Showing posts with label Metal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Metal. Show all posts

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Hanayama Galaxy

I hope I'm not going to be beaten for this, but rather than another post about Wil's egg, I thought I'd post about another little sparkly puzzle I have recently obtained. The newest puzzle in the Hanayama line up.  This one  first hit the puzzling scene in the 2013 IPP design competition.  The puzzle was designed by Bram Cohen who has been known to design a few others in the past.  The puzzle itself earned an honorable mention in the design competition that year.  Well done Bram.  Not only on the award, but also on getting another puzzle manufactured by Hanayama.

Ok. So on to the puzzle.  It's not exactly out on the market yet.  But you see, I go to my spa just 4 floors up from the HK Hanayama office.  The other day I was over there relaxing and decided to deliver a puzzle to Kyoo Wong.  We made an exchange and had a nice little chat about the next(!) puzzle to come after Galaxy.  (No, the one in the photo is not it. That's an ancient design that I had in my pocket.)  I had an interesting conversation about puzzle designing with Kyoo, and once the next one up is put on the web, I'll write up a nice little story about it.  In the mean time, The photo above to the right is a prototype if you will of something Kyoo was working on in year past.  He gave it to me because of the similarity to the Galaxy.  If I understood the story right, he and Bram had a conversation over these four bolts around the time Bram designed the Galaxy.  (Tell me if I got that wrong Bram.)

After I got the puzzle home, I managed to take it apart quite quickly.  That part is not all that hard.  I think it took me around 15 minutes of fiddling to do so.  Putting it back together again is another story.  It has still defeated me.  But I will keep at it until I win.  This puzzle will not beat me.  You'll notice, that while each of the four pieces look identical, they aren't  there are two matching pair.  As always, Hanayama has put a bit of a twist on the original design that makes it more difficult.  I'll not tell what it is.  I know you'd rather find out for yourself when you get the puzzle.

So where can you pick this up?  I'm sure Puzzlemaster or others will have it up soon.  I do believe this puzzle will be released in July of this year.  I think it's a level 2 or 3.  I'm not sure.  See, there's no packaging done up yet.  As with all Hanayama, the quality is fantastic.  Go pick one up, you won't regret it.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


This is a puzzle I have been hunting for a while.  After I got my micro-David I looked into the other Berrocal's that are wearable. ManyMoreHorses made the top of the list for the next one to buy.

This one is a real beauty.   When she came in the house, she was complete with her box and book.  Everything in the box was beautiful.   The box itself was in fantastic condition. This was a rare treat for me. That usually doesn't happen.  With the box came the book full of different designs that could be made out of the puzzle.  My two favorite things!  Jewelry and puzzles!  HEAVEN!

 When I opened it up, I found not two but three necklaces.  One with 11 pieces on the "Jewel B" and the other two necklaces of two different lengths.  I'm not sure what the lengths are, but the longer of the two is just too long for me but as it turns out, it's the perfect length for David and since my friends have been giving me hell for using a leather cord with him, he's been given a new chain.

No, the pieces are not pink, but my phone case is and there is a reflection.  Aren't they lovely!  A bit about this work of art.  It's not a puzzle, it (they!) really are art pieces.
According to the book that came with the necklace (see how it's now changed) there are "2 separate jewles"The first is a frame of 13 pieces + the ring, and the second is a chain with 11 pendants.  The top photo shows both pieces the lower shows the main piece in a state of confusion (much like it's owner).  You can see two of the "gems" here (lower left). There are 4 of these pieces in total.
(the rings to the left are NOT Berrocal's) The one to the right is pre-cleaning!
Disassembled pendant with "Jewel B"   There are 4 rectangular pieces with Cabochon.  Means nothing to me.  Mine are red and I understand the Mohs scale, but I wish I knew what they were.  A 7 upwards can be just about anything, but I'm guessing it's a garnet that has just been polished.  My disappointment?  You can only see the stones on "Jewel B".  I'm a girl who likes her stones. I only wish you could see the gems in the big piece,but sadly, I just can't work it out....unless....I put the horse upside down....There's a task for next weekend.
Here she is in her full glory!
The nice thing about this is that each piece can be interchanged.  there area a total of 112 different figures that can be made.  I've scanned the book and will play with it often.  So much for keeping a nice shine on this one.  It will be a well loved puzzle!  After all, one buys puzzles to play with, not display.  The book has a total of 20 pages worth of different configurations that can be made.  I don't think I'll be creating them anytime soon, but if you are at IPP, you are more than welcome to take it off me (at the price of a kiss on my right cheek) to play with and reassemble.

Am I happy!  You know it!  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Triple Trap

I have seen this puzzle many times over the years but have never added it to my cart.  When Hendrik came over for the toys fair ( I asked him to add it to his bag.

It's a simple little 3 piece puzzle that takes a few minutes to put together and a few more to take apart.  As you can see, there are 2 metal rings and a marble in this one.  The object is simply to put the marble into the middles hole in between the rings.  

I'll admit to being stumped for a while.  Metal just shouldn't work the way this puzzle works.  Without giving too much away, it defies all the properties that should be involved.  I brought this along for a testing puzzle, and dropped the marble half a dozen times before I realized what I had to do.  The solution out one of those "I can't believe that works" kind of grins on my face.  

I think this will be a great puzzle to give to novice puzzlers or kids to try and solve.  It might stump them for a minute or two, but I'll guarantee they will have the same silly grin I had once they solve it.  Good entertainment value for the 10€ cost.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


Following on from my magpie self, I've decided I may as well just give in to it.  So I went on an eBay hunt for brass puzzles.  Locks a plenty, but those don't really do it for me (yet).  So I'm off looking using a different search term and came up with the puzzle shown here.  

This puzzle was first invented by Rocky Chiaro. The original design can be found on his webpage.

This version was sold by Bits and Pieces a while back. I missed it in the original run but when I saw it on eBay I recognized it for what it was and snapped it up. A lucky purchase at a halfway decent price.

I won't post a solved photo of it as it gives away the solution. Overall, it's an easy puzzle to solve. I've given it to friends who are puzzlers and non-puzzlers alike and both were able to solve it within a few minutes, it's a fun little time waster that won't let you down. I'd highly recommend one if you can find it. Money well spent.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Computer chip

I have a number of different versions of this puzzle. Some made of wood, some made of aluminum, this one made of brass.

I purchased this puzzle from Mr. Puzzle around a week or so ago and I have to say, I'm impressed! I received an email from Mrs. Puzzle telling me the puzzle order was on the way and that she and Mr. Puzzle would see me next August. I love the personal touch. I really shows great people who run a great business.

This one was purchased simply because it caught my eye. Like I said, I have it already and know how it solves so there is no challenge there. But oh my is it pretty!

The puzzle itself is tiny. The baseplate that all the pieces go into is no larger than a US quarter. The rods are around two inches long. A cute little thing!

Another nice feature of this one is that little hook you see on one of the rods. This is there to keep the rods in place. For this puzzle, unlike the wooden versions I have, it's a necessity. Because of the smoothness of the rods they very easily fall out.

Solving wise it's not too much of a challenge. Once I pulled out all of the pieces I gave them a good scramble befor starting reassembly. Even this didn't add to the challenge. See all that really needs to be done is a bit of counting.

All in all though it's a nice little puzzle. I see this morning that Mr. Puzzle is out of stock but wooden versions can be purchased through creative crafthouse.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Two keys lock

Well, I started this magpie thing so I may as well continue with it. The puzzle I bring you today was invented by VESA Timonen and was given out as an IPP32 exchange gift by Nancy Alliegro. The box has written on it that it's manufactured by Bits & Pieces so I'm guessing that it would be offerd up for sale at some point in the future. I've yet to see it though.

The puzzle starts off as seemingly impossible to solve. There are two keys attached to the shank of the lock and the puzzlers job is to unattached them. A bit of twisting and turning reveals a split shank that spins freely. The novice will notice that the split can be slightly separated, but that won't do any good. It wouldn't be much of a puzzle if the keys could be removed in the same fashion as a regular key ring now would it?

I won't tell you any more about the solving because I don't want to give its secrets away. I will say that it threw me a good surprise. As I was sitting with it under the table trying to not make too much noise, the keys suddenly went flying. If I weren't mucking about when I should have been concentrating I would have laughed out loud.

There is a nice little twist to this one that tickled me. While the solve only took a few seconds(!) it would be worth getting for that chuckle moment when it's solved. I wonder when it will be released to the market....

Monday, January 14, 2013

Jerry's Ball in Cylinder puzzle

Fellow Blogger Jerry Loo blogger gone inventor! posted about a project he was working on. I sent off a message right away congratulating him and at the same time saying I'd love a copy. A short while later I received an email asking for my mailing address.  I was pleasantly surprised when I got a box from Singapore come in last week.
all balls inside

Because I was entertaining guests, the puzzle was put on hold until this past Sunday.  I brought it along for my usual puzzling/testing time.  Having read Kevin's blog post about it I was very careful as I didn't want to loose my balls.  I gingerly removed the tape and pop! Out came a ball bearing.  Luckily I had read that this would happen and had already prepared a towel to catch the ball in.  I popped it back in and started to twist the balls around.  Yep. It was good and stuck!  Now to solve it!

This puzzle sings!  It makes such beautiful sounds, but unluckily for me I couldn't work on it during the session.  It just made to much noise.   I had to put this away until the next day.

I'm glad I did too.  I sat down to play with it and spent a good deal of time with the puzzle and a flashlight rotating it around trying to see what was going on.  No spoilers here, but suffice it to say it was good fun to solve.  I popped the ball out and had to drop it back in again to see if I was clever enough to solve it without the aid of a flashlight.  Again the singing of the puzzle.  I just love the tinkling sound that it makes.  No luck for me.  The ball was good and stuck and I needed to spend some time to get the ball out again.  But the good news is, I managed.  And being the puzzler I am, I dropped that ball in yet again and went one more time!  This time it took me less than 20 minutes to work it out.  Three times the charm right?  I stopped and grabbed a few of the Strijbos cylinders for a comparison.  Jerry's Ball in Cylinder ranks right up there with these puzzles.
a comparison with the Strijbos cylinders

Jerry's puzzle is slightly taller than the others in the photo.  It's almost the same diameter of the AlCyl.  If you are interested in getting Jerry's new puzzle, go contact him over on his blog!  The fun involved in this one won't let you down.  And the quality!  It's a beautifully tooled aluminum puzzle.  Very professionally done.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

On the 5th day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love sent to me,
5 Richard Hess'
4 Mr. Fok's
3 Da Yan's
2 Brian Young's
And Stickman in a pine tree.

I had the pleasure of meeting Dick in Japan 3 years back and have spent many a pleasant moment in conversation with him.  He has a great way with kids as well.  Katherine loved playing math games with him over a beer in Berlin.  He had her (and me) stumped on more than one occasion.

Dick is a long time puzzle collector.  But more importantly for this series of posts, he's also a long time designer of puzzles.  Reading back in time he's designed many different kinds of puzzles but I would have to guess that he's best known for his wire puzzles.  I've no idea how many puzzles Dick has designed, but I'm sure it is many many.  I seem to run into his name at many different puzzle shops.  For starters, Dick has a number of them on Puzzlemaster.  The prices range from $10 to $12.

Dick wrote a "Compendium of Wire Puzzles" and I've heard tell it has over 10,000 different wire puzzles in it.  That in itself is a feat.  I can only imagine the amount of research that went into writing that book.  Mind, a lot of the puzzles in it are his own designs.  I can't wait to see what he has in store for us in the future.  I'm sure there will be many more to come.  Kevin wrote up about a few of them over on his blog.  Go take a look and enjoy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Toys, testing, and trial and error.

Toy: a material object for children or others to play with (often an imitation of some familiar object); a plaything; also, something contrived for amusement rather than for practical use.
-the Oxford English Dictionary
Well, today's puzzles certainly fit that bill. Imitations of other items, and something designed for amusement.
I've got two from Vesa, one from Puzzle Master and one from Derek Bosch.

Shapeways had their annual sales recently and once again I took advantage of them. I really don't like the feel of these things, but over the years they have gotten less gritty so I thought what the heck and put in an order. Now I frequent a number of forums, and thought what the heck, I'll get them in white, buy some dye and color them myself....famous last words....

I'm not at the level of Cantonese where I can just go out into a shop and ask for dye. After many trials with this, I gave up and went for a different tactic. I tried food coloring! That I have plenty of. The results were mixes to say the least! My yellow was orange, my green was yellow, my blue was pink(!) and my red was, well, red. So maybe food coloring isn't the best of puzzle dyes. But someone had to try it!

So on to the puzzles. First, I got two from Vesa: a breakfast egg and an onion. I've looked at these two for years now but always just passed them by. Well this time around I hit the purchase button and I'm glad I did. The egg is four pieces and the object is of course to put them together. It's a nifty little thing, but it is easy to spot the solution for it just by looking. To solve it I had to assemble it without the yolk (or orange?) just to loosen up the pieces a bit. A one minute puzzle but fun none the less. The onion is made of six pieces and a tad bit harder to solve but not very much harder. This one was a two minute puzzle I'd guess. These two I didn't purchase for the puzzling factor, but rather for their appearance. Vesa has designed an orange as well which Hanayama has mass produced under the name of Globe Ball. It's hard to come by now, but if you can find one its a great little puzzle as well.

On to the torpedoes. Now this one I have many different versions of. After quite a long discussion about this the other day, I decided to buy yet another version. I'm sure I got it from Bits and Pieces during their last sale. 25% off AND free shipping! I'm in. I'll have to check the packaging again, but I'm pretty sure it's a Puzzle Master product. At any rate, it's listed as an 8/10 and that about sums it up. It's not as easy as the hedgehog and not as difficult as trying to get one of those birds out.

My last puzzle today is Derek's tubular burr. What a hoot that one is. I've sat here grinding away at it for the past three hours off and on and have managed to get. Nowhere yet. I see what it needs to do, I just can't get it to do it without looking. It's not a "by feel" puzzle. Well, at least it hasn't been for me. It's only a three piece puzzle and the object as always is simple, put the pieces in and take them back out again. What could be easier? (A lot of things, believe me!) This one would be a fantastic puzzle for the magpie in me! I'd love to see it made of silver and gold. Shiny smooth metal bits would make it even better fun!

This one is a bit odd. When I colored it, it got a bit 'squishy' I'm not sure if it is meant to be that way, but I can tell the area between the walls of the barrel bit are hollow. It still plays, but I'm afraid ill deform it if I squeeze too hard.

So back to my start. Toy: a material object for children or others to play with (often an imitation of some familiar object); a plaything; also, something contrived for amusement rather than for practical use. I think that definition holds. And today, we've had all three. Although I'd argue that helping me maintain my sanity through 5 hours of low level speakers is a very very practical use for a toy!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Before I start this blog I want to thank the owner of ARTELUDES and Kevin for helping me get her shipped to Hong Kong.  

Ok, I know that's a bit instead I'll say you invest in another Berrocal.  
Much like Michelle, Maria has been unloved.  The previous owner cared so little for her that he lost the locking piece.  Her left leg.  Poor Maria is an amputee.  What a disastrous thing to have happen!  (If anyone out there reading this would like to make me an impression of your locking mechanism, I'd be forever grateful, or if you know of how I can request a replacement piece...)  He also loved it so much he tossed the book that comes with her.  Now I ask you, does a person like that deserve such a thing?

When I pulled her out of the box, the first thing I noticed was that the chrome was pitted in spots.  She is well and truly scratched up and dirty!  She definitely needs a bit of TLC.   

Maria consists of 23 pieces and has a chrome covering.  Her number is 1992/10000.  Not too bad a year really.  I was well and truly in love with my husband by then.  So I think I'll keep her around for a tad bit longer, just as I did him.  

I've been sitting here trying to work out what the first piece is to remove and I finally got it. Her buttocks!  They are so caked with dirt though that I'll need to use a rubber spatula type thing to get it apart.  Looks like a job for a testing day.  No way!  I'm crazy, but not that much so.  Instead, I'll spend the evening disassembling and cleaning her as I did with Michelle. 

Once I got that bit out, I noticed that her 'testicles' are rusted.  Now this is rather peculiar as I didn't think chrome could rust.  But then I'm not well versed on this sort of thing so it is highly possible.    After I removed that first piece, she's an easy one to disassemble.  To be honest, it wasn't disassembly as much as it was falling apart.  There is a back covering that needs to be taken off, and then that's it.  She just fell into 20 some pieces.  

As with Michelle, I brought her into the bathroom and used one of the many soft toothbrushes I collect for just this purpose to get the grit out.   She cleaned up rather nicely, and I was rather pleased with my purchase.  

Reassembly was a bit of a pain, not difficulty, but I needed a bit more dexterity than I had this evening.  But now she's clean and dry and looking lovely on the shelf with Maria and Zoraida.  It's a nice trio I have there. Now to find the last 3!

I leave you with one last shot of my Berrocal pieces to date.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mickey Mouse

Today I decided that I'm going to post about a set of puzzles no one else has talked about yet. I also got to thinking of my friends and decided I'd tempt Kevin a bit your heart out my friend.

Next to puzzles, Disney has got to be my next favorite thing. I know I've said it before, but it is so true, and when I can combine Disney and puzzling together, I'm one happy camper!

Another thing that makes me happy is finding an old puzzle and playing with it again. It's like Christmas when I open my bed, or a drawer or a cabinet I haven't opened in a while. This morning was Christmas. Last night Uwe asked me to measure some puzzles for him (yes, I have man tools and now know how to use them.) and I rediscovered a set of puzzles I haven't seen in a while.

This set was made by Kawada in Japan. I managed to pick them up quite a few years back now, and while they are no real challenge, they are Mickey Mouse and you can't go wrong when the two are combined.

There are four different puzzles here and each is really just an old puzzle with a Mickey Mouse theme. Mickey set to music. Kind of reminds me of the philharmagic, or fantasia. I wonder if that is where the inspiration came from.

Solving wise, these puzzles took less than a minute each if that. They are such an old puzzle as the base. These are the ones my grandfather gave me so many years ago. Not the Mickey bit-the puzzle.

If you can get ahold of these, they are worth it for the characters. My only complaint? The keychain bits rusted through and had to be tossed away. I don't like rusty fingers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Broken Heart

This puzzle comes from Puzzle Master, and I just had to have it because it looked so cute.  Who can't resist a heart....and one that's locked is even better.  Locks were made to be opened.  Curiosity of man has always made it so.  This puzzle is no different. When I saw it on the website, I just knew I had to have it.

The puzzle is made of brass and has a nice heft to it. You know you're holding  something with this one.  There are two keys attached and the string is plenty long enough for you to open the puzzle without taking it off.  A nice little extra with this one I discovered by accident.  Well, not by accident, but by mucking about with a bunch of puzzle locks at one time and some old keys I had laying around the house (doesn't everyone have a bunch of keys laying around?) Skeleton keys with a hole in the shaft will work to open this one!  After I solved it while doing my normal weekend testing, I got to thinking about it and realized I have a few keys that have a hollow shaft and a not so long bit section.  When I got home I tried them out and sure enough, they opened the puzzle!  That's good news because if I ever loose those keys....

Puzzle Master rates it as easy, and they weren't kidding!  This one is a walk in the park.  Insert key, turn.  that's what you do with a lock isn't it?  No, that's not quite the solution, I wouldn't be that nasty.  Over all, I think it took me less than a minute to solve. I'm very serious.  I tried the obvious and that didn't work so I tried something that worked on one of my old Chinese locks and sure enough, that was the solution.

While this one is super easy, it did stump Mr. Man for a while and bug had problems with it.  It's not a puzzlers puzzle, but it's a lark to pass around to those smartypants type people.  $15 Canadian isn't a bad price either.

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.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Iso Crate

Today's puzzle is one designed by Robert Rose. It was sold to me by at IPP32 in my mass buying spree to rid myself of the left over Canadian dollars I had from my conference in Ottawa the month before.

This puzzle is made of anodized aluminum and consists of eight pieces. Each piece has three magnets embedded in it. The object if it is to take the pieces apart and return it to the original cubic shape.

This puzzle came in the PuzzleMaster packaging,but I have a feeling it was manufactured originally for Bits and pieces. The puzzle itself is quite fun but the construction leaves a lot to be desired.

This puzzle comes packaged with a clear cube inside the crate to help it keep its shape during shipping. When I pulled the puzzle out of the box, it just sort of fell apart on me. Maybe it was put together wrong or maybe it was a couple of weak magnets, I'm not sure. Either way there was no cheating with this puzzle. I had to sort it out to solve it.  I would have to guess it took me around 20 minutes of faffing about with this and other things.

Unlike some magnetic puzzles, this one doesn't have that 'strong push/pull' to it. That would have made the puzzle real fun. Nothing like flying pieces!  It does snap together rather nicely when you get the magnets lined up, but the repelling force could be stronger.  Another drawback of this puzzle is just cosmetic, but the magnets aren't seated properly in some places so they are jutted out in places.  There isn't the tight fit I wish it had.  Maybe one day if it sits on my shelf long enough and bothers me long enough, I'll dig the magnets out and reglue them.  The finish when it came in was scratched in places, and you can see the glue overspill in others.  A nice puzzle that could have used a bit of quality control.

One corner has a groove taken out of it that can be used to stand the puzzle on its edge.  Surprisingly, it does balance that way.  Overall, it's a fun little puzzle.  I'm not thrilled by it, but I'm not disappointed either.  You can find it at Puzzle Master for around CAD23.  Not a bad price for a bit of fun.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Mini Zoraida

Still on my hunt for the Berrocal minis.  This time I managed to get a copy of Mini-Zoraida!  She too was a steal. In my hunting, I know I could go to a certain seller in the UK and probably get the rest of the set that I am missing, but the fun for me is in the hunt. And no, I don't mean just going to eBay and winning an online auction.  Have you seen the prices over there?  They are insane!  The puzzle here is now on sale for $3000!   Good luck to the seller, And to the buyer....I'll sell you mine for that price.  
 Ok, enough being snarky. On to the puzzle.  Unlike Michelle, Zoraida came into my home boxed and beautiful!  I had no cleaning up to do.  The previous owner loved and cared for her as dearly as I will.  

You will notice there are two stands with her as well.  One raises the sculpture 1 1/2" above the table, the other raises her a foot.  I think we'll stick with the shorter one.  This copy came with a book as well. I'm a bit suspect though because there is no edition number written in this book.  Not a problem I guess in the greater scheme of things.  The puzzle has 25 pieces to it and as with all the other Berrocal minis, it's slightly risque.  Zoraida is a woman who has her arms wrapped around her bust.  She has no head and I'm sure you can find a joke in there somewhere. As usual, there is also a ring inside, and this time, it makes up her breasts.  I'm taking a guess here, but I think the rock inside is 2 moonstones.  

To unlock her is just a treat.  Her topmost shoe is a key!  Seriously.  Slide it down and pull it out and the puzzle will come to pieces.    As you can see from the photo below, I haven't gotten far in the disassembly.  I brought it out of the box for a few photographs, brought her to yet another newspaper interview, and then put her back on the shelf.  Time is the real issue for me, not lack of desire.  Although, she is in such pristine condition I'm almost afraid to handle her.  Which reminds me....I need to go get some more plastic boxes for these things.  The weather.....

My only complaint about this puzzle is that it was sold as number 399.  When I opened it up and took off the base I discovered she is 3996!  I took it up with the seller who claimed ignorance.  Well there is a huge difference!  399 would have been a silver edition.  Instead I got the nickle and brass one.  I did manage a price difference rebate though.  I mean I didn't get what I paid for.  I'm still happy with her all the same though.  Like Michelle, she's beautiful and she looks good on my shelf too!

Again, I would recommend taking a look at John's webpage for more information.  I also found some nice drooling e-books here, here, and here.  If you want hard copies of these, they are available at various places, but start at around US$50 and go upwards of 200.  Real coffee table books these are!

*Even if I didn't love the look of these puzzles, I'd love them just because he's toking away in almost every photo in his workshop.  Nothing wrong with a good cigar while puzzling!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Micro David

I've been on a mission since bringing Michelle home. I am hunting for all the Berrocal miniatures. (I'd love some of the full sized ones but my house just won't hold a puzzle of that size)

Miguel Oritz Berrocal  (1933-2006) was a Spaniard who moved to Italy to set up a foundry to manufacture his puzzle torsos.  From what information I have been able to gather, the largest, Goliath has 88 pieces and Otra and Otto are the smallest with 4 pieces each.  The miniatures that I have been hunting all run around 20+ pieces.

In my hunt for these little treasures I discovered that Berrocal made micro pendants as well as some other jewelry. Now I don't plan on getting all of these as well, only two have caught my eye; Many More horses and David. I don't expect to get the horses any time soon as I've seen so few of them at any auction houses. (if anyone finds one let me know please!)

Back to David. He's beautiful! I managed to find this one at an insanely low price and couldn't pass it up. Besides that, what girl wouldn't want a naked mans torso hanging around her neck?  Check out that spine!  And those solid shoulders?  BEAUTIFUL as I said.

Like all of these miniature Berrocal's, David is a puzzle. He is made up of 16 pieces including the base. And like others in the mini series, David also sports a mesh ring inside.  (the miniatures have a solid ring, and as best I can figure from my sizer, it's about a size 5)  For those of you with small enough fingers (this one is probably a size 4) who want to wear it, I would advise against it. See, in David's case the ring is made up of his genitalia. Not a huge problem, but people notice these things. Since I got him I've had more people comment on his bits than I have had notice any other necklace I've ever worn.

He's an easy lad to take apart and put back together again.  To disassemble him, you unscrew the bit at the top that holds the cord.  His shoulders come off first, and then the top two chest pieces slide over the top.  His heart can be removed next, and as a guess I'm going to say it looks to me to be coral.  The other side of his chest cavity needs removing and then the lower abdomen can be removed followed by the ring assembly and the genitalia.  Finally, his thighs (and buttocks) can be unscrewed from the base.  A very simple puzzle as far as these go.  To reassemble, the pieces only go in one way-I know, that's what puzzles do-but in this case, it's all just sliding down on the main center column.  I did have a bit of a hitch when I put the heart back in place.  There was a need for a bit of wiggling.  When he's completely put back together, he is still a bit loose.  It seems his base and the hanging bit need to be lined up in some way.

I sit here researching the sculptor so I could give you a bit of information on him and as I do so, I've come across two very wonderful pages.  One by an educator I've had the privilege to meet.  And the other by a puzzle collector I one day soon wish to visit so I can play with his Berrocal's.  Both of these pages have me drooling and turning green with envy. It seems I need to find a different line of work, or finish that funny hat.  These things are expensive if you don't know where to look!  In the mean time I continue my hunt....

Average prices on this one range from US$550 to US$1000 depending on where you go hunting.

Only 3 more miniatures to go.

As an aside, I am looking for the dimensions of Alexander.  How tall is he?  I have found one at a decent price, but if he's larger than the miniatures I'll have to pass him up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Bits and Pieces-The company.

Wow!  What a company.  I have a real love/hate relationship with them. Over the years I've had good and bad service and I really don't know which way to go.  And yet, like a battered wife, I keep going back for more.  We already know I'm a glutton for punishment because I'm a puzzler, and anyone who is a puzzler is a glutton for punishment.  We keep going back to the same old things time and again.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  And that folks is my relationship with Bits and Pieces.

I first encountered this company way back in the mid 90's.  They had a booth at the HK toys fair and I went.  At that time, companies were still allowed to give out free samples and many did give out little bits and bobs in the hopes of drawing in customers.  Bits and Pieces was no exception to this and I have a couple of these puzzles within arms reach.  At that time, the quality was pretty good.  Although, the puzzles were small so I guess that may have had something to do with it.  Now, I'm not so sure.  The puzzles are getting larger, and it seems to be hit and miss with them.  Don't get me wrong, some are fantastic designs.  Others are just bad quality.  Wil's puzzles these are not.  But that's no reason to NOT get them.

Looking at the photo below, all are from Bits and Pieces.  Yes, I have many more that aren't shown here.  These are just the ones that were within reach, or from the batch that came in today.  The wooden 5 piece (The hole in one) in the right hand side is nicely done.  I've no complaints.  Hercules, just below it, is also a nice puzzle.  The Kamei gift box is not too shabby although you can see the lines where it opens.  The One way packing puzzle on the bottom center is ok.  It's a bit loose for the pieces that pack in, but with my humidity I almost like that.  Others will not.  The Kamei heart box on the bottom.  Boy that one is not so good.  It looks pretty, but the opening and design of it is just cheap.  You can see every glue line there is.  To open it, you just need to wiggle it a bit.

On to the metal puzzles.  The top left is called Sputnik and it's ok.  It's more of a guessing game than a puzzle, and other than the rather sharp edges, I've nothing to say about this one.  The next two: EZ Unlink and EZ Galaxy are very different. The EZ Unlink is nice.  it doesn't fall apart in your hands and has a nice heft to it.  I'd get this one. The EZ Galaxy I would pass on.  Go for the Puzzlemaster verion called Great Collision.  Moving down there is a 4 leafed clover and ying and yang.  Both hold together fairly well.  Not too problematic.  The torpedo is a different version of a classic and a bit on the light side.  I worry that this one isn't very sturdy.  The Knot Simple puzzle is dead easy.  In fact as a take-apart puzzle, it isn't a puzzle. It's a joke.  When I unboxed it it fell apart in my hands.  This one is a pass.  Secrets of the heart (that's a Sacajawea dollar on it for those of you who were wondering.) Is ok.  No complaints.  It works as it should and has a bit of weight to it.  The key with the ring.  What a joke!  It is so flimsy and sharp that I've never bothered with it.  It has a carry case, and I took a few photos then tossed it in the box. I don't think it will surface anytime soon.  All Hail the King (Marcel, you don't think highly of yourself do you?) I have two of.  One is boxed, the other is open.  Both are B&P versions.  Go figure.  And finally, Fit to a T.  The puzzle that started my long running affair with B&P.  A nice little puzzle that is just a tiny bit loose in the box. But hey, I'm not complaining, it was free!

And now for the reason I started this post.  Last July I ordered a bunch of puzzles from B&P.  They sent them to the wrong address even though I changed the one on record.  Nothing came in and around September I called to find out what was going on.  I mean they were only sending it to Florida.  When I found out I was more than a little bit upset. Mostly because they no longer had stock of the puzzles I wanted.  The company issued me a credit certificate in November and washed their hands of me.  around 4 months isn't too slow.  Or is it?

It turns out you can only use these if you call in the order. OK, I'm in HK.  The company is in the US.  Toll Free numbers are charged at international rates.  Long and repetitive story short, over the past year I've ordered twice from B&P both over th phone and neither time did the operator let me use that certificate even though I tried.  Well tonight I finally got an operator who was new and I got to use my refund certificate!  Finally. Only 11 months after it was issued!  Nice deal that is.  They have you don't they?  No money back and over a year to get your refund!  WOW!  Ok, so I got a bunch more puzzles that I hope will arrive before Christmas.  Oh, and for my trouble of spending 1/2 hour on the phone, they knocked $5 off the shipping.  Big whoop! 

See, hit and miss.  Love/hate.  B&P and Rox.  I suffer through and will continue to buy from them as the years go by I'm sure.  But I do so willingly and know exactly what I've gotten myself into.  Go check them out, but remember I warned you.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Bowling alley in a briefcase

I read about this great little puzzle on Jerry's blog and decided I wanted to try it. I saw one come up on an auction site (maybe Baxterweb?) anyway, I didn't bid high enough and continued to search. Much to my surprise and pleasure, when I looked at the table and spotted one. Without thought I grabbed it up and made my purchase.

Now with this one I had the advantage of seeing the internal bits on a webpage so I had a general idea of what needed to be done. Not that that helped me any. My exchange partner had played with this puzzle at Gathering for Gardner this past year. He fiddled with it at IPP32 but didn't get it open. One of the renegades kept telling me he was missing a vital step and would never get it open. And all that information went into my head when I tried to solve it.

Did any of that help me? Not really. I have a slow learning curve. So I ended up doing the same move I saw John do over and over and over.  Did I solve it?  Nope.  So like the Armadillo~back in my bag it went.

A while later, I was able to solve the armadillo puzzle and this gave me a bit of a kick to go try this one again.  Yep.  A lot more silliness before I was to the point of opening. Yep.  John was missing a vital step.  Yep.  It was a total accident that I found it.  And yep.  I can open it again.

This is yet another great puzzle by this duo.  How people come up with ideas like this is beyond me.  But I'm sure glad they do.  I wonder if I need to start finding someone to design my next IPP exchange puzzle or if I can rely on my own simple brain to come up with an idea before the deadline?  Any takers out there willing to help a slow girl?

The case of the sacred armadillo

This is another of those 'briefcase' puzzles made by Kathleen Malcomson. It's a lovely little puzzle made out of a business card case a few bits of things inside and one big clear marble. Another really fun puzzle to have in the collection.

So it's a sacred armadillo. And any one who has ever lived in the south has seen one of those. The little buggers often show up right where you want to park your car. Then there is the dilemma of what to do: run the sucker over or get out parked wonky move the sucker then repark the car. And blast it all because they are alive you can't run them over. I'll admit that on more than one late night the urge to drop kick them comes to mind as well. So where is all this verbal diarrhea coming from? Armadillos of course. They roll up into a ball when frightened and this puzzle has a big ball in it.

The first thing I did when I got this puzzle was put the enclosed sheet into my solution box because I was afraid I might peek. Then I started rolling the ball. Nope. Nothing. I put it on the floor and spun it in circles. I shook it. I swung it around. I had great fun with it. Short of blowing (Kevin) I did all I could think of. And then I dumped it in my bag and forgot about it until yesterday.

It was bugs birthday and she wanted Disney with mom (walking wallet again) so when she was riding those awful roller coasters (mom had to hold the shopping this time) I sat down and pulled this one out.

Since I'd done all the silliness earlier I started over again this time with the intention of being serious in my solving techniques. Fast forward half an hour and I had made no progress. Back to being silly. And AH HA!!! There it was! Clever little thing. I had a big smile when bug came back from her rides.

The solution was simple enough that I could solve it again and again. Very clever that Kathleen is. She fit a cute little puzzle that had a bit of a stumper and a whole lot of fun, into a tiny little business card box. Next up...bowling alley in a briefcase.