Showing posts with label wood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wood. Show all posts

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lunatic 3D Maze

I purchased this one a while back now.  July 2012.  It was a kickstarter project. (A worthwhile cause if you want one.) I decided it would be fun to have a hidden maze puzzle made of wood...does this sound familiar to you?

I got the puzzle after a long long wait and it was no fault of the designers.  I simply forgot to send the money for shipping and kept on forgetting the shipping money.  One morning I woke up in a cold sweat and ran straight to the computer to fix my mistake.

Now the whole kickstarter process is very easy to do for those of you that haven't ever done one.  You simply choose the amount you want to pledge (and the reward that goes with it) and click the send button.  the money is collected through Amazon payments and not charged until the project is completely funded.  This is both good and bad.  Good because you know you will get the final product, as in this case.  Bad because if it is unfunded the project doesn't get off the ground and you may loose out on a good deal.

Ok, so on to the puzzle.  The one I chose is 2 inches square with a maple burl exterior and a clear coat finish.  I'm not exactly sure what that means, but it appealed to me to help someone start a puzzle project. I thought the wood I chose was quite pretty and since it is square, it will sit very nicely on my puzzle shelves.  The button to order was pushed very quickly.  The difficulty level is rated as medium and I would agree with that.  It took me about 20 minutes to solve.  There's a bit of tapping that needs to be done to get the ball around some of the corners and into the next section of the maze.  Over all it's a fun little puzzle to hand around.

I had passed it off to a friend, and without knowing it must have had it close to solving because the ball bearing inside went for a nice little roll.  Not to worry though, we found it and shoved it right back inside again for the next unwary puzzler.

My only compliant about this is the tape Marcus used to hold the ball bearing inside.  I'm not sure what it is, but it is super sticky and now I need to work out how to take the glue off my anyone???

The designer now has a new kickstarter coming up. go check it out and give a think to pledging!

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

Monday, November 19, 2012

Big Knot puzzle

I was off testing again this past weekend, and when I do that my first stop is a toy store on a street I know that sometimes has puzzles. Saturday was no exception. I found this little wooden gem that Jose later told me was made by Oskar. A more prolific puzzle designer I have never seen. That man has his hand in EVERYTHING!

On testing days I never expect to solve anything, but when I do it's a real hoot. I usually bring along 3-5 puzzles in the hopes of just working out what they do and maybe to decide whether to play with them again later or banish them to live with the dust bunnies.

The big knot (thanks for the name and origin Jose) was one I couldn't pass up when I saw it. First it was expensive. A whopping US$3.62. And second, I don't have it in my collection. What more incentive to purchase than that do I need?

It came unbowed and simply wrapped in some really dusty plastic film. I unwrapped it and found a bit of wriggle room in it and proceeded to pull at pieces under the table while I was supposed to be paying attention to other things. Nothing happened.i figured this would be one of those banished puzzles I would never get around to solving (I hope I still have half a brain when I retire-I've a lot of toys to regress with)

When the break came along, I pulled it back out and discovered the 'key' big mistake! Once that was pulled out there was no going back. It just fell apart in two bits. Slid apart would be a better description. As with other puzzles from Oskar, this one is brilliant. Deceptively difficult looking to begin with, but then super easy to take apart...and you guessed it, a royal pain to put together again.

Yep, this one is sitting on my desk with one loose piece. I really must get back to it and I will, just as soon as I finish the lit review I'm working on. It really does bother me to have this kind of puzzle unsolved. It's just too easy to loose the bits.

If you can find one I would recommend purchasing it. It's good puzzling value.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A box of burr bits

I saw this pictures of sticks over on A puzzle forum I browse regularly and later saw a battalion of burrs on Facebook and thought I'd be cheeky and order one. Lucky me! About a week later I got a bill and a request for a mailing address.   I felt lucky to get it because the designer didn't make that many.  I think it might have been only 8 sets.

Jack did a wonderful job on these!  When the box came in, The first thing I did was feel that burr inlay on the cover.  See, I thought I would be able to feel it, but it is so smooth that I can't feel a thing.  Very nice work.  I spent a bit of time looking at the outside box.  It really is nice.  The fit of the cover is fantastic.  So much so that I found a bag to put it in so it wouldn't get all scratched up.

Time to open it up and see what is inside! Upon opening, I was in for a surprise. There are 42 different burr pieces in there.  It's such a chuckle for me to see this.  I'll be honest, I was expecting it to be much bigger, so this just tickled me.  A Roxanne sized puzzle! That isn't something you see every day.  Looking further, you will also notice that there are 7 cards with a total of 181 different puzzles inside.  That should keep me going for a long while!  Each of the burr pieces is nicely labeled so you know exactly which ones to grab out of the box to play with.

The best thing about this set though has got to be the little tiny set of tweezers!  Jack mentioned that the burr bits measure 1cm x 1 cm so unless you grow nails,  the tweezers are a must.  He's thought of everything  here.  I can't wait to start building some puzzles.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

O'Beirne's cube

Today's puzzle was exchanged by Peter Hajek. It is really a bunch of puzzles in one. When he explained it during the exchange, I've got to admit that I really wasn't sure what he was on about. (not that that means much, at the end of an exchange day I don't even really know my name. It's truly an overwhelming experience that I'll never get tired of.) I did gather that it was a packing puzzle and a fitting puzzle and that's about as much as I managed to take in.

It is first off a puzzle of how to build a box. Now that may seem easy to some but remember this is Rox we are talking about. There are twelve bits that form two boxes. Ok putting together two boxes I can do. Then I noticed that the boxes fit one inside the other! Ha! There's more to this than meets the eye. And I have to say I'm glad. I was worried about how I was going to manage to fit the blocks inside the frame if there was a big hole under the frame. (yes, that thought did cross my mind).

Now here comes the cool part. The REAL puzzle. How does one go about making the bits fit into the frame? There are 6 bits that need to fit into 6 frames. Each bit and each frame is a different size and orientation. So here we have 6 puzzles. But wait! There is more than that! It seems that we get two more puzzles tacked on top of the 7 (or 8 depending on how you count) that we already have. There are two different ways to pack the 6 bits into the box that has been provided. So now we have 9-10 puzzles in one. Value for money or what?

It's fun too. I've managed to sort out how to make the boxes-and let me tell you, that was an all teeth moment. I've also sussed out two of the six frame puzzles. I've got four more to go and for me, this isn't one of those puzzles that I will do once and remember. I'm sure there is some mathematical equation I could do to work out the solution but I much prefer the puzzle talking to me so trial and error it is.

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.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Box with a tree

Today's puzzle is not mine, but I had the opportunity to play with it for a while and since it got one of those big toothed grins from me when I solved it, I thought I'd let you read about my pleasure with this one.  My friend Otis brought this one down from Beijing with him and at lunch today, we had a puzzle play date.

Last year Otis came over to my office and he opened up the Little Tree within a matter of seconds.  I have to say, I was disappointed when he did it.  I wanted to solve the puzzle, but I also was saddened by how simple it was.  But he enjoyed it and as long as someone did, that's all that matters.  No, I'm not being 100% truthful.  I too enjoyed the puzzle, just not as I wanted to.  I mean, it's not fair when someone else solves your puzzle before you is it?

Ok, this back story has a purpose.  Otis enjoyed that puzzle and others from the Karakuri group so much that he had to go get some of his own, and Box with a tree was one of them.  I was glad he did,because I had the opportunity to play with it.  I watched Otis open the puzzle, and was surprised by how simple it looked.  At the exhibition/competition venue I gave it a miss.  Later when we were sitting down to lunch, I went ahead and gave it a go.  Not so easy.  I fiddled and fiddled and got no where, then suddenly out of the blue the puzzle opened.  Ha!  I knew what I did.  So I shut it up again and blast!  I couldn't replicate my moves.  The box was locked tight.  We played some more, we talked some more, we ate some more.  And all the while I tried to get that box open.   Otis to the rescue.  He gave me a few hints.  Very slowly. (I guess he thought I was being thick!)  And bam!  Opened again.  Wow!  What a tickle that was.  Back to the big toothy grin!  It's a great little puzzle, and I'm glad I had the chance to play with it.  Thanks Otis!

Warning: opened box below, proceed at your own risk. (But it really won't help you much-all the puzzle mechanism bits are very securely hidden beneath the box in the box.)

Friday, September 21, 2012


Well this is very frustrating for me.  I had completely typed up this post then set it to auto publish and then poof!  Off into space it went.  Oh well, it doesn't matter.  I want to talk about this little puzzle and you want to read about it so I'll just start again...
This puzzle was made by Andreas Rover and exchanged at IPP32.  The name of it is Triade.  Now I know that has to be a play on words, but just exactly how it plays I'm not sure.  The tri bit is obvious.  There are three pieces many of which are triangular.  The ade?  I'm not so sure about.  A drink?  As in Kol-ade?  Wrong spelling I know. 

The puzzle as I said is made up of three parts with lots of triangular bits in it.  there are some long bits and a whole bunch of short bits of this shape.  All of which can be stumpers in the puzzling process.  The pieces aren't identical though, and as far as I can tell they aren't mirrored.  This was a bit of a think to take apart, but to be honest that part of the puzzle was really a walk in the park.  When it fell apart in my hands, I knew I was in trouble.  Why?  Because now I have to put it back together again!  Ouch!  

And ouch it was.   This was a real pain of a puzzle.  I have to say I'm glad Andreas put it in a nice strong bag because I had to put it away again to go to a meeting as always and didn't have a chance to pick it up again for a few hours.  Sadly by that time I couldn't remember which way was up.  Now I told you it was a stumper.  

This has been on my desk for 3 days in a state of disassembly and I've made it my new thinking puzzle.  I'm sure it isn't that difficult if I set my mind to it, but I need something to fiddle with when I'm engaged in work and this is pretty good for that. I seem to have two bits in the right position (at least they look like the photo on the left) and I'm just playing with the other trying to get it into place.  Wish me luck all!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Open Window

Todays puzzle was designed by Tom Jolly and exchanged and made by Tim Urdall. I looked at this one a couple of times and passed it up because I thought it would be too hard. It looked quite similar to a puzzle I just purchased from Eric Fuller and we all know how that one worked out for me.

Yesterday I decided I needed to go get some new puzzles to put in my bag. This one caught my eye so out of the suitcase it came and into my bag it went. Yes, the IPP puzzles are still in the suitcases but this time it's for a better reason than just me being lazy. I've friends coming over in the next month and as long as they are still in the suitcase it's easy for me to bring them along.

Back to the open window. I took it out this morning for a bit and fiddled but got nowhere as is my usual case. I went round and round with nothing happening. And then this afternoon when I finished my self criticism I pulled it out again and went in that same round about twice. Then I actually thought about the puzzle I slid the pieces round a bit more and then I looked at the bits to see what was going on. Ah ha! Got it. OPEN THE WINDOW! Just like at the old farm house. Great puzzle!

The puzzle is simply a frame with four squares inside. One is just a place holder. The other three have grooves along the side and bits added in. Take it apart and then put it back together again. That's all there is to it.

I think there might be one over on puzzlers paradise. Of so, I'd snag it up if I were you. It's a fun one!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little Game Hunter

Well folks, I bit the bullet and bought a Stickman! Or I should say I was given permission to buy one.  At IPP32 I had the great joy of meeting Mr. Stickman himself.  He's not only a great builder, but a great lad as well.  Any one who met him will attest to his ability to make a person laugh, put down a drink and build one heck of a puzzle!

We started talking I guess the night before IPP and I liked him as a person.  Not just a builder.  But then I guess I like all the Renegades.  They are a fun bunch of boys.  Any way, I saw this one over on the renegade forum and read Brian's blog and  Allard's blog about it and kind of fell in lust.  I have been silly because I didn't know how to get in touch with Stickman and didn't think to leave a message or ask over on the forum (Yes, you can call me daft-I've done so many times)  Well I feel like there was some kind of divine intervention going on over at IPP this August because there he was, in the flesh, and there was not only one elephant, but two in the competition area.  (A puzzle and a spare) So one night over a beer and a cigar we started talking about my wanting to purchase one.  And that lovely man said yes!  So home with me

came my latest edition to my collection.  Now this was a bit of a hoot  really.  See Mr. Stickman told me that each elephant had a name and the name of mine was??? To be given at a later date.  :)  He didn't send the little book along so he didn't know.  Well a lot of back and forth and about 2 weeks later, I finally found out my elephant's name is Jumbo.  (Apparently he's well hung.  They must be tucked up inside, because it sure doesn't look like it from the photo above now does it?)  

In the mean time Robert sent me this nice little note over on Renegade and also tucked it into the envelope with the puzzle book when he mailed it.  (What fantastic service!)  It seems that Jumbo is a secret agent for the CIA...Shh....don't tell anyone.  We don't want him to get in any kind of trouble.

So how does the puzzle solve?  Well I'd be telling a fib if I could answer that.  When I got home from IPP I managed to make a video of each of my puzzles from the exchange, then I had to put together a presentation and run off again so I didn't really have a chance to play.   I've managed a few moves while showing him to reporters over the past few days, but other than that, he's just sitting on my shelf looking pretty.  He'll be in an exhibition starting the end of the month, so I won't get much of a chance to even look at him.  I'm going to attempt to do something with Jumbo in the next day or two...I really want to know where he stores his bits)  If I manage to get past those first few moves I'll let you all know, but in the mean time, don't hold your breath!  You all know me.  Quick to buy, slow to solve.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Der Mond

I saw this puzzle on someone's blog ( a while back and decided I wanted one. That's the problem with blogs. I read them and then I see things I like then I have to go buy them. Not the best way of doing things but it keeps me in puzzles anyway.

So this one is pretty clever. More clever than I (aren't you just do tired of reading that?) This one is a moon. But it's also a cross. There are only seven pieces to it. Not too many. Easy enough to solve right?

Well, yes and no. See I brought this one on the flight with me thinking I would solve it rather quickly. After all, it's only seven pieces. But as with all puzzles I think are easy-this one wasn't. We got into Doha and I still hadn't solved it. Maybe it was too much wine in flight and too little sleep. Maybe it was too much Big bang Theory. Maybe it was just a hard puzzle. During the first 13 hours of the trip home I kept coming back to this one and just couldn't do it.

After the layover from Hades, I picked this puzzle up again on the last leg thinking those curvy bits would yet again cause me major headache. Much to my surprise I solved the puzzle almost as soon as I dumped the bits out.

My overall verdict? It's a walk in the park. I say this because after the second attempt at solving it I had to dump it again and again. See, I don't trust myself to think a puzzle is easy and have it be so. I need to keep testing myself. Well, I've done this one quite a few times now so I officially deem it to be easy!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

2 keys

Help please! I don't know what this is that I'm playing with. I bought it from puzzlemaster at IPP32 and it has no name on it.

The object of course is to take out the peg that holds the puzzle together. Once you do that the two pieces simply slide apart.

See this was a bit of a lark. I had a bunch of Canadian dollars left over from my trip there and I knew Puzzlemaster would take them. During the puzzle party I made a bealine for his table and picked up a few toys I wanted. Then I spent the rest of my Canadian. I showed him how much I had left, and he gave me puzzles to finish off the cash. (see Kevin, you really don't have a bad problem-the real problem is when you do things like that.)

So I've no idea the name and I've no idea the price. Fun little distraction though. It has two layers with different maze patterns so there's a bit of thought needed to solve it. At the end of the day though it's not a very difficult puzzle to solve. It might have taken 20 minutes while watching a movie.
Thanks to Canuck I now know he name of this one!

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: 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A lot of puzzles to solve...

If you read my blog, you'll realize I was in Guangzhou this past weekend for the 8th anniversary of the Mf8 forum.  While across the border I met up once again with friends old and new.  I really do love these guys.  We have so much fun! It's odd. Kevin from PuzzleMad once called me one of the guys.  Well, when I go over there, that is just exactly what I feel like.  I was explaining "he is my brother from another mother" to Tom, and after that, it was done.  I was called "my brother" the rest of the night.  Now most ladies would probably be upset by this, but for me it was a great pleasure.  It means that gender bias thing is gone! What a relief that I never again need to worry about that different gender thing. and I'm also very pleased to report that the guys were still gentlemenly enough to carry those super heavy bags for me.  (they also carried Michael's so that's not saying much!)

ENOUGH!  I'll write up a full trip report when I can find a bit of time in the next week.  In the mean time, I wanted to tease you all with some puzzle photos.  Normally when I go over there, I come back with upwards of 100 new toys.  this time?  I didn't really go do any shopping, and didn't see any toys in the stores that we did go to that caught my fancy.  That's not to say I came home empty handed. I did have a few toys by the end of the weekend.  I was very graciously given a number of puzzle gifts from my friends.  I was happy that I could return the gesture with my puzzle monsters (which by the way were a real hit!)

This trip netted a whopping 10 puzzles!  But each and everyone is very special.  They were gifts (all but that 8x8x8, but that's another story)  Yes, I know there are only 9 in the photo, but I also got a nine piece burr that was hiding in a box.

So what have we here?  I only know the names of a few.  The orange one is a upcoming release from Mf8 and Da Yan.  The silver one laying on the side is Wil Strijbos washer cylinder.  This one has been reviewed by Kevin, Oli, and Allard.  Unlike them, I haven't managed to open mine yet.  I will one of these days I swear I will!

A TomZ/Mf8 3x4x5 is in the bunch.  I told Tom if I didn't get one, I would have to kill him next time I saw him.  (see the prototype for my exchange puzzle was put on hold for TomZ's puzzle-but since it's a nice one, I'll forgive him!
Let's see, the green football puzzle and the wooden 4 piece are gifts from the teacher-I must go through my boxes and find a few for him.  The black and white 4x4x4 is actually an AJ's version of the camouflage 3x3x3.

The orange one is a 5 layer 6 armed core thing without a name :-)  I don't know what to call it, but it's from the Duo of Da Yan and Mf8.  As is the dino thing there. That was a hoot.  He just looked at me, said here Roxy and tossed it over.  In the bag it went! Yes, now I canfinally play with it.  The other one I have is signed so mucking is out of the question.

But it wasn't all fun.  I did have some puzzle causalties.  3 to be exact.  My Rattle box from Eric Fuller doesn't bounce.  It hit the floor in the hotel room and one piece snapped off.  The 5^5 Octahedron I got from CuberVietnam now needs a new core as somehow that got broke, and I lost my Leesho puzzle to SmaZ.  (Well, ok, he liked it so I gave it to him...but that's just semantics isn't it?)

Right, Those are the puzzles of the weekend.  Reviews of them may or may not come at a future date.   Trip report and Hong Kong toys fair update coming early next week!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the Seventh Day of Christmas

My true love gave to me
Seven wooden puzzles

Six Stars-a-shining
Five Puzzle Rings
Four Revo Mazes
Three Diamond Puzzles
Two Crystal Dolphins
And a Santa on a tree.

I suppose technically there are 8 wooden puzzles on the tree (I forgot about Santa) but we won't count him today. Ok so starting with the train. That was an IPP Exchange puzzle called Blocked Box 2 from Henry Strout.  This one tickled me because the first puzzle was working out how to open it. Solved and solved.  And it rolls around on the floor. Now how great is that?

There is a Japanese Kumiki dog on there and a pig of the same vein albeit made in China.  The coffee cup and spoon is caled a moku*moku*puzzle made by artbox.  None of these are terribly challenging but were fun little puzzles to put together.

At the base of the tree there are two wooden puzzles that belong to the bug.  One is a rather poor rendition of  the Hummel "Stormy Weather" figurine, and the other is a set of Japanese dolls.  Both were naked and she colored them with markers.  Sadly, these puzzles are such poor quality that they simply fall apart when moved.  Both usually sit on her puzzle shelf all the way to the back and rarely move.

The final one is a trick opening card case. I bought this in Japan a few years ago and finally decided to use it on my last trip.  (Asians and business cards-they just go together so I thought I'd use a pretty case, and have some fun at the same time)  This one is nifty because if you slide the panel as is always first in these types of boxes, the cards disappear!  Magic!  I got a lot of surprised looks when I played dumb at that conference, and a lot of laughs when I closed it back then opened it again to take out the card.  Fun stuff.  I highly recommend this one.  It will hold around a half a deck of standard sized playing cards, so it's a bit big for the purpose I use it for, but it still works.

:-)  I had a nice chuckle today.  I was posting my annual puzzle year in review over on TP (pretty boring activity wise this year) and when I was doing so, I posted something about Dave in a dress.  Well, when I read Kevin's blog and it just plain serves me right :-)  (It's not the first time someone has said that about me Kevin.  Apparently I'm a bit too down to earth and not girlish enough.  Being called a bloke because I have a brain and like to use it. Not an insult at all!  I'm pleased to join the company!) err, people who use their brains, not blokes.  Or is that blokes?  Oh heck...I'm going back to my glass of vino!  No brains this evening.

Happy New Year All!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas day puzzling

While the majority of my puzzle friends are dreaming of sugar plums, I've been puzzling the day away.
Santa was all right. But I would have to say, Christmas Eve present opening was much nicer! Thanks to a silly bug I had a few more presents under the tree than I expected.

So there are a lot in there from Bits and pieces, and a few from Eureka, a Smart Games, a Karakuri, and one from the Juggler.

Now while any and all of these are pretty neat, I would have to say thus far, my favorite has been....oh don't hate me....Oskar's Matchboxes. :-) There is just something mesmerizing about the way those blocks come apart. They have this sliding motion to them that is just plain fun to watch.

Solving wise. Well, the configuration it is in when it arrives is easy to do. I've managed that with the cardboard set I made a while back. Now I've seen somewhere that there are 2 more solutions to this puzzle. I guess I'll have to spending bit of time giving it a think.

What? Not fair I hear you scream out! I shouldn't like a toy I already have? Ok then, this time I'll agree with you.

I'll be serious then. I like all of them and will post later on each of the other puzzles I received, but first. I want to talk about Neil's Unhappy Childhood.

I saw this one and was taken by it. Why? I'm not entirely sure. It's a 5x5x2 checkerboard. Maybe it was the pretty wood. Maybe it was the poor finger. Or maybe it was a temporary bout of the "I think I can solve that" Well, what ever it was, I now have that puzzle in my possession. and it is pretty.

Upon closer inspection, there are 10 pieces each with 5 cubes. The puzzle is simple. Put it back in the box so that there is a checkerboard pattern on both the top and bottom layers. So is it possible? I've been told, but after about 2 hours on it today??? I'm beginning to wonder. And for all you naysayers who think I never muck up a puzzle that is difficult to solve...

Nice of Mr. Coffin to make another devil of a puzzle. Nicer of Neil to remake it. I won't bore you with telling you about the way it was made or anything like that. I've A major snowstorm brewing in my bedroom right now that I need to put an end to. I'll just say I love the box the puzzle is in. Very creative. I wish I knew what the smell was that is in there. It's not the wood that is for sure. And I'll leave you with a link to Neil's page on how he built this thing.

Oh yes, and for those of you who are wondering, there is no blood to be found.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Four more days!

Now come on, be honest. How many of you are counting down the days with me? Now be honest, you know you are. And why? because you just know there are puzzles hiding under that tree of yours. That are all wrapped up in pretty shiny paper with bows and ribbon on the top. If yours are like mine, they are calling out to be opened!
And if you are like me, you have a pretty good idea of what is in those boxes. And if you're also like me, you are waiting for just a few more to come in.
So what's under your tree then? Do tell.

No peeking? Awe shucks. Well, I'll have to look at a puzzle then that I already have in my collection. On the way into a focus group interview at work today (can you say waste of time) I grabbed a puzzle. Todays was a karuakuri box. One of the little ones. Number 4 to be exact.

What a nifty little toy. When I first pulled this one out of the plastic, a little card fell out. Now I have a feeling this is the solution and since I didn't want to spoil the fun, I left it on the floor with instructions for Miss. N. to pick it up and hide it on me. So upon first inspection, I noticed that the base slides in and out about 1/4 inch. hmm me thinks. This might be easy. Upon closer inspection, that little movement seems to be all it does. So much for that idea. I can see seams around the puzzle, and I've noticed a bit of movement in another place....Let me give it a think....a bit of frustration and around an hour later.....

As Mr. B. says, give your head a shake Roxanne! This one was so simple it isn't funny. Ok, and sore hands too. But it is now solved. A fun little puzzle. Worth the price I paid? Probably. It had me stumped for a while (but then it doesn't take much does it?)

Now back to waiting impatiently to open those boxes under my tree....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You never know what you'll find in HK shops-perpetual puzzles

I've done a couple of YouTube videos on these puzzles and my shock at finding them. But by now I shouldn't be surprised to find puzzles when I go out. What should surprise me is the type and number of puzzles I can find. I'm a twisty gal at heart, but I don't discriminate, and this posting will attest to that.

So here's two shops finds for you....

And what have we got here? Three Moku moku puzzles from Artbox in Japan, and three puzzles from Lagoon games (Uk originally)

I'll start with the Japanese Puzzles. I found these in a street stall when waiting for Uwe the other day. He is notoriously late-we always plan for 6, but he forgets the traffic that time of day, and Rox of course always remembers and gets there for the appointed dinner time only to wait as usual. So what do I do? Why take a walk around and see if I can spot anything new. These are wooden Jigsaws. Easily done right? Yes. I was hoping they would be along the difficulty lines of the bantam eggs, but sadly, they are just slide jigsaws that really aren't that well cut when I look at them. I put together the coffee cup, and the base is one of those 4 piece puzzles that need to be twisted just the right way to stay in place. Sadly, it's just not tight enough to do that, so it sits on my shelf with sticky tape on the bottom. The globe and the ice cream can wait. But on the plus side, they have a wonderful smell!

On to Lagoon games. I was waiting for Mr. B. so we could have our Saturday night Corona's in the square and dang it all if I wasn't way too early as usual, I started to wander around the area. This time I was in East TST and my meanderings led me to a shopping mall called K11. I noticed there was a Dymocks in there, and that book store usually carries puzzles so in I went.

Up the first escalator wasn't so bad, and the second was ok. By the third I was shaking and needed to find a lift to get up one more floor. I'm not afraid of heights really, but I'm afraid of wide open spaces at heights, and that looking down 4 floors from the side of the elevator was enough to have me quaking. But lucky for me, I found a little shop that was full of gizmos so in I went to get past that bit of nerves I had just encountered.

Ok, so inside they had about 4 different wooden puzzles from Lagoon games, 3 versions of the perpetual puzzles, some illusion jigsaws and a couple of animal stacking jigsaws for kids. Well, since those jigsaws packed a hefty price tag-right around US$50 and they were nothing more than animals sitting on other animals, I passed. The illusion jigsaws while interesting were nothing more than a jigsaw.

Perpetual puzzles, there were three versions available-a cat, a dog, and the parrots that I picked up. Not cheap that is for sure, but not overly expensive and the bug enjoyed the most difficult challenge of no beaks and no tails and no bodies of the same color. It kept her quiet for a couple of hours last night. (and anything that can do that is worth its weight in gold!)

Alcatraz was designed by Ronald Kint-Bruynseels. He of the IPP design competition trophy fame (seriously! he's famous!) Ok, so Alcatraz. I can't tell you anything about it other than it looks to have 7 pieces, 6 of which form a burr and the 7th is the 'prisoner' that needs to escape. I haven't had the time to play with it yet, but it looks like it will be a bit of fun when I do get that time....

Now the Caged knot I have played with. I've seen photos of this one on various webpages and have always wanted one. When I saw it in that shop I didn't think twice and added it to my bag. It's nice. The puzzle was designed by Tom Jolly. For a mass produced puzzle, it's still nice. There are a few sharp edges, and I can see the glue overflow, not all the bits are lined up properly, but it's still a nice challenge. And a challenge it is. It took me a while to solve it (about 3 minutes), and an even longer while to unsolve it. Thanks Tom for letting them do a nice cheap version of this one. Well, cheap as in US$20 more or less.

Videos of Caged knot and Alcatraz can be seen on my YouTube channel. (Including one of me breaking a puzzle!)

As I was trying to solve the puzzle, I ran into a bit of a problem. The pieces came out with no problem. Getting it back together is the real puzzle. This is usually the case isn't it. Big problem though. Earlier I mentioned that the bits weren't exactly lined up. So when I attempted to put the puzzle back together-the burr back into the cage, those tight misaligned pieces had a bit of an accident and one piece snapped. Well, now I have the puzzle of finding wood glue. Does anyone know how to say that in Chinese?????

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Numbers, numbers, numbers!

Those things terrify me. I am the only person I know who had to take basic algebra year 1 3 times and still didn't pass the darned class on her own merit. (I still swear that lecturer felt sorry for me. I was moving to Hong Kong after graduation-if I passed algebra that is.) So what do I do then? I go on to be an English teacher via a failed career as a History teacher (oh for the wisdom of the HK government!) And what does that have to do with anything? Well, indulge me a bit if you will.

Round about 1985 or so, my mom gave me a 15 puzzle. I mucked about with it for a while and was never able to solve the thing...only to find out many many years later that it is kind of designed that way. Fast forward to the mid to late 1990's and Rubik's (Then owned by Matchbox) brings out it's version of the 15 puzzle and I couldn't solve that one either. So in a box it went. (I was studying then anyway and when you're young, who has time to play with toys AND study?) Well, round about 2003-2010 my good friend SmaZ makes a modification from a super square 1 puzzle. It's a bunch of circles of varying colors. He later added numbers to it, and by then the numbers had long since stopped bothering me. (something to do with statistics and crying in a class and Johnny Walker...)

So that brings me to today. I still hate the numbers, they still terrify me, but give me data and I'll run the stats on them for you till the cows come home. (Ok, Ok, I know. There are many of you who read the TP forum and probably vaguely remember me crying over how to work the darned numbers-but remember, that was way back in 2008-see, the same time frame) But here's the funny thing. All these years I refused to have anything to do with numbers. I mean, I even hid a poor puzzle away in a box just because it had numbers on it. I mean really, how sad is that? (I wonder if there is a phobia word for 'fear of numbers')

Well here we are folks, it's now almost 2012 and I have overcome my fears, I have conquered my number nemesis! I am ready to play with toys again. And where should I start???

How about with Eric Harshbarger's "Digits in a box" It's a simple concept really. You just put the numbers 0-9 in a box. What could be easier than that? Apparently a lot of things :) My friend Otis from Beijing was back home in HK last year and I brought the puzzle along to a dinner we had. Well, like all good puzzles he mucked it up, and like all good puzzle owners/friends I said don't worry about it, I'll fix it later-here's another one to play with....I really should make one of those 'you mucked it up, you stay over night till you solve it' but I would probably have house guests that get as old as fish, and my husband would have long since left me.

Well here you go:

One year on and it's still not solved. It's really a great little puzzle. I like that you can flip the numbers every which way. I bought two sets from Eric when he offered them up and the funny thing is, they are different from each other in the color/number matching. Which is pretty cool because I can't look at the still sealed version and say hey, red goes here and green goes there. It simply won't work. But who would do that anyway.

A couple of other number puzzles I've picked up are "DigiGrams" designed by Martin Watson, and reproduced by many. I got mine from Creative Crafthouse

I liked this one, but was a bit tipsy one night and bored out of my mind so I started to play. I think it took me all of three minutes to solve it-and while on video at that! Are you impressed or what? Don't be, when I watch the video, I realized that I left 3 of the pieces in the box. Easy to solve when you do that. But in fairness to myself, I've done it quite a few times before and after that. So the puzzle, I like the design and the price was right at just around US$20 now (I think I got it at a discount though). My only complaint? The wood isn't really smooth. I can feel the grain if that makes any sense at all. Nothing wrong with that, but I'm not used to that feel and would have much preferred a more polished version. Having visited the Hanayama factories, I know how easy it would be to polish the pieces. But then the puzzle is made in the US and labor charges are higher so it's a trade off.

And that brings us to the last of the puzzles. When In Japan in 2010 I had the great pleasure of meeting Bob Hearn of the first person to solve the latch cube fame. He had a puzzle with him that he exchanged at G4G8 and I managed to buy one off him. "Easy Eight, Hard Eight" On the train from Hakone to Osaka, I solved the difficult side. It took me the rest of IPP to solve the easy side, and this was a long IPP-1 week! This puzzle is great fun because you simply (she says) have to put the letters E-I-G-H-T in the square (easy eight)
or the oval (hard eight) and leave it to me to solve the hard side first. This is a puzzle I have yet to get tired of. I've taken it out a few times since I got it, and it's still as fun to solve now as it was then. And through all of this puzzling, I have managed to loose my intense fear of numbers. They can be fun. Especially when they are toy! I mean toys are never scary are they?

So this is odd...Rox writing about tray puzzles? What is wrong with her? She must be sick. Nah, These puzzles are all within easy reach. If I mention something that has been written about before, someone please tell me to shut up. I get verbose at the best of times and when I start doing puzzles...well there's no shutting her up.

Tomorrow? I'll go to a twisty. I think I'll start with a few custom made puzzles made by a dear dear cyber friend....

Until then may your cube lube never mold and may your wooden boxes always remain un-humidified.

Monday, November 14, 2011

What? Another post so soon?

Well yes, of course. I'm bored. So what should one do when bored? Why not play? I read this book once. It was recommended by Mr. Tangle (Richard X. Zawitz of Tangle Toys) Anyway, it was called...what else...Play. (You can find it on Amazon among other places) Well, what was so great about this book is that it talked about the value of play to stimulate the brain and cause the creative juices to flow. Well I just love that book an use my play time as an excuse to become creative! Yep. That works for me and I'm not changing my mind. It's interesting, according to this author, animals play naturally. Children play. It is only adults that seem to devalue the value of real play. So us puzzlers? I think we are the lucky ones. Our hobbies allow us to play. Now if I could work out a way to make a living off this...

So why play now? Well, my class is taking an exam. I have to sit here and watch them to make sure they aren't cheating and all that, and this little 4 ducklings puzzle is perfect. It fits in my pocket and I can pull it out and play at will.

See, small puzzle. Easy right?

Wrong. This one I have changed the name on. It's no longer 4 little ducklings but 4 toilets. I have come to hate this puzzle! I really have. It has been in my bag since I got back from IPP and I have yet to solve it. Ok, I can get the 4 ducks in the top bit. But the bottom? Nope. Only 3 ducks fit. Like with the bears, I'm ready to cut off their little feet (and make someething tasty??) Those things definitely fit into the 'frustrations' part of this blog.

I downloaded burrtools the other day and am attempting to learn to use it. Perhaps I should attempt to put those 4 toilets into the program and see what happens...

Right. So enough feeling sorry for myself, I noticed something today. I have a number of puzzles sitting in the windowsill at work and aside from the discolored stickers, I noticed a funny with a wooden puzzle I have. It must be all that lovely Hong Kong sun, but this one has had something happen to the wood so that it now solves itself. I've never seen this before...

That gapping in there is huge! Ok, shadowy phone photos don't do it justice, but you get the picture. (oh no, another bad pun) So can that puzzle be unshrunk? Maybe I'll dunk it in water for a while. If it soaks up enough it might just work...but then I'll have a wet puzzle that will need drying out and it will have to go right back into the windowsill...

If you give a girl a puzzle.....she'll have to play with it.....and if she plays with it she'll have to ask for......(go read the books! :) )