said if we didn't want to fill it with cigars then we should fill it with beef jerky and if we didn't want to fill it with beef jerky we should get a life....or some such nonsense.  Ok, ok. enough nonsense.  I told Eric I was going to smoke the thing and he told me I might want to put it in a humidor first-air travel and all. Well I did just that and picked it up Friday. The man in the whiskey bar says it should be good to go now.  And laughed the whole time telling me to go buy a better one and toss this on to the curb.  Not one to waste anything....well, here's hoping it doesn't poison me.

And next time Eric~put in a little something um....beef jerky like.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Puzzle Monsters

Ok, so by now I've handed these out so it's safe to load the photos. I've never been one to build puzzles-oh, I've tried my hand at it, but they never turn out very well.  At least not well enough for me to give to someone else.  But today that all changed.  Not only did I make one, but I made 22 puzzles.  Well, not puzzles really, but puzzle monsters.
When we were in Taiwan, we saw these block cubes with googlie eyes on them.  I didn't ask the price, but took a photo as my brain had already started working the minute I saw them.  So why make these things?  Well, it's a Guangzhou weekend and I always receive gifts from the builders, but other than my friendship and a bottle of beer, I never return the favor.  I decided the minute I saw these things I had to make them for my friends across the border.
First I give you the lot of them that were completed on 3 January.  I still had a few more to go that night and finished them the following day. (This blog post was made before I left for China.  In fact, from the 4th day of Christmas I worked out how to prewrite a blog and schedule it for release!  Now how cool is that?)
Ok, so you really can't see all that much here except a bunch of cubes stacked on cubes.  So I'll explain them to you.  Most of them fit the personality of a friend. Or maybe they match something the receiver said to me on one of our weekends.  But I will say that each had a lot of thought and took me about 2 hours in the bead shop picking out bits for gluing on.  (Ok, maybe not the eyes, but all else really did take a long time and I need to go back tomorrow for those last 8)

So now I give you a few of the puzzle monsters.  Some with explanations, others I'm not going there...to protect the guilty....
First up: Smaz!  It looks like him doesn't it? I'm not saying anymore for fear of being alienated.

Da Yan, what he says goes.  (Self explanatory ha?)  I mean he even got me to go to a Karaoke club!
Mr. Fok, or Mf8. This guy holds the key to my puzzle addiction and my IPP exchange for this year...
Witeden.  He's a star.  And the thing on the top?  A tael.  Here's hoping he makes loads of $$ in the new year with all those puzzles he's got coming out.  (good luck charm if you will!)
Ok, so Ming gets two photos.  He's my angel when I go over there.  Any cubing thing in China and he 'watches over me'. He's been there to pick me up from the train, or has sent someone to do it.  He's great for carrying my puzzle bags and a whole lot more!
Tom!  Tom!  Tom!  A man after my own heart.  I think he's my brother from another mother.  What more can I say?
When I return I'll post photos and a trip report.  I hope you enjoyed my little puzzle monsters.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The life of a puzzle gal

At times I feel lucky.  At other times I feel like a groupy.  Still other times I feel like a stalker.  But for the rest of this week, I'll be in puzzle heaven and seriously over imbibing.

This evening it's off to Guangzhou for what I have affectionately called my "boys and toys" weekends.  Want a funny?   That phraseology started because of a really dumb song with a catchy beat.  Bug was playing it non-stop when I came home from a weekend.  She started teasing a rather green mother and that song was doing my head in.  My tormenting here with Amy Winehouse didn't help any and the next thing I knew, in a 9-year-old kind of way she changed the words and it just fit.

So Guangzhou.  I'm really chuffed today.  I'm going through this training thing and then it's a run to the station to meet my pal SmaZ for the ride over.  See tomorrow is the 8th year that the Mf8 forum has been running so friends are coming in from all over the country to celebrate. (we don't need much of an excuse to get together and celebrate here)

SmaZ, Tom, DaYan, Rox. We also have AJ, Ming, Mr. Fok, Witeden, Cubetwist, and a few others that come along.  I'm not sure if there is a competition this weekend, or if it's just an excuse for all to get together and have a good time. I've been told there will be Karaoke and beer so YES I said.  There's nothing like watching DaYan sing, and I've heard tell that Tom is just as good....Seriously though, it's all business when we go. No fun, no games....(yeah right!)

We'll come back on Monday the 9th when we can crawl out of bed...or rather when we are rolled out...or tossed out whichever comes first.  And then it's straight to the HKTGF (Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair) It runs this year from the 9th through the 12th.  My dear friend Dr. Panda won't be there this year, but I've got V-cubes!  Who would turn down the opportunity to spend 3 days with Konstantinos?  Now THERE is a boy!  :-)  

The fair is great fun. I run around and look at what's available, grab a few puzzles for my collection, say hello to some old friends. Drop in and get the Annual Tangle...And work the v-cubes booth.  I enjoy Konstantinos' company.  He's a great lad to be around.  There's this twinkle in his eye that matches my inner imp perfectly.  With that combination, it's bound to be fun.

With that kind of a week, I just know I'm going to pay for it for the rest of the month.

Friday, January 6, 2012

On the Twelfth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Twelve Puzzle Pages
Eleven Cartoon Puzzles
Ten Dexterities 
Nine Tiles Sliding 
Eight Twisted Tangles
Seven wooden puzzles 
Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.   


(To really get the full rendition of this day you need to go here then click file then click download original.  This will open the photo as a pdf file on a new window and you can then click on each of the numbers to view some fantastic puzzle pages that I enjoy!)

I hope you enjoyed my little rendition of the 12 puzzles of Christmas this year. I know it was a bit different and probably not at all what you were expecting.  I've been in the process of writing a book and have all this useless knowledge....Add to that Bug being old enough to work out how to count the rhyme cadence and we had a poem!  She chose all the puzzles from days 2, 3, 6, 9, 10 and 11.  Her choice, her counting, my writing.   In addition, after I wrote the first 12 puzzles back in 2009, I've always wanted to do a puzzle tree.  This year I had a bit of time, so why not!

The links have been added along the way to introduce you to some of my 'puzzle haunts', and the last day really is worth the hassle you need to go through to open the pages.  Some are blogs I've been reading daily for the past year, some are puzzles I have enjoyed in the past and still enjoy today, and of course the number one spot is taken by my all time favorite web forum.  There are many more wonderful webpages dedicated to puzzles out there, but sadly, there are only 12 verses to this song.  My apologies for any and all that didn't make it into my top 12. (of course, I purposely didn't add any on this last day that sell puzzles as a business, I didn't want to be accused of being biased!)

Just another bit of nothingness, this post was started off as 12 unknown puzzles, but then bug realized I actually opened my puzzles on Christmas Eve so by the end of the 12 days they were known.  Add to that,the fact that I got 13 puzzles and she said it didn't work.  Can't argue with that logic, so instead I'll give you a photo of my 13 puzzles of Christmas.

I've already written about Unhappy Childhood here, and recorded a YouTube video for each of them.  I'll write up about them each at a later date.

Sadly, I didn't manage to get a photo of bug with ALL the puzzles, but I did get her with the tree:

Bug and I hope the three kings bring you blessings in the new year 
and that 
La Befana brings you more than coal!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Eleven Cartoon Puzzles
Ten Dexterities 
Nine Tiles Sliding 
Eight Twisted Tangles
Seven wooden puzzles 

Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.   


Today we have a variety of different 'heads' and 'figures'.  Starting at the top we have  WALL•E .  I made this little beauty all by myself using a cube4you 3x3x3 and a you build it WALL•E figurine I got from Toys R Us when the movie first came out.  To the right is Homer Simpson. Homer was purchased from Hessport's Rubic's shop way back in 2001. Next up is a Gundam 2x2x2 puzzle head that was made in 2003 by Palbox, formerly known as Tsukuda Original, which later changed its name to Megahouse.  Oh my the twists and turns of the toy industry!

On the left we have is Darth Vader. Another from Hessport's Rubic's shop.  This time made when the movie came out.  (I know his price was US$9.99 because I have another still in the shipping box under my bed.) 

Morph was a McDonald's giveaway when the Disney movie Treasure Planet was released in 2002.  He's a 1x2x2.  The puzzle there is messing it up, not solving it.

Eve is my own creation and probably the ugliest puzzle on the planet.  She was made because Tony Fisher told me I could use man tools.  Boy was he wrong!

Mickey Mouse and Donald duck were made by Volzaper in Spain and sold by Meffert's since 2001-2002.  Mickey Mouse is still available.  (and no, I don't mean the cheap made in China version, I mean the original one.)  There is also a Scooby Doo puzzle there made by Meffert's under license from Warner brothers.  

The next is a Doreamon jigsaw puzzle that was a give away from 7-11 this past year.  There were a total of 8 in the set. Typically I got 7 of them.  (I'm missing one of the Gundam set as well-and if anyone knows where to find Zaku....)

The last is a put together Michelin man.  This one is from France, and was purchased on an ebay auction.  I'm not sure what year they came out, but I did see them not too long ago for sale at a table in a puzzle party for over US$70!  I think I'll keep him for a while longer.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

On the Tenth Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Ten Dexterities
Nine Tiles Sliding 
Eight Twisted Tangles
Seven wooden puzzles 
Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.  


Nothing overly exciting here.  These are from two different sets of key chain dexterity puzzles.  One set was purchased at one of my many visits to the Cubetwist warehouse.  While the other was from an unnamed site.  Half and half I would guess.  The second set was yet another give away from drinks, but this time I didn't drink them.  I ended up purchasing them only to have them arrive in HK and find out it was the same set I already had...


Now in the past, I've had complaints from one in particular (who later dropped the ball big time I might add) about not being as creative as other posts might have been and I realize this falls into that category and anyway, we finish what we start now don't we.  But look at that tree. It's full!  If we add any more puzzles to it, it will tip over.  Oh wait, it already has.  It's laying on the bed.  :-)  All will be revealed on day 12.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

On the Ninth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Nine Tiles Sliding 


Eight Twisted Tangles
Seven wooden puzzles 

Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree. 


The slide tiles on this tree are all keychains.  On here you can see a lovely set of five puzzles from Hong Kong Disneyland that were all purchased for me by my bug with her own money. (can you say proud mama?)  These include Mickey, Donald, Minnie, Pooh, and Stitch.  The small greenish Donald Duck is from Tokyo Disneyland while the greenish Mickey Mouse is from  Euro Disney.


The puzzle at the base of the tree was purchased with a large lot of puzzles from our favorite auction site, and depicts L'il Abner.  It was made by picto puzzles and is highly distorted and warped. The puzzle was completely unsolvable when I received it.


The last puzzle was a giveaway from Japan.  It is one of a set of 5 different puzzle types given out by Suntory on their product Dakara.  This is essentially a sports drink, or a vitamin water (you choose)  Good for hangovers and sold on occasion at both Sogo and City Super.

Ok, so you think it odd that I give links to a department store and a supermarket that the majority of readers will never go to right?  Well there is a reason for my madness!  These two places also sell puzzles!  Not just the kind that are attached to bottled drinks either.  They sell puzzles that real people solve.  Puzzlers and non-puzzlers alike.  The majority of my foxmind puzzles came from Sogo, while many of the Hanayama Disney Crystal puzzles came from City Super's log-on.  You just never know where a puzzle will show up.

Monday, January 2, 2012

On the Eighth day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Eight Twisted Tangles

Seven wooden puzzles 
Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.


Ok, I've made no post in this song that wasn't a puzzle-but now I do.  The Pink Tangle at the top was a purchase years ago.  The rest are either gifts from Richard at various times of going to his studio or  the annual Tangle .  Tangles are the creation of my friend Richard X. Zawitz.  I've known Richard for about 19 years now I would have to guess.  On a very causal basis.  (No, no sex stories here I'm afraid)  I met him for the first time at the HKTGF when I first attended.  I've helped on occasion at one of his toy booths, and always make a point of going to see Mr. Tangle when there is a fair.


He's a nutter if I ever saw one.  As it turns out though, his Hong Kong art studio is just down the block from Uwe's Hong Kong office.  I love taking guests to HK over there to see his work. And of course, I love going to the fair to get the annual Tangle.  I have loads of them now.  So many that I've begun to give them away to friends whose children have learning disabilities. I believe in these things for focusing attention.  You can read all about Tangles and their creator here


I can't wait to see what he has in store for this years tangle!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Seven wooden puzzles


Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.

I suppose technically there are 8 wooden puzzles on the tree (I forgot about Santa) but we won't count him today. Ok so starting with the train. That was an IPP Exchange puzzle called Blocked Box 2 from Henry Strout.  This one tickled me because the first puzzle was working out how to open it. Solved and solved.  And it rolls around on the floor. Now how great is that?

There is a Japanese Kumiki dog on there and a pig of the same vein albeit made in China.  The coffee cup and spoon is caled a moku*moku*puzzle made by artbox.  None of these are terribly challenging but were fun little puzzles to put together.

At the base of the tree there are two wooden puzzles that belong to the bug.  One is a rather poor rendition of  the Hummel "Stormy Weather" figurine, and the other is a set of Japanese dolls.  Both were naked and she colored them with markers.  Sadly, these puzzles are such poor quality that they simply fall apart when moved.  Both usually sit on her puzzle shelf all the way to the back and rarely move.

The final one is a trick opening card case. I bought this in Japan a few years ago and finally decided to use it on my last trip.  (Asians and business cards-they just go together so I thought I'd use a pretty case, and have some fun at the same time)  This one is nifty because if you slide the panel as is always first in these types of boxes, the cards disappear!  Magic!  I got a lot of surprised looks when I played dumb at that conference, and a lot of laughs when I closed it back then opened it again to take out the card.  Fun stuff.  I highly recommend this one.  It will hold around a half a deck of standard sized playing cards, so it's a bit big for the purpose I use it for, but it still works.

:-)  I had a nice chuckle today.  I was posting my annual puzzle year in review over on TP (pretty boring activity wise this year) and when I was doing so, I posted something about Dave in a dress.  Well, when I read Kevin's blog and it just plain serves me right :-)  (It's not the first time someone has said that about me Kevin.  Apparently I'm a bit too down to earth and not girlish enough.  Being called a bloke because I have a brain and like to use it. Not an insult at all!  I'm pleased to join the company!) err, people who use their brains, not blokes.  Or is that blokes?  Oh heck...I'm going back to my glass of vino!  No brains this evening.

Happy New Year All!