Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Bob's Bonkers Borg Box!

The first time I saw a Stickman # 5 Puzzlebox in the flesh was at James Dalgety's puzzle heaven. I'd read a bit about it on the Cubic Dissection Gallery pages and it sounded pretty amazing ... seeing one for real was something else entirely - it actually looks like it's from another planet - so it's not surprising that it's been nicknamed the Borg Box and that's the name that's stuck! 

Originally christened the Takeapart Puzzlebox, I'm sure that Rob's love of science fiction means that he doesn't mind (possibly even enjoys!) the name that appreciative puzzlers have bestowed on it. 

A little while back Wil introduced me to a fellow collector who had a few Stickman boxes that he might just be willing to part with - he'd managed to collect some of Rob's earlier puzzles but hadn't managed to get hold of some of the later ones and found himself reluctantly deciding that it might make sense to specialise in a smaller number of puzzle box craftsmen going forward. So it was that we found ourselves swapping a couple of emails and comparing which Stickmen we each had and which ones he might be prepared to sell - a day or two later I'd prioritised the ones I was keen to get hold of and we'd agreed on some prices and thus it came to pass that I was able to purchase four rather collectable Stickman puzzleboxes.

...and I'm sure it won't surprise you to find that the Borg Box was right at the very top of that list - that was the one that I was most keen to grab a copy of, by a country mile! 

A couple more days later and I'd managed to transfer some funds across The Channel and a large wonderfully packaged set of puzzles had arrived in Barnt Green. I've been like a kid in a candy store ever since...

The Borg Box functions like you'd expect a puzzle box to work - there are locks and sliders that interact and at some point some side panels will be released to move, a bit... move them all a bit more, sometimes in the other direction, and some more panels will move until after about 30-odd moves the top slides open.  

Up until now you could be forgiven for thinking that Rob's just been a bit eccentric in his decoration of the outside of the panels by using oddly shaped pieces of wood to disguise the sliders and the locks and latches ... but on the inside, that same "decoration" appears in mirrored form - which is a bit extreme for decorating ... and then it dawns on you that each panel is made up of a raft of interconnected and interlocking pieces - including the locking mechanisms themselves ... and from there if you perform a couple more moves, and remove a few key locking pieces, you can not only take the box apart into its constituent panels, but each of those panels then breaks down into a set of interlocking pieces... the entire box is constructed of pieces that hold together due to their shape alone - no glue (or nails or screws!) has been used to build these boxes ... that is bonkers! 

Thoroughly AWESOME, but totally BONKERS!

The Borg Box consists of 78 pieces, each of which has been cut from a single lump of wood (no gluing remember!) - that means that although the final box 'only' weighs about 4 lbs, each one started out life as a pile of wood weighing 15 lbs ... and took an average of 38 hours to build... 

One last little story about these boxes - Rob reckoned that they were that hard to reassemble properly once they'd been fully disassembled that he imposed a fine charge of $50 on any puzzler who shipped a Borg Box back to Stickman-central in bits for reassembly - having seen just one panel in bits (Rich, you're a maniac!) I'd imagine that paying $50 to get one back together again might be a mighty reasonable offer! 

This box is definitely on my list of all-time favourites already.

[Thanks to those who had a hand in getting it to me... I'll be in your debt for quite some time]


  1. Very nice Allard! I am not even going to ask you how much it costs!

    1. ... a lot less than if I'd bought it on auction, Jerry... :-)

  2. Jealousy is a terrible thing Allard! That is THE Stickman box that I'm after.
    Don't tell me you're not going to do a complete disassembly? You've not finished the puzzle yet!!!
    Then you can put it into Burrtools for even more fun!

    I thought the name came about as a result of the pattern on the faces being a remarkable likeness To the Borg longsword aka the Bat'leth?


    1. Good to see you moving beyond denial, Kevin! :-)