Mirror 2x2x2 Cube - Gold

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Invented by Hidetoshi Takeshi and produced by Rubik's since 2008, the Bump Cube (also known as the Mirror Blocks) has seen several different variations over the years. From Double Cubes to Siamese Cubes, with different sizes and different colors, the Mirror Cubes are here to stay and to delight the Twisty puzzle fans.

The latest in my collection is the Mirror Cube Gold with a 2x2x2 mechanism. Its solving process is similar to a traditional 2x2x2, but it's slightly more challenging, since you solve it by shape instead of colors. As you twist and turn the cube, you'll see that it constantly changes its shape until it's no longer resembling a cube. This one is produced in China by Cube Style - In fact, most of the packaging is in Chinese, but who needs instructions for these? Just enjoy it and have fun.

The cube features metallic gold stickers, which gives this extra shiny effect. The stickers seem to be high quality, as they don't peel off that easily, although they are prone to scratch with little effort. Its movement is super smooth, thanks to the pre-lubricated mechanism. I believe it can be used for speedcubing, because it seems to cut corners with ease.

The level of difficulty of the Mirror 2x2x2 is rather easy if you're used to Twisty puzzles. Yes, it can be more challenging than a regular 2x2x2, but there's no need to learn super hard algorithms to solve it. Since it's fairly easy to solve, even for beginners, you can try to beat your own times. No need to be a speedcuber to enjoy a little challenge.

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Closing Comments:

The Mirror 2x2x2 Cube is a great starting point for a novice to enter the world of the Twisty puzzles. With a different challenge than the classic six color cubes, you can be sure to have your money's worth with this nice cube. When you're confident enough you can go for the Mirror 3x3x3.

Availability: You can find the Gold Mirror 2x2x2 Cube at PuzzleMaster for $15CAD. If you like Mirror Cubes, you can try these as well.

Tangoes

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Do you have a knack for Tangram puzzles, the ancient 7-piece dissection puzzle? If so, these two puzzles by SmartGames will delight the most avid fan and put your wits to the test.

Tangoes is SmartGames answer to a travel-friendly type of puzzles that are practical and easy to take with you anywhere. Both puzzles, Tangoes Animals (blue) and Tangoes Paradox (red), have been designed with the utmost care and attention to detail, always with the concept of convenience and fun in mind. What you get is two great products that will appeal to both adults and kids alike.

The Tangoes puzzles come in a cool notebook design with snaps lock and spiral rings to keep everything in place. The instructions are printed on the inside of the notebook and the challenge booklet is embedded in the spiral rings, so you won't have to worry about loosing anything. The pieces of the puzzles (seven in each set), the most important component, have been built with a magnetic material and a foam substance to keep the pieces malleable but still resistant and strong. The magnetic pieces stick to the right side of the notebook, thus allowing to play with it on the most uneven surfaces without loosing any piece. Perfect for those long car journeys.

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Both puzzles come with 48 challenges, divided into four levels of difficulty and grouped in pairs. The challenges start pretty easy, with most of the edges between the pieces showing. As you progress , however, you'll see that most challenges don't show any inner edges. Some of the puzzles can be a little challenging, but since I'm quite a fan of Tangram puzzles, I found most challenges easy enough to breeze through all of them in no time.

There's a major difference between the classic Tangram an the Tangoes. One of the pieces, the parallelogram, can only be used with its colored side facing up. There's no flipping it here. This, in turn, will reduce the number of possible solutions for each challenge, even though there's still more than one solution for most challenges. This is true only for the Tangoes Paradox, as the Tangoes Animals only have one solution per challenge.

Another interesting fact done in the Paradox puzzle is the inclusion of similar shapes in each challenge. The idea is to have two nearly identical shapes, except for one tiny extra detail. This will make the puzzle more challenging and much more interesting, as you try to assemble both shapes with the same seven pieces. Studying closely the relationship between all the pieces will make this task easier, but until you master this you'll have to sweat a little.

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Closing Comments:

I really liked the Tangoes puzzles. They are extremely fun to play with. The magnetic pieces, the convenient design and the additional challenge of the Paradox, my favorite of the two, makes for quite an enjoyable experience. Ready for a Tangoes session?

Availability: The Tangoes are available at most major toy and puzzle stores, like Amazon.

Links:



Glückspiel

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Glückspiel is a Constantin puzzle that requires a lot of dexterity and hand-eye coordination. German for "Gambling", the name of the puzzle is indeed a gamble if you're not used to disentanglement puzzles. You'll find yourself struggling to put some order into the chaos caused by four mere pieces that just don't like to be close together. Can you reassemble the puzzle after you separate the pieces?

The Glückspiel feels very much like a Cast Puzzle. Although a little bigger than the average Hanayama flagship series, the design and build quality is quite similar. There are four identical pieces, made from thick metal and coated in a silver finish, just like any regular metallic puzzle. At the center of mass is a metal pin with two wooden discs at each extremity, which keeps the pieces from naturally collapsing.

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The first part of the challenge is to remove this pin and have the pieces move around each other freely. Next you'll need to find a way to separate every single piece from each other. At first, this is not an easy task to figure out, because the pieces are very well entangled - This reminded of the Cast Devil, with a similar solving process. After you have all pieces free from each other, you have to reunite them and form the original shape...And here lies the real challenge. This is a level 8/10 puzzle, and I partly agree, if not for the tough reassembly. I would say around 8.5-9/10.

I was able to separate all the pieces within a couple of minutes. It's not hard to figure out how the pieces interact with each other or how they should be separated. The problem, however, is to get all the pieces in the correct orientation and position in order to keep the central pin in place and stable. This took me about half an hour.

I found it very difficult to find the right orientation of each piece, because even if you know how they should appear when assembled, it's hard to visualize how they should be positioned at the point of entry. This was more or less a trial and error exercise until I found the correct position for every piece. In the meantime, I was also struggling to keep the pieces in the right configuration at all times, since they were always collapsing after almost every slight movement. This is why a great level of dexterity is needed. After this, getting the pin to fit in place is a walk in the park.

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Closing Comments:

Glückspiel by Jean Claude Constantin is a little different from his other more popular creations, but it's still a superb design and intriguing enough to give it a try. Again, Constantin proves that he's a jack of all trades who can design and build any kind of puzzle.

Availability: I got the Glückspiel at PuzzleMaster, but as of writing this review it's out of stock. Check back soon to see if it will be available again. Nevertheless, you can always check out other fascinating puzzles by Constantin.


Mephisto

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Mephisto. Sounds like a scary name...And it should be, since it's one of the chief demons in German literature. It's a fitting name, because this puzzle is quite a difficult task to achieve. Can you vanquish this mighty demon?

The Mephisto puzzle is made by Siebenstein-Spiele, one of the leading companies in Germany producing wooden puzzles. The company founder, Jürgen Reiche, is responsible for the creative department and has designed almost all puzzles launched by them. He's indeed a very prolific craftsman and his puzzles are the delight of many serious collectors and aficionados alike.

This puzzle is a really interesting and fascinating design. The perfect balance of materials, wood and acrylic, make it stand out among many other wooden puzzles and captivate your attention right away. 10 acrylic strips are lined up in two layers, five pieces each. One layer has vertical strips, the other horizontal, and each strip has four pairs of symbols. When perfectly combined, the puzzle displays four identical symbols for each of the 25 squares in a 5x5 grid. It's a very challenging and at times, frustrating task - definitely not for beginners.

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The puzzle has three different sets of symbols: stars, circles and squares. It would've been interesting to see more symbols, like five, for example: one for each individual square. Another, probably even more demanding challenge, would've been to have no identical squares with the same symbols on the same column or row.

Since the puzzle is quite difficult as it is, maybe Jürgen went for a less complex design without making it impossible for the puzzler to solve it. After mixing the pieces it becomes extremely difficult to combine the right strips, so to solve it properly you have to use a "special" technique, which is very common in packing puzzles called "trial and error". Yes, there's no easy way to do this, so lots of patience and perseverance are needed in order to succeed. It took me over an hour to solve it.

(Click to Enlarge) - Solved State
Closing Comments:

In the end, the Mephisto is totally worth your time, after all it's a fantastic puzzle and I enjoyed playing with it very much. It's a different kind of packing puzzle and may be of interest to anyone who enjoys puzzles, albeit a frustrating one.

Availability: You can find the Mephisto puzzle at Brilliant Puzzles for $27.95. You can find here other Siebenstein puzzles as well.


Feliks Pillow

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Ever since the original Rubik's Cube there have been so many variants that it would be a daunting task listing them all. From sticker variations to shape modifications, the possibilities are almost endless, and choosing the right one for you might be a rather difficult task. So, why not do it like me? Don't choose, collect all of them, or the most you can.

The cube you see above is called the Feliks Pillow. It's a slight shape modification of a regular cube, and the pillow shape is great to see five colors simultaneously. The internal mechanism is a little different from a standard 3x3x3 cube, with a spherical center core, and supposedly lets you do shortcuts, or corner-cutting, without popping. I'm not the best person to test this claim, since I'm not a speedcuber, but I trust its maker, Meffert's, as it can produce high quality puzzles.

The design of the Feliks Pillow is a tribute to record holder Feliks Zemdegs, for solving a 3x3x3 cube. It was designed by Adam G. Cowan, and Meffert's started its production in 2011.

The movement of the Feliks Pillow is very smooth - no need to apply extra lube. It feels great on your hands due to the slight spherical shape. It actually feels better than a regular cube. The stickers are the standard Meffert's color scheme, bright and fluorescent colors. I prefer the classic scheme - the Rubik's scheme - but it's nice to have variety, so I'm not too disappointed by that. I do wish that the two orange tones used on this cube were a little different, though. When you're solving the puzzle in low light it can be a tad harder to distinguish both colors. Other than that, the puzzle is perfect and can be enjoyed by anyone.

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Closing Comments:

Whether you're a Twisty fan or a simply curious mind, the Feliks Pillow will surely please you. Its smooth turning and the different design approach to the classic cubic shape are more than enough reasons to give this one a try.

Availability: The Feliks Pillow is available at PuzzleMaster for just $17.99 USD. Others from Meffert's are also available.


Meiji Milk Chocolate

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Here's real proof that Hanayama can make really interesting puzzles besides the Cast Series. Their Meiji Chocolate Series has three types of chocolate: White, Black and Milk. My choice was the latter - you guessed it, it's my favorite. If I didn't know it's a puzzle I could've tried to take a bite, that's how real it looks.

The puzzle comes packaged just like your average chocolate bar: A box made of paper. Inside you'll find a clear box with 12 puzzle pieces. These pieces represent all possible pentominoes (5-unit pieces) and together they can form a 10x6 rectangle, but that's not all...Besides this rectangle, which is the exact size of the provided case, you can also try to build with the 12 pieces many other different shapes and figures. Are you up for the task?

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There's a slight issue with the puzzle's package - it's written almost entirely in Japanese - but even I, whose knowledge of Japanese is very close to zero, can decipher pretty much everything you need to know in order to fully enjoy this puzzle. The original shape (the 10x6 rectangle) has a whopping 2339 different ways to pack the pieces inside the frame. On the back of the box there's also a few other interesting shapes to build with the 12 pieces, and if that's not enough for you there's a small paper sheet inside the box with an extra 12 shapes to solve (again, all to be made using the 12 pieces).

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Difficulty-wise, the puzzle has a moderate difficulty. It's rated as a level 7/10, and I completely agree. The main challenge, to be solved using the clear case, is relatively easy, considering there's a lot of possible solutions. I was able to solve one of those 2339 solutions in under 5 minutes. Not all of them are as easy, though. I solved two other solutions, both between 5 and 10 minutes.

So far, I was unable to solve any of the other shapes. They are indeed much more challenging than the rectangle shape, mostly because you have to solve them without the help of a tray. This may not sound important, but having a frame with well-defined borders is a big help to visualize what you're supposed to achieve. Not having that visual aid is a really tough challenge, since you have to be constantly checking and counting the limits of your shape to see if you're doing it right. It's a great puzzle to improve your logic skills and hand-eye coordination.

Closing Comments:

I recommend having a real chocolate bar around for when you attempt to solve this puzzle, because it is really mouth-watering. If you overcome this small problem, then you will certainly enjoy every bit of Hanyama's Meiji Milk Chocolate without leaving a bitter taste in your mouth. Also, this is a perfect gift to pull a prank on someone with a sweet tooth.

Availability: You can find the delicious Meiji Milk Chocolate at PuzzleMaster - your favorite confectionery.


7 Sterne

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Here's another great Constantin puzzle that is pretty deceiving, in the way that it looks like a simple and easy puzzle, but in reality it can be much more difficult than expected. With a superb and mesmerizing design, this puzzle can lure you into a trap if you think it's a walk in the park.

The 7 Sterne (sterne is German for star) looks absolutely gorgeous with its impressive arabic-like pattern. Seen from above, the pieces form a circle with seven six-pointed stars. At first glance, it appears that the pattern is comprised of 30 identical pieces. That's an illusion, though, because it's actually 8 uniquely-shaped pieces, each a different configuration of those smaller pieces joined together at different angles. Not so simple now, right?

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Made with laser-cut wood, both tray and pieces, the puzzle feels very light in the hand. The pieces have a lighter shade tan the tray for maximum visual effect and the size is a little smaller than I would've liked, but still acceptable for a packing puzzle: it measures about 10cm in diameter (4").

Now, the difficulty is rated as a level 8/10, but I actually found it slightly tougher than that - over an hour and a half to solve it. For many, this could easily turn into quite a frustrating puzzle, given the unusual shape of the pieces. It's very difficult to see where each piece should go. Even so, the tray gives you a small help, since the edges have the same shape as the extremities of the pieces, making it a tad less difficult. Other than this, there's little to help you solve this puzzle. It's a hell of a challenge, that much I can tell you, and definitely not for beginners.

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Closing Comments:

7 Sterne is a magnificent puzzle! Yes, it's difficult, really really difficult, but the rewarding feeling you get you finally place that last piece is totally worth the extra effort. Also, for its beautiful design, it can be a great decorating object.

Availability: You can find the 7 Sterne puzzle at PuzzleMaster for about $17 CAD. Other interesting designs from Constantin are also available.

Links:




IQ Candy

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Here's a type of candy that's not harmless to your health in large quantities. In fact, the more you take the better for you. As advertised on the box, these candies are free of sugar and calories but contain 100% vitamin FUN. Made at SmartGames by confectioner Raf Peeters, the IQ Candy will be the delight for all kids and adults alike.

The IQ Candy comes in a different package than the others in the IQ series. A little bigger, but still practical enough to take it with you on your travels. The tray measures about 15cm in diameter (6"), and has a clear plastic tray to keep the pieces from being lost.

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The game consists of seven candy-colored pieces in different trominoes and tetrominoes shapes. All pieces fill an entire 5x5 grid with no empty spaces, but the grid itself has something different from the regular 2D packing puzzles, as about half of the 25 spaces have vertical and horizontal pins on it (12, to be exact). The pieces themselves have holes, but they're placed at different directions, like the pins, and will only fit on certain places.

What's great about the IQ series is that the games have very simple and easy to understand rules, so you will only need a couple of minutes to familiarize yourself with the game. First, before starting with any challenge, you have to make sure the game board is placed in the correct orientation (the only corner with a pin should be at the bottom left). Then, you just need to place the pieces as shown in any of the 60 challenges found in the booklet and solve the puzzles.

On the first challenges you only need to place a couple of the remaining pieces on the tray, but the harder ones will have just one or two pieces. There's only one solution per challenge. You can also try to solve puzzles that aren't on the booklet. Start with one piece and work your way until all pieces are placed on the game board.

You can place the pieces on the game board with either side and orientation. If a piece doesn't fit with a certain orientation, try flipping it. Besides the horizontal and vertical holes, each pieces also has a cross-shaped hole that fits on any pin, provided you place the piece as such.

The difficulty level of the IQ Candy is not as difficult as you might think. The pins actually reduce the number of possible configurations, which makes it easier to solve the puzzles. Mind you, easier doesn't necessarily mean easy. Just less difficult than other puzzle games.

Closing Comments:

IQ Candy is a superb puzzle game. The design is magnificent, made with bright colors, and the pins in the game board is a nice change from the more common packing puzzles, which is a welcome variation. The taste is a little "plasticky", but the IQ Candy is worth every minute you spend with it. Playing with candy never felt this good.

Availability: The IQ Candy is available from major online stores like Amazon.com or in Europe at Amazon.co.uk.

A few Challenges:

(Challenge 17 - Junior)

(Challenge 40 - Master)

(Challenge 53 - Wizard)


Secret Combination Puzzle Box

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Creative Crafthouse always makes interesting puzzles. Whichever type of puzzle you like, you'll probably find something that deserves your attention...and money. Puzzle Boxes are a great example of Dave Janelle's superb craftsmanship, and the Secret Combination Puzzle Box is a unique design that can be attempted by anyone.

All the components of this puzzle box are made of high quality hardwood. It's a regular sized box, measuring 12.8cm in length, 6.5cm in width and 6.3cm in height (5" x 2.6" x 2.5"). The design is interesting enough to capture your attention, because of the three dials on the top of the box, but I found its overall design too bland. The dials should have been made with a contrasting color, or even with three different wood tones, to make it more visually appealing.

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Leaving the aesthetics behind, the whole mechanism works as it should. The dials turn smoothly and effortlessly, so it's up to you to find the correct sequence to easily open the lid. You have to find the correct position for all three dials simultaneously, otherwise the lid won't open.

Now, in other circumstances, this could have been an extremely difficult puzzle to solve, since there are hundreds of possible positions and combinations the three dials could've had. Fortunately, for you and for me, the designer didn't want to make the mechanism more complex than it already was, so he settled for a simpler combination. You'll still have some discovering to do, but it won't take hours (unless you are very bad with puzzles). What you'll have to do is simply try different combinations - some patterns. All I can tell you is that you can turn the dials in 90º angles, and you'll eventually find the correct sequence if you're persistent. You can hear a ball rattling inside, but you'll have to decide if it's part of the mechanism or just another red herring.

(Click to Enlarge) - Opened
Closing Comments:

Janelle's Secret Combination Puzzle Box is a very original design, a bit different from the trick puzzle boxes, where all or most of the mechanism is hidden from view and you have to go at it by relying on other senses. This one is more interactive and because of its simple design anyone can try their luck at opening it.

Availability: The Secret Combination Puzzle Box is available at PuzzleMaster for just $20 CAD. Check out other creations by Creative Crafthouse.


A Pair of Twins

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Siebenstein-Spiele has many interesting packing puzzles that go against any preconceived notions you might have on this type of puzzles. Some of these are quite unusual creations that will certainly baffle you and give you a run for your money. A Pair of Twins is one of such puzzles, but be careful not to be deceived by its true goal.

The design of the puzzle is made so that two sets of pieces are presented in two distinct shapes, a triangle and a square, both sets with completely different pieces. For contrast, one set is made with a light wood tone and the other in a darker shade. This is a rather small puzzle measuring 12cm x 7.5cm (4.7" x 3"). The pieces are laser-cut from plywood.

The solving experience on this puzzle was almost ruined by poor instructions, plain and simple. The instructions come in English and German (the native language of the designer, Jürgen Reiche), but what it says in German is completely different from what it is written in English - Good thing I know how to use Google Translate.

(Click to Enlarge) - The "Instructions"
This, of course, wasn't noticed by me at first. Since I don't know German, I trusted the English instructions, which merely ask you to "Cover up all pieces of one colour with all pieces of the other colour". Now, anyone would probably interpret this as to cover one shape with the pieces of the other shape, and vice-versa...And that's what I did for probably 15/20 minutes, until I started to suspect that I wasn't going far with the current task at hand. Simply put, the pieces of one shape can't possible make the other. So, my guess was that I was missing something. Indeed, I was.

After looking attentively at the instructions and noticing that the German instructions were a lot bigger, I suspected that something could've been lost in translation. Not only only something was lost, but they gave a completely new meaning to the description of the puzzle. It's like it was written by two completely different persons. Roughly, the German translation made with the online tool says that you have to find an identical, congruent figure that can be made with both sets of pieces, for one color as well as the other. That's a little different from what's asked in English, wouldn't you agree?

After discovering the true goal of the puzzle, it didn't take me long to figure out the correct shape you must build with both sets of pieces...And voilá, the two figures are identical in shape and size, whether you make them with the dark pieces or the light-colored pieces. It can be a little challenging to figure out the correct shape, but once you do, it's pretty easy to solve both puzzles.


Closing Comments:

Sometimes, poor instructions can make a difference of a good puzzle and a bad one. Fortunately, I was able to minimize the damage, and a simple translation cleared the subject. From now on, I will be more alert whenever I have to follow instructions by this manufacturer. I still respect Siebenstein's work, as their puzzles are magnificently made. Just have to be more careful with what I read.

Availability: You can find the puzzle A Pair of Twins at PuzzleMaster for $18 CAD. Others from Siebenstein-Spiele are also available.


Nagelbox 30

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I'm used to being pleasantly surprised whenever I play with a new Constantin puzzle, but I still marvel at his craftsmanship and superb quality of his designs. The Nagelbox 30 (Nagel=Nail) is another one of Constantin's excellent creations...and this is a hefty one - perfect as a center piece on a coffee table for guests to play with.

The first surprising fact about the Nagelbox 30 is its huge size. It's quite unusual for a 3D packing puzzle to be made in such a large size. This one measures 11.5cm (4.5") in diameter (14.5cm (5.7") if you count the protruding poles) and 9.3cm (3.7") in height. Also, because the puzzle is made from 100% natural wood, you can expect it to weigh quite a bit.

The design is a perfect mix of metal and wood, kind of like in the same way as two other Constantin's puzzles, the Pack + 1 and the Pilled Logs. All three puzzles are made from many types of woods, hence the different colors, and the poles are made of aluminum which reduces the total weigh of the puzzle considerably. All in all, it makes for a great looking puzzle.

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The puzzle consists of nine identical pieces (L-shaped trominoes), but some have metal poles attached to them and other don't. Actually, only three of the pieces don't have a metal pole attached. The other six are placed on the edges of the box and go through the holes strategically placed on its four sides. Also, the poles are attached at different parts of the pieces, so you need to choose wisely which ones to use. When solved, no piece shall be visible over the top edge of the box.

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Despite what it may appear, the puzzle is actually pretty easy to solve, mostly due to the nature of the pieces. They're all identical, and the ones that need to go through the holes with the poles need to be placed in a specific position, thus leaving very few possibilities for the remaining three pieces. Nevertheless, the solving process is still fun and enjoyable, and playing with pieces this big reminds me of those extra large LEGO blocks. Who doesn't like to play with LEGO blocks?

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Closing Comments:

I had a great time playing with the Nagelbox 30, even though it was a short time. The puzzle is superbly made with quality materials and I can easily recommend it to any puzzle fan, collector or not. This will also be a great one to start with 3D packing puzzles.

Availability: You can find the Nagelbox 30 at Brilliant Puzzles for $42.95 USD. Also, check out their selection of Constantin puzzles, and you might find yourself with a few extra puzzles on your collection pretty soon.


The IQ Fit - The L Challenge

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The IQ Fit is a series of colorful puzzles by Mi-Toys. Each puzzle presents you with many challenges using different color combinations. These puzzles are designed by Y. Gong, but knowing his shady practices of altering the designs of other renowned designers ever-so-slightly in order to avoid copyright violation, I wouldn't hold my breath as to the authorship of these IQ Fit puzzles as well. Maybe I'm being a little unfair, but once you go that road you can't ask for respect from the puzzle community.

Design authorship apart, The L Challenge looks interesting enough, and the bright colors make it stand among other more bland colorless puzzles.  The pieces are made of hardwood and painted in four different colors. The build quality is satisfying, considering its low price. Each color represents a different shape, so you have four identical L-shaped pieces for each of the four colors (green, yellow, red, blue).

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The puzzle comes neatly packed in a tray, but unfortunately it's made of paper. In this case, a wooden tray would've made a bigger difference in the presentation. In the end, you have to keep the paper tray, because otherwise you don't have anything to keep the pieces organized.

The L Challenge comes with 24 "different" challenges, but from what I've seen, they're not that different from each other (difficulty wise and in variety). Essentially, there are five different shapes you can build with the pieces. There are various solutions for each shape with distinct color combinations, but they're quite easy to solve and don't seem challenging at all. Honestly, I don't understand why it's rated as a difficulty level 10/10. I managed to solve several of the 24 challenges within 5 minutes, and the rest is just more of the same, so the variety and novelty factor wears off pretty quickly. You can try to solve four shapes at a time with all 16 pieces, like the photo below.

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Closing Comments:

The L Challenge proved to be a bit of a disappointment. Yes, it looks cool with all the colorful pieces, but it leaves an underwhelming feeling for a packing puzzle fan like me. The challenges can be an incentive to keep playing, but bear in mind that they won't get harder as you try to solve them all.

Availability: You can get a copy of The L Challenge at PuzzleMaster for about $11 CAD. The others in the IQ Fit series are also available.

Challenges:




Funzzle - Kappa (Noncsi)

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Funzzle is a collection of interlocking puzzles made of bamboo and designed by Y. Gong. Each puzzle is regarded as extremely challenging, but you should half expect this for most of interlocking puzzles...At least, that's what I've been experiencing for years.

In fairness, Mr Y.Gong didn't come up with the Kappa design. The original (Noncsi) is made by Tamás Vanyó, as Mr Gong only made a couple of modifications to avoid it being an exact copy of Tamás' design. It's not a very honest practice, in my opinion, but I hope the original designer is ok with it.

Bamboo puzzles have a completely different feel from their hardwood counterparts. For one, they are much lighter in weight, since bamboo is less dense, but their appearance is a little different as well, due to the lighter color shades of bamboo. It all comes down to preference, or as I'd like to call it, diversity in one's collection. I like to have a mixed bag of different materials in my collection.

(Click to Enlarge) - Partially Taken Apart
Any good interlocking puzzle has it's internal mechanism cleverly hidden and even the first piece is tricky to remove or to find out which piece really is the first one to remove. It should be a nice balance between clever design and difficulty. Well, such is not the case in this Kappa puzzle. The first piece to be removed is clearly visible miles away and it can be removed in one simple move. For reference, the original design by Tamás needs two moves to release the first piece.

What does this mean in terms of difficulty, you might be wondering? A lot, since it makes the puzzle much less challenging than it should be. The eight pieces slide along a square frame, in sequence, and they can only be removed one at a time. As you remove piece by piece, you must constantly slide the pieces back and forth to make room for the next piece in line to be released. The reassembly didn't much time or was it that challenging, but only because I didn't shuffle the pieces and had them placed in the correct sequence out of the frame. If you like a real challenge you can mix the pieces once removed from the frame and try to figure out which pieces should go first and which ones should go last.

(Click to Enlarge) - Taken Apart
Closing Comments:

I ended up with mixed feelings about the Kappa puzzle. On the outside, it looks great with an unusual design for an interlocking puzzle, but the execution of the idea leaves a lot to be desired, since it's a cheap copy of the original and it doesn't even work as it was meant to be. I still have a couple of the Funzzle puzzles to review, but judging by the quality of the first one, I don't expect much from the others.

Availability: The Kappa puzzle and all the others in the Funzzle series can be purchased at PuzzleMaster.


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