CubicDissection.com, and considered buying it, but just hadn't gotten around to it yet.
The funny thing was that this wasn't a puzzle shop, nor did they carry any other puzzles, just this one! We walked in, hoping I could save a bit of money on shipping, and inquired about the puzzle in the window. The store clerk said that they actually only had that one copy and that it was broken. Oh well! I thanked them and we headed on our way.
As we walked down the street a bit, I thought to myself, "hey, I could probably fix it if it isn't broken too badly!" My girlfriend agreed that it was at least worth a look, so we headed back to the store. The clerk said that she had thought the same thing right after I left, and took the puzzle from the window for me to inspect.
It turned out that one of the pieces on the outer shell was broken, but could be repaired fairly easily. They gave it to me for 50% off, which was a pretty good deal for them, since who wants a broken puzzle? I was pretty happy to be getting a $40 puzzle for $20, so everybody was happy. When we got home, I repaired the puzzle and waited patiently for the glue to set.
Now a little info on this puzzle for those of you who haven't heard of it. It is an interlocking put-together puzzle that consists of 37 pieces. Using these pieces, one can construct the five platonic solids, which are the five solids that can be formed by regular polygons (regular triangle, square, and regular pentagon). These polygons are the tetrahedron (4 triangular faces), cube (6 square faces), octahedron (8 triangular faces), dodecahedron (12 pentagonal faces), and icosahedron (20 triangular faces).
According to Jerry Slocum, "This is the first puzzle with all the Platonic solids in a concentric, integrated and solid form, with no voids between them," so there was quite a bit of demand for this puzzle. It even had an article about it in the New York Times! Originally it was hand-crafted by Wayne Daniels, but demand was great enough that it was produced commercially by MI Toys. Of course, the copy that I found was a commercially produced version: the hand-crafted versions are quite expensive.
Once the glue dried, I started to disassemble the puzzle. On the outside was an icosahedron, which I think is the most interesting of the sub-puzzles that this puzzle contains. The pieces need to be put together in a particular way due to the angles of the pieces, which makes it fairly challenging. Of course, this is an assembly puzzle, so disassembling it is pretty easy.
Snafoz puzzle. The fit on this was quite tight and I had to pry it apart. Inside the cube are four small tetrahedrons, twelve quarter-octahedrons, and one big tetrahedron. The big tetrahedron contains four tiny tetrahedrons and a tiny octahedron. Whew!
Now that I had the puzzle apart, I tried to get it back together. I won't go into too much detail, since I'm sure your head is already spinning from all the "hedron" talk. Overall, it wasn't too tricky but it was a lot of fun seeing how the pieces fit together. I think putting the pieces back inside the cube is one of the most interesting parts, because it requires a bit of dexterity and creativity to figure out how to do it.
Assembling the cube is fairly straightforward but requires some trial and error, and the dodecahedron is pretty easy since it only has three pieces. The final challenge of putting the icosahedron together was a nice way to finish the puzzle off: it is definitely the most impressive of all the parts from a craftsmanship point of view, since it is an icosahedron with a dodecahedral hole in the middle.
CubicDissection. All of these awesome photos are his, so hopefully I'll send a bit of traffic his way.
My copy fits together fairly well, though the fit isn't quite right on the icosahedron: there are some gaps between the pieces when assembled. My only complaint is that the 'quarter icosohedrons' sort of seem like cheating since they are not actually assembled into icosohedrons in the final puzzle. That said, I sure as hell don't think I could have done any better. Great puzzle!
Tomorrow I'll write about a few more puzzles I made with the laser cutting machine: one by an unknown designer and one by Bill Cutler.
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