Notes from Puzzle Palace

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hanayama book puzzles

A few days ago Gabriel reported on a Hanayama book puzzle that he got and I thought I'd add a few of my own.  I picked these up in 2010 at Torito in Tokyo. They were among the last of my puzzle purchases of that years IPP.  

The first up is an egg.  I have a version of this in wood somewhere around the house, so I only took it out and took the photo. Basically you snap together two of the gold bits, add a silver bit, snap in another gold bit then add a silver bit and you have a ball (yolk) inside an egg.  This design was made by none other than the rather prolific puzzle designer Oskar.

Following up is a packing type puzzle.  This one has 10 tiles that you need to match one, two or three fireworks to within the grid.  I'm not explaining that well, but it is pretty understandable really.  This one is by Lixy.  It's a bit tricky, but by process of elimination it is solvable.

The final one is called something along the lines of Disco.  5 Guys were out for a night on the town and had one too many. They need to Be packed into a cab and sent home.  They have obviously been hitting the sauce as can be seen in the photo below.  Inside there tummies each has a card suit and there is an extra star. Now as far as I can tell from the packaging, there are 4 different challenges.  Three with four different wonky men and the last with all five pieces. While this looks easy, I still haven't managed to find all the solutions.  It will keep for another puzzling day.  Hanayama also made 2 more that I don't have.  One has something to do with cheese, and the last looks like a bunch of triangles.  Maybe I'll pick those up next year....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yet another packing puzzle

This is more or less the same as yesterday, and will be more or less the same as tomorrow.  Today's puzzle is brought to you buy smart games.  Upon opening, it looks much like any other puzzle of this type. Well, except for those little pegs that is.  Those make all the difference to this one.  

Upon completion of my candidate, I opened up the box dumped out the bits and started to play. Now this set is a bit different.  Instead of giving clues with the connected bits, the manual gives clues with those little pegs you see in there.  And there is the twist!  This puzzle uses pegs as well as connected circles.  And that adds to the challenge.  I'll admit here that the first puzzle set me back a few minutes.  (You can see the solution to puzzle number 1 just to the right.)  I'm sure it is because I had spent the morning playing with aliens.  But being the great puzzler I am, I did solve the silly thing and went on to enjoy a quite a few  more before I went home for the day.  

Ok, I changed my mind-I'm allowed.  I'm a woman.  The third puzzle I brought along was a bog-standard puzzle of this type.  I didn't bother to take a photo of it while working because quite frankly with the other two (I started with those) this one bored me very quickly!  While there are a lot of challenges to it, the regularity of the pieces isn't quite as exciting as the Hanayama I reported on earlier or the Smart Games above.  

We have all seen these I'm sure in places like flea markets or dollar stores.  I am sure I have at least 20 different versions of this hidden under the bed.  That's not to say it's not a good puzzle.  It is, It's just not as 'exciting' as the previous two.  

All in all, it was a pretty fun way to spend the day.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another day of testing

On a testing day, what does one do besides test?  Why puzzle of course!  And today was no exception to that. Same old same old.  5 minute breaks in between and this time a 8-7 day of it.  Can you say long!

Well this time I got smart and brought along a few puzzles that I knew would stay the distance.
The first is a Lampos Cosmic creatures.  (the second I will post on tomorrow) I purchased these a few years ago in Japan and have not gotten around to playing with them until this past weekend.  I'm not sure what the instructions tell me to do, but I can work it out from past experience with this type of puzzle.  (How do I make that photo show up with the correct orientation-frustrating)  This one has relatively small number of pieces compared to others of this type.  12 in all as you can see.  Each is also marked a-l to help you when placing the pieces as per the booklet.  There are a large number of challenges in the booklet, but again, no Japanese so I can't tell how many, and I was too lazy to count.  

Typical of these kinds of puzzles, you choose a challenge, insert the first of the pieces as given and off you go.  I did about 15 of these and got bored.  That seems to be a recurrent theme with me and these packing puzzles.  I can only do so many at a time and then I've had enough.

The Lampos Cosmic Creatures is a bit different in the shapes-no two are the same, and well, the area that needs to be filled is not symmetrical.  This seems to add a bit to the challenge.  I'm sure there is some sure fire method to solve these consistently, but I've yet to work out what it is. So for me, it's a trial and error puzzle-and there is nothing wrong with that now is there....

I was so bored this weekend that I have 3 more of this type of puzzle to review....stay tuned!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

IQ puzzle

What a prestigious name for a tiny little puzzle.  I think this is a real cutie.  I picked this up ages ago and haven't gotten around to playing with it.  The puzzle consists of 10 pieces; a black base, and 9 pieces to insert-not two of which are alike.  I Brought this along for my puzzling between test takers on Saturday and am glad I did. I was very disappointed with the Pesky parrots, but not so this one.  Once I finished the first puzzle, I dumped these out.  Nice and easy I figured it would be.  A walk in the park and all that.  10 minutes and I would be done.  Well, not so.  It took me about 15 to solve it.  Not a tough puzzle, but one that kept me entertained for the down time.  I would recommend this one to all who like a bit of a challenge, but not too much of one.  By process of elimination, you can work out where each piece can and cannot go.  There are a few solutions I'm sure.  I dumped and the pieces out and put them back in three or four times during the afternoon.
I'm guessing this one would be too frustrating for the bug until she's a bit more of an experienced puzzler.  So if you want to irritate your co-workers, this might be one to hand over.

Testing day puzzling

So I do a lot of testing on the weekends.  The deal is 15 minutes talking to a kid and 5 minutes of twiddling my thumbs.  Repeat the process 12-16 times in the course of the afternoon and you can see why I NEED something to entertain me.  I usually bring along one puzzle that I have been frustrated by because it gives me a lot of time to think about it. Today I brought along one because I hadn't tried it yet.

The first puzzle up is called "perpetual puzzle-pesky parrots"  It's made by Lagoon Group and to be frank, I'm disappointed. This puzzle has 36 pieces to it and two different challenges.  Neither of which are very challenging.  Each bird has a beak and tail of a different color than the body.  So three colors per bird.  The object is to put it together so no two of the same colored body parts are touching.  I thought it would be a challenge, but it was simply a matter of working out the red, yellow, blue pattern and then moving the beaks and tails around.  All in all, it took me less than the break between kids to finish it.  An utter and total let down.  It was definitely not worth the money I paid for it.  But as I posted on 4 December when I first brought this in the house, it kept the bug entertained so maybe it is worth the money spent.  Added to the quickness of solving the issues I had with the puzzle is the issue of the pieces not fitting together nicely. There is a gap between some of them that is just...yuck!  For many years, I have been purchasing Lagoon Games puzzles.  This December I purchased 3 from them-I wonder if I got in on a bad batch.  This one has gaps and one of the wooden ones broke within a few moves.  I don't think December was my puzzle month.

Oh, and for the record-bug has just told me that the photo provided is not the solution!  

Friday, February 17, 2012

Skewb transformations

Over on TP a young lad made a puzzle out of cardboard and good for him!  What a creative idea.  Seriously, I love what he did.

The photos that he posted got me thinking because I remember doing something similar ages ago.  After a bit of discussion, the puzzles needed for the transformation were found and sods law, I couldn't find what I was looking for!  But that has never stopped me!  I made the puzzle any way.  So today, you get photos of Rox "building a puzzle". (actually it's two puzzles, but whose counting?)

To begin with you need two different puzzles-a skewb diamond, and a skewb cube.  Preferably the Meffert's brand rather than the Mozhi but hey, I'm not going to tell you what to buy.  Be warned though, the Mozhi breaks easily.

Now this is so typical.  I couldn't find a tiled skewb even though I have a few.  All I could find was a holy Skewb so there you have it.  Complain all you want about this not being the 'original' but hey, we make due.

So the first step is to tear those puzzles apart. Skewbs are easy that way.  You just twist a bit and stick a flat head screwdriver edge in there and off you go. Pieces every where!

Next step, choose your core!  To make the cubeoctahedron version, you need the core from the diamond.  To make a star (of sorts) you need the core from the skewb.  Yes, they really are different.

Step 3 is to choose your bits.  In the case of the cubeoctahedron, you need to take the centers from both cubes and combine them.  All left over pieces-the corners-go into the star version.

Step 4: put the bits back into the cores!  Easy as pie.

Repeat the entire process for the next puzzle.  Done!

And now you have two new puzzles to play with.
Ok, so if you really want it to look nice, you need to take the stickers/tiles off and completely redo them.  Which leads me to my next idea...I'm off to email Uwe and ask for a few more puzzles.

Solving?  There is none with what I have made here.  maybe the star shaped one could be solved-I vaguely remembered it as being the case from when I really thought about it ages ago.  But the other-not at all unless the stickers are fixed.

Two new puzzles out of two old puzzles.  An easy transformation that even Rox can make!  (did you see that I made it easy for you Kevin by adding the links to purchase these?)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The pressure is on! Pionir cube and Disney Pins.

Yeah, so I'm not done with that darned paper I need to finish, but according to Kevin, my updates are awaited with bated breath....seriously?!?  People read this drivel I post?  Right, but ok.  I'll bite.  And just for you Kevin, I'll take a moment and type up a little something on one of my all time favorites.  (besides, I really do not want to write it so any little excuse to put it off....)

This is another puzzle that alluded me for a long long time. I finally managed to get a rather poor copy of it about a year ago from an eBay auction. The pionir cube has a total of 67 balls inside, 55 of which are black.  Mine has 4 each of green, red, and yellow balls. There is one space with a missing ball, and the object is to match up the green, red, and yellow balls with the corresponding color pips on the stickers that are on the side.  As a puzzle, it's not that difficult.  You just roll the balls around until you luck out and match up the colors.  Oh, I'm sure someone out there will tell me there is really a method of solving this that requires the memorization of a variety of moves, but I prefer dumb luck!  The beauty in this puzzle is in it's relative rarity.  It isn't all that often that these come up for sale, and when they do, they seem to have the stickers missing, or they are just a bit pricey.

Now tonight, you get two for one.  See, I have another little thing that keeps me happy on rare occasions.  Disneyland!  We live two train stops away, and it takes all of 10 minutes to get there from the house.  So guess who bought annual passes for herself and one bug? Well, sadly this stupid paper that I am really procrastinating over and too much paid work has really limited the number of visits we have taken together over the past few months.  But Valentines day found me once more in the park with a dear friend of mine from Florida (another Disneyphile).  Well, there is only one thing that makes  Disney more fun than Disney and that is puzzles at Disney.

Disney has been a bust for puzzles for a while, but I get my fix from that same Floridian, he's a Flight attendant for Delta and has passes to all the parks, so when they get a new puzzle; so do I!  Yesterday, when we were strolling around the park hunting for Christmas pins, we found a new set that I hadn't seen before.  A really nifty set of pins that are mazes too!  The little balls in these things are tiny!  I found these in the Main Street Emporium, but sadly they only had 4 of the 6.  Not a problem for us.  We had a mission!  6 hours of walking later, we found the last two and I nabbed me a new set of 'puzzles'.  A bit expensive at US$10 each (give or take), but who cares, it's only puzzle money.  And seriously, how many can say they have a maze pin?  I also found and purchased a twisty Toy Story Pen, but in the rush to separate purchases on the train as we were leaving, it seems that my friend took that one home to Florida.  Not a big deal, it just gives me an excuse to go back over there again sooner than I had planned.  Maybe when the bug is feeling better...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A puzzle funk-duck

Yes, that's what I'm in.  I know it's my own fault.  I've had other things on my mind.  I just can't seem to find the time to make a post about a puzzle that I've enjoyed.  It's that 'I have something to do that I don't want to do so I'm so busy finding ways to not do what I have to do that I have no time to do what I want to do'  syndrome. Now come on, admit it.  You've been here too.  Probably more times than you care to admit.

Well, today the bug is sick so we can't go visit the monkeys and I can either take a nap and procrastinate some more, or I can make a blog post.  So here we are.  Typing away and waiting for a photo to download itself from my phone.  (I haven't mentioned yet how much I'm beginning to hate that thing!  I can't get any photos off there anymore.  It's driving me bonkers)

Today I bring you my latest acquisition.  It is a puzzle that is beyond belief!  I have hunted and hunted and hunted for one of these and finally found one in a book store of all places.  I think I first saw one around a year ago and have been looking ever since.

Now this puzzle is truly amazing.  It is probably the most difficult puzzle in my collection-solving wise that is.  It has the standard 6 rubik's colors on it, but there is an odd twist to it. It quacks!

Ok, give a gal a break.  I'm trying to finish that thing I didn't even want to start.  I'll be back when I finish the darned thing....You can find your own duck at budproduct.  Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a bath!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Well here it is folks.  I said when Dave sent me the latest in the set that I would post about them and since I got in the most recent one last night.  It's that time.  My 8 Elemental puzzles.

So this all started way back in 2007.  Dave made his biohazard puzzles available to all for $100.  There was a bit of a mix up on the pricing, and I didn't get in on that early days price.  Instead, I ordered mine in 2008 and Went for a "deluxe".  In November of the same year Dave offered a DIY kit for Christmas.  It was a whopping $25 and I jumped at the opportunity to buy one.  As you can see, I still haven't quite gotten around to making it yet.

2009 brought a new puzzle in the set.  A Flourine.  He was on a roll that year because just 3 months later he introduced the  Beryllium-10.  In November he made Sulfer.  Good God man slow down would you!  I got a jump on the bugs birthday present and requested a special one for her.  Dave did her gift justice with the Aluminum Heart.  (ok, technically this isn't my puzzle but....)  November of 2010 saw the Argon .  I had just about given up on any new Elementals, but in November of 2011 Dave posted his newest addition; the Scandium.

Since I ordered my first one, I've had this deal with Dave. Basically it is: Experiment and do what you will. All I want is your signature, my name, and the date you made the puzzle.  He has held up his end of the bargain very well, and I keep paying the TechShop fees.  :-) (or so he tells me)  These puzzles are quite nice.  They all have the details I requested and the rest was left up to Dave's creative eye.  The only one I was specific on was bugs heart. The rest?  well I got what I got and I'm very pleased with them.

Each of these puzzles has a series of sliders in them either 3 or 4 depending on the puzzle.  The object is to muck up the design on the inside and then restore it to the original picture.  Much much easier said than done.  I'll be honest here and say it takes me a few hours of moving the bits round and round to work out how to fix the mess that has been made.  And on more than one occasion I have been tempted to unscrew those little screws....but I've been good and never done so.

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Chromium.  But from the looks of things it might be a long long while before I get that one.

The puzzles can be purchased from Dave over at his  website.  I've done a number of videos on his puzzles.  You can see them here, here, and here.  Klara very nicely shared a video of Dave cleaning her Neon as well.  Talk about good service!