Wednesday 22 January 2014

Stickman Holiday Lockbox

OK – if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you will have noticed that I’m an unabashed Stickman fan-boy … heck, even Gill’s a huge fan of Rob’s work, and that’s saying something!

So when Nick Baxter’s auction machine swung into action again recently, and it had a few Stickman boxes on it, I paid attention. While I didn’t manage to get most of the things I was trying to acquire, I was successful on one of them, and a rather well-looked-after Stickman Holiday Lockbox arrived in Barnt Green a couple of weeks later. 

First released back in 2005, the Holiday Lockbox was available in either oak or maple. I’m not sure how many maple boxes were produced, but I’ve only ever seen the oak version. With a distinctive red colour, it’s pretty easy to recognise with three big dials on the top of the box and a latch / slider across the front of it. The two ends are decorated with some neat inlay work that definitely add a nice feature, unless you got one of the second batch of these – they didn’t have the inlay work on the ends. [Useless little puzzle-geek-factoid for you.] 

The three dials on the top of the box are used to represent a date and can be set to any date the owner prefers. Opening the box is a simple matter of using a paper template that fits over the dials to set a month (first, smaller dial on the left – it’s American, remember), day and year, and once you’ve set that properly, the slider will move and the lid can be opened. 

Now although it wasn’t meant to be a puzzlebox, you can use the little grey cells, a deft touch and some experimentation to pick the lock and open it without the combination, so I can deem it a puzzle anyway! (As if I needed any excuses to buy another Stickman box!)

I suspect that a lot more of these turned out to be puzzles than Rob may have intended as the booklets with the date templates were shipped inside the boxes and anyone fiddling with the dials before trying the slider would have had their helpful paper template sealed inside the box until they managed to puzzle their way in! I’m sure he didn’t do that intentionally … <GRIN> 

Rob’s rather clever design for the mechanism uses three discs to drive a set of sliders left and right – when they’re in the proper position, they allow the locking slider to move out of the way to enable the lid to be opened. The designs allows two interesting things – firstly, the dials on the top can effectively spin freely, never coming up against a stop and secondly, the left/right sliders can be loosened allowing the owner to set a unique date as the unlock code … cool. 

The implementation also has another little feature that I discovered when I first opened the box – I was using my somewhat non-existent lock picking skills and had successfully opened the box, however when I put the template over the dials, I found that one or two of the dials were in exactly the opposite position to where they should have been – which given the geometry of the mechanism makes sense: there will be two places on the dial where the left/right sliders are in the desired spot… [Another useless little puzzle-geek-factoid for you.]

One more Stickman added to the collection… many more to go! :-)


  1. Congratulations! Your collection of these is coming on very nicely! I'm very impressed!