I’ve long expressed the opinion that the one thing that you can recognise a Stickman Puzzlebox by, is the fact that you cannot recognise a Stickman Puzzlebox – they are all SO different – be it the styles, mechanisms or look of the puzzles – they are all different. So when Rob calls Puzzlebox #32, The Traditional, you can be sure he’s referring to something other than his normal style and approach – because there is no such thing.
In this case, he’s alluding to traditional Japanese puzzle boxes – #32 is his homage to their massive contribution to the puzzle community. And he’s really gone the whole hog on this one, not only perfecting the fine art of Japanese Yosegi, but teaching his apprentice Rick to do it as well so that he could contribute some of the Yosegi panels.
It certainly looks the part – with some wonderfully traditional Japanese Yopsegi patterns mixed in with a couple that have a distinctly more modern look to them… and the homage doesn’t just end at the decoration: Japanese puzzle boxes typically rely on interacting sliding panels to release their secrets and this one does that in spades!
In fact, when you first pick this box up and fiddle around with it, you might well be tempted to think that literally every single panel is covered with things that slide this way and that – this definitely ain’t just a traditional old Japanese puzzle box – this little guy’s on steroids!
Some gentle playing will allow you enough progress to start getting into a compartment or two… but this fella has a total of four compartments waiting to be properly discovered… and finding them all took me an inordinate amount of time…
In fact, this guy has been on my shelf-of-shame for absolute ages – gently mocking me… I could get myself about half way through the solution quite easily, but the second half eluded me… of course several of my good puzzling friends merrily opened it, pronounced it great fun and then locked it up again for me… without a single clue as to why I was getting myself so stuck…
…and then a couple of weeks ago, I decided it really needed to be joining its brothers in the new cabinets downstairs so I made a concerted effort at getting it off the shelf-of-shame… and finally succeeded in pushing through to the second half of the solution – a seriously broad smile ensued.
This isn’t so much an homage as it's a total reimagining, keeping enough of the underlying traditional elements in there for you to recognise and to lead you up the garden path, and then adding a few kickers that really don’t behave the way any self-respecting traditional Japanese puzzle box would – like moving one panel causes another panel to move in the opposite direction!
…it kicked my backside for more than a year – and I love it for that very reason!