The T9 may look like a common or garden padlock, albeit a rather large, very sturdy padlock. But it is nothing of the sort. It comes with a fairly simple looking key and not a lot else. The back of the lock has Rainer’s cat logo and “T9 Popplock” engraved across it. The front has a central keyhole that’s surround a two rows of rivets / screws – six evenly spaced in the inner row and the three around the outer ring have red markings on them. (Here be danger?)
The rest of the lock has a couple of the usual plugged holes that have probably been drilled out to insert the locking mechanism, but don’t really provide much of a clue to the eventual operations of the locking mechanism itself.
Clearly with nothing else to do, you shove the key into the keyhole and turn … and turn … and turn. After spinning the key around for a while and realising that all you’re doing is getting a little older (at least the key isn’t gripped in there like some other puzzles, eh Rox?) you decide to switch your attention elsewhere...
Paying more careful attention to some of the elements of the lock allows you to progress a little with a delightful little surprise, and while I can repeat this little move at will, I have to confess that even after solving the puzzle, I’m still not exactly sure why it works that way…
Right so having made a tiny amount of progress, you find yourself with something new to explore and find a use for. This section of the solve takes a while and needs a fair amount of rigorous exploration – I started finding something interesting going on but it took a long time for me to get to the point where it was going to start being useful. I went through a couple of phases of discovery on this section, each time thinking to myself “That was interesting, but it doesn’t seem to do anything”.
Soldiering on I got to the point when all of a sudden something mind-blowing happened – and I mean really mind-blowing. Literally take-your-breath-away-wonderful. The sort of thing you wish for in a puzzle… that moment makes this puzzle worth every penny… and you’re still not done yet – there’s a another layer on this onion to be peeled back before you can finally open the shackle.
T9 has easily become my favourite Popplock and I’m looking forward to finally getting the solution booklet (my mate held onto it so I wouldn’t be tempted – nice bloke, eh?) so that I can see the cutaway drawing and work out how “that bit” actually works.
The T9 has a wonderful sequence of steps that gives you little victories along the way so that you know you’re on the right path, one of the best “A-Ha!” moments I’ve seen in a puzzle in a long time and some incredibly well-hidden bits. The machining on the T9 is simply sublime – the movements are all silky smooth (if something isn’t going, don’t bother pushing any harder, it won’t go!) and the sneaky bits are brilliantly hidden.
In short, it’s AWESOME! (and yes, it’s easily worth the price!)
You should be able to get hold of a copy via your friendly puzzle-peddler, Grand Illusions (although they're saying SOLD OUT already!) or Puzzlemaster, or indeed directly from Rainer off his web-site.