I was a little late getting to Eric Fuller’s latest round of new sales on CubicDissection – I missed the email alert by going to bed 10 minutes too early, and by the time I logged on first thing the next morning, all the new burrs had been snapped up by earlier birds or folks in a more suitable time zone. Casting an eye around the items still available, I spotted the Wunder Puzzle – available in three flavours all made by Eric’s fair hand.
Reading Eric’s blurb, he’d copied the original design from an old puzzle that a mate had bought off EBay, but while he’d been working on the copy, he thought of a couple of improvements, and turned those into two additional variations. The joints looked rather interesting so I decided to take a punt on Mechanism#2 because it sounded like the most complicated ... and then promptly ordered a 3E, a Lattice and Remove the Yolk – just to make shipping it to the UK worthwhile, you understand – not because I’m addicted to buying puzzles! [Really, Gill, I promise!]
Wunder PuzzleMechanism #2 (the Paduak one on the right) duly arrived and I really liked it. It’s a modest looking little puzzle about 9cm tall – the contrasting woods make it clear that there’s a special sort of joint between the two main pieces. [For ‘special’ here, read ‘impossible-looking’!] Prodding and poking and tugging various bits gives you some ideas worth trying, while thinking a bit about the weight and the materials will suggest there’s likely to something a bit denser on the inside – and indeed a little wave of the old handy compass (why do puzzlers always have a compass handy at their desks!?) suggest this little item may well be interfering with the earth’s magnetic north pole.
About half an hour of fiddling and experimenting, applying a bit of Rule 11, and yet more fiddling, I found the two halves sliding apart in a most unusual way – or at least, not in the way that I was expecting! The insides are beautifully made and the fit is really great – resulting in that impossible-joint-y-look from the outside. I really enjoyed that ... so much so, that I decided pretty much right away that I needed to get hold of the other two in the series – so hopped in the inter-web and ordered them ...
A bit more than a week later another small box arrived from Cubic-land with the Original and Mechanism#1. Having already hurled myself in the deep end with #2, I reverted back to the Original (the Bubinga one on the left) and laid into that one first ... and to be honest, it didn’t take very long to open – but still a satisfying little puzzle to open.
From there I moved on to Mechanism#1 (the Walnut one in the centre) – which given the unconventional order of my attack turned out to be the most interesting of the lot – it seemed a lot lighter than the other puzzles, and no amount of Rule 11-ing would yield any internal noises, which got me thinking that this one must be different ... and indeed it is totally different! Eric has created a totally new puzzle here that just happens to look like the other two quite similar puzzles in the series ... when I first spotted something odd happening, I was confused – then it hit me what he was doing and it’s brilliant! Releasing the puzzle is a wee bit fiddly but quite straight-forward once you’ve worked out what to do – guaranteed to put a smile on your face after the Original or Mechanism#2.
- The Original is a good little puzzle – if you’ve done a few, you’re likely to guess at the mechanism, but that joint is a great feature.
- Mechanism#1 is a breath of fresh air – totally different!
- Mechanism#2 builds on the Original and adds a mean twist.
I reckon they make a great little set – and if like me, you only bought Mechanism#2, you’re missing out!
[At time of writing there were still a few Original and Mechanism#1 available here. UPDATE: Sorry folks - they're all gone now...]