Neil's Puzzle Building Blog
19Dec/123

Radbox

I have been a fan of Jean Claude Constantin's work for a while. Many of his designs are laser cut pieces which press together making for some very characteristic 'Constantin' looking designs and almost all of his puzzles have some unique and interesting mechanic that makes them worth owning. Radbox is another design which is a classic laser cut puzzle box design with some striking features which makes it really stand out. I got my copy from Puzzle Master.

Radbox by Jean Claude Constantin

Radbox by Jean Claude Constantin

As you can see from the image above, the design is quite striking. The Maple panels, Paduak top with Maple leaf and banded Maple insets really looks good. If you have any misconceptions that laser cut puzzles are 'cheap' or somehow 'low quality' then this box is a good example to prove that as a false statement. There are a lot of really nice design choices such as the gentle curve on the top of the side panels and the curved handles on the sides which don't change the mechanism of the puzzle, but really help to finish the puzzle. At 4.5" x 2.75" x 2.5", the box is a good size, and has very little reduction in inner dimensions so you'll be able to store something around the size of two packs of playing cards inside.

Examining the box you'll quickly see that at one end there is a peg attached to the sliding lid, and at the other you can see something curved at the other end, which all together stops the lid moving more than a new millimeters. Shaking the box, there's a slight rattling, and spinning or blowing on it doesn't seem to do much to move the lid any further. Some careful examination will lead to some discoveries about how the locking mechanism works, before making you realise that you may not have fully understood what's going on as the box remains resolutely shut.

The Radbox opened.

The Radbox opened.

The mechanism is simple yet clever and once you understand how it works, you can open the box repeatedly and fairly quickly. Although it is similar to mechanisms I've seen in other boxes, it does take the idea one step further making it worth a look. Overall a fun box, and great value if you can get your hands on one.



16Oct/120

Two Keys

Two Keys is a laser cut dual layer maze designed by Jean Claude Constantine. Thanks to Puzzle Master for sending me a copy of this puzzle to review. This maze puzzle will have you guiding the Steel rivet through two mazes from the start square, to the exit hole.

Two Keys by Jean Claude Constantine

Two Keys by Jean Claude Constantine

As you can see this is a plain but good looking puzzle which is accurately cut from Maple Ply and Walnut Ply, with a top frame of perspex. Overall, the puzzle measures just 4" x 2.5" x 0.5" so this is almost a pocket sized puzzle. The perspex serves little purpose other than to hold the top Maple maze in place as you navigate the steel rivet through both mazes. The puzzle is very similar in concept to several other puzzles by Jean Claude Constantine such as the Laby Box which I have reviewed previously, and many of his lock style puzzles. Many of his puzzles are based on Gray Code and this is in a similar vein.

One of the dead ends

One of the dead ends

The Lower maze which is fixed interferes with the movement of the pin as you move the upper maze requiring you to backtrack several times to get to the exit. There are a number of dead ends in the maze, however most of these are fairly obvious so should not provide much of an extra challenge.

Two Keys Solved

Two Keys Solved

Puzzle Master ranks this as a Level 5 (Easy) puzzle, and I have to agree. This shouldn't take more than a few minutes to solve, although it's a good puzzle to give to new puzzlers since it's fairly easy to solve, and you can see everything in the puzzle. With no hidden elements, most people will be able to solve this quickly before they lose interest and feel fairly good about doing so.

Two Keys Alternate Challenge

Two Keys Alternate Challenge

If you're looking for an extra challenge, then try flipping the top maze section over once you've solved, it and re-solve with the maze in as seen above. This adds a slightly different challenge, although not any tougher than the original orientation.

This is a fun puzzle, and a good distraction to sit and idly fiddle with it, moving the pin back and forth through the maze. This is an affordable introduction to many of Jean Claude Constantine's puzzles, and a good place to start if you're looking for a simple challenge.