I was looking around on the web for some affordable puzzle boxes, and read about some boxes from Bits and Pieces on Jeff Chiou's blog, MagicPuzzles. I browsed on over to Bits and Pieces to take a look at the boxes he described.
I had seen their site before, but it was hard to pick anything specific out without a recommendation since they have so many items. Jeff said Snap Latch Box was good, as was Matchbox, so I decided to purchase those. I had spoken to David from Eureka about Brass Treasure Chest, and he mentioned that he thought it was the best of the Bits and Pieces brass series, so I decided to purchase that one as well. Finally, I thought I would get Magic Money Box, since it is an often seen design that I've never played around with.
I was heading up to Maine to go sailing with my parents for the weekend and ran out of time on the others, so I decided to take them up to the boat with me. Sailing and puzzles, what a way to spend the weekend!
I worked on this one for 3 or 4 hours when I finally figured it out. The solution is quite tricky and I'm pretty thrilled that I was even able to figure it out. It was very satisfying when the lid finally opened, but it takes quite a bit of patience.
I should mention that it is a reproduction of a puzzle designed by Rocky Chiaro, a retired machinist who makes some very cool looking puzzles out of brass. Unfortunately, his stuff is a bit expensive for me at the moment, so this reproduction fit the bill nicely. A little J.B. Weld and the leg would be as good as new!
When I finally got home, I asked my girlfriend to take a look at the solution and let me know if I was on the right track. She read it over and said that I had the right idea, so I kept working on it for another hour or so. Eventually, however, we determined that there was a piece missing! This really ticked me off because I had spent so long on this damn puzzle. Sure enough, when I improvised the missing piece, I solved the puzzle in no time at all. You can imagine this was quite frustrating since not only did I not have the enjoyment of successfully solving the puzzle, I also spent a ton of time on an unsolvable puzzle!
Still, the puzzle in its complete form is quite clever: I would recommend it. The one caveat is that you may want to get a third party to inspect the puzzle to make sure that it works properly before you spend 10 hours trying to solve it.
Allow me to summarize: I ordered four puzzles. One was broken, one broke after a minute or two, and one was shipped in an unsolvable state. No wonder Bits and Pieces has a crappy reputation! I wrote them an email suggesting that they replace the three puzzles and give me a $20 store credit, which I thought was pretty reasonable. They replied saying that they would ship the three puzzles to me along with a $10 store credit, and that I could keep the broken puzzles. This was fine with me, since they were all really easy to fix, so now I have two copies of each!
Overall, it was a bit of a disappointment, but I would still order from Bits and Pieces again. Their prices are so low, I can get past the low quality. Plus, they handled my dissatisfaction quite well, which is admirable. They must be accustomed to it! I will just have my girlfriend solve the puzzles using the instructions next time to make sure a broken puzzle doesn't spoil the experience for me.
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