I think I first saw the Family puzzle boxes on Puzzlemaster a few years ago and remember thinking at the time that they looked great, but I couldn’t really justify the price. They’ve haunted me for a few years now, popping up in different shops when I’ve been surfing randomly, but then finally one of Wil Strijbos’ emails said he had some in stock and I couldn’t put it off any longer...
I suppose I had always liked the look of Family because they just looked so unique – I confessed to a love of Japanese puzzle boxes very early on in this blog, and I have to say that I really like the unusual ones – so seeing a pair of puzzle boxes that look like a roll-top desk (a well-known weakness in the Walker-household ... one day ...) and a sort of filing cabinet, it was only ever going to be a matter of time before I relented – Wil just provided the excuse at the right time.
Family is a Karakuri Group creation from 2007 designed by Tatsuo Miyamoto. It is intended to represent a family in the form of a mother, father and child (although the link to the roll-top desk and filing cabinet still escapes this South African-cum-Englishman!) and the description of the puzzle suggests that the relationships between the three in the family should help you solve the puzzle – the objective being to open the two secret compartments ... again, I may well be missing some of the symbolism, but it’s a lovely little set of puzzle boxes anyway.
Placing the boxes near one another produces some interesting interaction, and effectively produces the child fairly simply – so at least you now have the full family of three and the first secret compartment opens – actually, you’ve unlocked the roll-top desk, and it turns out that it really is a beautifully made little roll-top that slides open to reveal the first compartment. [Don’t worry, there isn’t really much of a hint in there – that bit’s very straight-forward ... the next bit, is less so, and I’ll leave you on your own for that one!]
So, having unrolled the desktop you have a child, an open box and one very closed box [and no, I am not going to speculate on their respective genders] – a little exploration will pinpoint where the next opening is probably going to be, but getting it to unlock is another thing entirely! I knew this bit would be a bit tricky, because Wil had said in one of his emails that he wanted to know how long it took me to find the second compartment. You’ll need to be quite creative to get it open, and as usual with these boxes, if you need to apply force, you’re doing it wrong. (Stop, you’ll hurt it!!)
The final solution is not only elegant, but there’s a lovely little satisfying ‘click’ that let’s you know you’ve found it, before you open the final compartment.
It’s been worth the wait – it’s a lovely little set of puzzle boxes.
[Oh, and in answer to Wil's question: More hours than I'd care to let on!]