August 2, 2012

Stickman Milestone Puzzle

I recently had the pleasure of acquiring the latest puzzle by my favorite puzzle craftsman, Robert Yarger. It is called The Stickman Milestone Puzzle, since it is the 25th puzzle in the Stickman series and also marks 1000 puzzles produced by Yarger.

The puzzle also locks away a copy of the official Stickman Book (edited by Matt Dawson) with 50 pages of color pictures, descriptions, and background on every Stickman puzzle (past and future), as well as a full biography of Robert Yarger. Quite an interesting read for any puzzle enthusiast!

It took 7 months of work to produce only 30 copies of this puzzle, and the level of work involved really shows. When I first opened the puzzle, I marveled at its intricacy: gears, screws, and even a wooden chain! It is also quite large, measuring nearly a foot square and 4 inches deep (10"x9"x4"). This one really stands out on my display shelf!

Despite being visible, the mechanism doesn't give up its secrets immediately: you need to find the first move before you can see it in action! Fortunately, after a bit of fiddling I was able to get things under way nicely. Even once I had things moving, it wasn't entirely clear what was going on, but a bit more investigation helped me figure things out. I think that's one thing I really liked about this puzzle: you gradually start to understand it as you play around with it. Much more satisfying than a puzzle that you end up whacking and shaking until you stumble upon the solution!

Even once you get things going, it takes a few more leaps to be able to actually unlock the mechanism. However, this gives you plenty of time to enjoy watching the gears move and appreciate the puzzle.

Once the main enclosure is open, you'll discover that the book itself is trapped in a wooden frame! It only takes a few moves to release it, but was a nice little detail to include. The book itself is very nicely done, though I haven't read it all the way through yet. There is also a cypher hidden somewhere in the book for you to discover! The book and frame will be available for sale by Robert at the 2012 International Puzzle Party, I'm looking forward to meeting him there!

Overall, I really enjoyed this puzzle: I love Robert's more mechanical works with visible gears/mechanics, and this one really delivered on this front. As a puzzle, it was quite enjoyable, though not overly difficult. I think it took me about 30 minutes to solve it, though it could easily take an hour or two, which feels just about right. No real downsides to this one except maybe the price: it was a bit steep but definitely reasonable considering the absurd amount of labor involved! It is masterfully designed and crafted, and a fun puzzle to boot! I'm already looking forward to seeing what Robert will come up with next!

Check out Allard's Puzzling Times for a great review with plenty more photos and Neil's video review that has some shots of the puzzle mechanics in action after the closing credits.

1 comment:

  1. BTP: Having had the chance to see and work with this puzzle myself recently, I concur that it shows an amazingly high level of craftsmenship to design and assemble such a complex mechanism purely out of wood - not a nail or screw or pieces of plastic or metal to be found! Really an amazing design and I'll love to hear about your meeting with the designer! SDP


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