August 23, 2010

Karakuri Cakes

I tried to order these cute little puzzle boxes from Karakuri Creation Group back in June before IPP, but unfortunately they were out of stock by the time I placed by order. Recently, they came back in stock, and I had been thinking about ordering some. Imagine my surprise when a few days ago, I got an email that they had just been shipped! I guess they had kept my order active and just filled it when the new stock came in. Oh well! It was a nice little surprise, and I guess I would have bought them at some point anyways.

These boxes are a continuation of the series of affordable small boxes. As with the other sets, they are all very nicely crafted, with a nice smooth finish and excellent movement. It is hard to notice any seams to help you figure these out, though they aren't too tricky.

The first is Cheese Cake (KS-1), which has two little purpleheart cubes on top of it, along with a half-circle wedge of something. There are two grooves on the top, otherwise the box is featureless. In my opinion, the appearance of this one is probably the least appealing of the set, but it is still a nice-looking little box.

The mechanism took me a little while to figure out, I think it is the most challenging of the set, but it only took me a minute or so. I was able to get the first move right away, but the second move is more difficult. The third move is pretty easy. My girlfriend, Kellian, figured this one out quicker than I did. The mechanism is quite unique, it is unlike anything I had seen before, and fairly unexpected. I think this is probably my favorite of the set for this reason.

The second box in the set is Fruit Cake (KS-2). This box has three little wedges of fruit on the top. The lid is made out of a white wood and the body is more yellow. There is a band of brown wood going along the middle, presumably some sort of tasty fruit filling.

The mechanism to this one is fairly simple, but cute. I think most folks should be able to figure this one out without too much trouble. The first move is the only tricky part, with the second one following fairly easily afterwards. I have seen the principal used once before, but in a slightly different manner.

The third box in the set is Chocolate Cake (KS-3). It has two little cinnamon stick looking things on the top, and a dark frosting. The cake is a lighter colored brown, with a white creamy filling. Hm, I could use some sweets right about now! The appearance of this one is quite appealing, I like the dark woods used.

The mechanism is similar to one of Perry McDaniel's Petite Fours, though I don't think he is the originator of this particular trick. I think that it is likely to have been used many times. It requires four moves to open, the third of which is probably the trickiest, but not by much. This one didn't take me long either, since I was familiar with the principal. Kellian found this one to be the trickiest for her. The panels on this one were a bit tight.

The fourth box in the series is Marble Cake (KS-4), which is visually my favorite of the four. It utilizes zebrawood to get the striped effect, which I think is quite nice. I'm not quite sure what the gizmo on top is, perhaps some kind of round chocolate with a shaved piece of marbled chocolate on top. This one looks the most like cake to me, though I also liked Chocolate Cake.

This one isn't too difficult, I was able to figure it out pretty quickly. There are three moves, which are about equal in difficulty. I haven't seen this exact mechanism before, but the principal is fairly common. This was Kellian's favorite mechanism of the set.

In all, I was quite happy with this set of puzzle boxes. I wasn't in awe of any of the mechanisms, like I was with the original Small Box series. Check out my entries on 1, 2, and 3 as well as 5 and 7 for details about these. I think I enjoyed those boxes more because they were generally more difficult and felt more novel. Perhaps I am just a bit more discerning now that I saw so many great boxes at IPP and RPP.

The appearance of these is quite a bit more interesting than the original Small Box series. I'm sure that folks will be drawn to try these out because of their whimsical appearance. My one worry is that the decorations will come unglued if tugged too vigorously, that's kind of the danger when including such features on a puzzle. The fact that they are decorations in some of the boxes and part of the mechanism in others will encourage folks to fiddle with them.

Still, this is a solid set of puzzles for a very reasonable price: $40 per box for Karakuri Club members. They are not yet available to the public, but I'm sure they will be soon.

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