Notes from Puzzle Palace

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Hong Kong Spring

I hate this time of year.  Not because of the rains, not because of the heat, not at all because I'm no longer in the classroom.  I hate it because my walls sweat.  I hate it because the new paint in my daughters room is starting to peel off the concrete wall.  I hate it because we can't keep dry towels in the house as they are all being used to mop up the floors that are wet from the sweating walls....

But most of all I hate it because all of my wooden puzzles are out of commission for yet another 6 months or so.  It doesn't matter if the puzzle is a cheap piece of rubbish that was made in a shack in the middle of nowhere China, or an expensive one I purchased from overseas.  All of them are now locked nice and tight.

The worst thing about locked up puzzles?  I can't play with them.  I have this one on my desk that I have been fiddling with off and on in an attempt to open.  Well, you've guessed it, she's locked up tight.  I would let out a very heavy sigh here, but no one would care I'm sure.  I guess I'll just have to wait until typhoon season is over round about November to attempt those last few I bought...

Now I wonder, how do others feel about puzzles that can only be used 1/2 the year?  Am I ruining them for someone else?  The really good ones don't get warped, they just shut for a bit.  Should I stop purchasing wood and leave them to those who can enjoy them year round?  Should I stick to plastic and metal?  (Although, some of the metal doesn't like this humidity either...)

Thoughts?  And if anyone has a plan on how to stop this problem-besides the dehumidifier, I have one running 24/7 already-I'd love to hear about it.

Ice Lollies!

It's been a scorcher of a spring so far and there is nothing better than an Ice Lolly on a hot day...well, ok, yes a cold beer is better but I'll save that for another day...

So today following on with my food theme (I'm on a roll here-must be hungry) I thought I'd show a couple of puzzles I picked up in Japan.  These are all made by Hanayama.  I wish I could tell you where to purchase them, but I only see them at Torito and  Not good for the rest of the world.

As you can see, there are 4 lollies here.  3 are for sale, and the fourth is a developers version.  They have a variety of difficulty levels, Yellow being easy, blue is medium and red is hard.  The extra blue is a developers version that was a gift.  Another IPPer and I both received these when we questioned the availability of the puzzles.

The yellow has 8 pieces that can be taken apart like a jigsaw. They fit together and can be removed using any sliding up or down. There is no real order to the assembly/disassembly of these. The yellow cover you see here just slides over the puzzle.

Next up is the developers version. It is very much like the yellow one seen above. The only difference is the color....

The third of these puzzles is also blue and has 4 pieces with a twist. They can only be extracted in one direction. The cover is broken into 8 pieces as well, but is a real walk in the park to solve. Hanayama calls this one "normal".

The final puzzle up today has been labeled "hard". With 10 pieces to the lolly and 8 pieces to the cover, this one is at best a tad bit difficult, but not truly hard.

As usual, I worked on these at a weekend testing session. The first 2 took all of a minute to solve once they were mucked up. So I exaggerate, but they didn't take more than a break each so 5 minutes max. The normal one took me 2 sessions and an 'under the table' like up for the cover. Around 25 minutes I would guess. The final version here took ages. Two hours worth of candidate breaks from start to finish on this one. All in all, they are very nice puzzles to play with. Good luck finding them though. It's a real shame that these aren't more widely sold.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Disney and Puzzles

I've said it before, but nothing is better than Disney and puzzles.  When I can combine the two I'm even happier.
Today's puzzle comes from Tokyo Disney.

I picked up this one a few years ago from an undisclosed site (I can't give a way all my secret places can I?)  It's a take apart puzzle based on an orange ice lolly treat that can (could) be found in the park.  Mickey mouse has 19 pieces including the stick.  It's not overly difficult, and the puzzle comes complete with instructions.  There are  letters on the inside of each piece just  in case you really get stuck as well.  Ok, so it's a kids puzzle, but then I'm a big kid so it works for me!

Even with all this ease of solving, there is a bit of a twist to the puzzle.  You MUST enter the pieces in a certain order or it won't go together.  This makes it a bit more interesting.  Add to that the unevenness of Mickey's face and the pieces all falling apart as you try to put them in and you have a  slightly more interesting puzzle.  The little pips you can see are there to stabilize the pieces, but they really don't work until the final piece is in place.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

An EGGciting Easter!

I was going to EGG you on and EGGsadurate about the number of EGGS I have in my collection, but I'm just not that kind of girl.  I then thought of putting all my EGGS in one basket, but if I did that, then you wouldn't be able to see them.  I thought of making scrambled EGGS with some of them, but if I did that, it might give away the solutions.  So instead, I give you EGGS............

So there you have it folks.  EGGS!  Sadly, this is not all of my EGGS.  I'm missing an EGG or 8 (and maybe more because I really don't know how many I have!) and by the time I realized it, I had all the eggs put away.  Story of my life.  Always one short.

Across the top row and the last one in the second row are the Meffert's Golden Eggs.  These were designed by Tony Fisher and released a few years back.  They are now out of production and fetch a hefty price on eBay or any other auction site you may find them on.

The second row starts with a set of 3x3x3 eggs, the second in that row was made by Frank Schwartz by molding.  The other 4 in that row are again Meffert's eggs designed this time by Adam Cohen.  As an aside and an interesting bit of trivia, Uwe once told me this was the only puzzle he ever got the computer files for that didn't need tweaking by the engineers in the factory.

Third row starts with another 2 3x3x3 eggs, this time from Witeden I believe.  We all think they look more like potatoes, but don't's a secret.  A Columbus Egg comes next.  The object of this one is to have it stand on end.  You can see a red bar in the window-that means I've solved it.  On to a dragon's egg made for me by my young friend Quicksolver.  The puzzle here is to find the word-I'll give you a hint, it starts with an R.  After that is an egg delivered by an Easter bunny in years past.  A very simple put together.

Fourth row.2 more of  those eggs from the start of the previous row.  The silver one was never sold, it was a gift when I went on a shopping spree in their shop.  Another Columbus egg follows.  This one is from the Chicago World's Fair in 1892.  That is probably my oldest puzzle.  Same object, stand it on end. A Mag-nif jigsaw puzzle egg is up next followed by a blue Bantum egg.  Another from a World's Fair, but I can't remember the year off hand.

Row five starts with yet another Columbus Egg.  This one made by Peoples in Japan, 1992.  I'm pretty sure the white egg next in line and at the start of row 6 are for darning socks, but since they came in a box full of other puzzles and are magnetic, there has to be something there....If any one has any information on these I would love to hear about them.  A wooden jigsaw that I picked up in Japan a few years ago follows that.  Last in the row is an egg called Screwy Egg.  Yet another Columbus egg style puzzle.  I have about 6 more of these in varying colors if anyone is interested, I might be persuaded to auction them off....

Row six is another of those magnetic unknowns followed by my all-time favorite egg!  Chinny's "think Like a Man"  No, no, the name is really Newton's egg and to solve it, well, you can either think like a man, or like Newton.  Your choice.

Row seven is Rick's Egg Balance.  He used this as an exchange puzzle in IPP31.  Boy am I glad I exchanged that year.  I've had almost as much fun with this one as I have had with the Newton's Egg.

On the outside you can see two more Columbus Eggs.  The left is an Anchor Stone one given out at IPP31, and the right is a Binary Arts version of the same puzzle.  These are both Tangram type puzzles that come with a book of shapes to make.

Happy Easter all!  I hope you enjoyed the eggs!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

magna cube

The last puzzle of the weekend is called Magna Cube.  this version is made by Beverly.  I found it hiding under my bed with a bit of tape on it from a shop that is no longer in business so I guess I've had it for a while.  You know you have a puzzle problem when you have puzzles that you've never even opened.  Well I had to set that right so here it is for you folks.  All taken apart and everything.  
This one has 5 cubes that have 3 bits and 4 cubes with 4 bits.  Ok, so they aren't cubes but you get what I mean.  First impression as I took it out of the box?  Nice that they beveled the edges and did it uniformly too. But then when I started to take it apart, the magnets...yuck!  They have some kind of covering on them which had started to come off.  I took a long time just getting the metal shavings off.  Good thing I was in a hotel with a toothbrush!  You will also notice that each piece is formed in one of two ways.  Any straight edges of 2 or 3 pieces are made of one piece with a shallow groove carved in to it.  The bits that go around the corners are glued on and not always straight.  They aren't askew enough to cause problems with solving, but it's just noticeable.

So solving?  Well, this one took me the better part of Sunday afternoon and to be honest, I think I stumbled upon the solution when I was packing up to go home.  the magnets with all their coming apart still worked well enough to do their job and trying to come up with the solution was nerve wracking.  I managed to find a couple of different solutions throughout the day, but when I checked I almost always had a magnet or two exposed.

All in all, I would recommend this one. It was a tricky bugger, but loads of fun to play with!

Monday, April 2, 2012

knot simple

I have chased this puzzle.  I originally ordered it from Bits and Pieces, but they sent it to an old address that I haven't used in about 5 years.  When I complained, I managed to get a voucher for the amount spent, but I really wanted the puzzle.  One day on facebook Voltaire prime from TP told me this was available over at PuzzleMaster and I jumped at it.  I lucked out and got it for a reasonable enough price. This was one in that box that I forgot I had ordered.  
It's called, Knot Simple.  I guess that means it should be considered a difficult puzzle.  Mr. Prime warned me that it would be an easy one, and I really think this should be renamed, "knot hard".  I brought it along for one of my testing dates and thought it would take me a while to disassemble and reassemble it. Not a chance. It literally fell apart in my hands.  This puzzle is a great idea with a rather ungreat execution (much like any puzzle I make I'm sure).  Putting it back together had me for a second.  The bits are so loose it is easy to get it wrong.  But, it's also very easy to see it's not right.  So it was a very easy fix to open it back up again and reassemble it. Now this puzzle resides in a box of other rather heavy metal puzzles I have collected over the years.  I'm glad I purchased it but at the same time, probably won't play with it again.  

Nice puzzle-not so nice construction.

three pieces

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Three from Logika

Today was a puzzling day.  No wait, it was a working day-testing again. Well, I can only stand so much of that before I start to go stir crazy and since it was a 8-5:30 day of it, I grabbed a wheely bag, tossed in the rest of my  marking, a few papers I was working on and 6 puzzles!  I can't say I was bored now can I?

This is the first post on a number of puzzles I picked up from PuzzleMaster.  (The others will probably come later in the week)

These 3 puzzles are all made by Logika Spiele out of Germany.  I'm going to freely admit to stealing the photos from PuzzleMaster, because I can't seem to get my old computer to recognize my phone tonight and I can't be bothered to start up my laptop (how's that for admitting laziness-but my excuse is that 9 1/2 hours of testing)  Besides, I'm linking to the site so I'm sure Alan and Leon won't mind too much.

First up Herzpuzzle.  This one is 3 hearts nicely sized, around the size of my palm for the big ones and the little ones are around the size of my thumb joints. :)  That tells you all a lot doesn't it?  This and the next puzzle, 2 disk puzzle, were a sad disappointment for me.  I had them in my hand when a kid walked in the room, and rather than put them back on the table, I kind of left them in my lap and 'adjusted the positions of the pieces simply by feel.  Oops!  One heart in place.  Must have been a fluke so I tried it with the second heart.  Nope, no fluke.  This puzzle took less than 4 minutes of not even looking to solve!

Well nuts!  On to the 2 disk puzzle then.  And another bust.  This one I did visually.  It took all of 30 seconds to solve.  I could see by one of the bumpy bits and one of the holes that this wouldn't work in the way as one would expect.  I tried what I thought was needed and it was.  For me, it was a real let down.  But hey, for $4CAD each, you can't go wrong.  The only problem or complaint I have with these is the packaging. Both come in a ziplock baggie with no padding.  When I opened the box the other day, the heart had a bump missing.  Thankfully it's not a needed bump or I would have been really upset.

Last up tonight is quadrospass.  This one was pretty neat.  It is 4 pieces each with a different cut pattern on the outside.  The object is to put the pieces into the carved out top.  I like it because once you solve the puzzle, it's like it has its own case.  You can take it with you everywhere you go for instant puzzling fun-or some other infomercial type speal. Ok, so this one took a bit longer than the previous two.  It sat on the table in front of me through 3 candidates (14 minutes @ if you are wondering) and I just stared at it out of the corner of my eye. I would never be so unprofessional that I would actually look at a puzzle while a candidate was in the room.  When that last candidate walked out, I had managed to sideways stare long enough that it was a piece of cake-or plastic maybe-to put it together. This one was fun.  I do wish I had purchased the 3 piece one at the same time.  Ah well, another order it will have to be I guess.

All in all, I would recomend these puzzles for ones that you could use to torture your friends with.  They look deceptively easy, and yet, the non-puzzler would have problems with them I'm sure.

Thanks to the lads over at PuzzleMaster for letting me steal the photos tonight ;)