Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
5Aug/110

Cast Rattle

This entry is part 3 of 8 in the series Hanayama Cast Puzzles

Cast Rattle is another excellent puzzle from the Hanayama Cast series of puzzles. This particular puzzle is designed by Bram Cohen. The highly chromed, clinking puzzle challenges you to separate the four joined pieces, then put them back together, before you drive your significant other insane from the rattling. Thanks to Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review.


Cast Rattle by Hanayama

Cast Rattle by Hanayama

As other people have already commented in their reviews, this puzzle really lives up to its name. The four identical pieces rattle and clink with each and every touch of the puzzle, and most attempts to silence it will prove to be futile. The chromed finish is very slick, and there is very little friction between the pieces to keep them in any particular spot. Have a look at Kevin's review and Brian's review to see what they had to say about this puzzle.

If you're familiar with the cast series, then it will come as no surprise to find that the name of the puzzle, and Hanayama's name are laser etched onto one of the pieces. This puzzle is no exception and lives up to the high quality that we are familiar with from the Hanayama series. It's a solid puzzle with a good weight and excellent fit and finish. Despite its small price tag, this is a high quality puzzle.

Cast Rattle closeup

Cast Rattle closeup

At its smallest, the puzzle is around 1.5" square x 1" high. The pieces fit very loosely together which adds to its tendency to rattle, but there's really no unnecessary movement here. Moving the pieces around in relation to one another, you can see everything, making this another 'perfect' puzzle.

You may not realise it, but this puzzle is actually a burr puzzle. Don't let that put you off though. I know that many people are not a fan of burrs but this is a great puzzle and you'd be missing out if you passed it by. The loose connection of the pieces, and the ability to see all parts of the puzzle make this a rather unique burr. Nothing hidden from you and yet something keeps the pieces locked together.

With nothing hidden, it should be easy to see how it should open, right? And this is where the frustration sets in. Idly fiddling with the puzzle in your hands is unlikely to see you opening it any time soon. Tugging and pulling wildly at the pieces in the hope they will pop apart also won't yield particularly impressive results. A more structured approach (and a level surface) help in solving this one. You can see from looking at the pieces and how they connect that all you need to do is line the pieces up, and they should fall apart. The beauty is that the pieces are so accurately made, that the alignment has to be spot on for that to happen.

Cast Rattle pieces

Cast Rattle pieces

I've given this puzzle to a few different people to try to solve, and most have managed. The interesting thing is that each person approaches the puzzle differently, and as such I've witnessed a couple of solutions. The most Neanderthal solution involved holding two pieces and shaking until things fell apart, to the other end of the scale where carefully aligning pieces on a desk and gently repositioning with a pencil until the top two could lift off. Interestingly both were successful!

After I solved this for the first time, and could look closely at the pieces when I was re-assembling the puzzle, I noticed something very interesting. That led to what I consider to be a very elegant solution. Taking a couple of tooth picks and carefully placing them between the pieces, you can precisely align them, and separate the pieces with minimal effort. I wonder if this was intentional when the puzzle was designed or just luck!

The effect of such a precise construction, and low friction surface is that even when you're putting the pieces back together, almost as soon as the pieces touch, they will move out of alignment locking themselves together again.

Hanayama rates the puzzle as a level 4/6 and Puzzle Master a level 8/10 - Demanding. I have to say that these are spot on. It's a challenging puzzle and could keep you rattling away for hours if you don't look carefully at the pieces and their interaction. Even after solving it, and knowing what you have to do, this still provides a challenge every time you come back to it. I highly recommend Cast Rattle for all ages and level of puzzle solving, although I'd suggest not handing it to the baby!

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