Showing posts with label MOD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MOD. Show all posts

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.

Monday, November 28, 2011


Oh I can tell already this is going to read like an advertisement and it's honestly not intended to be that way.

I started off these twisty posts (not because that's what I like best...or was it?) with a tribute if you will indulge me to my friend Frank. Well, as long as I'm thinking of friends, I may as well write about one of my 'oldest' puzzle friends. So there you have it folks, I'm not writing about SmaZ because I like his puzzles or he's a great builder, I'm writing about him because he's OLD!

I'm sure I've written somewhere before about how long I've known Michael Li aka SmaZ. I'll bore you with a reminder anyway. I guess we met around 1998-1999 when he had a little shop in a shopping mall way out in the middle of nowhere. As with puzzling and puzzlers and such over the years we lost touch and got reacquainted later. That was great news for both of us I think....or at least I hope. We've become good friends since then and have more than just puzzles in common (we both like beer and to 'let our hair down' in Guangzhou with the boys) ok. I'll be serious.

I'm not sure when I first asked Michael to make me a puzzle. NO, that's not true. I do remember. He was in TinHau and I wanted a card suit Sudoku type puzzle he made. He wouldn't sell it to me because he couldn't solve it. Well after a lot of pestering I finally got my puzzle and a few more. He sold me more than one 'rare' puzzle he picked up lord knows where. So at first I was just buying premade mass produced puzzles from him.

Then one day I saw him cutting away at something. A rather large 3x3x3 if I remember. And that started it all!

I asked for a axis cube, and for a Fisher's cube, and we got onto a discussion about jelly cubes and then we went on and on and on. I'm pretty pleased to say that I (think) own all but 2 of Smaz's puzzles. I don't have his square 1 pyramid, or the Luxor cube. The rest...THEY ARE ALL MINE! (ok, bragging done)

Today when I was in my office I decided to take some photos of SmaZ's puzzles (I found myself with nothing to do and none of my co-workers would play with me). They all rest comfortably amongst my books over at the office. Puzzles, not co-workers. Co-workers just steal the books. The puzzles aren't the greatest security guards.

What we have here are just a number of 3x3 variations. (SmaZ's puzzles are all over my office, on my shelves, in my cabinets, under the bed...) three worth noting are the 3x3x5 that he made for me last year. I ordered this one almost a year before that, and SmaZ did make them...just not for me. I've come to expect a lot from custom puzzles over the years and he never disappoints me. The puzzles that I have from him in my collection have gotten better and better as time goes by. When he first started making them, they had holes on the inside cuts, then they were capped, but not smoothed...and now we have butter! Ok, so that 3x3x5 sorry got sidetracked. It's fully functional, and the entire thing is done by hand. The puzzle is unlubricated and turns just beautifully. But as you can see, it is unsolved. With this one, I was doing great just to get it back into its original shape. I don't have OCD so I really don't care that it is mucked up.

There's a madness cube in there that was a birthday present from 2 or 3 years back that sits perfectly solved. I mucked it up once and it simply took ages to get back to normal. That one is cool because as you can see from the photo (the green top) the puzzle doesn't have one center. It has an offset center along one section.

The diamond was made because I wanted one and my husband wouldn't give it to me....Others are puzzles I saw and wanted for my collection. Michael was starting to build and I was willing to pay him to give it a go. This has worked out beautifully for us over the years. As I said, I have all but 2 of his creations. The Castle cube is a piece of art. A puzzle and a building. Great stickers to boot. The CityU cube was a gift after I attempted to help him get a deal with the University-and I still don't know what happened with that...

Those are square 1 variations. It's a real shame that the blue star-like one in the center was never made, or the 2-layer square one over on the right. These are all hand-made for me like Michael's other puzzles shown here. Unlike the rest of them, Michael was going to mass produce these. He has a few copies of them somewhere in that mess he calls a workbench, but like many puzzles of late, the KO companies got to them before he could put it on the market. Oh well, that didn't keep a good man down, and he made those dino's I talked about a few days earlier. Dino barrels were before that, and if you pay attention to Mf8 forum or Twisty Puzzles, you probably know his time machine is in the works....(I'll write about those one day if you'd like)

Ok, last set for this evening (although I reserve the right to revisit SmaZ at a later date) here we have a variety of 2x2x2's. The card suit is the one that started it all. It's just an East Sheen with a sticker variation on it. And yes, it's not that easy. Michael was right. The one that has the "PRO" logo on it...well that is VINTAGE Michael. He started out with that logo not SmaZ. That particular cube is an East Sheen 2x2x2 but with springs inside. Yes folks, I'm telling you Michael was the first to do it. Not some fat kid from HK, not Witeden, not Lan Lan or any other company. SmaZ, Michael. End of story. I got this one many years ago from him. The PRO logo? He was using that before (I hope I've got the company right) PuzzlePro became a puzzle shop. But when they came out with that name....well SmaZ became a brand.

The last puzzle in here is an odd one. It is very easy to make from 2 pyrmorphinx puzzle, but wouldn't you know, I had a burst of madness and sold off a bunch of my Meffert's originals and with it went my pyrmorphinx...I was feeling bad about that one day and asked Michael if he could make me one. Sure enough, he went back to his East Sheen preference and cut and capped that star for me. And par for the course, it was mass produced by Uwe a few years later. But you know, I don't care. I have a fantastic puzzle by a fantastic builder (with a lifetime guarantee on quality and for repairs-although I'm pretty sure that is part of the special "Rox package")

With all the shapeways puzzles coming out in recent years, it is getting easier and easier to make puzzles. While I have great respect for the builders of those types of puzzles, for me there is nothing like the puzzles that have the Lurve (Thanks Dr. Panda-you got me writing it now) in them. If I can't have a cast puzzle, I want a cut and cap. As a last resort, I'll take Shapeways. If you are fortunate enough to own a SmaZ puzzle, I don't need to tell you about his craftsmanship. If not.....well what are you waiting for?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What's on your Christmas list?

Mine? Well, it's pretty big. But I won't be too sad if I don't get everything I ask Santa for. But as long as I get one or two I'll be more than happy. What? Christmas I hear you scream. It's not even thanksgiving yet. True....but, its never too early to write those Santa letters.

So I promised a twisty puzzle by a dear cyber friend and that is what you are going to get. A few actually. In fact, I have 5 to show you today. So who is the mystery cyber friend? Why Frank Schwartz of course. And before any one comments that this post is in bad form, please don't. It's meant to be a tribute to a great builder from early days, and a strong gentleman from later times.

I first contacted Frank in mid 2008 about a puzzle he had built. For the life of me I can't find the one I'm looking for. Doesn't matter. The prices Frank charged were reasonable and I bought a nice one from him. I'm sure it has a name. Rolex something or other. :-) I'm terrible with these things. Names I mean, not the puzzles.

This was the first of many puzzles I bought from Frank in the short time he was a member of TwistyPuzzles. It's basically a pyramorphix but bigger. I found the name: Reuleaux Mastermorphix. Is it solveable? Of course. But Like many of my puzzles, it has sat on my shelf for quite a few years now. When I took it down to photograph today, it was 'stuck' I bet you didn't know plastic puzzles did that. Oh, I guess I should mention that all Franks puzzles that I have are cast puzzles. I think he used that oomo stuff.

Well, we carried on a puzzle friendship via pm that later evolved into emails. Near the end of Frank's time with us it went to phone calls as well, but I promise not to make this a sad post so I'll just show you the next puzzle I saw this morning.

An axis cube. Now this one has been made by many before and after this point. I bought one of Franks early on, and then showed it to SmaZ who made me a cut and paste version, and now they are mass produced by some KO company in China. Franks version? It's cast.

A nice heavy puzzle that I really enjoyed playing with. This one is a 3x3x3 and I know it uses cube4you puzzles as a base. How do I know that you ask? Well, I'll tell you (even if you didn't ask). Frank and I were chatting about my intense hatred of high shipping costs. And he began lamenting the shipping cost out of China-ok, so it does go both ways. Well after a long while we brokered a deal. I wanted an egg he was making and a few other puzzles and he wanted 3x3x3's. Shipping to HK from Shanghi is cheap. Shipping from HK to USA is why gouge the buyer? A bit of reboxing and time, and Frank had his 3x3x3's (50 of them if I remember right) and I had my puzzles.

The egg won't be shown here today because I want to put all my eggs in one basket. (Yes, you can groan again)

This briings me to the end of this blog about Frank's puzzles that I had handy on the shelf today....I give you the last 3 puzzles I received from Frank. None of them have names that I know of. If you do, please post them in the comments for me.

The first is a start like thing he made. I thought it was pretty and asked to buy it off him in his last days before he left us. Again, this is a 3x3x3 but this time the core is a mini-diansheng. I sent Frank and David Calzone a boat load of these at the same time I shipped out the c4u puzzles. At that time they cost me a whole US$0.35 or some such. I picked up a gross from my local wholesaleshop and think I might have only one or two left now. I passed those things out to everyone who asked.

Well, when this box came in, Frank had also included a couple more puzzles I was asking over that he had unfinished on his shelf. (Romantic thing that I am, I really did believe that if I had some of Frank's unfinished puzzles he would stick around longer to finish them for me. Silly I know but that is me.)

The first one: the jr. barrel I think it's called, remained unfinished for a while and just sat in a ziplock bag. I took it over to show SmaZ after Frank passed, and SmaZ put it together for me. It doesnt' turn well at all. This is one puzzle that Frank didn't get quite right. The only one as far as I can tell. And I'm pretty sure that is why he always refused to sell it to me.

The last puzzle I have no name for. I do know it's a 3x3x3, but I have never played with it. That writing means so much more to me than the joy of playing. The fuzzy writing reads: "Rox, Thanks for being a friend, Frank." It has sat on my shelf since it came in. I might have taken it down one or two times for photographs, but that's about all. Sadly Frank left us for a better puzzle place in May 2010. But his work remains an integral part of my collection. He remains in my memory as one of hte best cyber friends I have ever had. I'm just saddened that I never got the chance to meet him.