Showing posts with label SmaZ. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SmaZ. Show all posts

Friday, July 3, 2015

A puzzling day in Hong Kong

Time flies when you are busy.  Forgive me for my late posts but be prepared to be bombarded with lots of drivel from Rox.

For the past few years there has been a puzzle exhibition with talks and play time held at a local high school right next to my university.  This year was no exception.  The puzzle party was held on the 2nd of May (see how late I am!)

It all started around 10 in the morning.  I missed the talks, but ran over around lunch time and dropped off a few puzzles to put on display.  I hung around and watched people play puzzles for the next 5 hours.

This week was a real treat for me.  Not only was it a weekend of puzzling with my local puzzle friends, but others were coming into town too.

When I got to the venue, I made a beeline for my dear boy Otis who flew in from Beijing for the weekend and gave him the standard Rox greeting of a hug and kiss.  Ricky was there, as well as Victor and Smaz.  Victor brought me some brass copies of the cast quartet that were made by a man in China, and before you get your nickers in a twist, I bought two copies as is my brief and handed one off to Kyoo when I saw him a few days later.

There were stalls selling puzzles, and lots of tables set up both to display some of our collection and for people to play with.

At 5 I had to run off to the airport to pick up our favorite prototyper.  After dropping his bags at his hotel, we ran to a puzzling dinner.  Sadly he had jet lag, and the party ended for us around 9:30 so I could take him back to get some sleep and adjust to the time difference.

Earlier in the week, I saw a Facebook post from Tanya who was excited about her first trip into Hong Kong.  Sadly she couldn't join us for the day or the dinner, but the following lunchtime, we all met up and had a nice little chat.  It was  too short as usual, but she had work to do, and Otis had to go pack.  I'm not sure what the other one did, but I had a family thing that night and that was that. 

The next day, I took George over to the Hanayama offices to visit with Kyoo for a while before I had to leave everyone for a conference in China.  As always, it was great to see friends, but the time was too short.  And, I looking forward to the next puzzle party in Finland....

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Puzzle day in HK

It seems I've been so busy of late that I haven't had much time to blog.  When I do make the time, it's been after a puzzle meet-up and today's post is no different.

My dear friend Otis returned to HK to visit the rather large rubber duckie we have currently stationed in our harbour.  While he was in town, he gave a shout out and asked if Michael and I would like to join him for a puzzle exhibition/talk.  Of course I jumped at the chance to see my old friends and we agreed to meet in the shopping center across from my uni.

I felt very pleased this time around,  it was the first time I was able to lead others to a puzzle location!  Usually I just tag along in a daze wondering when we'll get there and trying hard to not ask.

The day started out with breakfast at McDonald's/food court.  As is typical, we brought along puzzles to play while we ate.  I had the butter churn loaner f  rom Jerry and a few that I'd recently gotten in from various places, and Otis brought along his usual 3x3x3 and an orbik!  Mine is buried so it was nice to see one again.  After we filled our tummies we headed over across the road to the Heung To middle school.  Apparently this is the third year the school has been running this exhibition.

When we arrived, the show had already started.  There was some kind of registration that SmaZ told me to sign.  Seems that since I'm an educator, I got a certificate of some sort for showing up. Ok.  More for the end-of-year-self-criticism.  Although I think it is just another of these EDB training initiatives....

Otis told me in advance there was a Hanayama designer and inventor giving some sort of talk on puzzles.  All he knew was the guys name was Wong.  He was betting on someone being brought in from Japan, I was guessing it was Kyoo.  One point for Rox!  He gave a nice talk on the history of IPP and some of the things that happen inside the mysterious rooms.  Then he went on to discuss a few puzzles he invented that could be used in educational environments.  Overall, it was quite interesting to listen to.

Once the talk was over, we went and looked at a few of the puzzles that were on display.  There were more than a few that I don't have, and really enjoyed playing with them.  It was nice because I had a chance to play with a few and that helped me decide which ones not to purchase. We wandered around for around an hour looking at these, and listening to the owners tell us where they purchased the puzzles and at what cost-talk about making a girl feel jealous!  It seems I'm not the only puzzle hunter in HK.
recent purchases

Otis mentioned something about a sale on Hanayama puzzles and went running over to the sales table and made a few purchases of puzzles needed and puzzles to give away.  In the mean time Katherine came over and hugged Otis, Michael, and Kyoo.  Which was a good thing, because once that happened, was handed a few Hanayama's that I don't have, and was allowed to solve for a while.  As always, no photos and no hints on what is up and coming, but I think you'll enjoy the next two or three to hit the market.

Kyoo very nicely gave Katherine two puzzle kits that we will attempt to put together when I get over this sickness that she's brought home.  Just looking at them, I think when they are done they will be a packing puzzle.  But the real puzzle is to work out how to make them.  You see, there are no instructions inside.

The day started for us around 10:30, and by lunch we took a walk over to the University to grab a go box.  Lunch was in one of the classrooms and Katherine got a real eye opener on the difference between her overpriced international school and the local version of the same grade.

After lunch we went back into the hall to play with puzzles!  There were around 10 or so tables with puzzles on them to play.  Silly me didn't count!  I was tickled because I saw a few more people I know from years gone.   One teacher showed me how to solve cast rattle-which Otis was able to solve, but yet again I couldn't. I also met an older puzzler from whom I ordered a puzzling necklace which I hope to get in time for IPP.

We spent the next 4 hours or so just moving from one table to another playing with puzzle after puzzle.  It was a real treat for me because there were so many students there puzzling!  And better still, as one group left, another came in.  There were kids from primary school all the way through form 4.  (7-16 years old)  I enjoy watching children puzzle away.  Even my own self-proclaimed puzzle hater got in on the action and played for a while.  Sadly she was ill so I had to take her to the train and send her home early.

As always when this happens, I was thrilled when I was handed a couple of puzzle gifts.  The first was a disentanglement designed by one of the students from the school.  The second was a new take on an old puzzle:  Tangrams!

When day was done, SmaZ, Otis and I all went out for a nice sushi dinner.  Otis solved a puzzle I was given (again, not showing them yet!)  And then solved another!  All in all, even though it was an incredibly long day (12 hours!) it was great fun.  I look forward to next years puzzle display.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guangzhou toys fair

Once again, I've been a lucky lady.  I had another 20 hours in Guangzhou last week with some great friends.

As usual Michael gave me very late notice but he did send me a message asking if I wanted to go to Guangzhou on 9 April.   He told me that Da Yan and Leslie and couple others would be there. I was very lucky because we've just effectively finished the semester and I didn't have classes on Tuesday or Wednesday so I left Tuesday morning and went to GZ by train.  on Wednesday morning I had a meeting so for me it was just one night GZ as usual lately.  but hopefully this summer we will be able to get together again a few more times and I can spend more time up there. I'm hoping as long as I get more notice Michael.

When I got to GZ mean my my dear friend picked me up at train station and we stopped and ate some breakfast and then we headed off towards the torture appetizer we met at the angel and one of the owners of cube twist.
Now I've been to the toy fair in Hong Kong many times. I think about 15 years 16 years now I've been going and in Hong Kong it's very active and it's very busy. There are thousands and thousands of vendors. The walkway is very thin you're constantly bumping into people so when I got to GZ I was very very surprised.  There are less booths. It only covered two floors of the building but it was a very large building. The walkways were very wide. As I was walking I didn't bump into anyone. There was a lot of activity; a lot of people walking around a lot of talking.

We were very lucky because Happy Angel had been to the toys fair before and he acted as to a guide for us. We went around not looking at toys but looking at puzzles and puzzle companies. Very interesting in GZ the companies that we on Tuesday puzzles consider copy companies were all their selling or showing their puzzles. 

We went to was SS and we met the owner and the designer of the puzzles.  Neither men spoke English but the owners son was there and we spent a great deal of time sitting down and talking. As is usually in China the first thing they did was give us tea and of course we drank 10 cups of tea. The designer gave me two puzzles that he had designed the first is a 3 x 3 that glows in the dark and it's a little bit different.  It is blue instead of the usual green glow-in-the-dark. He also gave me a mini version of the 7 x 7 that they have made it's probably a half an inch smaller than the other 7 x 7 that they have developed previously.

They've also come out with a new 4 x 4 puzzle and I asked them to look at the inside of it very interesting thing to me it still looks the same as the v-cubes, but they've added an additional piece inside it.   I kind of thing so it's slightly different but it still reminds me of the same.   

From here we went on and looked at a giant helicopter and the company was selling remote control helicopter toys but this one is a toy for kids but you can sit two people in it and fly around.  It look pretty cool but not for my house.  It's it's the size of my house, literally!  From there we went to YJ and I saw quite a few puzzles that are relatively new, but I've picked them all up at the Hong Kong toys fair in January. They had the the golden Chinese tael, they had the silver potato (the one they are calling an egg) and many others that are pretty standard that they've had for for many many years.  They did have a burr type puzzle which was very interesting.  I have never seen it before and very nicely they gave me a copy of it.  The designer at this company recognized me from Twisty Puzzles from my blog and from many trips to China and posts on Mf8 so he was very nice. I did want to leave the before the owner of the company recognize me because I had met him previously when I was working the toys fair with v-cubes and so we left there and headed out to see a couple more puzzles.

 Next we went to see was Ghosthand but that was just normal 3 x 3 cubes.  We also saw the Chinese company that the toys company that made the Chinese knot puzzle at the Chinese new year last year. They had some three by threes they have some 4 x 4 expect basically nothing new. From there we went to see LAN LAN.  This is the first time that I've met the people from LL. They were very nice as well.   They had two new diamond geared type puzzles, not the same as the one that Calvin has produced, but unfortunately they wouldn't give me a copy of it so I'm I'm still trying to find that somewhere.  I'll probably buy it online somewhere and again more tea more more photographs but nothing new at this booth either.

QJ is another company that we saw and QJ had a number of puzzles out but we didn't stay very long the fair was closing soon and we wanted to get over to Dian Sheng.  QJ also had nothing new that I hadn't seen already.

The final stop of the day was Dian Sheng and I was very surprised as we walked up I saw it some posters on the wall.  The posters had a couple of cubes that I had never seen before so I was hoping they would have these puzzles in their booth.   The booth was very very large and as we went and they did have these  new puzzles however they look very much like a Meffert's ball cube.  But he's just produced two of them.  The texture on the outside of the balls is slightly different but otherwise they're effectively the same.  He also has made a new 4 x 4 puzzle with a textured surface on it so it isn't for use in competitions.   but it does look nice Dian Sheng also produced a number of 3 x 3 and 4 x 4 puzzles that are made of colored plastic so no more painting on colors and no more tiles on their puzzles.  Their third different colored plastics put together much like Mf8  and Da Yan have been doing over the last year.

at 5 o'clock it was very interesting because there were security guards standing around with megaphones telling us to leave the fair.  The fair is closing leave leave leave!  In Hong Kong they don't do that to make an announcement but that's it. People take their good sweet time to get out here they turn off the lights on us and there was a mad rush to leave the building.

I think at the end of the day we saw something like 10 different manufactures. It was as always very interesting for me to go to the fair from the standpoint of non-buyer and to look at it from that perspective.  It's not very often that I get to do that usually I've been working the fair for different companies. They had nothing new but I did meet the guy from Dian Sheng and he's going to send me some but I've been asking for him to send me.

Santa Da Yan
When the fair was over we went over to the MF8 warehouse and we met with Mr. Faulk and Diane says they work with you then and Leslie and his wife so everybody except Tom had come back to for the couple of days. Da Yan pulled out his new puzzles that he made lots of photographs have been running around the Internet of these things and they're a lot of fun to a lot of fun to twist and to play with he passed out blue to buy two to all of the puzzlers.  That I didn't get that I got a remake of a Gem puzzle that he had made before he's retooling all of the puzzles to make them better so very nice he signed them for us after this we went to dinner and and of course the dinner it was puzzles the Plenti we had Diane's puzzles on the table no one else brought out puzzles no no new puzzles coming out I should say or none that I can talk about I brought along a number of IPP puzzles that I had received that I thought that the guys would be interested in.   A number of other people joined us in the evening later in the evening and I think it dinner we had about 15 people in total. Teacher  didn't come but I give about five puzzles for him to use in his classes in the coming weeks.  He teaches middle school middle, school mathematics and he enjoys the packing puzzles for using with his students.

One puzzle that was a big hit was again Stephen Chin's mouse house and I played with it with a lot of people I took it out at the toys there and showed it to couple of the designers or owners that I know just goofing around and let them photograph it or anything.  At dinner everyone  had to try and solve the puzzle. That one was  a big hit! Leslie brought his wife alone and she managed to solve the puzzle.  Very interestingly, Eric Fuller's topless box is still unsolved. We didn't get that one done and dinner as usual lasted about three hours.  After dinner we went back to Mr. Fox warehouse to pick up our bags and from there we headed out to karaoke.  Karaoke lasted a long long long time and yes I sang this time.

Afterwards it was breakfast as usual in the same little shop just across from the hotel and we headed back to the hotel around 4:30 5 o'clock.   Because I had a 10 o'clock meeting I had to leave GZ very early and Ming stayed with me.  We left for the train station at around seven and I managed to make it back in time for my meeting. I'm really glad that I made notes for myself the day before on the train on the way up or I would never would have managed to survive the two hours that I had to survive.  GZ is great fun I love the guys I love going up and spending time with them.  I love playing with the puzzles and I just have an amazing good time when I when I go up there. I'm hoping that this summer I'll have a chance to go couple more times.  My schedule is a bit  more flexible than it was during term time and I look forward to spending more than just 18 hours over 20 hours in GZ. I guess I need three or four days in a nice long session would be good again. I hope you enjoyed the photographs of the toys. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012


You know, one puzzle I don't have is a Turkey.  I guess I will have to rectify that problem.  Maybe I can go get a puzzle and glue some feathers and a waddle to it.  Now there's an idea, DIY turkey.  Come to think of it, I don't have a cornucopia or any of the other Thanksgiving fixings.

But I do have A LOT to be thankful for this year.  I still have Mr. Man and he's still putting up with my collecting obsession.  Bug is still not into puzzles, but always helps with the crystal puzzle assembly.

I've got some amazing friends who I adore. I get to see SmaZ and his new creations on a regular basis, I meet Uwe for dinner once a fortnight at least.

I get to go on around 5 or 6 puzzle trips a year.  I love IPP and the Guangzhou parties are just a blast.

I get to travel quite a bit for work and I usually manage to make a few puzzle purchases and a side trip to meet a fellow puzzler or two.

I accomplished a dream by mass producing my own puzzle.  (and if my luck holds, it will be at a local attraction in the spring.)

I get to read Allard's and Kevin's and Gabriel's and Jerry's and Brian's  and Neil's and Oli's blogs.  That keeps me looking for puzzles to purchase, and others to drool over.  All of them write so much better than I do, so if you haven't read their posts yet, go do so today!

Oh yes, and I got a few new puzzles this year....a few hundred that is!

Yep.  Life is good.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  I hope you take the time to sit back and think over your puzzle blessings.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another successful puzzling weekend.

As always, it's a sad time when friends go their separate ways.  Sunday was the end of the event and it was doubly sad because it was time to say good bye to friends.  I always hate that part of the puzzle events.  Saying good by is painful even at the best of times.  This weekend it was extra hard because I know it might not be until after the first of the year that I see my friends again.

Because I'm so bored at these things, I first decided to go to my favorite shop and get a few puzzles for Otis.  Every time he comes over he brings me some so I decided to return the favor.  This time I picked him up a few classic puzzles, Make the letter: A, K, M, T.  A Hanayama (or maybe Beverly) soma cube type puzzle and a Lotte Crunky bar game/puzzle/toy.

When I got there, it was just bug and I for a short while, Michael came next and Da Yan.  It was a real treat because I enjoy watching all the kids faces when they realize who they are talking to.  When Uwe showed up, I think they were all in puzzle heaven.  I could give a more vivid description, but all I can think of right now is a tad bit vulgar so I'll pass.

After a while, a chap brought out some dice and showed us how to stack them using cups.  It was good fun and we all had a go.  Me?  I could get 4 to stand up.  Bug managed 3. I'm not sure about the rest of the guys.  Matt came around 7 to pick bug up as it was a school night and I took the opportunity to introduce him to Da Yan.  I've been going and spending weekends with the guys for around 3 years now, and this is the first one Matt has met.  See all you non believers, I'm such a good girl my husband trusts me. All I get up to is good clean fun.  Had to snap a photo with him in it just to make sure he was there.  It might have been a dream otherwise.

After Matt left, I had to take some photos for Uwe.  Turns out he pulled out some of the 4 layer pyraminx's and gave them out to a bunch of kids.  The deal was if they could solve them he would let them keep the puzzle, if not, they paid for it at a slightly reduced cost.  Good deal hey?  This was as close as they got on Sunday, but all were given a weeks grace period and trust to be honest.  Here's hoping one of them solves the puzzle.  

After Matt and bug left, the awards ceremony began.  Michael was up first, I followed as did Da Yan and Uwe.  There were a lot of awards and I bet this took over an hour to do. I think The Japanese ruled the day, but I could be wrong.  Remember, I don't take much interest in the competing bit so I take about as much in the awards.  All that won though were lovely kids and they had huge smiles and all wanted to shake hands with us.

When all was said and done, We took the time to snap a photo of the four of us in front of the stage.  And I enjoyed watching all the different countries competitors take photos in front of their flags.  I'm pretty sure they enjoyed it as well. The kid with Michael was the youngest competitor, the girl with me was a pyraminx winner, and the one with Uwe won on one of the Meffert's puzzles.  Gear cube I believe.   

Time to head out to dinner before removing all our puzzles and taking them home. Otis joined us and it was another first.  We had never all had dinner together before.  Michael pointed out that we have never been at the same place before so that makes perfect sense.  The food was good as was the beer. Even Uwe had a Stout with us.  But we did have a slight problem.  The photo on the right shows Otis and Uwe so engaged in conversation that you will notice, the rest of us had empty glasses--Otis was in charge of the pouring.  He got so engrossed in the conversation he forgot his beer duty.

Around 10:30 Otis took Uwe to the train so he could make the border crossing and we all went down stairs to pack up.  30 minutes later and we were in a taxi heading to Michael's shop to store the toys for the night.  As always, we ended up in a bar somewhere playing drinking games.  This time I joined in the fun and learned how to count to six in Mandarin. I still lost quite a lot even after learning because I had to count on my fingers.  A poker player I'll never be.  Otis at the end of the night was looking a bit forlorn at the cube I just stole.  Thank you Michael for talking Mf8 into letting me keep it!  It is just so pretty!  I've lusted after it for around 2 years now and can't wait until the rest of you get a chance to play with it. Brilliant puzzle it is.
As for other puzzles, well, Da Yan was his usual generous self and gave me a crazy pillowed three sided puzzle that he made, and another that I can't tell you about because it isn't out yet.  During dinner I pulled out TomZ's constrained cube (the Shapeway's version) and because we were discussing it, He made me another using the pieces of another cube he has made....And that one I"ll leave alone because it still isn't my place to say.  I gave him a copy of my pionir pyramid along with a bracelet puzzle I've put together and a copy of the square in a bag.  And no, I know he won't copy it!  He's too honest, and quite frankly, too bright to have to do that.  

All in all, it was a great weekend and as always I look forward to the next one. I hope Tom and Leslie and Ming and Aj and.....can all join us!  I'm thinking December when I head over for a conference. Boring English lecturer by day, not so boring puzzler by night.....

Friday, September 28, 2012

A bit of press

Along with those exhibitions comes a bit of press.  I've taken photos of it.  Michael has sent me more photos. I'm getting as much of it together as I can find.  I know I missed a few bits and pieces, but I thought I'd post what I've collected so far.  The photos at the top are added to the display cases for each of us displaying our toys.

Sunday we have another press release thing for the opening of the exhibition and for the competition so I'm sure there will be some after that as well.  In the mean time, here you go:

Now don't ask me what any of that means because 
I can't read it.  Chinese just isn't my language.  
These come out of local papers and a few local magazines as well.  There was also a nice little video coming out of a local paper that has an online edition.
A translation of that article is available here.