Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
15Jul/111

Cast Coil

This entry is part 2 of 8 in the series Hanayama Cast Puzzles

Cast Coil is the newest of the Hanayama cast series of puzzles, and was designed by Edi Nagata of Japan. Thanks to Puzzle Master for sending me this puzzle to review. The objective of the puzzle is to separate the two pieces of the puzzle by sliding and rotating the pieces around each other.

Cast Coil

Cast Coil

At 1 1/3 inches x 1 inch, this is a compact little puzzle, which carries a good weight to it. The Silver and Gold pieces provide a good contrast and make the coil design stand out. There seems to be a rather divided opinion on the look of this puzzle. The aged appearance of the metals used gives it a rough and pitted feel, that many puzzlers don't seem too happy with. Personally, I think it looks great. I really like the aged appearance and think it suits the puzzle. To see what others are saying, read Kevin's review here and Brian's review here.

When I first tried to solve this puzzle, the pieces were a VERY tight fit, to the point that quite a lot of force was required to separate the pieces for the first move. That does seem like a temporary issue however as the more the puzzle is played with, the easier the pieces move. Now that I have solved the puzzle many times over, there is a slight gap between the pieces which was not there initially. The first move is still a little stiff, however that helps to keep the puzzle in the starting state, so isn't entirely a bad thing.

Cast Coil pieces

Cast Coil pieces

The two very similarly shaped pieces have a number of notches cut out at strategic points on the inside of the puzzle to allow the square pieces to pass each other. The only real differences between the pieces are the locations of these cut away sections, so keeping track of them can be a little challenging. Initially it took me around 20 minutes to solve this puzzle, as there are a number of dead ends on the path towards the solution. There is one move which still catches me out, and even though I now know the sequence of moves, I somehow manage to get stuck at the same point fairly frequently.

Given that most of the moves in this puzzle are rotational moves rather than linear moves, it adds a unique element to the puzzle. The number of possible moves are limited thanks to the shape of the pieces, but rather than making things easier it seems to make things harder as you find yourself wanting to rotate the pieces and being blocked. In all you need around 7 distinct moves to separate the pieces, so once you know the path to take, it can be opened very quickly.

I really enjoyed this puzzle, and think it provides just the right level of challenge. Hanayama rates this as a level 3/5 puzzle, and Puzzle Master 7/10 - Challenging, which I have to agree with. I'd highly recommend picking this puzzle up as it's a clever design and a fun puzzle.



17Jun/111

Cast Loop

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series Hanayama Cast Puzzles

Cast Loop is the second newest puzzle in the Hanayama Cast series of puzzles, designed by Finnish puzzle designer Vesa Timonen based on an original puzzle ring he created for his girlfriend. It is available from Puzzle Master along with many more puzzles from the Hanayama cast series. The object of the puzzle is to create a closed loop. Thanks Puzzle master for sending me this puzzle to review.

Cast Loop

Cast Loop

The puzzle is packed in the standard Hanayama black and gold packaging, and is held in the box in the position seen above. By shipping it this way, you're not given any clues as to how to solve the puzzle, as separating the pieces doesn't show you how to solve it. If anything it may mislead you, and trick you into not seeing the solution. Quite a clever way to package the puzzle. It also ships with a leather thong, so that once solved, the puzzle can be worn as a necklace. It does hold together well, so this would be a possibility, but we'll get to that.

This is a great looking puzzle, with the chrome plated finish really making the puzzle stand out. The puzzle is around 2 3/4" in diameter so sits nicely in your hand, and being a cast puzzle has a solid weight to it. This really feels like a high quality puzzle.

Cast Loop Magnets

Cast Loop Magnets

Taking the puzzle apart, you're left with what looks like two mirror image pieces. The magnets on the angled ends are strong enough to hold the puzzle pieces firmly together, so there's no worries about the puzzle accidentally coming apart once solved unless you want it to. To that end I think it would be possible to wear the puzzle as jewellery, just don't expect to see me wearing it any time soon.

Cast Loop Symmetry

Cast Loop Symmetry

One of the things I love about this puzzle is the symmetry when solving it. Even though there are minimal moves needed, the puzzle looks great throughout. This is listed as an easy puzzle both by Hanayama where it is a 1 on their scale (1-5) and 5 on Puzzle Masters scale (5-10). It is an easy puzzle, but the beauty is that it is designed in such a way that you need to really think about what you're doing to be able to solve it. The obvious way to combine the pieces won't get you a solid loop.

Knowing how to solve the puzzle, I found myself idly playing with it, opening and closing the loop without really looking at it. Sitting in long meetings at work, it gave my hands something to do rather than just spinning my pen.

Cast Loop Solved

Cast Loop Solved

This is a stunning puzzle, and is one you really should have in your collection. If you don't already, then go buy this, you'll not regret it!

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