Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Longer Than Expected - BonBon


BonBon by Frederic Boucher

I took advantage of the last Cubicdissection offering to acquire a copy of BonBon designed by Frederic Boucher.  I’m fortunate that CD is relatively close and I can receive the puzzles within a few days.  The puzzle was released on a Wednesday and CD indicated that the packages would be sent out by the end of the week.  A couple of days for shipping, a couple more for quarantining, a few minutes to solve, and I would have my blog entry for the following week!

To keep track of your puzzle purchases on a minute-to-minute basis, Cubidissection provides a tracking number.  I was able to see that my package was launched on its journey on Friday.  I was assured that it would be received by 8:00 PM on Wednesday, but I knew that it would be arriving earlier.  On Saturday, I was pleased to see that the package had left North Carolina at 4:00 in the morning and arrived in my home state, New Jersey, at 5:00 PM.  Right on track!  I should receive it Sunday, or Monday at the latest.  Sunday morning, I checked online to determine what time it would be arriving and saw instead that it had arrived in Georgia at 10:00 PM on Saturday night !?!

BonBon Pieces

For those of you not familiar with East Coast USA, New Jersey is several hundred miles North of North Carolina and Georgia is several hundred miles south of North Carolina.  In one day, the package went from NC to NJ to GA for over 1000 miles, passing both me and CD twice.  At this point, the package was stuck swirling around Georgia while occasionally updating me that it had been received in a Georgia distribution center and that it was still on track to be delivered by 8:00 PM on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, one week after the release, the status changed to the dreaded: It’s going to be Late.  When they tell you it’s going to be on time, you assume that it’s going to be late.  When they admit that it’s going to be late, well …

Fortunately, I did receive the package on Thursday and dutifully put it in the quarantine pile for the next couple of days.  

Was it worth the wait?  Most definitely!  The Butternut box with acrylic top and Morado pieces are beautiful.  I really like the look of the Morado grain.  I also like that the puzzle comes unsolved and gives nothing away with the way that it is packed for shipping.

The objective of the puzzle is to put all 5 pieces completely inside the box.  It turns out that it is trivial to place all the pieces inside with a single cube hanging out but much more difficult to get them in without any hanging out.

The box has 4 openings that can be used to insert pieces and help move them around.  It’s not really a spoiler to say that pieces can only be inserted using 2 of them.  The 2 square openings are too small to support inserting any of the pieces.

The geometry of the box supports a variety of piece rotations, making the solve a lot of fun.  While figuring out how the pieces can be rotated within the box, I found some really cool rotations that weren’t required, but they were really … uh … Cool!  Definitely something to consider for a future puzzle.

Like the shipping, The solving process took longer than expected.  I spent about 2 hours figuring out how to pack those 5 simple looking pieces in the box.  Of course, I enjoyed every minute of it.  I do enjoy fiddling with these types of puzzles and trying various things before resorting to any serious thought process.  However, when you do give it a good think, everything just falls into place rather quickly.

Since I obviously couldn’t include a photo of the solved puzzle, I decided to quickly take a picture of it packed with all 5 pieces and 4 of them coming out of one of the holes.  It wasn’t as quick as I thought and was an interesting task.  Have fun with that one!  Spoiler shot of the erupting BonBon below.

BonBon Alternate Challenge

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

15 Steps to Success - Stairs Cube

Stairs Cube by Osanori Yamamoto

Down the stairs to get a puzzle off the unsolved pile; up the stairs to solve it; down the stairs to put it on the solved pile.  Unlike some puzzle collectors, the majority of my puzzle collection does not reside on the same level of the house where I spend most of my time, requiring me to go up and down the stairs when puzzling.  Who said that solving puzzles wasn’t an aerobic exercise?

After recently going up and down the stairs several times to organize my puzzles, I decided that it was time to take a look at Stairs Cube by Osanori Yamamoto.  This puzzle, made by Wood Wonders, has been patiently waiting for some attention as it listened to the sounds of other puzzles being carried up and down the stairs over the years.  It was overdue to come upstairs and be appreciated.

Stairs Cube Pieces
Stairs Cube is a level 10.3.2 puzzle that consists of 4 pieces.  My version from Wood Wonders is made from Swiss Pear and Wenge.  The 2 woods contrast very nicely and couldn’t be more different.  The Wenge is very dark with a very noticeable grain pattern.  The Swiss Pear on the other hand is very light and so uniform it almost looks artificial.  Together, they make a very attractive puzzle.

If it looks like this puzzle would not be that difficult, you would be right.  It’s obvious where the pieces have to go and pretty easy to get them there.  There are some rotations involved, but they aren’t difficult to navigate.  This puzzle would make a good introduction to burrs requiring rotations.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - Fantastic

 Fantastic by Andrew CrowellHow do you get everyone to say that your puzzle is fantastic?  You name it FantasTIC of course.  And then you emboss it on the puzzle so there can be no doubt.  This way when someone hands it to a friend, they’ll have to say: This one is FantasTIC.  Nobody will ever be able to deny it.  Great marketing!  Simple but effective.  I’m going to start giving my puzzles names like, Best Puzzle Ever, A Must Have, and maybe even Better Than Fantastic.

Of Course, FantasTIC is fantastic since it was created by TIC master Andrew Crowell.  My 3D printed version is one of the many TICs that I bought from Andrew last year.  The puzzle consists of 5 pieces that make a 4x4x4 cube with a complexity of  The last 3 pieces to be removed all require rotations.  The frame and one other piece are printed in yellow PLA and the other 3 pieces are printed with black PLA.  The embossing on the frame declares that this puzzle is….wait for it…. FantasTIC.

Fantastic Pieces

Since I received these puzzles unassembled, my description is from the assembly perspective.  Attempting to insert the piece within the frame from largest to smallest will rapidly reveal where each piece has to go within the puzzle.  I’m sure it will come as no surprise that this is not the order that the pieces have to be inserted within the frame.  It’s also much easier to determine the insertion order than actually inserting the pieces.

Trying to get those first 2 pieces within the frame, you may find yourself muttering something like, this $!@#%@!#$ FantasTIC puzzle!, which pretty well summarizes how puzzlers enjoy being frustrated.  It takes some effort to figure out how to insert each piece within the frame and then even more to get them within the frame at the same time.  They seem to work well together at not working well together.  Once you get those first 2 pieces where they need to be, you’ve surmounted the crux of the puzzle.  The remaining 2 pieces are interesting but fairly straight-forward to add.

This is the 10th post of the monthly Andrew Crowell Rotations and Obstructions Series - Turning Interlocking Cubes (ACROSTIC).  You can find the prior posts of the series here: