Sunday 3 December 2023

Smack-N Moles – Stickman #37

Chinny’s exchange puzzle at IPP40 was the stand-out for me – and not just because I’m a massive Stickman-fan-boy!

This little walnut box has a bunch of pesky critters poking out of the top of the box and a handy mallet attached to the side of the box for pounding on them – what more could you want for an afternoon’s entertainment? 

And pound on them you can, but they invariably pop up again and taunt you when you pound their mates into submission… you can chase them around in circles, attack them randomly and even try and find that elusive sequence that leaves them all submissively in their little mole holes… well you can try…

Stepping back for a moment - that mallet is attached to a steel cable that’s not quite long enough, if you know what I mean, and the cable is seriously well-attached to the side of the box with a rather large bolt. A careful examination of the box shows what might be a lid and you can confirm that it is indeed those little moles that are keeping it from opening…

If only there was some way of getting them all back down into their little holes…

I ended up spending several hours finding things that definitely didn’t work on this puzzle – occasionally I found little things that moth possibly be helpful, even to the point of finding what I thought might be helpful tools, only finding something useful to do with those tools seriously eluded me… until something really weird happened one day and a little part of the world opened up to me.  

It was a wonderfully unexpected little thing, but it obviously meant something useful had happened… OK, at least something had happened!

From there, with some new things to explore, places to go, people to see and stuff to control and do… and then ultimately a lid to remove and expose all of the little bits inside that have had me chasing my tail for many, many hours.

I love the fact that Rob’s left his elegantly simple mechanism open for all to see and I’ll wager quite a lot that I’m not the only one who has totally overengineered things in my own little head and then been amazed at Rob’s clever design.

Thanks to Chinny for bringing this little bit of joy into our lives this year and for Rob for coming up with the goods yet again!



  1. On my copy the head of the mallet broke off. Be extremely careful with this as it is a rather tenuous connection. I haven’t tried regluing it yet.

  2. You can try the mallet from Tanaka's "Daruma Otoshi" box: Last time I used it, the varnish from the box got chipped and the mallet itself was still doing fine afterwards!