The Karakuri Creation Group is a group of puzzle box craftsmen and craftswomen who are producing some of the most interesting puzzle box designs you can find. They have an interesting business model where you can pay an annual membership fee of $120 that allows you to purchase KCG boxes at a discount and receive a free Christmas present from the craftsman of your choice. In addition, you can buy extra presents for $100 each, which is a great deal considering the high quality of KCG's boxes.
These are new designs that haven't previously been released to the public, no you have no idea what you're going to get, which is kind of fun. It is also an interesting model for the craftsmen to work in, because they have the freedom to design what they want with the preorders already in place. Of course, you can also buy directly from them without a membership.
I got three boxes this year and had them shipped to my office, since I was concerned that they might be stolen from in front of my apartment. When they arrived, I told myself that I was going to pace myself and only solve one per day.
It does have a nice appearance and is very solidly built. I showed it to my girlfriend and some family members, and most of them spent about 2-3 minutes figuring it out. This surprised me, since I had immediately discovered the solution, so perhaps it isn't as easy as I thought! One aspect that I like is that box pops open when you solve it, which is kind of a nice surprise when you figure out how to do it.
After a few moments, I thought that I would just try to slide one of the panels a bit to see if I could get anything to move. After a minute or so of fiddling, I had a pretty good idea of how the mechanism worked, but I stopped myself before completely opening the box and went back to work. A few moments later, I couldn't resist and finished opening it.
In all, it probably only took me about 2-3 minutes to solve, but the mechanism is very cool! I was quite impressed. As you would expect from Kamei, the construction is flawless and the wood has a very nice appearance. I tried this one out with my family and they also found it fairly easy, but were also very impressed by the mechanism.
The woods that he selected make for a very nice looking box. He alternates between light and dark wood for each level, uses a reddish wood for the drawer faces and an almost black wood for the drawer pulls. (Sorry, I can't identify wood types yet). Because of its design, it doesn't really have a front, which would make it great for a coffee table or a desk.
Again, trying to exercise restraint, I told myself that I would just fiddle with it a little bit, but I ended up discovering part of the mechanism. I stopped myself for a while, but ended up working on it again a few minutes later. After about 5-10 minutes, I had solved it, which was quite satisfying. The mechanism is very cool!
This one has a number of moves, unlike the other two, which I found more satisfying since it took a bit longer. It is also quite a bit more difficult than the other two. I tried it out on some family members over Christmas, and it took some of them 20-30 minutes to figure it out.
This one is definitely my favorite of the three, though Kamei's is a close second! Overall, I was quite satisfied with my purchases and will plan to get more next year. I do wish that the first two were a bit more challenging, but the craftsmanship was superb. Kamei's and Iwahara's boxes had very clever mechanisms as well.
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