Cast Star is a classic 19th century puzzle reproduced by Akio Kamei for Hanayama's Cast Puzzles series. Puzzle Master was kind enough to send me a copy of this puzzle to review. Thanks!
You can probably guess how this one works: you have to remove the star from the loop. The loop is in the form of a snake eating its tail, which is a nice little detail. It has a somewhat distressed copper finish, similar to Cast Flag and Cast O'Gear. Both the loop and star are quite sturdy, giving the puzzle a nice weight in your hand.
I was pretty sure I knew the general idea of how to solve this one, but actually doing it is a bit more challenging due to the number of possible permutations involved. In theory, you could inspect the puzzle to narrow down your search space, which is what a friend of mine did, but my approach was just to exhaustively try all the possible orientations for the star. Not that much fun, but at least I was sure (hopefully) to find the solution that way!
Indeed, eventually I got it out, and there was some relief in that, but no real "A-ha" moment where it all made sense. Since these types of puzzles can be just as hard (or harder!) to put back together, I kept an eye on the orientation in which it came out, and carefully put it back. Also, I made an observation that makes it easier for me to solve, should I want to do it again. This was the observation that my friend had made to solve it in the first place, so it is possible to solve somewhat strategically, though that wasn't my approach.
In terms of difficulty, I would say this one is about right at Hanayama's 3/6 rating: it certainly does take a bit of patience and thought to solve it. I think it took me a good 15 or 20 minutes, but that time could vary depending on how you go about solving it.
Overall, I wasn't a big fan of Cast Star, there are plenty more Hanayama Cast Puzzles that I found more fun than this one. I like a bit of a surprise or at least a cool mechanism, but found this one lacking on both counts. Still, it is a nicely made puzzle and nice to see Hanayama making old designs such as these available to the mass market!
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