Sunday, August 2, 2020

Crystal puzzles

When I was in Hong Kong, I used to attend the Hong Kong Toys and Games Fair every year.  While there, I got to know the HK representatives of Jeruel (Beverly).  Through them, I acquired many different puzzles.    They made Kinato puzzles to begin with, and although these didn't sell well, I did get a few variations of them to be posted on at a later date.  For this blog post though, I will only be discussing their Crystal Puzzles.

Jeruel (Beverly) is not the only company to make Crystal Puzzles.  Artbox also makes Crystal Puzzles, as  does Bandai, Disney, Hanayama,  Happywell, Huaxinda, Junghwan, Ling Zhi Crystal Blocks, Magnif, Megahouse, Mini (cooper), Takara Tony, Yanoman, and Yong Jun Toys.  The two most prolific designers are of coarse Jeruel and Hanayama.

A bit of trivia regarding these two companies is the gentleman's agreement on what types of puzzles they make.  Hanayama makes Disney, Jeruel makes all the rest.  Sounds like a fair deal to me.  Yanoman made small keychain sized puzzles, Disney of course makes Disney characters-thus far only BB8 and R2D2.  Bandai makes Gundam and Hello Kitty Crystal puzzle type characters.  Happywell makes Marvel comics, Miffy, and a variety of vehicles.  Yong Jun Toys makes a lot of copies, but they have begun to branch out and make a new range of puzzles that have not been seen before.  

Our collection to date has 309 puzzles with another 16 on order and 12 more that I am hunting down.  As I am typing this, two more puzzles came in to assemble.

These puzzles are not for the average puzzler. They are more of a 3D jigsaw puzzle.  I started on them when my daughter was young as a way to get her involved in puzzling.  Since then I've managed to collect all that have been designed by the major companies and am now in a state of simply adding more as they come out.  For the longest time I would assemble 2-4 puzzles over lunch.  When this pandemic hit and we decided to stay at home, I realized this would be a good time to complete the rest of the puzzles that were not finished.  The majority of them took around 30 minutes to assemble. Some of the larger puzzles took the better part of the day.  

These puzzles range in size from 9 to 104 pieces.  I would have to say Zodiac puzzles were the poorest quality.  There are two that I had to purchase again because the pieces didn't fit and broke the first time.  The worst to assemble was the guitar, the easiest I suppose is the heart or diamond as they are mirror image sides.  The Beverley 'horses' on the top shelf look very pretty, but are rather poor quality in my opinion. The wings are fiddly to attach and don't really stay on well.  The Yanoman keychains are quite difficult as the pieces are so tiny. 

The earliest puzzles to come out were the Magnif puzzles in 1977.  They produced the apple (red and white versions), an egg, and the 'love heart' which was a heart inside a cube.  These can still be found on eBay or other sites.  Jeruel began producing crystal puzzles in 2004 and Hanayama began in 2010.  Almost immediately the Chinese companies began to make copies of these. 

And if anyone knows where to get the Hello Kitty keychain, I'd love one.  

The display case we have these in is backlit with Hue light strips plus.  There is one base pack and 8 extensions in the cabinet.  I love that I can change the color of them with my mood.  White light dimmed to 50% works best though.  The cabinet came mirrored to begin with as did the rest of the house.  This particular cabinet is above the bedroom wet bar.  We decided it would be better to have the crystal puzzles here than bar glasses.  Just a warning, the rest of this post is very photo heavy.  Enjoy.  



Monday, July 27, 2020

Puzzle Museums of the World

Living in a 'puzzle museum' as we do, I became curious.  I've searched the web for puzzle museums and have actually come up with quite a few.  I've decided to make a list here so in our future travels, we will know where to go.  The order is not of any significance.

1) International Intellectual Puzzle Museum in Ulaanbaatar Mongolia.  This one houses over 11,000 Puzzles and toys.  Of these, almost 5000 are puzzles alone. (fee to enter)

2) Logic Puzzle Museum in Burlington Wisconsin.  I'm not sure how many puzzles it has, but the website says there are over 60 to play with.   (fee to enter)

3) Puzzle Museum in the UK. This one can be visited by invitation only and is said to have over 50,000 puzzles. *

4) Puzzle Mansion in Tagayata Phillipines.  This is actually a Bed & Breakfast that has a jigsaw puzzle museum attached.  No webpage, just FaceBook.   (fee to enter)

5) Karakuri Puzzle Museum in Hakone Japan.  If you are into wooden boxes, this is the place for you. The museum is worth a visit, but more worthy is the entire town. *

6) NobYoshigahara collection at the JAIST Gallery in Ishikawa Japan. A small number of puzzles are on display in this museum. The collection has around 10,000 pieces. *

7)  Slocum Puzzle Collection at the Lily Library in Bloomington Indiana.  This collection houses over 30,000 puzzles.  It is open to the public to see the 50 or so publicly displayed permanent items.  All of these are behind glass.  There are about 10 puzzles that can be played with as you go around the room.  You need to apply in advance to see other puzzles not on display.  Each puzzle must be called up by name, e.g. there is no browsing available on site. *

8) Puzzleum in Bochum-Gerthe Germany.  I've no information on this.  (fee to enter)

9) Labyrinth Woodworks in Hokianga New Zealand.  This museum is owned by IPPer Louis Puzzleman.  The website is a work in progress.

10) Puzzling World in Wanaka New Zealand.  This is more of a curiosity and illusion site, but still has puzzles to play.   (fee to enter)

11) Berrocal Museum in Malaga Spain.  Open by appointment only.  Well worth the visit. *  (fee to enter)

12) Houseum in Satyagrah Chawani India. This House museum holds a number of puzzles, but also houses an eclectic collection of oddities. 

13) And of course there is Puzzle Palace.  This museum home is open by invitation only.  Located in Boca Raton Florida.  We have over 10,000 puzzles placed in what we call 'display and play'. *

Of course, there are many museums that house puzzles but not many that are completely dedicated to puzzles.  Almost every science museum in the world has a display of playable puzzles.  There are many virtual puzzle museums but I have not included those here.  I also realize that many people have a 'puzzle cave' or 'puzzle den' or 'puzzle room', I even know a gentleman who has a 'puzzle building'.  These have also not been included, they are not extensive, or open to the public. I've searched the web and simply cannot find anymore puzzle museums.  If you are aware of any, I'd love to add it to my list.  Photos and videos of Puzzle Palace will be loaded over time.  

Thanks to some readers, I'm able to update this posting.  Keep the museum additions coming!

9) Is no longer around, it has been moved to Rawene New Zealand and is under the name Simply Fun.

14) Joure Puzzle Museum in Joure Netherlands.  I can't add anything about this other than it is in the Northern part of the country.

13) As of 27 July, 2020 we have 10,243 puzzles on display.  More are being added each week.  We never expect to overtake the Slocum collection, or even come near the amount held by the Puzzle Museum.



Thursday, July 23, 2020

Hanayama Puzzles

One of the most loved sets of metal puzzles come from Hanayama.  The company has been making toys and games in the 1930's but are probably best known for their metal puzzles.  These puzzles are all relatively small.  They fit in a box that measures 75x119x45mm and will never be larger than that.  They have a difficulty level from 1-6 and the largest number of pieces a puzzle can have is 6. (Or so I've been told). 

Usually there are 4 puzzle releases a year.  Sadly with COVID-19 going around there won't be a new release until the autumn.  For those who are wondering, I've seen on the web that it should be cast heart designed by Scott Elliot.  This will be the second puzzle of his card suit series that they have made. Hopefully the rest will follow. 



We have the entire collection of Hanayama Cast Puzzles many of which George prototyped.  Because of our vast collection, we had a table custom made to hold the pieces in a displayable and playable manner.  Each puzzle is placed according to difficulty level or 'specialization'.  Over the years, the company has produced a number of different themes.  There are 4 puzzles in the Disney set, 4 in the Ultraman set, and 6 ocean themed puzzles in both normal and keychain sizes.  Hanayama also made a set of phone strap puzzles. I honestly don't know the total number of designs that were made as they had them in about 5 different packagings.  We have collected quite a few over the years.  If anyone knows the exact number made, I would sure like to know.  The final set in this cabinet are made by Hanayama, but are not cast puzzles.  They are 6 wire disentanglements in the shape of famous places or objects in Japan.  


The final cast puzzles from Hanayama are the Chess pieces. We do not have the set in the table, but rather have had another custom table and boards made for our pieces.  We have a full chess board designed by Henry Dudney.  A sample of this puzzle can be seen here.  Tom Lensch, George Miller made the chess boards. The cards were designed by Vesa Timonen and can be purchased online.  



Of course these puzzles are enjoyed by all who come into Puzzle Palace as they look deceptively simple.  For this reason, we keep a solution book on hand.  I'm still in need of the solution for Cast Rotor and Cast Snow so if anyone has a pdf copy of it, I'd sure be grateful.  


You can watch a video of the table and and explanation of the pieces on my youtube channel.