Cast Marble is another puzzle from the Hanayama Cast Series of puzzles this time, designed by Oskar van Deventer and Bram Cohen. The goal of the puzzle is to take apart the four pieces, and put them back together. Thanks Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review.
As you can see this is another great looking puzzle with contrasting colours of anodised/chromed metals used for the body and the marble. At 1.5″ x 1″ deep it’s not a large puzzle, and as Brian already pointed out in his review the darker body of the puzzle really shows fingerprints well, so if you’re like me, you’ll find yourself reaching for the cleaning cloth to keep it print free. Given that it’s a solid metal puzzle, it has a good weight in your hands, even with the size being quite diminutive.
As we’ve come to expect the puzzle name, and Hanayama logo are laser etched into the top of one of the pieces, just in case you forget which puzzle you’re playing with. As much as I’m joking about it, it really is a nice touch, and something I’m happy to see Hanayama doing.
Straight out of the familiar black and gold Hanayama packaging, you’ll find that the puzzle wants to move into the position you see above. This seems to be the natural movement that you’ll find when you start playing. As you might have guessed it’s not going to help you to solve the puzzle, but it might let you see each of the parts a little more clearly.
The silver ball in the centre of the puzzle spins freely inside the frame pieces, and this is helped given just how smooth the finish is on the puzzle. Given the puzzles small size, and how slick the surfaces are, it does add an extra challenge to the puzzle. I found that even once I found out how to take the pieces apart, manipulating the pieces was still challenging.
Rated as 4/6 on the Hanayama scale and 8/10 by Puzzle Master (their scale starting at 5), this is a challenging little puzzle. I spent 15-20 minutes to figure out how to take it apart for the first time. When it started to come apart, the two frame sections stuck against one another as they were separating, leaving me thinking I wasn’t solving it correctly. It turns out that a small adjustment to the positioning of the four pieces, and they slid apart very smoothly, with a very satisfying motion. Much like the Cast Loop puzzle, the movement of the pieces as the puzzle comes apart is almost hypnotic, and its a very graceful thing to watch come apart then slide back together.
Once you have the pieces apart, the twisted shape which leads to this unusual motion is revealed. If you take care when opening the puzzle, then re-assembly shouldn’t be too difficult, but as is the case when taking it apart, precise alignment is required. I found it easier putting the pieces back together than taking them apart, mainly because it seems to need less dexterity, and also that the puzzle doesn’t want to rotate in the horizontal axis around the ball (like you see in the second image).
I think this is a reasonable challenge, and will keep most people puzzled for a fair while. More seasoned puzzlers may figure this out faster, but the movement alone makes it worth adding to your collection. I highly recommend Cast Marble, and it’s probably second only to Cast Loop in terms of my favorite Hanayama puzzle at this point. If you don’t have this already, definitely consider picking up a copy. Oli has also written about the Cast Marble, so to read his thoughts, head over here.