Showing posts with label plastic. Show all posts
Showing posts with label plastic. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Booze Crate

Today's puzzle is a nod towards my  affinity towards adult beverages.  I would not recommend this puzzle for those under 18.  

I bought this puzzle off eBay a while back and promptly forgot I had it.  When Wil came in January and we started to take out my toys, he discovered it and wanted to have a go.  It got left on my desk and has been staring at me ever since.  I got tired of the accusing looks so I picked it up and took it with me for a session of testing.  

The puzzle has 4 layers to it. Each with five pieces.  It is a plastic packing puzzle with the theme of alcoholic beverages.  One side of each tile is blank while the other has a drink outline raised slightly on the opposite face.  To make it a bit more difficult, each piece is slightly irregular.  The one segment shown here is only a sample of what is in store for the puzzler.  Odd shapes and sizes.  I like that it is nicely contained in it's own box complete with cover so the pieces won't easily be lost.

When playing with this one, I dumped it out on the side table and rotated pieces around during those in between times.  Over all, it took me around 30 minutes of play time to actually solve the puzzle.  Not too bad.  I must say, the difficulty level was greatly reduced once I flipped all the pieces in the same direction.  I would say it's a nice little challenge that you should try out, but like many of my puzzles, this one isn't easy to find.  Maybe the photo below can help you make your own, or you can try your luck on an auction site near you.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A star in a box

This was another IPP exchange puzzle that tickled me and was kept outside the boxes.  Sadly, I haven't had time to give it a proper play  until now.  I brought this one along for one of my marathon puzzle solving sessions over a testing weekend and managed to do a fiddle job of it.

The puzzle consists of 5 different pieces inside a plastic frame.  The object of which is to make a star.  There are 8 different possibilities, but sadly I only managed one. Each of the different possibilities has the lines from the star in a different place, and each of the wooden pieces has lines drawn in a different position on either one or both sides.

It's a real nice idea for a puzzle, but since there are no real instructions on the packaging, so I was going on memory of this one.  I may have the object of the puzzle all wrong, but I'll give it a go to explain what I did.

At one side there is an opening.  This opening allows for the pieces to slide partially through, but not all the way.  I think the object of the puzzle is to wiggle the pieces around until you can make the star shape.  If I'm wrong, someone please let me know.  The base of the puzzle has a couple of notches in it that hold the tips of the star just perfectly.  A rather nice touch that helps in the positioning of the bits. There is also a piece of paper in there that can be removed which shows the 8 solutions.  If you remove this paper, the puzzle and all its solutions are quite easy to do so I'm sure that isn't what needs be done.

I am hoping this is a dexterity puzzle that needs the wiggles, but if not, could someone please tell me how to do this puzzle right?  I'm lost and confused (as usual).

one possible solution

Saturday, December 22, 2012

3 new toys from Mefferts

Today I'm bringing you the 3 newest puzzles from Mefferts: Jade Chopsticks, Gear Ball and Nautilus.

Each of these puzzles has just been released and are being shipped out these past two weeks.  If you ordered one, you should be able to get it soon if you haven't already.  Ok, enough of the messages from Uwe.

The first is the Jade Chopstics.  I had the joy of playing with this puzzle at least 2 years ago.  Ola has mentioned that it's been in the works for over 3 years, and to be honest, I wondered if it would ever be produced.  Hanayama picked it up a few years back, but to be perfectly honest, they didn't do as good a job as Meffert's did and that's not because we are friends.  There are a few differences, first the Hanayama is a 1x2x5 where as the Meffert's version is a 1x2x9.  Meffert's has curved edges, and it's got some lovely designs running around the outside.  He got the 'jade club' words along the outside designed by John Langdon, and the puzzle was named by yours truly.  I just wish Uwe would have had it done in the painted plastic as he did for the first of the Jade puzzles.  (Bug showed me a new program for taking photos so since it's christmas, I'm playing!)

The second puzzle is the Nautilus.  This one first came out on TP way back in 2009.  Tim Selkirk was the designer and sometime during that year Geert Hellings got his hands on one and showed it to Uwe...or told Uwe about it.  Mid-2010 Uwe started asking for the address or email of Tim.  I couldn't help because he'd been off line for a while and I sadly didn't have a nautilus.  Eventually the two got in touch and we now have a new puzzle.  I said it before, and I'll say it again, it's a great puzzle to add to your collection.  I love the look of it. The rainbow is fantastic!  The color is just the best!  it's such a girly puzzle.  There are 7 colored bits on it and each of the seven segments of the outer layer move.  It's a bandaged puzzle.  The inner layer though has only one place that can turn.  It's like a square one, but it doesn't change positions of the pieces as much as the square 1 does.  It also reminds me of morph.  It's actually a harder puzzle to mess up than to solve.  When you do manage to mess it up, it doesn't take a lot to solve it.  It can be done by intuition.

Last up tonight is the gear ball.  Uwe gives credit to Oskar for the design of it, but Oskar says he only made the gear concept.  :)  funny arguement to have.  "I DIDN'T make it"  usually it's the otherway around.  The gear ball is a dream to turn.  It just spins in your fingers.  Basically it's the gear cube with rounded edges and some little bumps added to help you turn it. I've really nothing much to say about this puzzle except the puzzle in video link has no lube inside it. It's all puzzle!

All of the puzzles above can be purchased on Meffert's.
Enjoy, Thanks for tollerating my Christmasy type photos this week, and don't forget to come back on the 26th for the 12 days of Christmas, Roxanne style.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Bulgarian barrel

I don't know the name of this puzzle in English so ill just give it a descriptive name. I first saw this one on twisty puzzles back in September of 2012. A guy was offering it up for trade, but before I got the chance to make an offer, it was gone. I gave up hope of finding this one, but then one day my friend Otis and I were chatting and this one came up. He had managed to get one through the Beijing Collectors Club and was kind enough to tell me how to go about getting my own. Thank you Otis!

A little background first. The puzzle was invented in Bulgaria by an engineer named Petyo Petkov in 2011. If you thought it was older, you're as mistaken as I was. Hopefully you didn't get suckered into buying the "vintage" ones off our least favorite auction site. There is a company in Bulgaria that sells them, but sadly they don't ship out of country. To get this, you'll need to go through a middleman.

So what does this puzzle do? It has eight different colored sections which are cut in half.  Each half is identical save for the pips on one side.  You can tell if you have it correct because one side has a pip on each piece.  If It's still have pips and no pips mixed up.  We don't want that now do we?

Around the middle there is a ring.  It is divided in half-part black and part white.  This doesn't do much except to lock the pieces into position if you will.  It's there I guess as a hand grip.

As for the solving experience, well, it solves like a cheese with an extra couple of quadrants.  That's the easy one to use for explanation as it's been remade now in China.  The cheese I mean. Or, if you prefer, it solves like a UFO.  Not as easy to get a hold of, but still as much fun to play with.

My overall impression is it's a nice pretty one to look at.  I love the way the colors of the plastic have a glittery effect.  Very pretty and shiny too!  My photos don't really do it justice.  As for solving experience, as I said in the paragraph above, it's like others out there with the exception of those locking rings.  Because they are so hard to get, I'd stick with the cheese.  Same puzzle, simpler to obtain.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

E24 puzzle

When is a puzzle not a puzzle? When it's a building toy. But then is it still a puzzle?

In this case I would say a definite yes!

I picked up the E24 at IPP32 in D.C. Last August along with a few others made by Douglas A. Engel (which I may get around to posting about later). This one intrigued me. I figured it was just another twisted burr but the pretty colors hooked me so I bought it anyway.

This one has six pieces with some interesting twists to it. As you can see those are some sharp angles and they don't fit together as 'regular' as you might think.

This puzzle has a lot of sharp corners that you need to work your way around. It's also quite nifty in that there is a "rounded" edge in one piece on every section. This helps to both lock in the puzzle and to help determine which piece needs to be removed first. There is a nice little snap when the puzzle locks in. When I disassembled it for the first time, it took me by surprise. I pulled and pulled at various sections of the puzzle, but nothing was working. And then suddenly, I got the right piece and bam! Two pieces. From there further disassembly is very easy.

Reading the box and the website, I see that further sets are available to purchase separately my hey can be added to the puzzle to make a variety of different shapes. I'm sure there is some mathematical genius behind this, but for me, it's nice to see what sorts of shapes I can make.

The puzzle is available from Puzzle Atomic

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Elections and voting

We take time out of our regularly scheduled puzzle posts to bring you a special posting today. Elections! Votes! The right to complain (or not)

This post could be one of those preachy things or maybe not. I haven't decided which way I want to go with it yet, so we will just see where my ramblings take me.

All who know me realize I'm a fairly laid back soul who just goes with the flow...unless it is something in passionate about. My family, my job, my students, justice. The normal things we all care for.

When I care about something Stevenson's protagonist has nothing on me. I've been known to go ballistic at times when I'm crossed (but am equally forgiving). Elections bring out the best and the worst in me. I'm fiercely patriotic and believe it to be a duty, nay, an obligation to vote.

I registered when I turned 18 and haven't missed a presidential election since then. When I got residency in HK it was high on my list of things to do. When elections come around here I vote. An obligation. See, unlike many I know (my husband for one) I love that I have the right to be heard. The inconvenience of jury duty aside, I can't imagine not voting.

Many years ago when I worked for Uncle Sam a few of my brothers in arms tried to convince me it was not good to vote for my boss. It didn't work and my ballot was sent in. For me it's the ability to be able to say I don't like something that is happening and being able to have the power of my vote behind my big mouth. I realize I'm only one person and that I'm a small one at that, but if I say nothing I've no right to voice my opposition to decisions made by those in power.

I'll not lecture you blog readers as I did my father last night or my husband last month. Instead I'll ramble a bit more.

Presidential elections and legislative elections are not the only time we vote in our lives. We do it regularly. I vote at work on referendums, I vote for best papers written by my students, I vote for a puzzle I like.

And you thought this would only be about the recent US elections.

At IPP each year there is a ballot we get to fill out to vote for our favorite puzzles in the competition. Of course there is a group of judges and they give out prizes as well, but to my simple mind the puzzlers choice is a great indicator of what makes a good puzzle. This years winner was no exception.  Made by Iwahiro (Hirokazu Iwasawa).

'Square in the Bag' is so simple looking. It has mass appeal. Everyone I saw in the judging room picked it up and tried to solve it. While I was there, no one did. Upon returning home I read a number of posts on FaceBook mostly, about how great (or how naff) it was.

A couple of people replicated the puzzle and were kind enough to give me an equation to work out the dimensions. Now I'm no mathematician, but I managed to do just that. It really is a cool little puzzle.

My first copy I gave to my friend Da Yan when he was here in October. I didn't see him solve it and haven't had the opportunity to find out if he did. I've had to make myself another. It's a nice little thing and when you get to a certain point there's that great AHA! That always feels wonderful. I like that kind of a puzzle. One I agonize over for days and then's solved!

If you can't manage to get a copy of the puzzle, it's easy enough to make. (can I say that?) but you see, that is the kind of VOTE any one would want.


This puzzle is a play on the name of an old video game those of my generation knew and loved. Other than having one Pac and four ghosts, there is no other resemblance to the 80's game. I would have to say though that it is just as much fun.

This was made by Chris Enright of acrylic and ABS plastic. It's a packing puzzle that is anything but easy. I've been defeated by a childhood memory!

When I saw this puzzle at IPP I fell in love with the idea. Or rather with the memory of hamburger joints and one of the first games I got to play at home. I tried it in D.C. But made no progress. To be honest I completely forgot about it until fellow blogger Jerry wrote about it. When I read his blog, I went right now and wrote an email. Within a few weeks I received my puzzle and tossed it in my bag for future puzzling.

Last weekend I finally went back to testing and Pack-Man was the first to come out. Honestly, I was so frustrated by it that it was the only one to come out. Needless to say, I didn't manage to solve it by the end of my testing session. This one saw me with almost two hours on my hands but it simply wasn't enough time. So Pack-Man is back in my bag for next weekend.

I would definitely get this one if you can. The price isn't prohibitive and it's a lot of fun. Besides, how many puzzles can you play with and mumble over and over to yourself "waka-waka-waka"?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Mf8 stars

Yes I know that's not the official name for these puzzles but it fits the overall shape nicely. Well, the shape of the center bits anyway.

I've been blessed to meet the owner of Mf8 back in the summer of 2009. (Incidentally, that first puzzle was the crazy 4x4)  Since that first meeting, I've had the pleasure and privilege of meeting up with him quite a few times a year since then.  Dinner, drinks, a bit of peaking into the dark corners and parts bags in his warehouse.....He's trusted me with secret puzzle releases for quite some time now and has allowed me to play with many puzzles, take photos of many more and every now and again take one home.  And each and every time someone beats me to the information release over on TP.  But hey, I'd rather know and play than brag and tell.  Add to that his making my exchange puzzle for me this year as well as helping SmaZ with the manufacture of a few puzzles and you have one great guy on your hands!

It dawned on me today while I was reading Kevin's blog about his set of DaYan gems that I have not blogged about these so I'll make it up to you now.  Or should I say I'll make Kevin go spend more now.  :)

First up is the corner turning star.  I know I've not got the names right, but they are one thing on TP and something else on Mf8 and something else everywhere else you look so I'll just call them stars!  My toys, my choice of names!  This one came out in 2010, but didn't hit the market until 2011.  A nice one to play with, and not too difficult to solve.  It messes up nicely, but doesn't jumble so there is no 'real difficulty' in solving it.  Other than the obvious solving issues one has with puzzles.  I also have this one in ice-blue plastic, but since it is effectively the same, there is no point in showing another photo.

 Next we have the edge turning version of the star. This one does jumble, but in my photo I had a bugger of a time just turning the edges.  This one is very stiff. The screws are tightened down and as with all the puzzles in my collection, there is no lubrication. The corners on this one don't turn unlike the first star puzzle shown above.  This one is really pretty to me.  It reminds me quite a bit of TomZ's Curvycopter.  I think the first person to make one of these might have named it something along those lines.

Eat your heart out Kevin!  This one turns across the middle and that squiggle you see on there?  It's a signature.  We had a lucky draw at one of the Guangzhou meet-ups and I won this one as my prize.  Otis was there and was nice enough  to sticker it for me. I made Mr. Fok sign it before we left.  This has got to be a rarity.  He's such a humble man that it took me 2 years to get a signature out of him.  I don't know of anyone else who has one, but if there is someone out there, do let me know. I'd love to change my posting here.

Finally we have the last of the stars.  The Bauhinia.  That name hasn't been taken yet, and is absolutely perfect for this puzzle. IT looks just exactly like the Hong Kong flower!  It's so commonly found here, it's even on our coins!  This puzzle is just beautiful!  I first saw this one in 2010 as well, but at the time it had so many problems that it simply couldn't be made.  If you think back, Mf8 has made at least 20 puzzles either by himself, or in conjunction with DaYan and others since that time.  He did me a HUGE favor by making my puzzle, so the time from conception to production isn't that long afterall.  He did say he had a lot of projects in the works and no time to make this one...last January when I asked after it again.  I managed to steal this one after the HK Asian Championships of the WCA Cube competition kind.  We had an exhibition and Mf8 sent this new one along for display.  As we were packing up, I stole it!  But I'm an honest thief, when I see him next I'll give him the cash for it.  There's a video of it on my YouTube channel, but as usual it's mostly me blabbering on.  Watch at your own risk, I've been told I'm in need of a new camera. I'm really wondering if I'm in need of a new set of eyes because the videos look fine to me....

So there you go Kevin.  Enjoy!  And then go buy.  It's only around US$160 for the lot of them.  You can afford it you know you can, and Mrs. S....Well, a girl can never have too many shoes can they????  And for the record Kevin, I know.....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Snow Mystery

Today's puzzle was made by Leslie Li at Very Puzzles.  It is a rather simple design and honestly not much of a challenge.  This one has two sides and 6 arms on the snow flake.  the disk in the center rotates around as do the 6 arms.  You mess up the puzzle by turning the arms and the middle disk around.  Eventually the arms will not match the colors along the center.  Then you simply put it back together. 

This is not a hard puzzle to solve, it's just a repetitive one.  To be honest, I think it's harder to mess it up than it is to solve it.  But the ease of puzzling is not what appeals in this case.  This time it's the look of the puzzle for me.  You have to admit it is very pretty!  I like the symmetry of the puzzle and the colors.  I mean it is pastel!  Now who doesn't like pastel puzzles?  
As this puzzle is a bit delicate  I wouldn't recommend it for younger puzzlers.  I have a feeling the arms would snap off.  I'm not sure what holds them in place, but I don't think it would stand the test of a child.  The puzzle itself is only 10.75mm thick.  
This puzzle reminds me a lot of the 'Magic Disk' puzzle I picked up from Hendrik a few years back. This one has a plate between the colors, and has two disks per color that spin.  Other than those minor differences, the basic principle of the two puzzles are the same.  Both are a nice addition to any collection, but remember. They are not at all difficult to solve, and both appear to be quite easy to break if mistreated-but then who would mistreat a poor puzzle!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Virus 1

Like Spiderman, Virus is a sliding tile puzzle.  This one has fared better over the years though than Spidey did. Virus was made in 1999 by Arleco Toys and Games c.c. and is just an all around better puzzle. There is a greater challenge, and more ways for those legs to get twisted and turned around.  
The material on this one is a bit better as well.  It is still made of rubber, but this one hasn't dried out and lost its elasticity so it's still playable.  A real bonus!  This puzzle is a 15 piece slide tile puzzle with a double puzzle.  First, you need to untwist the virus's legs, then you need to get the spiderweb below aligned. Not quite as easy as it sounds.  I solved this one when it first came into the house 12 years or so ago and hadn't looked at it since.  I fiddled a bit so I could write this blog.  I'm not so sure I would encourage people to go hunt one down if they don't have one, but if you come across a virus it's a good nostalgic type puzzle.
I haven't seen one of these for sale in any shop or on eBay in quite some time.  When they first sold, Hendrik had them available at his shop. They are no longer there, but you might be able to send him an email if you are really interested.
Tomorrow, I go back to some IPP puzzles.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Spiderman twisted puzzle

Today's puzzle is all about twisting and sliding.  This puzzle was first made in 1997 by Dov Nesis and laer copyrighted by Marvel comics in 2002.  This one was released along with the movie of the same name.
 It's a great idea but rather poorly executed.  Spidey is hooked to his web and the object is to tangle it all up by sliding the tiles around and then of course to untangle him.  I got this puzzle back in 2002 and as you can see by the photos it hasn't fared well.  The rubber that his web is made of is nothing more than substandard.  If I remember right, he didn't last a year before the web started to deteriorate.  Within a couple more years he lost 3 of the 4 connections and when I pulled him out of the box to get puzzles for the exhibition I saw that he's beyond repair.  The rubber is of a type that it has all but dried out over the years.  It is now almost brittle.  It's a shame this happened because it is a great little puzzle and a fantastic idea.  It would be nice to see a company make another along these lines with better material.

If anyone has one of these that has survived the past 10 years in better shape, I'd love to see photos of it.  I don't think I have any of this one prior to its decline.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Decartes and Xbopocm b meuKe

And if those names mean anything to you, you're brilliant!  Both puzzles are designed by B. KpaCHoyxoB And that is a mouthful too.
As with many others I've been reviewing this past couple of weeks, I purchased these at IPP.  Here I go again with the 5 ducks (aka the toilets) That puzzle knocked me for such a loop I had to have these as well.  I was sharing Dave's table again this year and Turned around and there was Vladimir.  I snagged up about 6 puzzles or maybe more and dumped them under the table before heading out to puzzle hunt.

The first: Decartes was a nice one.  I didn't have any idea what it should look like in a solved state, and only purchased it because I liked the name.  I was on my night of puzzling/movie watching and played half heartedly with this as the movie was actually starting to get good (I basically stoped watching tv and movies and such in 2006 when I decided to start studying again-I've missed out on a lot so even the old ones are good to me!)  As I was fiddling, I was shocked to see that I had solved it!  There was a twist to this puzzle that I really liked.  I would highly recommend it to fellow puzzlers and non puzzlers alike.  This puzzle has 5 pieces to it: 4 irregular shaped pieces and one perfect square.  A real challenge to the brain when you first look at it.

The unpronounceable puzzle is a different story.  There are only 4 pieces and they are in very strange shapes with not all the edges being square.  There is also an added bite taken out of the frame.  I had dumped this into its bag when I purchased them and didn't look at it after that at all.  When I pulled it out to play, the bits had fallen out of the frame so I had the joy of solving two puzzles. One with the added bite and the real solution.  Believe it or not, the real solution was solved faster than the transporting solution.  The angular bits really threw me and I certainly wasn't thinking as I should have been.  I would have to guess for me to find both solutions took around 30-45 minutes of puzzle/movie time.

One of these years I might look at the watch I wear.  But life is so much more fun telling time via bathroom breaks, in between candidate times and distances between train stops.  Isn't it?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Black Square and Procrustus

I bring you two more puzzles from my long night of packing puzzles. Both of these puzzles were made by Vladimir Krasnoukhov. The Black Square puzzle is one of those 'add a piece' puzzles. Procrustus is one that requires you to place the pieces in a different configuration. Black square has five pieces, Procrustus has four. Ok. So now that you know the differences (aside from color that is) I'll tell you the similarities.

There's only one. Both puzzles are DROP DEAD EASY!!! I did Black Square first and it took me less than three minutes! Are you as shocked as I am? Even more shocking was the time spent on Procrustus. It was less than thirty seconds! I kid you not!

I lie. There are two similar things about These two puzzles. The other is they are both really good puzzles. Seriously. Sometimes simple is fantastic. After I solved them I handed them over to bug and she fiddled around for quite a while trying to work them out. Maybe twenty minutes on each one. These are two fantastic puzzles for the novice puzzler. They are easy enough done that my coworkers who I could coerce into playing solved them in less than ten minutes and one of the guys even asked me today to borrow the square one so he could use it in a workshop he was running.

When I can get one of MY co-workers to ask for a puzzle it's a winner in my book!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Rectangling of the triangles

This one is a bit of a funny. I purchased this puzzle at IPP in August on a whim and a pass by a very nice man. See, as much as I hated 'the toilet' (little ducks) last year, I equally loved it. As such I vowed to go back to Vladimir's table and buy more at IPP. I got home and tossed it into the box with the rest of my IPP purchases and thought nothing more of it other than I need to buy bags to store it in because the packaging it came in, while great for traveling isn't great for storage.

I got home, made my way to my favorite wholesale street and bought my bags for those puzzles without good packaging. Then promptly left for a conference. This puzzle was in my initial carry along, but when I did the packing it didn't make the cut.

While in NZ I met with fellow puzzler Paul Dudding. As I was dipping into his bag I pulled this puzzle out. I fiddled for a bit but something else caught my eye and I handed the puzzle over to my research partner and best bud Mr. B. now he's not a puzzler so this really wasn't a nice thing for me to do. But I'll give him credit. He played around for about twenty minutes before giving up again.

When I got back home I spent a night playing with all these packing puzzles I purchased and this was but one I pulled out of the pile. Now I like my version better than Paul's. His was wooden. Mine is acrylic. Smoother edges and less danger of slivers.

It's a nice little puzzle because there is more than one challenge and because you need to think a bit to solve it. There are four challenges on the instruction sheet provided.

Me? I started with what appears to be the easiest make 4 triangles.  Yep.  That was easy.  It took just a few minutes.  Next...a few more minutes to make 3 triangles.  The last two puzzles?  I lost patience and the movie Matt put on was actually good for a change.  I got lost in 'Love and Other Drugs' and forgot about puzzling.

As Mr. B. was playing with this puzzle he said it would be a great one for Mr. Kok who came along on the trip with us (different presentation)  That got me thinking.  Now I've got to go get a few of these made for some math teachers I know.   Yep.  It's a good un.  Worth the pittance I paid for it.  Worth the price to get more.

Monday, September 10, 2012


This puzzle was exchanged by Bill Cutler at IPP 32. It's another packing joy. These things are beginning to grow on me. They really are. This one appealed to me not because it has four pretty colors, but because of the backstory that was told during the exchange and the 'in your face' albeit tactful way of asking the exchangees political leanings :)

There were four different parties you could belong to: red, blue, yellow, or green. I'll let you work out which is which. The puzzle starts out with 32 pieces of the four colors with no two of the same color touching. Your goal is to redesign the voting districts to give the party in power a bigger voting block. Gerrymandering is common practice back home (elsewhere too I'm sure but am too lazy to look it up) and almost always ends up with odd little pointy bits sticking out along the edges. The color I chose is now in charge and has a bigger block.

So I opened the package and dumped the pieces all over the tray table on the plane. Oh big mistake! My timing that is. I dumped just before the in flight feeding frenzy and since I do vegetarian in flight no sooner had I dumped than I needed to put the darned thing away.  They always deliver special meals first don't they... Now I can see you shaking your head thinking there goes Rox on a side trip agian, but this time I promise you there is a reason for this.  See I packed my watch because I had my phone and I was getting tired of beeping and having to take everything off again and again (this was the boomerang flight by the way) since we were in flight I shut off my phone and forgot to put it on airplane mode before I shut it off so I couldn't use that. Meals are a sense of time for me.  So after I finished my salad and carrot sticks I redumped and started again.  And then I redumped and started again.  And then I redumped and started again.    And then I redumped and started again.    Ok, you get the idea.  I was getting no where fast.

I heard the rustle of bodies as the next feeding frenzy was upon us yet again and I bagged up this puzzle yet again.  As I ate my rabbit food and watched Big Bang I began to get a sinking feeling yet again.  I hesitated but a moment and then opened the instructions.  I knew it! I was right!  The kind of puzzle I really hate!  ONE SOLUTION ONLY!!!

Needless to say, the puzzle has not been solved, but it did entertain me on that 8 hour flight home from New Zealand.  It's a good colorful puzzle and one I'll work on again because I am sure it is only a matter of moving one or two pieces around just a tiny bit...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Another day of testing

On a testing day, what does one do besides test?  Why puzzle of course!  And today was no exception to that. Same old same old.  5 minute breaks in between and this time a 8-7 day of it.  Can you say long!

Well this time I got smart and brought along a few puzzles that I knew would stay the distance.
The first is a Lampos Cosmic creatures.  (the second I will post on tomorrow) I purchased these a few years ago in Japan and have not gotten around to playing with them until this past weekend.  I'm not sure what the instructions tell me to do, but I can work it out from past experience with this type of puzzle.  (How do I make that photo show up with the correct orientation-frustrating)  This one has relatively small number of pieces compared to others of this type.  12 in all as you can see.  Each is also marked a-l to help you when placing the pieces as per the booklet.  There are a large number of challenges in the booklet, but again, no Japanese so I can't tell how many, and I was too lazy to count.  

Typical of these kinds of puzzles, you choose a challenge, insert the first of the pieces as given and off you go.  I did about 15 of these and got bored.  That seems to be a recurrent theme with me and these packing puzzles.  I can only do so many at a time and then I've had enough.

The Lampos Cosmic Creatures is a bit different in the shapes-no two are the same, and well, the area that needs to be filled is not symmetrical.  This seems to add a bit to the challenge.  I'm sure there is some sure fire method to solve these consistently, but I've yet to work out what it is. So for me, it's a trial and error puzzle-and there is nothing wrong with that now is there....

I was so bored this weekend that I have 3 more of this type of puzzle to review....stay tuned!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

IQ puzzle

What a prestigious name for a tiny little puzzle.  I think this is a real cutie.  I picked this up ages ago and haven't gotten around to playing with it.  The puzzle consists of 10 pieces; a black base, and 9 pieces to insert-not two of which are alike.  I Brought this along for my puzzling between test takers on Saturday and am glad I did. I was very disappointed with the Pesky parrots, but not so this one.  Once I finished the first puzzle, I dumped these out.  Nice and easy I figured it would be.  A walk in the park and all that.  10 minutes and I would be done.  Well, not so.  It took me about 15 to solve it.  Not a tough puzzle, but one that kept me entertained for the down time.  I would recommend this one to all who like a bit of a challenge, but not too much of one.  By process of elimination, you can work out where each piece can and cannot go.  There are a few solutions I'm sure.  I dumped and the pieces out and put them back in three or four times during the afternoon.
I'm guessing this one would be too frustrating for the bug until she's a bit more of an experienced puzzler.  So if you want to irritate your co-workers, this might be one to hand over.

Thursday, February 2, 2012


Well here it is folks.  I said when Dave sent me the latest in the set that I would post about them and since I got in the most recent one last night.  It's that time.  My 8 Elemental puzzles.

So this all started way back in 2007.  Dave made his biohazard puzzles available to all for $100.  There was a bit of a mix up on the pricing, and I didn't get in on that early days price.  Instead, I ordered mine in 2008 and Went for a "deluxe".  In November of the same year Dave offered a DIY kit for Christmas.  It was a whopping $25 and I jumped at the opportunity to buy one.  As you can see, I still haven't quite gotten around to making it yet.

2009 brought a new puzzle in the set.  A Flourine.  He was on a roll that year because just 3 months later he introduced the  Beryllium-10.  In November he made Sulfer.  Good God man slow down would you!  I got a jump on the bugs birthday present and requested a special one for her.  Dave did her gift justice with the Aluminum Heart.  (ok, technically this isn't my puzzle but....)  November of 2010 saw the Argon .  I had just about given up on any new Elementals, but in November of 2011 Dave posted his newest addition; the Scandium.

Since I ordered my first one, I've had this deal with Dave. Basically it is: Experiment and do what you will. All I want is your signature, my name, and the date you made the puzzle.  He has held up his end of the bargain very well, and I keep paying the TechShop fees.  :-) (or so he tells me)  These puzzles are quite nice.  They all have the details I requested and the rest was left up to Dave's creative eye.  The only one I was specific on was bugs heart. The rest?  well I got what I got and I'm very pleased with them.

Each of these puzzles has a series of sliders in them either 3 or 4 depending on the puzzle.  The object is to muck up the design on the inside and then restore it to the original picture.  Much much easier said than done.  I'll be honest here and say it takes me a few hours of moving the bits round and round to work out how to fix the mess that has been made.  And on more than one occasion I have been tempted to unscrew those little screws....but I've been good and never done so.

I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Chromium.  But from the looks of things it might be a long long while before I get that one.

The puzzles can be purchased from Dave over at his  website.  I've done a number of videos on his puzzles.  You can see them here, here, and here.  Klara very nicely shared a video of Dave cleaning her Neon as well.  Talk about good service!

Sunday, January 29, 2012


It seems to me as I read through people's blogs (and in some cases websit postings) that we only see great applause for those puzzles we CAN solve.  Never for those we CAN'T solve.  Therefore, I've decided to switch things up a bit!  Aside from the very obvious puzzle of the opposite gender, I'm going to talk about one really great puzzle that I just can't seem to get my brain around. 

EDGEWISE.  This was Pavel Curtis' exchange puzzle at IPP 31.  At first glance, it is not much more than a 25 piece jigsaw puzzle.  Easy enough right?  Well no, wrong.  This is a very clever little jigsaw.  Those 25 pieces aren't like your ordinary jigsaw.  They connect with each other in a miriad of different ways.  I brought this one along for my inbetweencandidates boredom reliever and had a great devil of a time just getting them to fit. I dumped the pieces out on the table in front of me and had around an hour and a half of piecing the bits together before I got that ah ha.  When you first dump them out you can see there are little phrases on them.  One says "commence here..." deceptive thing! Another has a box with 25 dots in a 5x5 grid.  So starting with that premise, I began to look for ways to assemble this thing.  Let me tell you, I came up with a number of funny shapes this morning, and none of them was that grid.  Right after I came back with my lunch I attempted it one more time.  I was about to give up on it yet again, when I got a bit of an idea.  A small one, but an idea all the same.  Yep! That did it! I got my grid!

So "commence here..." yeah right.  Those pieces may fit together, but the letters sure don't. They don't even point in the same direction.  They are turned evey which way, but I have a feeling having done a few of Pavel's other puzzles that direction is of no importance.  So now what? Well, on the box it says "All of the most interesting stuff happens at the edges". Hm.  Ok, so looking to the edges I start to notice that some of the pieces can be swapped around. After a few of those moves, I realize I've gone no where yet again.  So it's back to the beginning.

Mind, it is now 5:30 in the afternoon and my last candidate is about to walk in.  Where am I? still stuck with a grid! Guess what puzzle I'm bringing along yet again NEXT weekend, and the weekend after that and the weekend after that.....

Even though I have yet to solve this one, having solved two of Pavel's previous puzzles I look forward to a day when I have the time to sit down and really give this one a good think.

You can find this one and many more at

Only go below the line if you want to see the 25 pieces in one of the many configurations I found today.  Warning!  This might lead to a solution, but I highly doubt it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's a small world

 I know people say that, but really, it is!  I have proof right here!

Apparently I know this guy.  Ok, so here is a story for you.  At IPP last August, we took this boat ride.  Katherine being herself got bored and decided to go bother people.  Me being me went hunting for her.  She found this little guy that she thought was adorable and began chasing him around the boat.  I'm not sure who enjoyed that more, him or her.  So IPP is over and we all go on our merry way...
Fast forward 6 months and enter SmaZ's shop. It was one of those days.  I spent a good 3 hours in a meeting, fielded around 70 emails about wiki being down-at least 50 came from one rather um....challenged....young person who couldn't find the library even though it's right in front of you when you enter the campus, and when he did find it didn't know how to use the card catalog, even though it's on line, dealt with some puzzle nonsense that I'd rather not deal with, and Michael asked me a question.  Well that was all it took.  I was on a Rant!  A long winded rather vocal one.  And all the while the man in the photo above is standing in the shop.  I paid no attention until he asked a question about a cube.  And there you have it folks.  Rox sticking her foot in it again.  Well, he stayed and chatted for a bit.  Solved a mimi puzzle, played with the washer cylinder and discovered a little something I hadn't (still not solved though).  SmaZ gave him a gift of a puzzle, and he purchased a dino barrel and left to go back to Denmark.  Talk about great timing.  Things like this just don't happen do they?  Ah, and go take a look at his webpage.  A bit of eye candy there, that's for sure.

So why go to SmaZ's in the first place?  My friend Otis is in town for the holidays and we agreed to meet up over there.  (I'm sure he'll come to the house and play for a while next week, but we had some puzzles to swap out with each other....) After we met at 6:30 or so, we stayed a Michael's for a few more hours before heading out for dinner.  As always we each brought a few puzzles along to play with/brag on so out they came during dinner!  Otis brought that beauty of a TomZ puzzle with and I quite enjoyed twisting it around.  Lots of puzzle talk, lots of playing, one unsolved as I left, and no puzzles harmed during the night!

And now for the real reason to get together last night.  Puzzle exchanging!
I gave Otis my 'springtime in Wisconsin' and a puzzle monster.  I think he liked them.  If not, he smiled nicely.  He brought me a set of 6 dice boxes from mimi puzzles that Gabriel blogged about, and that I can't get locally.  Surprise, surprise, he ALSO brought along a BLUE puzzle for me, and 3 chinese knots....

Michael and I did a bit of swapping as well.  I got one of his new Soduko cubes, and gave him a Oskar's treasure chest.  Yes, I'm generous like that.  Don't tell on me though.  I'll get in trouble.  The full set of what I brought home is to the left.

Now when I got home, I had another surprise waiting for me!  I picked up the mail and inside was a late Christmas gift from my friend Charlie!  I thank you so very much.  A nice job it turned out to be.  And how ever did you know that blue is my favorite color????  Thank you again my friend!
 reviews of these will all come eventually.  In the mean time, I have this thing called a job that I'm supposed to be doing, and I've got about 10 minutes to cut off my time so I need to get back out and get working a bit more.  I can't let a person 10 years my senior beat me in the next race, and as it stands, if I don't start moving and stop puzzling that's exactly what is going to happen.  Have a great weekend all!  And in case I don't get another post in before Monday: