Sunday, 10 June 2018

Big Steve Annoys Mrs S

The Tongue Tied Puzzle
I am sure that you have noticed that Allard's blog has had quite a few references to tongue depressors recently, especially when mentioning Big Steve. It began at an MPP when Steve brought along a very large box of them to make rapid-fire stick bombs using the aforementioned medical implement. After that, a Facebook campaign led by an unusually named Chico Banane has led to a sort of war where boxes and boxes of tongue depressors have arrived chez Steve and annoyed Mrs Steve (Nora).

In fits of giggles, I would recount these tales to Mrs S and she was not amused and definitely took the side of Mrs Steve (an alternative Mrs S?) A week or so ago Steve 3D printed his own tongue depressor puzzle which requires the creation of an interlocked symmetrical shape. Lots of us jumped and asked for a copy and Steve decided to use this as a means of off-loading large numbers of his wooden tongue depressor collection to unsuspecting puzzlers...I think a certain Spanish puzzler received quite a lot!

My copy arrived in a surprisingly large box and Mrs S was very suspicious (she recognised the from address). When I opened the box on arriving home from work I immediately hid the contents:

Nicely packaged?
Later that evening, Mrs S somehow found the package and realised that unnecessary tongue depressors had made it into our house!

The puzzle packed in wooden shock absorbers!
Let's just say she gave me a piece of her mind that lasted quite some time! I cowered in the corner and reassured her that it was not my fault and Big Steve had contrived to do this himself. Now if Big Steve ever meets Mrs S again then a very large man will probably be obliterated by a rather small but extremely violent Scottish woman! It's been nice knowing you, Steve! I'll pay my respects alongside Nora at your funeral and drop the spare tongue depressors on your coffin!

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Mrs S is going to Whack! Ouch! Me

You should be able to hear the jingling across the Intertubes!
Mr Strijbos sent me an email to show me a few new designs by the great Jean-Claude Constantin. He seems to be experimenting with what is possible using the U wire piece. These are very interesting topologically and allows for some very challenging puzzles. I asked Wil if I could buy them and he responded the way I hoped. These are just prototypes and are not routinely available just now. After JCC has had some feedback, I am certain they will be available quite soon.

I am sure that not only will you be able to hear the jingling but you will almost certainly be able to hear the Whack! Ouch! from Mrs S!

Sunday, 27 May 2018

More Twisty Puzzles to Torture Me

Grilles II cube
Having recently had some success with the latest twisty puzzles from MF8, I noticed a few new ones available for purchase. How could I resist? I was feeling full of confidence when I paced the order but on arrival, I am a little less sure. The Grilles II cube is a mix of a corner turning cube (with an overlapping centre piece plus a 3x3. Here is what it looks like after a few turns:

Just a corner turned through two cuts and a face
It is pretty much against the law to order just one twisty puzzle from China so I also bought the latest skewb - this is the 7x7 Professor skewb:

7x7 Professor Skewb
Even without turning it looks fairly horrific but when it turns (both deep and shallow cuts) plus trivial corner tips, it shows off its complexity:

The Professor Skewb feels very unstable and I am not sure whether it is solvable. Just playing about with it has produced quite a few pops of pieces. We will see when I get a chance to properly play with it.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

Mrs S is going to murder me!

There has been a bit of an explosion of new toys arriving here recently and she is not happy. I am hoping to survive long enough to play with them and maybe even write them up for you!

Beauties from Brain Menold
I always try to buy something from Brian when he releases a new batch - the woods are gorgeous and when they include puzzles from two of my favourite designers, Christophe Lohe and Laszlo Kmolnar. We have the Soma tube and the Cubic octahedron which is very reminiscent of Steve Strickland's puzzles.

Allard forced me to!
After Allard's write up of the Kopa puzzle from Endo-san, I had to get a copy. Thank heavens the "puzzle pusher" had them in stock!

These look fun!
There had to be a few new cubes - these are MF8's latest designs!

Sunday, 1 April 2018

I'm also Addicted to Wooden Cubes and Cuboids

Is it Wood Overload?
I absolutely adore wooden puzzles, and wire puzzles, string puzzles, twisty puzzles, plastic puzzles...OMG! A few weeks ago I showed off/reviewed a couple of the interlocking cube designs from my friend Alfons Eyckmans and was astounded to see that he followed up very quickly with a few more designs. They looked stunning and were named after family members of other puzzlers. I don't have any children but I do have cats. I couldn't resist when Alfons offered me the opportunity to name some of the new designs. I named them Zachary and Zebedee after my current 2 Burmese boys and then another was named Zanzibar after the one who died a few years ago...there's definitely a trend there.

I cannot wait to have a play with these. Thank you Alfons for the puzzles and being able to name some.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Upcoming Pelikan Delights

How could I resist?
I received a few fabulous new toys from Jakub - the New Pelikan Workshop will be releasing some beautiful new puzzles very soon. These are stunning.

Back row from the left:
Casino (an amazing and tough packing puzzle)
Spiral Lock

Front row from the left:
Aqua toto
Mini Lock
Neo Saturn

They will also be releasing a copy of Stephan Baumegger's Excaliburr too. 

Keep an eye out for the release (not sure when)

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Wood wood wood!

Cross in cross
Box with 2 balls
Kamelle box
After last week's blog post about Brian Menold's store and the trials and tribulations - I could not resist buying a few of his latest releases. These puzzles were designed by 2 of my favourite designers as well. The voices told me to buy them!

Rota cube by Lucie Pauwels
Juha's 10 by Juha Levonen
Finally, I could not resist buying a couple of interlocking cubes from my friend Bernhard Schweitzer. The rota cube is the latest design by the incredibly prolific Lucie Pauwels and Juha's 10 is another in a wonderful series that I have really enjoyed.

Sunday, 11 February 2018

Got the latest Hanayama

Hanayama Cast Trinity
My friend Nic Picot sends out fairly regular emails with information about his stock of Hanayama puzzles (he has a great store selling them) and this week he mentioned that he had a few of the new Cast Trinity puzzles for sale with the Japanese version of the packaging. He expects to receive the European version in the next month or so. I couldn't resist and sent him off some PayPal. A couple of days later (whilst I was attending the MPP) I received a nice new toy. It is level 6 on the Hanayama scale so may well prove difficult. It certainly looks fun.

Japanese packaging - "Huzzle"
The European version should be available soon.

Sunday, 28 January 2018

I Had a Small Break From Purchasing

Beauties from Alfons
After my sick time splurge I thought I had better lay off the purchasing for a bit lest Mrs S prevent my recovery with a little murder. After a suitable break of a month and a bit it was time to get some more beauties. I placed an order with the amazing Alfons Eyckmans on New Years day and he took just under a month to make them for me.

The cubes are Anke's cube (L) and Arne's cube (R).
Back 3 are (L to R) Abby's conundrum, Dirty Dozen and Dragonfly 19.
Front 2 are (L to R) Teetotum and Two Keys.

This lot should keep me going for a while - I have definitely lost most of my burr solving skills and am really no good at these now! Hopefully I will manage them without Burrtools.

Yin Yang Puzzle box
Yes I know I don't routinely collect puzzle boxes but when an offer from Robert Yarger comes in I don't question it, I just open my bank account! Another reason to get this is that it is the last creation from the Late Randall Gatewood which was completed by Robert. I don't own anything by Randall and thought I should correct that whilst I can. This box is large and heavy and very beautiful!

Modified version of Coffin's Pieces of Eight
I failed to win most things at the recent Haubrich auction but I did manage to get a rather unusual copy of Coffin's Pieces of eight puzzle. Allard loved his original copy and reviewed it here - when I saw this at auction I couldn't resist and got it for a very reasonable final bid.

Don't tell Mrs S but there might be another parcel in transit from Aaron Wang too.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

I've been remiss by not posting this

Toward the middle of December I had a few wonderful wood deliveries and seem to have failed to post them here. Before we change to 2018 I had better make good.

Wood Wonders collection
Brian Menold has been producing some fabulous toys this year and the last batch proved irresistible to me! This was not helped by being home after surgery but who am I kidding? I'd have bought them anyway! From the left we have Ghidorrah box, Board burr #4 too, Lilliput, Silene and Castle all made from some stunning woods. Thank you my friend they are wonderful as always.

My friend Yavuz Demirrhan also produces the most gorgeous puzzles of his own design. He had been working on these for the previous few weeks and I had to have them in my collection:

Cubozone puzzles
Back row from the left is Oramagomaburamago (yes I know that's a long name - try typing it!) and Transenna (improved). Front row is Snapped burr and Looped nine (this is a packing puzzle in the zebrano box.

I might also have bought a special twisty - Chewie's Sticker shop sells not only stickers but also 3D printed twisty puzzles that are from a standard home 3D printer. I couldn't resist when he had a pre-Xmas sale and bought a copy of the Corona cube which is a face turning and corner turning puzzle. So far I have not had the guts to scramble it yet:

It's gorgeous!
Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2018 brings lots of new toys for you (and me)!

Sunday, 26 November 2017

I Needed Something to Keep Me Busy!

I blame Derek!
I knew I was going to be off work a while after my surgery so I sort of...had to...couldn't resist going shopping! Derek said the stuff that Juno was producing was brilliant. If Derek said so then I had to didn't I? I got the A Mazing Burr, the Mirii 4x3, Reza 4-4 and Reza 6-8! I have had a quick look at the geometric assembly puzzles and they scare the $%@P out of me! Thanks to Hendrik for providing it for me, his new store is here.

The Bell from Siebenstein Spiele
I had been looking for a Panex puzzle for a while but they always come up at auction for silly prices and I never managed it. I was delighted when Siebenstein Spiele produced a nice wood version with slightly less pieces. I thought it might be a nice variant on a classic N-ary puzzle, The Tower of Hanoi. I was wrong!!! It is MUCH more complex than that and I am a bit lost just now! Nick Baxter has an interesting resource which I am trying to avoid using initially but I am sure I will be forced to give in soon.

Witeden super 3x3x5 cuboids

Witeden super 3x3x4 cuboid
I love cuboids and these were produced a while ago. It was time to catch up and have a fun play. They all look very similar but there are some very important differences between them.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Juno releases another burr with a difference

Visible framed burr
Junichi Yananose recently released another new design which is considerably more complex that it would first appear. The Visible framed burr looks like "just a 4 piece burr in a frame" so should be relatively straighforward. Apparently there has been a special modification of the pieces to ensure a unique assembly and this will also make it considerably tougher to solve. I cannot wait to have a go!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Even After My IPP Splurge I Couldn't Resist

Slot Machine
Eric Fuller showed off some new puzzles at IPP after I had already spent all my money. I therefore didn't buy from him then but 2 weeks later he puts them up for sale on his site and I just couldn't stop myself. First I had to buy Slot Machine - John Rausch had been carrying around a 3D printed version and tortured a lot of people with it. He loved the dance of the pieces. He insists that it is best experienced as an assembly puzzle so I will need to get a BT file for it and try and encourage Mrs S to dismantle it for me. Gulp!

Clamped Cube
Eric has produced lots of variants of 6 piece burrs over the years and I just cannot resist them. This one has 2 cube pieces trapped inside.

Worm Cube
I love interlocking solids and, whilst this one doesn't have rotations, Eric says that it is very complex and confusing and therefore I had to have it! At this point I really have run out of money!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Post IPP arrivals - she's going to kill me!

Just when Mrs S thought that it was safe!

All just gorgeous!
Yesterday I received a few toys bought from Jakub's New Pelikan Workshop - they are to be released very soon and are of course the usual amazing standard:
We have (L to R):
  1. Twisted Cube
  2. Little Dance
  3. Scotsman (tender)
  4. Ultra
  5. Camera
  6. IPP37
  7. Identical Twins
Earlier in the week I received a BIG box from the USA. I had ordered this from the amazing Jerry McFarland when we met at the IPP. It is the Grand Pinhole Cross designed by Stewart Coffin:

A whole lot of pieces!
Jerry sent it flat pack to save on the size of the box and also to give me the full challenge. Allard wrote about his here. There are multiple challenges starting with just making a cube which is a challenge in itself:

The other challenges can be seen here.

Solved the basic puzzle
There might be another delivery on its way from Eric - shhh! Don't tell Mrs S or she may lock me out of the house!!!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Mrs S is Away and Sneaky Deliveries Arrive

2 gorgeous (and large) puzzles from Johan Heyns
Whilst Mrs S was up in Edinburgh visiting her parents (and abandoning me on our 23rd wedding anniversary) I had to pay a ransom to Parcelforce for the various import fees/taxes to allow release of my puzzles bought from Johan Heyns' Intellectualcraft store. The left hand puzzle is an interesting burr called Matrix designed by Émil Áskerli. It looked stunning when Johan showed it off on his Facebook page and I had to have it. Of course I didn't pay any attention to the size and was a bit shocked when a 13.5x13.5x13.5 monster arrived and on the stand (a mark of all of Johan's puzzles) it is 16.5cm high. She's going to murder me when she sees it! The other puzzle is the multi-base N-ary puzzle, Numlock. I bought mine with ternary and quinary pieces but it was also available with septenary and nonary pieces (too expensive for me unfortunately). That one is even bigger and if you never hear from me again then you will know what has happened to me.

John Haché (a good puzzle friend from Canada) and I clubbed together and bought some new toys from Andrei Ivanov's store in Russia. My share of the package was 3 rather stunning puzzles made from Stainless steel - I had seen one of them at the last MPP I had attended where Allard had managed to acquire them too.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Martin Increases the Backlog

From the left: Tangram cube, Clover Octahedron and Redi cube
There have been quite a few new releases recently in the twisty puzzle world and I have drooled over them all in time and promised myself that I will buy them soon. But then those pesky woodworkers keep sidetracking me with their gorgeous productions and I forget what I am after. Luckily, I spend a while (along with my good friend Paul) chatting to Martin Fox, the full time Puzzlestore UK owner, on Facebook and "just for my own benefit" he is keeping track of the puzzles that I have mentioned that I am interested in. Every now and then he reminds me of what's on my list and asks if I am ready to buy. This time I had to wait until after payday and then a nice little box arrived which was of great interest to Zachary but the contents were of interest to me. Zachary got inside the box after I had removed the contents and I now have the above new toys.

I lurve a box! Get the puzzles out of the way.....QUICK!
The Tangram cube is a rather daunting looking puzzle that might well take me some time. I am aware that it is a shape modification of another puzzle but it also has some supercube properties which I don't really know how to deal with.

The Clover Octahedron is the last one in the set of Clover puzzles (I still need to find a copy of the Fracture octahedron) - it goes with the Clover Cube, Clover Dodecahedron and Clover Icosahedron.

The Redi cube is a very simple corner turning twisty designed by the amazing Oskar van Deventer and is very suitable for any young kid or beginner who is just starting with twisty puzzles.

These should be a really fun set of challenges and great additions to the collection. Thanks Martin.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Brian increases my backlog

You know I cannot resist wood
Not only did I buy a whole load of puzzles from Brian a month or so ago and a new set from Eric just a week ago, all of which are contributing to a rather large pile of unsolved puzzles in my study and on the tray next to my chair in the living room. Suddenly Brian has increased his output and I couldn't resist another order. The puzzles were highly recommended to me and.....just LOOK at that wood!

Three new puzzles arrived this week:
  1. On the right is Straight4ward designed by my friend Laszlo Kmolnar who is responsible for a bunch of the very best packing puzzles in the world - this one has 2 solutions one solution without a rotation, then another with a rotation. It should be really fun - it's stunning with a Bocote box and Bloodwood pieces.
  2. In the middle is the Sonneveld cubed burr - I had wanted a copy of this for years but never found one I could afford and then Brian makes them out of gorgeous woods - I chose the Zebrawood frame with East Indian Rosewood pieces. So far I have got nowhere with it.
  3. On the right is a very interesting idea from my friend Christoph Lohe - I said a while back that whenever he has a design produced I would endeavour to buy it because they are just so clever. The aim here is to insert the third complex burr piece into the frame with the other 2 captive ones. The puzzle also has a linear and a rotational solution so double the puzzling for the money! I chose the Ash frame with Mahogany pieces.
All look great! Plus I have more stuff coming from Eric - Mrs S will be most annoyed - YAY!!!

Sunday, 7 May 2017

I have a Wood Problem

Carousel Puzzle
I have never owned anything from Kelly Snache but I have played with one or two of his fabulously crafted puzzles at various MPPs. I admired his Carousel puzzle when he showed it off on Facebook and was delighted when he offered to sell me a copy. I don't collect boxes but DO collect wood and DO collect sequential discovery puzzles with a cavity. Kelly was quite tickled by the description and I will stick to it! This requires a sequence of 6 moves to open it - I have not had time to play yet. The craftsmanship is simply superb!

Dispersion and Wheel Lock by Tsy Hung Chein
Y6BB by Yavuz Demirrhan
Chequered Board Burr by Frans de Vreugt
When Brian Menold has an update we all pay attention! I couldn't buy everything he had produced but I cannot resist board burrs and the puzzles from Tsy Hung looked so interesting and very similar in idea to the Galaxy puzzles I had enjoyed before. I had really loved his Castle puzzle which I have reviewed here.

To prove that I am not very bright I also bought a puzzle from Eric's remainder clearance. I bought an SM/24 which I looked at on his discontinued puzzles site and ordered quickly. I loved the colours and the idea of multiple interlocked 6 piece burrs - What I did not realise was that I already had an original copy of this puzzle made by Jerry McFarland in Walnut. The colours had fooled me! I now have one fully assembled and one in pieces!

New - neither have been solved!