Notes from Puzzle Palace

Saturday, December 31, 2011

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!

Friday, December 30, 2011

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Six Stars-a-shining

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

A tree is not a tree unless it has an angel on the top. But in this day and age, even a blog with signs of religion in it would be bashed so a star will have to do...But then I could argue that there was a star guiding a certain my house on Christmas Eve.  And that is why he sits on the bottom of the tree :-)

In this photo there are three Crystal puzzles and three 3^3 stars.  The yellow and blue crystal puzzles are once again made by Beverley and the other four are made once again by Yong Jin.  You see, that copy company can make puzzles that are different, innovative, all their own.  They just choose not to. Lazy people that they are.  I guess it is easier to make a mold from a mold.  But that doesn't explain the smaller sized puzzles.  Well, easy enough to do.  There is this machine that takes a 3D photo of something.  After that, it turns it into computer language and the operator simply inputs a number and a new size is born.  OK, maybe not that easy, but essentially that's it.

Back to YJ.  They made these stars.  Earlier they made a set of hearts that were released for Valentines day.  That same heart was later copied by Dian Sheng.  Do we see a pattern here?

Bram's puzzle rings from yesterday.  Wow!  They are not the easiest of puzzles to solve that's for sure.  I now have 3 of them and one of these years I'll get around to grabbing up the others.  I have sixth sense, weave five, and Take five. They don't solve at all in the same way a traditional puzzle ring does.  Bram talks a bit about it here.  And no, I still haven't taken it apart fully!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the Fifth Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Five Puzzle Rings (not gold, sorry ndiamond-but puzzles all the same)
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.

The two on the left (white 3^3 cube) came from Oskar's shapeways shop (weave five and sixth sense). They were designed by Bram Cohen.  (He makes some pretty cool rings!) The two on the left (black 3^3 cube) are from an IPP exchange (two bands), and eBay.  I wanted a puzzle ring and so I found this silver one on our favorite auction site for next to nothing around 15 years ago.  It has 6 bands and is a standard ring configuration.  They can be found most every where.
The last puzzle ring is on Santa's sack. It was a birthday gift from my lovely niece Rachel this past year.  What a thoughtful kid!  It's not a puzzle puzzle, but a 'picture' of 4 jigsaw pieces.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On the Fourth Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a cube tree.

Ok, these have me stumped.  The Revo Mazes, which I've been told are easy, are not!  I've yet to solve a single one of these things.  I'm surprised that anyone can.  As you can see from the webpage, there is a gold version as well. I think since I have 4 expensive paperweights I may just pass on the 5th.  But if anyone is feeling rather generous and wants to gift me one....(Ok, a girl can dream can't she!)  I bought the blue and the green from the company in the UK when they first came out-or maybe when the green came out I bought backwards to save shipping costs (lord knows how I hate those) I had them sent to a friends in the UK and had to wait until he went home and came back during that summer.  The wait almost killed me, but once I started playing, the holding on to that little tiny bolt that pokes out did.  My hands simply aren't strong enough for that!  The bronze and silver I picked up at IPP30 for a good price.  PuzzleMaster just didn't want to ship that extra weight back to Canada, and since I was only traveling to HK and bringing all my puzzles on the plane, I simply couldn't resist the deal!  I read over on another blog there is an orange one out there, and as much as I'd love to get one....Money better spent on other toys.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Third Day of Christmas

My True love gave to me
Three diamond puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a cube tree.

Todays puzzles were bugs choice.  She's learned the tune and counted the beats and realized this would work.  
The Diamond at the top of the tree is made by Mag-Nif.  This one is called Family Jewels and was first put out sometime in the 1970's.  The blue you see on the page now is a very recent remake-within the past 6 months.  If you are looking for a clear diamond from this company, eBay is your only option.  But don't worry, if you really need one for that someone special, you can still get the clear ones from Beverley.

The Pink and green smaller diamonds are 3x3x3 cubes that have been cut into a diamond shape.  Yes, it's our old friend Yong Jin again.  See this is what really irritates me about this company.  They make new and innovative designs and yet they still have to copy others work.  Yesterdays crystal puzzles? They made Pandas, they made Chinese Pagodas, they made cubes, and keychains, and rabbits.  And yet, they still copy. It makes no sense to me.  None at all. The Diamond seen here?  I guess that one is copied too.  It came out as a mass produced puzzle in 2010 but was first made by Hidetoshi in 2008.  After copying this (please, don't try to convince me that this was made simultaneously.  It was also made by my friend SmaZ for me in 2009.  And since SmaZ is very active over on Mf8, that puzzle was shown there. You do the math....

The company went on to make a nifty little 3x3x3 apple which was then copied by Dian Sheng.  Divine justice I believe.  A copy company copying a copy company.

Monday, December 26, 2011

On the Second Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a cube tree.

There are two different dolphins on this tree.  Both are crystal puzzles.  The pink one is made by Beverley toys company out of Japan.  The blue one is made by Yong Jin from China.  The Beverley toys crystal puzzles are very nicely done.  They are already popped out of the mold frame and have very little flash left on them.  Perfect puzzles for children to play with and put together.  Bug and I have done the entire set now.  There are probably 50 different puzzles in the range.  (Many of which were gifted or sold to me at a very low cost-the office is just along my running route.)  A bit of interesting trivia.  The Disney Crystal puzzles are made in the same place, but sold by Hanayama.  The two companies owners are friends with each other and have a gentleman's agreement.  Hanayama sells the licensed products: Disney, Rody, Hello Kitty, and Sesame Street; while Beverley sells the rest.  The Crystal puzzles are made by Jeruel Industrial Company right here in HK-also known for Kinato puzzles.

Yong Jin is not a gentleman.  They make and sell copies of anything that sells.  If there is money in it, they will attempt to make it.  And by money I don't mean dollars, I mean a few cents.  They make so many copies at a time that they can afford to sell them very cheaply.  This is the company (or one of the companies) that makes puzzles for 3rd world countries, the same company that makes them for the market in China. The same company that makes them for places like Big Lots and Family Dollar and your local flea market.  So what is the quality like?  Well, most of their puzzles come with the mold frame still attached-think model cars.  You need to remove the frames then remove the flash.  When compared to Beverly or Hanayama, these are a poor second choice.  They also have gotten around direct copying of the former by making their puzzles just a bit smaller.  Those two dolphins?  The blue is 3/4 the size of the pink.  Oh yes, and most of the Yong Jin now come with a battery powered lcd light that flashes.  But be warned, turn it on and you can't turn it off.  So not a problem, just let the battery die.  Not so.  The batteries don't die gracefully-they die leaky.  Yuck!

And as I sit and find links, I see that Hanayama now has Tinker Bell! So guess who's going to go puzzle shopping tomorrow!

To answer your questions of yesterday Kevin, I can solve most of them.  The 11^11 was purchased at the HKTGF the first year it came out.  Along with 2 others.  One went to the lawyers, and one was shipped off to Greece (Rox the puzzle spy).  This one violates the Verdes patent and is only legally for sale in China.  So yes technically I can have it.  The helicopter cubes I have managed to memorize the solution while explaining it to a kid.  It has lost its magic and now sits on a shelf collecting dust.  See, for me once I can solve it again and again without longer fun.  The skewbs and the square 1's and 2's take a while for me to solve.  The rest are just 3^3 or 4^4 or 5^5.  And yes, they become tedious after a while so like many others they all just sit on the shelves.  The only one I haven't managed to solve is the 2x2x3 that is at the very top of the tree.  That is an odd puzzle that Oskar made a while ago.  I purchased it from his Shapeways shop.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

On the First Day of Christmas

my true love gave to me
a Santa on a cube tree
The tree is made from are a variety of different cubic type puzzles I had on my shelf.  The origin of which are known only to the shelf now as none of them have any labels on them.  Santa Claus is two puzzles in one.  The first puzzle is to remove his sack. The second puzzle is a wire disentanglement that is inside the sack.  I believe I bought this puzzle a few years back on either a Cubic Dissection auction or one of Nick Baxter's auctions.

The ghosts of Christmas' Past

I've been known to play a bit with words at Christmas time, and I thought I'd share a few of my musings about puzzles here. (All have been written out somewhere else on the web so you may have viewed these before. But it's Christmas, and my page, so humor me) For those of you who are only interested in puzzles-scroll down. My Christmas morning thoughts on Neil's Unhappy Childhood are below this long bit of drivel.

Twas the night before Christmas (Written for Meffert's puzzles, 2010)

Twas the night before Christmas when all through the sky
Not a puzzler was stirring, not even a guy.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that Meffert’s toys soon would be there.
The puzzlers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of megaminx’s danced in their heads.
With mama it was “Jade Club” with me a new skewb,
We had just settled down and shut off the tube.

When out by the door there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the door phone I flew in a flash
Picked up the handset and button did mash

The light on the roof of the factory below
Showed off glowing new puzzles to all in the know.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear.
But a promise of 12 toys and a jade club this year.

With a little old builder so lively and quick,
I knew when I met him he must be real slick.
Much faster than copies his puzzles they came,
And he clapped, and he laughed and he gave them a name!

“A Pyraminx! a Skewb! Megaminx! and a Jing!
Platapus! On Chi-Gung! Flowerminx! And Skewb-cube!
To the top of the factory! To the top of the Post!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away most!”

As the wet winds before the Chinese typhoons fly,
When met with the tall HK buildings, rising so high.
So off to many houses-his puzzles they flew,
With boxes full of toys, and great puzzles too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard at the door
The knocking and ringing of the postman once more.
As I opened it up, and was signing my name,
The boxes from Meffert’s came all the same.

They were filled up so full, with puzzles a plenty
The twisting and turning for me would be many,
As I opened my box, turning puzzles around,
Through the front door, Uwe Meffert came with a bound.

He was dressed all in black from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all covered with plastic and soot.
A case full of toys he had next to his side,
And he opened it up quickly, just starting the tide.

His Gears-how they twisted! His Skewbs how they clicked!
His Vulcano so neat! His Extreme I nicked!
His Pyramorphinx had ball bearings,
And the Ultimate was made just for my sharing.

A brand new Jade cube he held tight in his hand,
And the people ‘round the world all loved his new plan.
He had a great dream and a factory too,
We all wanted puzzles, we knew must do!

We raced so fast to Meffert’s and clicked quickly to buy,
And we joined his new jade club, without quite knowing why.
A promise of 12 toys this year he gave us,
And when December came, he had earned our trust.

He spoke not a word, but made puzzles once more,
And filled all our mailboxes with puzzles galore!
And writing a letter full of good news,
And sending a box, no one can fill his shoes!

He went back to his fact’ry, to his fans gave a nod,
And soon they all asked what more could be done to a mod.
Well, I heard him exclaim, as he walked out the door,
“Wait for the upcoming year, There’s much more in store!”

Merry Christmas everyone from the Meffert’s family!

--By Roxanne Wang (er, that should be Wong, but Cajomy didn't quite get that)

How The Boss Stole Christmas

by Dr. Seuss (with a little help from Katsmom)

Every kid
Down in twisty
Liked puzzling a lot…

But the boss,
Who lived just north of Hong Kong
Did NOT!

The boss hated puzzling! The whole puzzling reason!
Now I’ll tell you why. I met a man last
It could be that his cube wasn’t packaged just right.
It could be perhaps, that his screws were too tight.
But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his core was two sizes too small.

Whatever the reason,
His core or his screws
He stood there on Christmas Eve hating the crews,
Staring down from his factory with a sour businessy frown
At the warm worded postings over in their forum.
For he knew every kid in TP cyber space
Was busy now, Building at their leisurely pace.

“And their painting their puzzles!” he said with a sneer.
“Tomorrow is Christmas! Puzzles will be here!”
Then he growled with his boss fingers drumming,
“I MUST find a way to stop puzzles from coming!”
For tomorrow, he knew…

…All those smart girls and boys
Would wake up bright and early. They’d rush to their toys!
And then! Oh, the noise! Oh, the noise! Noise! Noise! Noise!
That's one thing he hated! The NOISE! NOISE! NOISE! NOISE!

Then those kids young and old would sit down to a twist.
And they’d twist! And they’d twist!
They would start on good old Rubik’s and rare Petaminx,
Which was something the boss couldn’t stand-what a jinx!

They’d do something he hated more than mold!
Every kid over in TP , the young and the old,
Would post close together with puzzle bells ringing.
They’d post pic-to-pic, and the kids would start bringing!

Oh! The toys they would bring!
And the more the boss thought of the twist puzzles made,
The more the boss thought “I must not be afraid!”
“Why for 34 years I’ve put up with it now!
I MUST stop puzzlers from building!
…But HOW?”

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!

“I know just what to do!” the boss laughed at his task.
And he made a quick U. Meffert hair and a mask.
And he chuckled and clucked, “What a great bossy day!
With this hair and this mask, I’ll look just like Uwe!”

All I need now is a Dogic….”
The Boss looked around.
But the Dogic are scarce, there were none to be found.
Did that stop the boss…?
NO! The Boss simply said,
“If I can’t find a Dogic, I’ll make one instead!”
So he called his workers. Then he called for plastic
Aluminum molds! Bring them super quick!

He gathered some bags
And some old dirty sacks
On a mass transit train
He then splitted up the packs

Then the Boss said, “Let us go!”
And the train started ‘roun’
Towards the homes where the kids
Wrote puzzles of choice down.

All their postings were done. Quiet threads filled the air.
All the kids were all dreaming of puzzles with flair.
When he came to the first little house on the square.
“Here’s puzzle number one,” The old Business man hissed!
And he climbed up the wall, empty bags in his fist.

Then he slid through the window. A rather tight toss.
But if Santa could do it, then so could the boss.
He first saw the shelves, then a box full instead.
Then he opened the door of the outside shed,
Where the puzzle queens boxes were full to the brim
“These puzzles” he yelled, “are way over the rim!”

Then he wandered and looked with an evil open mouthed grin,
And he took every toy, he took even the pin!
Void cubes! And Pyraminxs! Megaminx! Cubes!
Dominoes! Babylon Towers! And more!
Then he threw them in bags. The boss, very clums’ly,
Tossed all those bags, one by one of the balc’ny!

Then he ran to Pantazis! He took the mans best!
He took the Dinosaurs! He took all the rest!
He whipped out that mans flat in one super dash.
Why that boss even took his Astro-lab-a-cas!

He tossed all those toys out the front door with glee.
“And NOW!” grinned the Boss, “Who else can I go see!”

And the boss rushed on out and he looked ‘round more
When he saw the lights on at the house of a store.
He ran over fast, and he saw a boy!
George Helm that is who, one with many a toy!

The boss had been caught by this big diligent man
Who’d woke up for just one last look at his plan.
He stared at the boss and said “Puzzle man, Why?
Why are you taking our puzzle plans?

But you know that old Boss was smart and so slick
He thought up a lie and he thought it up quick!
“Why big puzzling friend” the old business man said,
“There’s a piece on this cube that catches on one side.
So I’m taking it back to my factory in China
I’ll copy it there, and sell it on line-ah!”

That didn’t fool Georges, nor Tom, neither Sandy,
Then he have them a gift card, he said so sorry,
And when the three boys went to use their three cards
Boss went to the cab’net and grabbed the last shards!

Then the last thing he took
Was Georges new TP book
Then he went to the factory himself, the old liar.
On their shelves he left nothing but stickers and wire.

And the one drop of lube
He left in the house
‘Twas a lube drop that was even too small for a cube!

He did the same thing
To the other kids houses

Leaving parts
Much too small
For other kids artses!

It was quarter past dawn….
The kids, still a-bed
All the kids, still a snooze
When he packed up his train,
Packed it up with their Childs Play! The Da Yan’s! The Love Locket!
The Gears! And the Apples! The Planet! The Fisher’s!

Three thousand feet up! Up the side of the Great Wall!
He rode to the tip top to dump all!
“Pooh-Pooh to those Kids!” He was Boss-ish-ly humming.
“They’re finding out now that now new puzzles are coming!
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!
Their bags will flop open for a moment or two
Then all the kids o’er in TP will all cry BOO-HOO!”

“That is a noise,” grinned the Boss,
“That I simply must hear!”
So he paused. And the Boss put a cup to his ear.
And he did hear sound rising over the web.
It started out low. Then it started to ebb…..

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why this sound sounded glad!
It couldn’t be so!
‘Twere no puzzles to be had!

He stared at the forum!
The Boss popped his eyes!
Then he screamed!
What he saw was a puzzling surprise!

Every kid o’er in TP, the young and the old,
Were posting! Without any puzzles! So bold!
He HADN’T stopped Puzzles from Coming!
Somehow or other they came all the same!

And the boss with his business heart cold in the store,
Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How can there be more?
I stole all their programs! I stole all their books!
I stole all their plastics, screws and hooks!”
And he puzzled three hours, ‘till his puzzler was sore.
Then the Boss thought of something he hadn’t before!
“Maybe Puzzles, “ he thought, “Don’t come from my store.
Maybe Puzzles….perhaps…come from great brains once more!”

And what happened then…?
Well….in TP they say
That the Boss’s small core
Grew three sizes that day!
And the minute his core didn’t feel quite so tight,
He rushed through on his train through the bright morning light
And he brought back the Balls! Quick to dash!
And he….


The Boss gave back the Astro-lab-a-cas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

Rather than repost the thread in it's entirety, For this one, I'll merely give you a link to the 12 puzzles of Christmas I wrote Christmas of 2009.

A bit of spatting over on TP caused me to write this one:
original by Clement Clarke Moore
parody by Roxanne Wong

'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the forum

Not a puzzler was stirring, not even a bear;

The gigaminxes were hung by the heating pipe with care,

In hopes that reeeech the buyer soon would be there;

The puzzles were nestled all snug on their shelves,

While thoughts of the dremel worried all ourselves;

With Rox in her pj’s and Georges in his T,

They both settled down for an afternoons read,

When over in building there arose such a clatter,

I sprang from the chair to see what was the chatter.

Away to the forum I rushed in a dream,

Tore open the pages and threw up the screen.

The shine on the side of the newly made puzzle,

Showed the luster of labels to all who dared nuzzle;

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a 9x9 from Tony, and many new toys-available here.

With a new admin team, so diligent and quick,

I knew in a moment they must be very slick.

More rapid than knock offs their edits they came,

And they deleted, and cut, and stopped all the blame;

"Now, KO! now, Slander! now, Fighters and Thieves!

On, Posters! on Pictures! on, Members and Peeves!

To the top of the forum! to the top of the wall!

Now post away! post away! post away all!"

As copy topics that before the wild accusations fly,

When they meet with the obstacle, known as the ‘eye’,

So up to the postings the editors they flew,

With the keyboard full of edits, and some warnings too.

And then, in an instant, I saw on YouTube

The twisting and turning and each squeeze of lube.

As I opened my browser, and was surfing around,

The videos of new puzzles seemed to surround.

They were made by Oskar, by Tony and Panda,

The video’s so diverse I looked on in wunda';

Oskar’s new toys defied all known logic,

The old ones from Panda; my favorite the Dogic.

The Petaminx – how awesome! James’s gigaminx is low!

Adams Helicopter is another great one to show!

‘I no longer need bid hundreds on eBay’s wall,

‘Cause Dave’s Flowerminx was made by Meffert’s for all;

The core of a cube Frank held tight in his fist,

As he thought and he pondered my long, long wish list;

Which toy to make next for the forum to love,

I hope it’s well liked from the men from above.

Don’t send it to China, if it’s copied I’ll cry;

I wanted to make a puzzle, for all moder’s to try!

The forum was full of hope and praise before,

No more posts about KO’s; let’s be friendly once more!

There are many great topics we can all ponder;

Let’s try not to fight or to stray or to wander,

It’s time to go back to the TP we love;

Don’t make admin pull out the big boxing glove,

Go back to your work; there’s nothing to see here,

I’ve cut out the rubbish, no more name calling this year,

And I heard him remind as he cut out the fight,

"Go back to being friends-for Christmas is in sight!"

Merry Christmas Everyone

In 2010 I didn't do my own version of this song because a young man from the forum wanted to let his creative juices flow. Instead, I parodied my favorite Christmas song.

My final puzzle musing was a version of the 12 puzzles of Christmas written for Meffert's Puzzles in 2010. This was made because he liked my TP version and he wanted to remind people of the 12 puzzles he had produced that year.

So where does that leave us this year???? Stay tuned. Come back tomorrow and you just might see!

(and for those of you wondering...yes, I've done something silly like this for around 20 years. If you look hard enough, you may find Christmas musings on Disney, The HK governments wonderful education policies, and my lamenting the lack of snow here)

Christmas day puzzling

While the majority of my puzzle friends are dreaming of sugar plums, I've been puzzling the day away.
Santa was all right. But I would have to say, Christmas Eve present opening was much nicer! Thanks to a silly bug I had a few more presents under the tree than I expected.

So there are a lot in there from Bits and pieces, and a few from Eureka, a Smart Games, a Karakuri, and one from the Juggler.

Now while any and all of these are pretty neat, I would have to say thus far, my favorite has been....oh don't hate me....Oskar's Matchboxes. :-) There is just something mesmerizing about the way those blocks come apart. They have this sliding motion to them that is just plain fun to watch.

Solving wise. Well, the configuration it is in when it arrives is easy to do. I've managed that with the cardboard set I made a while back. Now I've seen somewhere that there are 2 more solutions to this puzzle. I guess I'll have to spending bit of time giving it a think.

What? Not fair I hear you scream out! I shouldn't like a toy I already have? Ok then, this time I'll agree with you.

I'll be serious then. I like all of them and will post later on each of the other puzzles I received, but first. I want to talk about Neil's Unhappy Childhood.

I saw this one and was taken by it. Why? I'm not entirely sure. It's a 5x5x2 checkerboard. Maybe it was the pretty wood. Maybe it was the poor finger. Or maybe it was a temporary bout of the "I think I can solve that" Well, what ever it was, I now have that puzzle in my possession. and it is pretty.

Upon closer inspection, there are 10 pieces each with 5 cubes. The puzzle is simple. Put it back in the box so that there is a checkerboard pattern on both the top and bottom layers. So is it possible? I've been told, but after about 2 hours on it today??? I'm beginning to wonder. And for all you naysayers who think I never muck up a puzzle that is difficult to solve...

Nice of Mr. Coffin to make another devil of a puzzle. Nicer of Neil to remake it. I won't bore you with telling you about the way it was made or anything like that. I've A major snowstorm brewing in my bedroom right now that I need to put an end to. I'll just say I love the box the puzzle is in. Very creative. I wish I knew what the smell was that is in there. It's not the wood that is for sure. And I'll leave you with a link to Neil's page on how he built this thing.

Oh yes, and for those of you who are wondering, there is no blood to be found.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just a brief interruption for me to send my wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to all of you.

I hope Santa brings you loads and loads of toys that take more than 10 minutes to solve. I also wish all your puzzle wishes be granted this coming year.

I'll be back in the morning to share my puzzle fun.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mr. Man

I was going to write this as a reply to my last post, but I've decided it needs a posting all his own.
I bring you one of the hardest puzzles I've ever dealt with: Mr. Man.

Now Mr. Man isn't a puzzler. He's always just tolerated my toys and shook his head at me when I get to talking about them. We have an understanding. I don't complain about the machines in the living room, and he doesn't complain about the toys in the bedroom. You think that's a joke? It's not.

That's the living room!! Thankfully that big one is gone, but now he has a couple others in there. Some drilling thing, and a small one that looks suspiciously like a mini-table saw. I know there is a lathe on top of the China Cabinet. And the little room divider cabinet? It used to house crystal, now it is chock a block full of man tools. While this might sound terrible to most, it isn't as bad as that CNC machine was. These man tools are all hidden under cabinets and behind closed doors. They just take space that is better used by things like dishes and vacuum cleaners and puzzles...

He isn't allowed to use them inside the house, and thankfully he agrees with that rule. Dust, flying debris, the smell...Yuck! But he does play quite a lot on the balcony. He has this thing out there in the cabinet that he burns stuff in....copper wire, aluminum. Creative fellow has gotten tired of replacing toilet seat hinges (bug was too short to see in the mirror so she would stand on it. Now at 10 she still does and kept breaking off the hinges-oh, and Miss. N. is only 4'11" ...) so he made those out of aluminum. Anytime something that takes a lot of wear breaks and he can make it, we have to save the cans for melting.

Mr. Man really is great. Seriously. (Wouldn't you be if you had such a tolerant wife?) When we redecorated, I wanted another bunch of shelves for more puzzle display and he built them. I worried about those poor toys that are out on the balcony, and he built an even bigger "storage box" under our bed. He's taken by the Hanayamas and any heavy metal puzzles, wood not so much. BUT after was I woke up and saw Neil's post this morning, he might just like one of my wooden Christmas presents after all.

At IPP30, he met Stan Issacs and I've got to say I adore that man! Stan handed Mr. Man a Hanayama puzzle and it kept him entertained for a few hours. During the Awards Banquet Mr. Man and bug had enough so they headed up to the room. A little while later they came running back down to show me this:

He had solved his first ever puzzle! I can't say he's hooked on them, but I can say he enjoys a good Hanayama every now and again.

He's a tolerant bloke too. I spend a lot of time playing with my toys, and I never get a nasty look or a word from him about it. (OK, almost never. When I'm complaining about deadlines and I'm puzzling the night away...) I have dinner with Uwe Meffert once a week and it's always a last minute call to Mr. Man to say I'll not be home. Ok says he.

I enjoy my boys and toys weekends across the border and again, not a peep out of him. Although in this case, I'm sure it's because I have Michael (SmaZ) to chaperone me. I spend a week at the HK Toys and Games Fair with a bunch of lads from where ever they come from-although, that gets me a "you had better not be skipping work" and a few "you need sleep or you're going to get sick" statements. And....I get to go to factory visits! But then, when BIG MAN TOOLS are involved, I invite him along.

He puts up with my travel for work (free vacation for him now isn't it?) and does the recording of me and my big mouth. While there he hunts down puzzles for me and points out any new ones he sees. When he goes on his man tool hunting trips with his friends, he always brings back photos of puzzles if he thinks I may have them. If I don't, on his next trip over he picks them up for me. And family vacations? In addition to the work trips with a day or two on either side for playing tourist (and hunting puzzles), it's IPP! Not a complaint or a peep out of him. He's so much better at playing the game than I am...The trips we take with his family? I moan the whole time lousy wife that I am.

And this time of year even better still. There are puzzles under the tree for me! (ok, some I bought using his money but even so...)

Yep. I think I'll keep Mr. Man. He's a puzzle worth hanging on to!

Four more days!

Now come on, be honest. How many of you are counting down the days with me? Now be honest, you know you are. And why? because you just know there are puzzles hiding under that tree of yours. That are all wrapped up in pretty shiny paper with bows and ribbon on the top. If yours are like mine, they are calling out to be opened!
And if you are like me, you have a pretty good idea of what is in those boxes. And if you're also like me, you are waiting for just a few more to come in.
So what's under your tree then? Do tell.

No peeking? Awe shucks. Well, I'll have to look at a puzzle then that I already have in my collection. On the way into a focus group interview at work today (can you say waste of time) I grabbed a puzzle. Todays was a karuakuri box. One of the little ones. Number 4 to be exact.

What a nifty little toy. When I first pulled this one out of the plastic, a little card fell out. Now I have a feeling this is the solution and since I didn't want to spoil the fun, I left it on the floor with instructions for Miss. N. to pick it up and hide it on me. So upon first inspection, I noticed that the base slides in and out about 1/4 inch. hmm me thinks. This might be easy. Upon closer inspection, that little movement seems to be all it does. So much for that idea. I can see seams around the puzzle, and I've noticed a bit of movement in another place....Let me give it a think....a bit of frustration and around an hour later.....

As Mr. B. says, give your head a shake Roxanne! This one was so simple it isn't funny. Ok, and sore hands too. But it is now solved. A fun little puzzle. Worth the price I paid? Probably. It had me stumped for a while (but then it doesn't take much does it?)

Now back to waiting impatiently to open those boxes under my tree....

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

KPG meet up part 3

No, there really isn't a write up here. I just forgot to add the postings of the photos. All can be found on my facebook page. I've also loaded a few videos of the new puzzles I received in exchange. They can be found on my YouTube channel.


Monday, December 19, 2011

KPG meeting Part 2

So I'm back in HK and I have internet that doesn't blink out on me every 10 minutes or so. (what a major headache it must be to live with that problem)

On Sunday I met with the KPG puzzlers. My first thought was: They aren't all kids! And then sadly, I realized I'm not a kid anymore either. I must apologize in advance, I don't know names to give to the people I met, or the puzzles they brought. But I can say they taught Math! That's all I managed to get.

We met our 'driver' at the hotel and he took us over to a nice little restaurant somewhere in the city. We started pulling out puzzles right away, and I found them hard to put down when the food came.

That photo was my one attempt to get everything on the table, but I didn't do a very good job of it. Every time I turned around, another puzzle was being pulled out.

I enjoyed the company almost as much as the toys. Since I'm tired and still need to head into work, I'll give a few highlights.

First would have to be finally meeting John Lin. I've watched his blog for a while, and have been impressed by his puzzle creations for years. His cylindrical 2x2x2 caught my attention first I guess so this was nice. He pulled out a few puzzles that he had put together himself (using wood cut by Mr. Mickey-I think that was the mans name) I had to take photos of one set so I can make an attempt at building my own. It was pretty cool I think.

One huge puzzle was the V7Tetrahedron made by Chiou Sheng Wen. He also brought along a few of his his other builds. A dino 2x2x2 copter, and a dino cube he made. 4 other pyramids. It wasn't all wood, there was plenty of plastic on that table as well....

Just a bit of eye candy:

While I was blown away by the clearness of the surrounding plastic, Mr. Man worked out the vacuum technique used.

One man that was there was an artist, and sadly I didn't get his name. (Although, I did get his book, I can't read Chinese and Mr. Man had to go to work today-poor guy!) He made some amazing little puzzles made of Brass. They are all about 1-1 1/2 inches. And all were made with a milling machine. Mr. Man was out taking a nap, but I made bug wake him to see these gems. They are real beauties.

I handed out some black and white SmaZ dinos to everyone, and was given a few nice toys of my own. One is a brick of a puzzle. It's a KPG cubic burr. I saw one taken apart, and haven't attempted mine yet, but will one of these days. Of course, We had to get the obligatory signing of the puzzle in.
Designer and builder signatures on this one!

I was given a link to another neat blog, but like John's it needs translating.

This short thread does not do this meet up justice. We sat and played with toys of all kinds for about 5 hours. When the restaurant closed for the day, we left too. All in all, it was a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. I hope one day I have the opportunity to do it again. Thank you all for a wonderful afternoon!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

KPG Meet up

OK, so anyone who was reading this knows that I headed to Taiwan this past few days. Me being me, I had to get in contact with a few puzzlers from here, and managed to set up a meeting time. Great!
I met John Lin, and 5 others.

It was a real treat for me, and yet again, puzzles transcend languages. I didn't understand a word they were saying at times, but didn't need to. And to be perfectly honest, my hosts spoke enough English that it wasn't a problem or me at all. The only time we had any difficulties was when we were discussing a set of puzzles that were milled from brass. That is just a bit beyond my transcending level.

The internet here is sketchy at best. Even on campus I had problems, and Eduroam has not failed me yet, so I'm guessing it is something in the water. I think I'll stop this here and load another post when I return to HK on Tuesday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Finally, A Tony Fisher-golden cube

I have this wonderful relationship with Tony. He makes great puzzles, I buy them. :-)

Tony has been around puzzles longer than I have, and as much as I'd love to say I have all of his, I simply don't have enough money!

For those of you that don't know, Tony makes all his puzzles by hand. He has some interesting ideas and even more interesting ways of making them. Tonight I'm going to show you his mini golden cubes.

This one is a nice little cube. It's made from the Meffert's skewb keychains. I'm not exactly sure when he made this one, but you can see a nice history of them on his page here. This is one of the puzzles he has had mass produced by Meffert's in a much larger size.

Now this one is a bit of a headache to solve. It has a number of oddly shaped pieces attached to the skewb. When solving, it is not just a matter of getting the colors to the right side, but moving the pieces around to the right orientation. A royal pain in the ... But fun to attempt anyway.

Tony did warn me that the key chain versions have this tendency to fall apart. Since mine has a pretty signature on it, I've not mucked it up so my solving experiences comes from the Mass produced versions. (And yes, I have the whole set-2 sets in fact, with an extra copper one that Uwe signed for me-oh dear bragging again.)

I also have a sliding puck, and the first I ever purchased from Tony was a nesting Dogic. My photograph brainbox is acting up (as usual) and the camera is packed in the suitcase so sorry, no photos of those two unless I can get that darned thing to behave itself.

Well, I'm off for a 'working holiday' Seriously this time. I work for 15-20 minutes and the rest of the week is holiday. (And listening to others) But the highlight of this trip for me is not going to be hearing myself speak, although I never tire of that, but meeting a group of puzzlers while there. My bags are packed, but more importantly the travelling puzzles are packed.

See you all after the weekend.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The case of the missing posts

How very odd. I've just posted a full update and when I clicked view post-it was gone! Magic. It's disappeared into the ether. I guess it's gone to visit my e-portfolio I wrote a few years back.

Well doesn't matter. I'll just start again. A week ago I asked for some advice on what puzzles I should take for a traveling meet up. I don't want anything to bulky, or too heavy as I have to toss them into my computer bag. They also have to be problem free so they can get through customs. Which doesn't really leave very many options now does it?

I did take a bit of advice and put in a unfinished Hanayama, and a few of Wil's puzzles because you can't go wrong with them. (I might add an apple because they are just so cute! and maybe the Jugo flower depending on the space I have left over)
As you can see, there are a few packing puzzles in there as well. They have a bit of an aha! to them. (yes George, thanks to your hint I figured out the toilets)
Since most of the puzzles I own are twisties I added a new acquisition and childs play. You can't go wrong with two puzzles in one can you? I need to toss in one more, and I'm stuck between a cheeseblock and AJ's barrel megaminx. Maybe a SmaZ puzzle...The problems I have with this.

Of course, I simply must bring my all time favorite! Chinny's "think like a man". You simply can't go wrong when that puzzle is in the mix!

And Neil thank you for the suggestion of bringing along Michelle. I think this time I'll leave her to guard the home front and feed the guinea pig!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Twas the week before Christmas....Smaz Dino Cubes

Ok, 2 weeks but who's counting! Not me.

I had another of those long rough weeks and it's only Monday I hear you all shouting. Actually, it's been a month of non-stop everything.

Today was a box day. Today was a puzzle gathering day. Today was a day that I'm glad is over. But it wasn't all bad. I got toys! Unbelievable that I had found time to get toys in all that prostituting we were doing. (No, not that kind-the selling of a product kind)

Ok, so this morning I had a really rotten start. I went into work to drop off exam marking and no office staff was at hand. Oh well. I put it all on a desk and ran out to do the previously mentioned other job. As I was leaving my campus, my phone sent out a small vibration in my pocket and what to my wondering eyes should appear but a c-dissection mail saying Zauberflote is here! (heaven help us all, she's been reading too many Christmas books and has hit the egg nog already this year! Let the rhyming begin.)

Ah nuts! I lost the internet connection and needed to be at another place 20 minutes away in less than 15. No time to stop and look. And it was a good thing I didn't. I was met at the train station by my fellow 'workers' and we set off to sell our wares. While the big man was talking, I logged on only to find the one puzzle I really wanted gone. But it wasn't a total bust, I did manage to order 2 others and if Mr. Postman is nice to me, I should get them before Christmas. (and if you read this Mr. Fuller, I sure would like one of those yellow puzzles!)

The presentation went down a treat-I mean who wouldn't love 3 beautiful women and a redheaded man selling their stuff. Well, me for one. After that walk up the hill, and standing and talking for a bit, my feet were killing me-whose bright idea was it to put those 3 inch heals on my boots anyway? Next stop. Lunch. Ok, lunch was good. And I'm still full. But my poor dogs. They are a barking. (sorry, I just couldn't resist that!)

Over to Smaz's shop to pick up a few puzzles I've been trying to get since last week, but before that-new boots! (No insane heals this time!) So this time, they are white, not black. (the puzzles not the boots. The boots are black and oh so tall) And there is a great one on the end there that can't be mucked up. Now THAT is my kind of puzzle.

And yes, those black bags all have puzzles in them but I'm not telling what they are just yet.

So I headed home around 5 and when on the way, the bug calls and very excitedly tells me she has a yellow box from Luxembourg. She then proceeded to attempt to read the address. How cute is that? Ok, well trust me it was. I made her wait until I got home, and when she realized who it was from she wanted to make a video. Can you tell she's happy with the earrings or what?

So what about me? Well, dinner came and went and I was sitting here contemplating writing about a Tony Fisher puzzle when I glanced over and saw a package addressed to me-great family I have, they just dump packages on my desk and hope I'll see them in all the mess.

So I open it up and what's inside? A Christmas puzzleball from Ravensburger. How nice! I'll have to put that together tomorrow. I'm simply to tired tonight. I went to write down the return address, and saw a bag drop out with bugs name on it. Didn't think much of it and went on to read another forum. Glancing down, I saw that puzzle was the same as the one in the box. Now hold on here! That's not right! So taking another look at that box, I notice a bit of tape. Opening it up, I find a 3x3x3 puzzle inside.

For those who query this, that is Dave wearing that dress (only because a designer from the Netherlands and a man from Connecticut wouldn't do it for me). These antics took place at IPP last year and I couldn't think of a better gift to send someone. I absolutely love it! So much so that I made Mr. Man order me a dust box for it. I should be able to collect it on Wednesday.

Sorry Tony, you'll just have to wait until tomorrow...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Marking boredom-quintet in f

One of the Joys of my job is the marking. Now today, I have marked 65 summaries, 80 essays,37 IELTS, 50 reading/usage(easy) 82 scripts for the Poly. Big deal I hear you say. Well, no, it isn't. It's a boring deal! I am sick up to my eyeballs of body parts (yes, that was one of the topics) and something about companies. Oh well, only a few more days of it I hope. And since it is my puzzle money I'd best get back to it.

But first...

A puzzle for you all. Today between candidates and making bursts, I was playing with a puzzle called Quintet in F. It is a Stewart Coffin #253 to be exact. This one has 5 little identical f's on it. I've had it on my office desk for a while to play with, but sadly never seem to have the time (a recurrent theme of late) so knowing full well what I had in store for the weekend, I put it in my bag and set off to work.

As you can see, the cage frame is not square. It's offset ever so slightly. This makes it all the more difficult to fit those pieces in. There were many a moment this afternoon when I wanted to sove the darned things into place and pray for a miracle. Sadly, it didn't pay off. Neither did trial and error or counting. I solved this one by thinking! Are you all as shocked as I am? I had around 40 minutes left of my full day testing session and I looked down and suddenly it dawned on me. Aha! or Eureka! If you prefer. Done! Solved! Finished! I'm shocked and pleased I managed it. Next one....Those pesky bears.

Friday, December 9, 2011

More Oskar? Treasure Chests

Yeah, why not. I have been holding on to this puzzle (secret) for quite some time now. A few lucky fellows got to see it at IPP in August. Oskar for one. I know there is a story on his Shapeways page about this one. Any way, it's a nice little puzzle. A bit of a lark though as far as solving and such is concerned. It's a standard 'Rubik's cube', but with a twist.

You see those little teeth looking things in there? They are locks. The little locks have to be lined up just right, or the puzzle will not open. See this puzzle doesn't have a core, it's got a big gaping hole in the middle of it, but don't let that fool you. It's a good puzzle. A great Design by Oskar, a good product by Meffert's. You simply can't go wrong with that combination. (And don't even think of asking me for the 'simple' solution)

What? You thought you would get the one with the standard Meffert's colors on it? No such luck. For this one they have gone with bubbled up stickers. Yes, they are special. It's a material called "oxygen" But I don't think it is good to breath in. I've seen the factory workers using masks around it. (yes, you can boo) The stickiness seems to be pretty good. I have a pyraminx on my shelf using it, and it is a far cry different from those puffy-stickered-made-in-China cubes that we have all tossed in the bin. There's a goofy story at the end of my 30th anniversary pyraminx video about the stickiness.

So I know that you are all wondering what's up with that USB thing there and I'll tell you. It's a surprise! :-) Uwe has put a bit of puzzle information on that little USB that I think you all will find entertaining, if not enjoyable. And no complaints about duplication...some people just don't have all the time in the world. To quote Jerry Loo: (PS - there are other equally or more important things in my life apart from puzzling!)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

HO HO HO! 'Tis the season....

Well yesterday was a bust. Eierlikoer and Jagermeister at Schnurrbart and I am done for. But hey it's Christmas time and you know what that means?

Presents! Lots and lots of Presents! And darned it all if they aren't all in Florida right now. Seriously. All those puzzles I ordered are waiting very nicely to be sent out in the new year. What a bust. Which brings me to Bits and Pieces. Right now I am so mad at them I could spit! I placed an order in early October with my correct address on it and what did they do? Send it to the wrong address. So now what? Well, they resent it and left off 4 puzzles that I really wanted with a 'sorry for the inconvenience caused' line of rubbish! Now I'm stuck with a $40+ surplus in their shop. So that means I must go buy something to use up that money. Problem is, the last batch that I got from them, just before this disastrous order-was terrible. Really poor quality stuff. Broken puzzles, misaligned puzzles, just plain cheap puzzles. Oh well, live and learn.

So what is on for today? Hmmm. How about an Oskar?

This one is pretty cool. I picked it up from him at IPP30. And did you check out that nifty signature of his. I think it was pretty lazy of him to leave off the "O" though.

For me it is fantastic. It has two of my favorite puzzles combined in one. Slide and Rubik's type. So the object of this puzzle is pretty self explanatory. Muck it up, and solve it. But the mucking is the fun part. It can be simply messed up like a 2x2x2, or it can have those bits slid around which adds to the difficulty.

This one was sent off to some far away country to a puzzle manufacturer not near me, and sadly turned down. But the good news is-the gear cubes were picked up! So if you want one of these lovely toys, you'll need to go over to Oskar's shapeways shop and pick one up.

As for me? I'm off for one of those office Christmas lunches....See you when I come up for Orange Juice and aspirin in about a week. :-)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Planning a puzzle date...

Forgive this interruption of posting about puzzles. I'm having a bit of a dilemma and need some help. This is something that I've often wondered about, and would greatly love advice on. Any and all replies will be greatly appreciated.

Ok, so I've got some puzzle parties to go to in the upcoming weeks-a drastic change from my normal type of party this time of year-and I don't really know what to bring for others to try. I mean to me, my collection is so mundane. I know what I have, and I don't get super excited about my puzzles anymore. I mean I've played with them all.

So for those of you that actually read this drivel and keep an eye on some of the photos I post, if you had a chance to play with my toys, which ones would you choose? I want to bring 3-5 puzzles that people will enjoy-not some old boring pyraminx(although that is still MY favorite.

I guess the rules are simple:
1) They have to be able to be carried through customs without problems (I forgot to mention these things aren't in HK, nor are they all in China.)
2) They have to have a 'wow' factor. Solving, appearance, really doesn't matter.
3) They have to be somewhat rare or there would be no point in bringing them.
4) They have to be sturdy enough to be handled by many.

If you have a puzzle in mind, do tell. I've a very small bit of room left in my computer bag to toss puzzles into but do want to bring along a few toys to play with at these meets. I'd feel rather silly coming empty handed.

The problems of a travelling puzzler.......

I'm off to one of those 'normal seasonal parties' and puzzle hunting after. Provided I still have legs when I return home, I may find it in me to post about a real puzzle-not just my traveling one.

a mini-megaminx?

Well, yes and no. The Hryahlavolamy puzzles (from the Czech Republic) are based on the megaminx but oh so different.

You can see three of the puzzles made by this company in mid-turn. They are tiny little things. I don't have big hands, but anyone who does will have difficulties turning them. Heck, for that matter, the glowball (bottom center) I find very difficult to move. There simply isn't enough to grab onto. The puzzle to the top left is a bastardization of the flower and the metamorphix. Top right is simply called the flower.

If you can solve a megaminx, you can solve these. The challenge comes in being able to turn them. Not at all easy.

I picked these 3 and more up at IPP30 but all are available from Puzzle Master for around US$35. Dollar for puzzling value? I'd go for a megaminx. But if you want something pretty to add to your collection, well this fits the bill.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Have pyramids?

I do. More than one as it happens. To be honest, I have too many to count so I've decided yet again to write about those that I have on hand. (can we see a theme developing here? When Rox runs out of puzzles on her shelves....the blog may end. Just kidding)

Ok, so what have we got here? Well It looks to me like 9 different puzzles. All pyramids and essentially the same. There. Done with post. Nah! I wouldn't do that. That would be just mean. Ok, back row in that photo are a prototype of a Meffert's Vulcano, a Rasta pyramid that I made with stick on jewels, and a Professor Pyraminx.
Middle row: 1980's sphinx puzzle (The KO of the Meffert's with the gold stickers), a 30th anniversary, 25th anniversary, and Jean-Marc's pyraminx (bacon is it?)
Bottom row: Eastern Bloc 3/4 size complete with missing tiles and a SmaZ edge turning pyraminx.

So what if anything is different about these? Well, The Vulcano besides having an odd spelling is an odd sort of puzzle. Those edge bits-they get mixed up. so instead of having just the pyramid shapes to worry about during solving, there are now extra bottoms or sides to fix. A headache to say the least. This one was made by Timur who seems to be making a lot for Uwe as of late-with more to come I'm sure (meow!) The Professor pyraminx is also made by Timur, and it is huge! Well no, not really, see Uwe has this thing about volume. He's making all his pyramids have the same volume. I don't really understand that, but I'm sure there's a math geek out there somewhere that can explain it to you if you really are interested. The professor Pyraminx isn't that much harder to solve than a normal one. Ok, there are two more layers, but really that just means 2 more bits to think about.

The real fun comes in the middle row. The 25th anniversary pyraminx has metalicized tiles on it. We've seen those around for at least 5 years. The 30th anniversary ones have a spongy type time on them, and the logos are embedded in the plastic itself so they won't rub off. I like that bit of it. That gold stickered KO from Taiwan...I searched up and down for one of those. It only took me about 20 years to find one. Now I know you're thinking WHAT??? But seriously, I kept getting outbid on them-I mean, I do have my price point, and for a KO I won't go over that. So there we have 3 bog standard pyraminx's.

Why do I like these? Well they talk to me. This has got to be the first puzzle I have ever had that talks to me. And it doesn't matter which pyraminx it is, or who made it. That puzzle just loves to chatter. Now I know you all think I've gone round the bend now, but that's not the case. It's a simple matter of I have never learned how to solve the puzzle. Or should I say I've never memorized a solution to the puzzle. I guess anyone can do that and once you solve it, the fun is over because with a memorized solution you can do it again and again and again. with this one? I can't. Or should I say I won't. I did that with the helicopter cube-was chatting with a friend and as I was talking him through some moves, I realized I stumbled upon a memorized solution. That was about a year ago and I haven't picked up the helicopter since.

oh, back to talking puzzles. Right. I don't know how to explain it,but they just kind of let me know what needs to move where next. And yes, it takes me 10 minutes or so to solve one. But back to these puzzles. The last one in that middle row was a gift from a friend. It's not super difficult. He's bandaged a few bits here and there. It's more difficult trying to work out how to mess the puzzle up to be honest. But this one sits front and center on my shelf because he made it for me. And it's one of a kind. It doesn't get any better than that.

This one has a completely bandaged row, and some bandaged corners on it. A nice fun little puzzle filled with Love!

On to the bottom row. The Eastern Bloc puzzle I won on eBay. Where else? But the seller very conveniently left off the missing 3 tiles. I wanted the puzzle and couldn't get my money back on that one. Live and learn. I've never bought from that country again.

Ok, last one. SmaZ's edge turning pyraminx. Actually, it really isn't his. It's Aj's and DDR's. But who's going to tell on me. I played with theirs in GZ October 2010 and wanted one. I asked SmaZ, he asked AJ, and I got my puzzle. Nice ha? So how does this one work. It's a mess. But fun. Very hard to solve really. I know SmaZ used 3 floppy cubes to make it. As with all their work, this one is hand made. Other than that? I can't tell you anything. Will he make more? I doubt it, he said it was a pain. But then that is what I am so I know he didn't mind too much. He's used to my odd requests.

Have I given you enough pyramid power for one night? Ok then, I move on. It's Christmas! I want to point your attention to a great website that has an annual free puzzle advent calendar. (You might even wonder what those others are all about, and if you like what you see, well the subscription isn't all that bad) You won't be disappointed if you head over to PuzzleBrains I've been getting the magazines since they started and have enjoyed every second of them. (even the bits I didn't finish) Don't tell Scurra, but I think he's not such a bad bloke after all. I mean, he entertains me for hours on end so he can't be all that bad. Loony maybe, but bad? Nope!

And for those of you who are dying to find out, I managed to find some glue! Thank goodness for a bug and a husband who understand Roxese. The broken puzzle is now on the mend. In the morning I should be able to try and solve it again.

You never know what you'll find in HK shops-perpetual puzzles

I've done a couple of YouTube videos on these puzzles and my shock at finding them. But by now I shouldn't be surprised to find puzzles when I go out. What should surprise me is the type and number of puzzles I can find. I'm a twisty gal at heart, but I don't discriminate, and this posting will attest to that.

So here's two shops finds for you....

And what have we got here? Three Moku moku puzzles from Artbox in Japan, and three puzzles from Lagoon games (Uk originally)

I'll start with the Japanese Puzzles. I found these in a street stall when waiting for Uwe the other day. He is notoriously late-we always plan for 6, but he forgets the traffic that time of day, and Rox of course always remembers and gets there for the appointed dinner time only to wait as usual. So what do I do? Why take a walk around and see if I can spot anything new. These are wooden Jigsaws. Easily done right? Yes. I was hoping they would be along the difficulty lines of the bantam eggs, but sadly, they are just slide jigsaws that really aren't that well cut when I look at them. I put together the coffee cup, and the base is one of those 4 piece puzzles that need to be twisted just the right way to stay in place. Sadly, it's just not tight enough to do that, so it sits on my shelf with sticky tape on the bottom. The globe and the ice cream can wait. But on the plus side, they have a wonderful smell!

On to Lagoon games. I was waiting for Mr. B. so we could have our Saturday night Corona's in the square and dang it all if I wasn't way too early as usual, I started to wander around the area. This time I was in East TST and my meanderings led me to a shopping mall called K11. I noticed there was a Dymocks in there, and that book store usually carries puzzles so in I went.

Up the first escalator wasn't so bad, and the second was ok. By the third I was shaking and needed to find a lift to get up one more floor. I'm not afraid of heights really, but I'm afraid of wide open spaces at heights, and that looking down 4 floors from the side of the elevator was enough to have me quaking. But lucky for me, I found a little shop that was full of gizmos so in I went to get past that bit of nerves I had just encountered.

Ok, so inside they had about 4 different wooden puzzles from Lagoon games, 3 versions of the perpetual puzzles, some illusion jigsaws and a couple of animal stacking jigsaws for kids. Well, since those jigsaws packed a hefty price tag-right around US$50 and they were nothing more than animals sitting on other animals, I passed. The illusion jigsaws while interesting were nothing more than a jigsaw.

Perpetual puzzles, there were three versions available-a cat, a dog, and the parrots that I picked up. Not cheap that is for sure, but not overly expensive and the bug enjoyed the most difficult challenge of no beaks and no tails and no bodies of the same color. It kept her quiet for a couple of hours last night. (and anything that can do that is worth its weight in gold!)

Alcatraz was designed by Ronald Kint-Bruynseels. He of the IPP design competition trophy fame (seriously! he's famous!) Ok, so Alcatraz. I can't tell you anything about it other than it looks to have 7 pieces, 6 of which form a burr and the 7th is the 'prisoner' that needs to escape. I haven't had the time to play with it yet, but it looks like it will be a bit of fun when I do get that time....

Now the Caged knot I have played with. I've seen photos of this one on various webpages and have always wanted one. When I saw it in that shop I didn't think twice and added it to my bag. It's nice. The puzzle was designed by Tom Jolly. For a mass produced puzzle, it's still nice. There are a few sharp edges, and I can see the glue overflow, not all the bits are lined up properly, but it's still a nice challenge. And a challenge it is. It took me a while to solve it (about 3 minutes), and an even longer while to unsolve it. Thanks Tom for letting them do a nice cheap version of this one. Well, cheap as in US$20 more or less.

Videos of Caged knot and Alcatraz can be seen on my YouTube channel. (Including one of me breaking a puzzle!)

As I was trying to solve the puzzle, I ran into a bit of a problem. The pieces came out with no problem. Getting it back together is the real puzzle. This is usually the case isn't it. Big problem though. Earlier I mentioned that the bits weren't exactly lined up. So when I attempted to put the puzzle back together-the burr back into the cage, those tight misaligned pieces had a bit of an accident and one piece snapped. Well, now I have the puzzle of finding wood glue. Does anyone know how to say that in Chinese?????