Sunday 26 April 2015

…a little treasure…

A little while ago I managed to pick up a couple of lovely little bits of puzzling treasure..

First on the list was a particularly gorgeous creation from the mind of Oskar and the workshop of Tom Lensch. I’ve been trying to get hold of a copy of Wanderer for a while now and on the odd occasion when I spotted one in the wild, I didn’t have enough cash left in my wallet… this time I saw it coming and made sure I was suitably liquid and managed to snag myself a copy.

The concept is simple, a shuttle is captured inside a cubic cage with a number of strategically placed notches in the walls allowing the shuttle limited movement due to a couple of pairs of protruding bumps on its sides. The shape of the shuttle itself allows some interesting movements between both opposite and adjoining sides of the cube, but only in some directions … and then only when the notches / bumps allow.

If that all sounds rather familiar, it probably is since the Hanayama Cast Cuby is a scaled down shinier version that simplifies the construction a little… although I suspect that the simplification hasn’t done anything to reduce the solution-depth.

I just love the look of the thing – way the shades of the different woods on the shuttle play out across its rounded underbelly is just brilliant. The beautifully precise work on the corners of the frame is tremendous. Definitely a little treasure to add to the collection.

Next up was a variation on another puzzle on the collection already. Three-Piece Blockhead was Bill Cutler's gorgeous IPP15 exchange puzzle. As the name suggests, it’s a variant of the famous Blockhead puzzle that only uses three pieces.

Instead of four blocks in a square frame (honest guv’) this one asks you to simply place three cherry blocks into a hexagonal walnut frame. Everything looks neat and tidy when the three blocks are in the frame to start with, but tip them out and it’s rather obvious that there was a little subterfuge just below the surface of that little puzzle as the blocks aren’t really shaped the way you might expect, so finding the right way to put them back into the frame is a non-trivial task.

A great puzzle to give to muggles who scoff at the idea that putting three blocks into a simple looking frame might be in the slightest bit challenging… a lovely little piece of puzzling history to go next to my standard four-piece Blockhead. :-)

Lastly a lovely little Eric Fuller creation that has been on my lust-list for ages… it was one of those things that jumped out at me from Eric’s gallery pages as being simply stunning – Alfons Eyckmans’ Lolly Box. Four colourful wooden Lollies are packed in a walnut box so that only their sticks protrude.

Removing the first takes a reasonable 4 moves, as does the second, but this puzzle shows its true colours when the next piece requires a further 17 moves to release it! I’d originally lusted after it mainly because of its looks – I know – I’m really shallow! But now that I’ve had a chance to play with it, there’s a lot more to enjoy about this puzzle than just its looks…

It’s been beautifully made by Eric so the pieces need to be aligned rather neatly to enable the necessary moves… and those internal protrusions are in just the right / wrong place – depending on your point of view.

A stunning little puzzle that I’m glad has now moved off the lust-list and into the little collection.


  1. Just stunning! How you keep managing to nab these incredible toys just amazes me! As for shallow? You're not alone - look at my recent purchases! All because of my fetish for beautiful wood!


    1. ...maybe we should start a support group, eh Kevin? :-) See you in June...

  2. Hi Allard
    where or who was offering the Wanderer??

  3. I would have asked the same question as Bernhard, since it looks beautiful!

    The website of Tom Lensch does not have a lot of puzzles to sell and does not seem to bu very often updated...
    Almost nothing...

  4. Wanderer came from a friend who had one for sale...sorry Nick, Tom's web site doesn't seem to have kept up with what he's producing these days and only has some of his older (totally sold out) work on it.

  5. I see. Do you know where we can see the puzzles that Tom is currently crafting and selling?