Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
31Dec/110

My Own Shop Tour, and a Happy New Year!

Just a very quick post to wish all of my readers a very Happy New Year, and a prosperous 2012.

I've spent the last couple of days tidying up the garage, which is my shop, thanks to the Christmas Present of some plywood from my good lady. So two days of hard work completed, and I now have a workspace I can use. To celebrate, I've put together a short video tour. Nothing on the scale of what I did with Scott, but it's my humble shop, and I'm very happy with what I have been able to produce in it so far.

Watch out for my first puzzle box in the new year, and I'm sure many more things to come.

Thanks for reading, and see you on the flip side!

Neil

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25Dec/113

Perplexus Epic

Yesterday I reviewed the Perplexus Rookie, and a long while ago, the Perplexus. Today it's the turn of the Perplexus Epic, the third in the series from designer Michael McGinnis. Given that my review of the Original Perplexus is regularly in the top five posts read on my blog each month if not the most read, clearly there's a lot of interest in the puzzles.

Perplexus Epic

Perplexus Epic

The Epic is the hardest of the series of Perplexus puzzles, covering 125 stages from start to finish. With four starting points, this time labelled as Practice A, B and C (along with the actual start) this is a serious challenge, and completing the track from the first stage all the way to 125 is a serious dexterity challenge.

The Epic is larger than the original Perplexus at 8" in diameter and really is a step up in difficulty. Sticking with a much sharper White, Blue and Grey colour scheme, it certainly seems as though this edition is no longer aimed at the younger market, but at the serious puzzler. It certainly looks good sitting on the top of my puzzling shelves. Ok, so it's the book shelves, that just happen to have puzzles scattered over them as well as the books.

Having spent quite a while trying to make it from the start to the end in one try, I can confirm that this is not an easy puzzle. There are many more moving elements in this edition, with more hump backed bridges, stairs, single walled tracks, drops, tunnels and jumps than either of the other puzzles that you're not going to make it through this one without some serious practice. When I first started trying to solve the Epic, I had real difficulty being able to get beyond the fifth section - the fourth being a see saw which has a drop at the end of it meaning you have to get the speed just right or you'll miss the landing. And that's not the most challenging obstacle in the puzzle.

The bottom of the Epic

The bottom of the Epic

One of the new challenges I found in the Epic is just finding an angle to be able to see the ball and the current stage of the puzzle at certain points as there's so much going on in there it's not always obvious how to hold the ball to get the best view to be able to progress, and you're going to have to be able to see where you're going if you hope not to fall off.

The Epic really lives up to its name as a seriously challenging puzzle, that you're going to get a lot of hours of play from. That is if you don't throw it across the room in frustration. While I don't recommend throwing it, I really do recommend picking up a copy. Amazon and Puzzle Master both carry the puzzle for a very reasonable price so you really can't go wrong.

Finally, let me wish all my readers a Merry Christmas. I hope Santa has been good to you and brought you many new puzzles to keep you busy through all the food that's sure to fill you to the brim.



24Dec/111

Perplexus Rookie

A long while ago, I reviewed the Perplexus by Michael McGinnis, and at that time, it was a day or two before the release of two new puzzles in the Perplexus line, the Perplexus Rookie and Perplexus Epic. It's been quite a while, and I've had them for some time, so I figured it was about time to review those two new puzzles. The first of two reviews will look at the simpler version, the Perplexus Rookie.

Perplexus Rookie

Perplexus Rookie

Much like its bigger brother the Rookie sticks to bold bright colours which will appeal to a younger audience, however it is a little smaller than the original at 6.5" diameter. It also has less checkpoints from start to finish with only 70 stages. Again, unlike its bigger brother, there's only one entry point to the maze rather than three, which certainly hints at this being a simpler version.

I'd certainly agree that this is much more of an introductory puzzle, and I was able to make it from the start to the end after only two attempts. Much faster than I was able to complete the original Perplexus! Despite the simpler nature, it's still a very fun puzzle, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed solving it. Since solving it initially, I've gone back and resolved it a number of times, which really is the mark of a good puzzle.

The end of the puzzle has a really nice touch, in that the finish is surrounded by a clear plastic bubble. Clearly it's there to prevent you just starting the ball at the finish and claiming you're done, but it also serves as a focal point when the puzzle is solved. Since the start and finish are back to back with each other, it really finishes the puzzle nicely.

If you have younger puzzlers who watched you play with the original, or you're looking to help with dexterity, this is a great item to have, and the kids will have problems putting it down. Amazon and Puzzle Master both carry the Perplexus line, so go on, pick up a copy!

Come back tomorrow to see what I have to say about the Epic.



23Dec/111

Two Boxes

This is a beautiful optical illusion from Tom Lensch. I really don't think I can write anything that will do it justice, so in a rather start departure from my usual reviews, I leave you with only this video.

Hope you enjoy!



22Dec/110

Goliath

Despite what its name may suggest Goliath, is not a large puzzle. In fact it's the smallest puzzle box I have in my collection. Made by Kelly Snache, or Snake as he's known, this diminutive puzzle box really is a lot more fun than its size might lead you to believe.

The Front of Goliath

The Front of Goliath

A view from the corner

A view from the corner


So the picture on its own shows that there's a lot of detail in this box, despite it being less than an inch long, and half an inch wide. The Jewel on the top helps to hide the true scale, and the hand burned brackets on the corners add a fun touch to a tiny puzzle. Even the beveled edges on the puzzle give it character and detail, that is hard to believe on a fully working puzzle box at this scale.

While it didn't take me very long to open the box, it is a true puzzle box. There's two moves required to open it, and there's a properly sliding lid to the puzzle. Not only that but there's also a treasure hidden inside the box. It's unlikely that you can use it for storing anything given how small it is, but it's a great touch that Snake has thought to put something inside for you. I should note that the first time I opened the box, I nearly lost this little treasure and had to scramble around the floor to find it!

The tiny treasure hidden within

The tiny treasure hidden within

For those who are not familiar with Snake's work, he only uses recycled woods or boxes to make his puzzles. As with his recent Cigar puzzle boxes, he took old cigar boxes, and retrofitted puzzle locks to them. This is a great idea, and gives all of his work a unique feel. Goliath is little different made entirely from the scraps of wood lying around his shop! Only four of these boxes were made, and I have number 3.

Some idea of scale

Some idea of scale

To give an idea of scale I've taken the picture above with Mr Puzzle's Houdini's Torture Cell which I recently reviewed and Scott Peterson's Rosebud. I wasn't kidding when I said this box was small. This little puzzle sits pride of place next to my Stickman #2. Now there's a real David and Goliath matchup!



21Dec/110

There be Dragons – Dragon Wing

Dragon Wing - Karakuri Christmas present from Shiro Tajima

This years Christmas present from Shiro Tajima is exactly what many of us were hoping for. For the last few years, Tajima has been making boxes with a theme of the Zodiac animal for the following year. Last year, we were treated to the Magic Hat, which was a rabbit stuck in a hat, and before that we had "The Tiger of Carboholic", so many of us were hopeful for a dragon design this year, and we weren't disappointed!

The dragon with his wings closed

The dragon with his wings closed

When I opened the box from the Karakuri Group, it wasn't clear exactly what I was looking at. My first impression was that the puzzle this year was some sort of irregular burr puzzle, and it wasn't until I took the puzzle out of the box, and the bag it was wrapped in that I could see we did in fact have a dragon on our hands.

Initially, the wings of the dragon are wrapped around the sides and base of the box, giving him a very streamlined appearance, and hiding his true appearance. It didn't take too long to find out that there was a little movement in the box, and I soon had the wings opened, and was able to see the box in all its glory.

The dragon with his wings open

The dragon with his wings open

Even with the wings open, this box isn't giving up its secrets easily. Playing around with the wings open I soon found that there was more that could move than just the base and the wings. Having said that, there was still no clues as to how this box would open. The base of the box is sprung, so I started investigating there to see what could possibly open. Initially I was thinking along the lines of the Karakuri small box series which I reviewed a while back.

Without giving away any of the puzzles secrets, I'd almost consider this as a new puzzle in the Small Box series. It's a nice little puzzle and the mechanism is both simple and different enough from the other small boxes, that it is a stand alone box. I really love the look of the dragon. It's simple, yet you can easily tell what it's supposed to be.

My one small issue with the box is that having opened it, the base doesn't quite go back in as far as it did before I opened it, so the wings when closed are a little tight. I don't think it's a huge issue, but it is worth noting.

As the only box I received this year, I'm really pleased to have selected Tajima as my designer. It's a great puzzle, and I'm happy to have added it to my collection.