May 14, 2012


The Karakuri Creation Group recently listed some new items for sale, and I decided to try out Triskele by Hideaki Kawashima, since he's been coming up with some interesting boxes recently!

When it arrived, I was quite impressed with its appearance: the contrast between the dark wenge and the zebra wood is quite striking! The zebra wood is somewhat raised from the surface of the box and beveled, which looks quite good. The fit and finish of the box were up to the Karakuri Group's high standards as well.

I started trying to solve it, curious to see if it was also an interesting puzzle. I fiddled with it a bit, trying some of the usual things, and didn't have any luck at first. Scratching my head, I tried a few more things and was pleasantly surprised by an interesting movement and the solution! The movement is related to another puzzle, and works quite well when used here.

In all, I think it took me about 3-5 minutes, which is enough that I don't feel like I found it too quickly, but not terribly challenging. I've shown it to a few friends, and none were able to find the solution on their own, so perhaps my experience isn't indicative of the difficulty. This is one of those boxes where you don't really make any progress until you've solved it, so I'd be hesitant to hand this one to somebody who doesn't have much patience when they're not making some progress.

As I mentioned, the movement is quite nice: it is satisfying to open and also closes up quite nicely with a snug fit.  One downside is that the lid can come open rather suddenly, so you may want to play with it over your lap or a table. Kawashima warns in the description: "When you open this box for the first time, please take care about the surroundings." Also, I wish he had included a mark indicating which way the lid was supposed to be put on, since it can go either way and the fit is a bit too tight the wrong way. Still, Triskele is a fun little box that I'm glad to have purchased!

May 11, 2012


Medallion is another interesting take-apart puzzle designed by Oskar van Deventer and produced by Hanayama. The folks at Puzzle Master were kind enough to send me a copy to review. Thanks!

As with many of Oskar's puzzles for Hanayama, this one is a maze, perhaps more clearly so than some of his other work. However, as you would expect, there's a bit of a twist. The way you navigate the maze is by rotating the metal plate and sliding the left and right sides of the medal in and out.

This would all be fairly straightforward, except there's another, different maze on the opposite side! So you have to flip back and forth, figuring out how to proceed through both mazes simultaneously, which often requires doubling back on one side so you can advance the other.

There's nothing tricky about this one, it just takes a bit of time and patience to figure out what moves are required. That's a great thing about a puzzle like this, it is all fairly logical, but you still get a good feeling of accomplishment from figuring it out, since it is certainly not easy. This would be good to hand to somebody who has patience as long as they feel like they're making progress.

Medallion is fairly similar to Cast L'ouef, in that there are two mazes to be navigated. However the mechanism is simpler for Cast L'ouef since it consists of only two plates with pins attached to the maze plate.  If you enjoy one, you'll probably like the other: they're both probably worth checking out!

Another similar puzzle that I tried recently was Safe, which has pretty much the same mechanism as Medallion, only it is constructed mainly from laser cut wood rather than metal. Also, rather than disassembling completely, goal is to navigate the two mazes in such a way so as to release a coin. I think this is probably the most challenging of the three similar puzzles, though I think I prefer the aesthetic qualities of Medallion: it has a beautiful shine to it, and a nice weight in your hand.

The only downside I can think of to this one is that there is a small washer that you can potentially lose when you take the puzzle apart. Unless I'm missing something, I think it would have been better to include it in the casting than have it as a separate piece that can be lost.

Overall,  Medallion is a solid puzzle, definitely worth checking out if you like puzzles of this type. If you're not sure if you like puzzles like this, this would be a great one to start with.