March 23, 2011

The Magic Hat

As is inevitably the case, there are always a few Karakuri Club Christmas Presents that I regret not having purchased. Fortunately, around March the Karakuri Club has a lottery where they sell off the remaining Christmas presents that were not purchased.

This year, Shiro Tajima created a cute box named The Magic Hat which I really liked the look of. Peter Wiltshire predicted that he would be using a rabbit motif this year, since last year was the year of the tiger and he did did a tiger theme, and this year is the year of the rabbit. Since Peter is a magician, he had hoped that Tajima would do something with a magic hat, and indeed he did!

On top of looking nice, my puzzle friends who had gotten this one seemed to enjoy it. They said that it had a unique movement, and was fairly challenging, so I was very intrigued. When I visited Brett's house for NYPP, this was one of the first puzzles I asked to try! I liked it quite a bit, and ended up being able to purchase one during the March lottery.

This is a fairly large puzzle at just over five inches high. The craftsmanship is very nice, as is the case for pretty much all of the Karakuri Club work. My rabbit has a bit of a darkness to his nose, it looks like a bruise but it is just a discoloration in the wood. Also there's a bit of tearout on the eye.

As I mentioned previously, there is a unique movement that you'll probably discover fairly quickly. However, what to do once you've discovered it is the challenge. I don't want to go into too much detail, since I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but the next move is pretty tricky. It somewhat incorporates an idea previously used by Akio Kamei, but I liked its implementation much better here since it is somewhat easier (in a good way).

At Brett's house, this one actually took me a good amount of time to solve, probably around 20 minutes or so. His version was a bit tighter than mine, so it took a bit more effort to discover the second move. I found it to be well hidden and unexpected, with an interesting trick as I mentioned before. When solved, there is also a little whimsical detail that Tajima added which I enjoyed. Very well done!

There isn't much in terms of downsides to this puzzle: it seems quite sturdy, has a great appearance and construction, and a clever solution. Overall, a solid puzzle that I'm glad to have purchased. If only I had bought it before Christmas when it was about half the price! Of course, I didn't know it would be so cool at that point. I'm definitely going to purchase Tajima's puzzle next year, because next year is the year of the dragon and I am hoping that he will do something with a badass looking dragon!

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