Showing posts with label George Miller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label George Miller. Show all posts

Saturday, November 7, 2020

Viruses Times Three

Today's puzzles are brought to you by the Corona Virus that has been crippling the world this past year.  Whether you had a day without toilet paper and other necessities, became unemployed, or lost a loved one, this past year has affected us all.  It's been one heck of a ride so far and I for one have had enough of the worry of catching a disease there is no cure for.  Living in the US is worrisome. The President thinks that because he had the best medical treatment available and was 'cured' that the virus is under control.  He refused to lead by example and by doing so, has endangered the lives of many Americans. At the time of writing this post, over 9,570,000 people have contracted the disease and 237,000 people lost their lives.  We spend our lives sheltering in place (here at Puzzle Palace, we are fortunate to live on a golf course and have all these puzzles and games to entertain ourselves with), not going out to eat in restaurants, no more concerts or sporting events, no family gatherings, and the obligatory dreaded masks.  If we all do our part and follow WHO and CDC guidelines we can eliminate this virus. 

Which of course brings me to my first puzzle of the day:  Eliminate the Virus.
This puzzle was obtained in 2020 from I have no idea where.  Ebay, Amazon, Taobao?  Maybe it was one of many puzzles that have been sent to me to try. I don't know if it came from China or Taiwan.  I've purchased so many puzzles that I just can't keep track anymore if it isn't written down when it comes in.  The puzzle is a logic puzzle that uses coverup pieces.  It has 6 clear pieces of plastic that are used to shoot disinfecting spray at the many viruses on each of the 60 challenge sheets.  This puzzle is very similar to many others produced over the years.  SmartGames has a number of them from Raf Peters including Down the Rabbit Hole, and the Go-Getter series. 

The best part of this puzzle is not the puzzling itself, but rather the instructions.  They are a public service announcement.  I would like to say this is reminiscent of what I would see on TV when I lived in Hong Kong and assume it is from China.  The only problem is, there is no Chinese on the instructions.  I'd also like to think this puzzle was produced prior to the discovery of COVID-19 but again, I can't be sure.  

The first 15 puzzles have lines drawn as to where to place some of the tiles.  Puzzles 16-24 give the position of two sprayers, 25-30 give the position of one sprayer, 31-35 give either one or two sprayers in a shadowed sort of way  and the final 16 have no clues at all.  

George had a crack at it this morning.  He saw how solution one was done, jumped to puzzle 36, and now he is attempting 60.  All in all, it's a fun puzzle variation on a familiar theme.  I wouldn't go hunt it down purposefully, but if you find it, it is appropriate to the theme of 2020. 

Following on from there, we have Anti-Virus.  Again this puzzle has 60 challenges but this time with 11 pieces that need to be shifted around to get the red virus out of the board.  This puzzle was designed by Oskar van Deventer in 2003 and was brought to market in 2008.

This puzzle was originally designed by Oskar using plastic sheets, and exacto-knives. He then designed one that was tin cast in a laser cut mold!  Ah the technology he used.   The puzzle was put on Jimmy Stephens website as a puzzle called the Bulbous Blob.  Later Oskar designed the wavy board that was ultimately used and George prototyped this one for him. It was delivered to Smart Games and the rest is history.  

As with Eliminate the virus, I really enjoyed the instructions for this puzzle.  It makes one wonder if Oskar could foretell the future.  I later learned through looking at George's stl files that there were googly eyes on the pieces and to me they looked more alive. 

Unlike most puzzles of the 'remove the piece' type, this one has pieces that move on a diagonal instead of the normal left/right, up/down moves one would expect.  I revisited this puzzle this past week and have found this difference in movement to not work well with my simple brain.  I'm just not used to it.  I originally got this puzzle when it first came out and because of my lack of other entertainment I worked my way through the challenges.  I wonder if I found it easier then than I do now.  Perhaps if I were to go through all 60 challenges again I would find the moves to be easier.  And I wish I had access to this giant version! That would look so cool on our coffee table. 

The final puzzle of the day is Anti-Virus Mutation. This one was based on Oskar's original puzzle but re-designed by Raf Peters. Instead of 11 pieces, it has only 6.  It is sold as a travel game, and the case for it makes it much easier to take on the road.  The other major change is that the pieces can be moved in that left/right, up/down positions.  It is no longer a diagonally based game.  This makes it much easier for my simple brain. 

Oskar tells me that since the date of release that Anti-Virus has sold 450,000 units at the end of 2019 and Anti-Virus Mutation has sold more than 50,000 pieces between 2016 and 2019.  Who knows what this year will bring for these puzzles.  

Smartgames has this as an online game that can be played here.  You can sign up for free and play for 6 months.  Now that is what I call a deal!

Below is a video of the storage solution we have come up with for this type of puzzle.


Sunday, August 9, 2020

IPP Puzzles, the good, the bad, and the ugly

I've been attending IPP for the past 9 years.  George has been attending for 19 years.  We have all but a few puzzles from IPP19 onwards and have started to finish off our collection from the earlier IPP's.  Currently we have 1936 puzzles in this collection.  It should be fairly obvious that we haven't had time to play with all of the puzzles, but we have played with a fair few.  The post today will not discuss any specific puzzles, but rather the packaging and displaying of them.  

I'm going to start with the worst of the packaging and work my way to the best.  I believe I am 'qualified' to comment on this as I have opened every one of those 1936 puzzles, removed them from their packaging, and placed them on our IPP wall.  You may not agree with my opinion, and I will take no offense to opinions that differ from mine.  

The absolute worst form of packaging is shrink-wrap that has been sealed and needs cutting open.  This cannot be reclosed after it has been opened.  If the puzzle has a lot of small pieces, they can easily be lost. One is stuck trying to scrounge a bag to repackage the puzzle in.  There is now a rule in place because of my dear lover.  He started using this rubbish and when he was producing puzzles for many, he used it exclusively.  Thank goodness that rule has been added!  But the wrap is good for those giant fractal puzzles that I don't want touched. They hold up nicely for display.

Next up is cling wrap.  Come on people. The only thing cling wrap sticks to the second time around is itself.  It simply doesn't hold up to rewrapping.  So again if the puzzle is played with at IPP...It is another mad hunt for packaging to bring it home.

Rubberbands.  Don't use them.  They simply don't hold up to the test of time.  They get brittle and break if you are lucky.  If not, they stick to the puzzle.  Many of them that have color to them discolor the puzzles we are so eager to get.  Going back through our puzzle collection, I've realized that rubber bands begin to deteriorate after three years.  And don't even get me started on having rubber bands as a part of the puzzle.  

Form fitting cardboard boxes.  Yuck!  They look nice, but are almost impossible to get the puzzle out of the packaging without tearing the box.  

Cardboard boxes with an open round window are better.  But sometimes the pieces fall out that window.  Especially if the puzzle is one of those packing things.  

Cardboard boxes with cellophane windows are a step up.  But be warned, not all gluing is the same. Some of it falls off rather easily.  

The best type of cardboard box is one that has a removable lid or is solid on all sides without any viewing windows.  If a cardboard box is to be used, please err on the side of too large. Put your instruction sheet inside as additional packaging to fill out the space.  I'd rather the puzzle slide around a bit than have to destroy the box to get to the puzzle.  

Next up bags.  Lots of puzzles are placed into a bag of some sort to help keep the puzzles together. As with others, some are good, some are just plain ugly.  

One form of bad packaging is paper envelopes or bags.  We've had a few of these. OK. One was a joke.  A nice wooden box was put into a paper bag because packaging was necessary. Taped paper tears, sealed envelopes can never be closed again. And really, How much protection does an envelope have anyway?

This brings me to ziplock bags.  Great. Easy to open if you use the kind with sliders.  The 'normal' zips?  Not so good.  I'm one of the younger ones, and I find I have problems resealing these things.  How would that work with 80 year old gnarled hands?  And while I'm on the subject of ziplock bags, please quit making them form fitting to the puzzle.  Again, err on the large side.  A form fitting bag has to be torn apart, or if you can get the puzzle out of the bag, it's never going in again.  

There are three other types of bags that have been used to hold IPP puzzles: thin mesh bags, linen/canvas bags, flocked bags.  All three have drawstrings and are easy to open and close.  The worst of the bunch is the thin mesh bags. These often disintegrate in about three to four years.  The linen/canvas bags seem to last forever, but get hard over time.  The flocked bags are great because they are easy to print on, but the flocking comes off after around five years.  Linen/canvas bags and flocked bags are not see through so that becomes a disadvantage to me. 

The 'best' packaging? Plastic boxes.  I kid you not.  More expensive, but well worth the cost.  First we have the clear malleable 'clamshell' packaging.  These can be custom ordered for the size of your puzzle for a few cents each.  Then there are the stronger thicker plastic boxes.  These are often made of HDPE (High density polyethylene). Nice for holding puzzles, terrible for display.  

CD cases are great.  If you have a flat packing puzzle, why not give them a try.  The puzzle stays in the box, and it's perfect for display. 

My last thought on packaging is tape.  DO NOT USE IT.  All tape is not the same.  Scotch brand tape is restickable, but only if you peel it off carefully. Duck tape.  Forgetaboutit.  

Now on to the puzzles themselves.  No, I'm not going to tell you what a good puzzle is, but I will talk about the 'bad' ones.  

1) A puzzle that has been laser cut and the exchanger/producer is too lazy to take off the backing tape.  I don't want to do your job.  Do it yourself. This one infuriates me.  I just got a kickstarter puzzle set in and darned if all four puzzles have to have the backing tape removed.  

2) A puzzle that can only be solved by a computer.  How am I ever to have a chance to solve it?  

3) A puzzle with a piece that must be destroyed to complete the puzzle.  An example would be a puzzle that needs a ballon to be broken in order to solve the puzzle.

4) Magnets inside the puzzle.  Just my opinion.

5) Puzzles that are too tight. If the last piece has to be forced into place, it's not a good one for me.

6) Just another piece....Meaning a puzzle is exchanged, and yet one more piece is sold at the puzzle party the next day and adds another few puzzle challenges to the original.  

7) Puzzles that are too easy.  If I can sit down and solve it within a minute...

8) Puzzles that are without logic. They don't have to be mathematical or the traditional logic type puzzle, they just have to have some sort of order about them.  Not a randomness.  In other words, a puzzle with over 1000 solutions is not a good puzzle. 

9) Jigsaws

These are my thoughts, they stem from opening, unboxing, un-bagging, de-rubber banding or un-taping and displaying 1936 IPP exchange puzzles.  Please share your thoughts with me.  Tell me I'm not completely bonkers.  

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Hanayama Puzzles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, November 9, 2012

Arch burr, candy, and cold fusion

Ok, these are little beasts! Enough said. Post over.

No not me. I could never be that short in any thing I say or write.

The candy twist one I bought from George Miller a year or so ago and put it in a box. It was. From an IPP lot so that's understandable. Cold fusion was Oskar's exchange puzzle last year and the Arch Burr came from B&P this week. It was metal and I've taken a liking to those lately. I thought as long as it just came in I'd dig out the others and compare them all at once so today it's a three-in-one post.

I started off by taking the usual photos of a completed puzzle so I could look back at what the final state needs to be. Logical right? Then as each piece came out I photographed that as well. Again, logical. And that's where it ends.

After the third piece came out of the Arch Burr it just fell apart. There was no photographing the last disassembly procedures. But hey, I'm half clever so I know I can put it back together.

Well, I thought so anyway. After an hour into my Cougar Town marathon I still didn't have it. When Mr. Man came home I resorted to pulling out the instructions. How unhelpful we're they. An hour later I was ready to throw them across the room. It didn't help by being bitten by the puzzle either. This one has lots of sharp edges in it and I swear I caught every one of them. It is yet again a prime example of a great puzzle made rather shoddily. When will I ever learn? Odds are never.

The Arch Burr is made of aluminum and looks pretty cool in black and silver. Sadly though the craftsmanship is lacking a bit on this one as well. The outside is nice and smooth but the internal parts-especially those around the cut out bits are rough cut to say the least. There was no rounding off of those parts and yes, I really did get cut by them. Mr. Man offered to sand them down for me but I passed. I really don't think I'll go playing with it again.

On to the candy twist! This one is made by shape ways and I'd hazard to guess its Oskar's design as well. I'd twisted burr bits to wiggle around. It's been nicely died with six different colors. I did the photo shots with this one as well. Luckily by the time I unraveled this one I had experience with the Arch Burr. With the exception of the twist they are pretty close to the same. Ok maybe not but they were close enough that it didn't take two hours to reassemble. A nice little puzzle if it weren't for the 'scratchiness' that is inherent in shape ways puzzles. It would be a fantastic puzzle.

The Cold Fusion should be renamed a Cold Day. It's a real pain. Disassembly and reassembly. I played with this one through an entire episode to take it apart. And another FOUR to put it back together. If you want a challenge, this is the one out of the three to buy. And you are in luck. It's available from

All in all it was an entertaining evening for me...stupid television and puzzles! Oh and I had a glass of Cloudy Bay so I was truly in seventh heaven.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

last day in Osaka

Today is the puzzle party! nothing but toys for a few hours. Then dinner tonight and tomorrow it is running for a train and a new city.

I wish there were wifi an I could post as the day goes on, but all will have to wait until tonight when I get back to the room at some crazy hour.

Here's hoping I don't buy too many toys. As always, I'll post when I return this evening. Expect more photos and (hopefully) just a bit of bragging. Have to go get something to eat and then run over to see all those toys on offer!

And if George sells me a dead butterfly, I'll kill him!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Morning of the 9th

Breakfast at the hotel. Matt had some kind of fermented bean thing that smelled horrid. Needlesss to say, I didn't try it. :) They had coffee!!! I had 4!

Introduced myself to George Miller. Met a few more people and got a good Morning from Jerry Slocum. I'm still not sure how this little girl got mixed up with these amazing people, but I'm not knocking it.

We're off to go see a zoo this morning and then a dinner later tonight. Will write more later!