Last weekend I was in Urban Outfitters (a clothing store that also sells a bunch of other random stuff) and noticed that they had a whole lineup of bamboo puzzles for $10 each. They are sold under the name "EcoGame" (they don't seem to have a website) and are imported by streamlinenyc.com from China. On the Streamline website they have the full set of puzzles shown, but they only seem to sell to retail customers. [Update: It looks like Puzzle Master is selling them now!]
From left to right, top to bottom are a Soma cube, a Hedgehog puzzle (not sure of the standard name), a Pagoda burr, a diagonal burr (with no key piece), a 24-piece Chuck puzzle (I think), Locked Nest, a rounded diagonal burr (same solution as the one above it), an assembly pyramid (non-interlocking), and Snowflake. As you can see, they make frequent use of the light/dark lamination for a pretty good effect.
Unfortunately when I got it home and inspected it more closely, I discovered that it was pretty much just a fancy-looking version of the 9-piece Pagoda burr that they were also selling! I wasn't able to get it apart in the store because the fit was quite snug. The 9-piece Pagoda burr had such a loose fit that the piece that moves first wiggles around quite a bit. The tight fit makes it a bit harder, making it necessary to inspect the joints to figure out what you can move and how.
Still, it isn't a very difficult puzzle, I solved it in a few minutes. However, I did like their use of contrasting colors of bamboo. It gives the puzzle a nice appearance. Also, as I mentioned, the fit is actually pretty good considering it is a mass-produced puzzle. The pieces fit snugly together and the finish isn't bad. Overall, I thought it was a good buy for $10.
Puzzling World of Polyhedral Dissections which he named Locked Nest. However, rather than using hexagonal rods, they used dowels.
This one was given a 5/5 star difficulty rating, so I was hoping it would keep me busy for a while. Before I purchased it, I took it out of the box to see how good the fit was, and was happy to see that the pegs were held in place fairly well.
When I got home, I took it apart and set myself to the task of putting it back together. I immediately noticed that although the fit seemed good when the puzzle was assembled, a stick going through a single hole did not have enough friction to stay in place: it was only when the structure started to come together that there was enough friction.
This made it quite a dexterity problem, because the rods kept slipping out as I was getting things arranged. Eventually I was able to start making progress. Figuring out the assembly itself was a bit tricky at first, since it is hard to figure out where to start. Once I got a few of the pieces in place it became a lot more obvious where the rest should go.
Overall, this was a fun puzzle and a good deal for the price, but I probably wouldn't recommend it due to the fit. I actually didn't like the light/dark lamination on this one as much as the others, it just looks a bit chaotic to my eye since the holes are not consistently drilled relative to the coloring.
Fourfold and a brief MPP tale
2 days ago