Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mesmerized by - HypnoTIC

Every once in a while, someone declares that the 4x4x4 cubic dissection puzzle format has been exhausted and that there is nothing new to be discovered in that space.  However, Andrew Crowell has become the most recent champion of 4x4x4 cubic dissection puzzles with not just one or two new designs but many, and more to come.

HypnoTIC is my favorite of Andrew’s Turning Interlocking Cube (TIC) puzzle designs so far.  It consists of 5 pieces with each piece requiring rotational moves to be released, even though one piece comes out by rotating another. 

I ordered this puzzle directly from Andrew and had it sent unassembled to get the full enjoyment from the solving process.  All the rotations add to the fun in determining the relationships between the pieces and the order of assembly.

What really amazed me about this puzzle is one particular piece that needs an amazingly complex rotation to release it.  I was doubly amazed when Andrew told me that he developed a computer program to design these puzzles and that this rotation was indeed a product of that program.  This rotation is not easy to discover and I’ve even taken the piece out in front of others to then enjoy seeing them try to get it back in.

Nice alternate assembly
if you can't solve the rotations

Another thing that I liked about this puzzle is that at the beginning of the assembly there is a perfectly plausible looking piece orientation that could entice you in the wrong direction.  I know this, of course, since I had the joy of experiencing it myself.  I hope you get to enjoy the experience as well!  If you find yourself at your wit’s end, consider doubting the placement of pieces that you consider obvious.

In addition to coming up with fantastic designs, Andrew does a great job of crafting the puzzles from exotic woods.  My HypnoTIC puzzle was made by Andrew in Wenge and White Oak with dowels reinforcing key joints.  Andrew made an effort to have dark dowels for the Wenge pieces and light dowels for the Oak pieces but I think with the two-color scheme that it would have looked nicer with contrasting colors: light dowels for the dark pieces and dark dowels for the light pieces.

Andrew sells puzzles on his arcWoodPuzzles Etsy shop, but has been coming up with so many designs that he is now selling STL files for a nominal fee for puzzlers to 3D print their own copies.  If you don’t have a 3D printer, Andrew will print a copy for a reasonable fee.  The last time I checked the fee was between $15 and $20, which is solidly in the no-brainer category and a reminder that I need to go shopping again.  Andrew has also posted some of his designs for free on Thingiverse.

For those of you that crave exotic wood masterpieces and 3D printed puzzles just won’t do, in addition to getting them directly from Andrew, Brian Menold at Wood Wonders is doing an excellent job of offering puzzles of Andrew’s designs.  Wood Wonders provides finely crafted puzzles in exotic woods of many of the top puzzle designers and puzzles usually sell out very fast when they are released on his site.

A word of warning when ordering puzzles at Wood Wonders in the first few minutes that new puzzles are released – A puzzle is not reserved for you until you COMPLETE the purchase process.  Multiple people can have the same puzzle in their cart, but the first person that completes the sale, gets the puzzle.  The others will be informed that the puzzle is unavailable when they try to complete the purchase.  You need to enter this process treating it like a competition.  Speed is of the essence and if you need to take time reading all the descriptions, you are at a distinct disadvantage.  If there is a puzzle that you really need to have, complete the purchase as soon as you add it to your cart without further browsing.  If you need to take your time and browse through the selections, resolve yourself to potentially losing selections from your cart.  Recognizing the immense popularity of Andrew Crowell's puzzles, Brian has been making larger runs of his puzzles to accommodate demand and alleviate availability issues.  Good luck and may all your selections be available!

You can read Kevin's experience with HypnoTIC here.

1 comment:

  1. Great puzzle! Love the alternate, of course it's the only solution I know! Lol! Have fun shopping honey!