January 13, 2010

Bird In The Nest and Mini Secret Box

Two of the puzzles I got for Christmas from my parents were Bird In The Nest and Mini Secret Box from Bits and Pieces. Thanks Mom and Dad!

Bird In The Nest is a puzzle by Vladimir Krasnoukhov and James Dalgety that was an entry in the 2007 Puzzle Design Competition at the International Puzzle Party. I really didn't know what to expect from this puzzle, because it was unlike anything I had seen before. The object is to free the bird from the nest.

I fiddled around with this for a while before I started to understand how the pieces were interacting. Eventually I was able to remove the bird, but I continued and took the rest of the puzzle apart and tried to put it back together. In all, I think it took me about 10-20 minutes to solve this one.

However, due to the imprecision of the construction, the pieces that should be identical are not actually interchangeable. If you don't put the pieces back where they came from, the seams can look pretty ugly, and it also makes it more obvious which pieces of wood are connected.

Despite this, I was overall quite satisfied with the quality of this puzzle, though the beak of the bird is quite fragile and was chipped a bit. I would just suggest keeping careful track of the locations of the pieces when you disassemble it, and perhaps numbering them to avoid confusion. That said, trying to figure out which piece goes where is a puzzle in itself, even though it wasn't intended to be!

For the price, this is a nice little puzzle! I had a good time with it as did the other folks that I have showed it to. Due to the somewhat fragile nature of the edges of the pieces, I would be hesitant to have folks who might be careless play with it unsupervised.

Mini Secret Box was designed by Doug Engel. I put this one on my 'wish list' because Jeff Chiou mentioned that it was simple but clever and that his wife really likes it. Plus, it is quite inexpensive!

The quality of this puzzle is fairly good, though I found the mechanism to be a bit stiff. When I was solving it, I wasn't sure if I was breaking it. This feeling was common among folks that I showed it to at Christmas.

This one took me maybe 1-2 minutes to solve, and the folks that I have shown it to only took a few minutes to solve it as well. This is a bit too simple for my taste, but it is a good starter puzzle to show to people who don't have much patience.

Still, the price is great and the solution is clever, so I would still recommend this puzzle. Just don't expect it to keep you busy for too long!

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