Some time ago, I reviewed Stickman #2 from my own collection. My good friend Derek Bosch recently lent me another (large) box of puzzles to keep me busy, including Stickman #18, and also Stickman #23, the Perpetual Hinge Puzzle box. Watch out for a review of that one coming soon.
This beautifully made box measures 3" in diameter, and is made from a selection of exotic woods including padauk, bloodwood, monticello, cocobolo, and holly. Limited to a run of 31 puzzles, like many other Stickman puzzles, this is fairly rare, so I'm very grateful to Derek for lending me his copy.
This sphere inside a sphere does still qualify as a box, since the holly sphere in the centre is hollow. The goal of the puzzle is to open the box, removing the inner sphere from the outer cage, by rotating the inner sphere until it can be slid out of an opening in the cage.
There are a number of black pegs attached to the inner sphere which make this challenging, and even with the two peg shaped gaps in the cage, it's not always possible to move the inner sphere where you want it. This is where the hidden trick of the cage comes into play. As you may have already realised, if the ball is captured in a solid cage, there's no way it's coming out of there. The cage itself is held together with a couple of small magnets, and one quarter of the cage swings out of the way to allow the inner sphere to eventually be removed, but also to allow you to move those pegs into locations that they otherwise wouldn't be able to move to.
The pegs and gaps form a 3D maze which must be navigated to move the inner sphere into the correct orientation for it to slide out. Initially, I wasn't sure whether using the extending nature of the cage was permitted, as it seems to make the solution a little too easy, however it's not possible to move some pegs at all as there are no gaps, as you can see in the photograph below. Derek also confirmed that this wasn't cheating, and that I did need to do this to be able to solve the puzzle. I feel this makes the puzzle a little too easy if I'm honest.
I found the inner sphere to occasionally be a little stiff. Most notably, having opened the box, and removed half of the inner sphere, returning it back to its original state the re-insertion of the half was particularly tight. I'm not sure if I had changed the orientation while I had it open, but after moving the sphere around a little it soon went back to being easy to move.
Overall, this was a fairly easy puzzle box to open, taking me around 15 minutes. It's a really unique box being spherical, and I must admit that really enjoyed solving it. It's a fun puzzle to play with, and is finished to a very high standard, as seems to be the Stickman way. If you come across one of these at auction, it's well worth adding to your collection.