Saturday 20 December 2014

Brian's Stickman Reproductions

Brian Pletcher, the original puzzling super-blogger, has been jolly industrious recently. He challenged himself to produce 3D printed versions of a pair of Robert Yarger’s iconic puzzleboxes. You can read his story over here.

A couple of my mates had bought copies of the Borg Box from Brian and some of the guys on the puzzle forums were raving about them. I’d pretty much decided to get myself one when George Bell put up a photo of his colourfully dyed copy and that absolutely sealed it for me … and with the looming Shapeways price increases I managed to squeeze in an order just before they virtually doubled in price. 

Brian being a rather generous soul ended up tossing in a free copy of his version of the Snowflake as well and a couple of weeks later a pair of rather stunning little reproductions arrived in Barnt Green. 

Now in the interim, my mate Adin (the origami-guru and designer of evil exchange puzzles) had also bagged copy from Brian and was planning on dying it so it wouldn’t be plain Shapeways white (albeit strong and flexible!).  Thinking that tossing an extra set of pieces in the pot wouldn’t be a lot of extra bother, I asked if he’d mind adding mine to the brew and he readily agreed…. Only, a few days later he’d put up some pics of his copy resplendent in glorious Technicolor and I hadn’t even dropped my white bits off at his place yet… so much for not much extra bother. 

Long story short, Adin merrily dyed my copy a couple of weeks later and then dropped off a set of colour-coded bags of bits when he and Sophie came round for a day’s puzzling… along with a few other puzzlers. 

So while Adin and Chris were both still there, I tipped all the bits onto the dining room table and set about trying to work out how the heck to put this puzzle together – remember Stickman himself charges a hefty assembly fee to anyone who takes their full-size copy apart and can’t get it back together again themselves. 

The only time my original copy has been apart was in the hands of my expert puzzle-solving mate Louis – and even then he took one panel apart at a time and kept the pieces neatly laid out in order… 

I was faced with a  pile of scrambled bits – and even with the full-size copy next to me for inspiration (and reference) I really struggled to even start to see how it went together… With a lot of encouragement and advice from Chris, I managed to make a bit of a start but we had to call on Adin for some help once we had the panels more or less together... at which point we realised some of the locking mechanisms needed to be reversed in order to get the panels to actually go together. 

It must have taken well over an hour to finally get the little marvel assembled and locked up… so now whenever anyone opens my Borg Box, they will find a rather colourful little 3D-printed miniature version inside it… :-) ...and when they open that copy... it's empty... but wouldn't that be pretty cool... turtles!

…and since Brian had sent me a copy of Snowflake as well, and it just so happens to fit perfectly inside my Snowball, anyone opening my copy of the Snowball will find a neatly nesting copy of Snowflake inside that as well!

Thanks to Brian to letting me get a copy before Shapeways’ prices went skywards and for tossing in the Snowflake as well – and a huge THANK YOU to Adin for boiling some colour into my little Borg Box – it looks brilliant!

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