I’ve been slowly adding to my little collection of Stickman boxes over the past few years and it’s fair to say that this one has held a fair amount of attraction – and after watching a couple of them go for some very healthy prices, I was delighted when the latest one to hit Jacques Haubrich’s puzzle auction didn’t get quite as spendy as the others… so it ended up winging it way across the Channel to Barnt Green.
A large part of the draw for this puzzle came from its looks on the one hand and Neil’s description of it over here. Any box where the opening sequence gets described as having a rhythm, and a rhythm akin to a classic Led Zeppelin track at that, can’t be bad.
If it’s not immediately obvious from the numbering, this is one of Robert Yarger’s early designs… he’d produced a couple of designs that hadn’t been given design numbers and when he started seriously making puzzleboxes, he began numbering the designs… so this is only the second design since he started taking the whole puzzle-box-making-malarkey seriously … and it deserves a huge amount of respect!
From Rob’s own description over here he only possessed a radial arm saw, a drill and some hand tools at the time that he made 45 of these boxes – out of scrap wood! Rob humbly describes them as looking a bit rustic, and they may, but mechanically this is a fantastic puzzlebox!
First off, going straight for the obvious lid of the box provides a little surprise: either it’s locked or there’s another way in… or a bit of both. This is not your average little decorative chest – the decorative bits tend to hide handy puzzly bits and when you start solving this box you realise just why it’s so darn popular among collectors around the world.
The first few steps are reasonably predictable, but then Rob throws in a massive curve-ball! Once you get over that bombshell, you settle into the rhythm that Neil talks about and it is delightful – there’s a clear purpose to each move and once you get a mental picture of what you’re doing you can settle into that rhythm and watch things unfold in front of you.
Find your way into the first compartment and you’ll get that warm puzzling glow … but there are three more compartments to find before you’re done…
The next two come along fairly quickly, just like the proverbial London bus… but you have to work for the next one – which rewards you when you’ve realised why things worked the way they did earlier on in the process.
There’s a really good reason why 55-move Stickman puzzleboxes don’t come up for sale very often – puzzle collectors simply don’t want to part with them – because they’re brilliant!