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