My puzzle this weekend was the "Phive Pack", a play on words, which (I think) means "five" piece packing puzzle, fellow puzzle blogger Allard Walker's IPP36 Exchange Puzzle.
A somewhat different style of packing puzzle from the norm, this 3D packer does have five pieces; consisting of four odd-shaped ones which form a polyhedron and the fifth being a marble. The object is to place the four pieces and a rather good looking pearl-like marble into the accompanying plastic tube so that the latter is completely hidden within.
Designed by Jane Kostick of KO Sticks, the artisan folks who create incredible looking geometric sculptures and puzzles in wood, the puzzle was 3D printed by Shapeways. It was available in a variety of colours during the Exchange but I chose a bright magenta, the copy you see here.
The Phive Pack came un-assembled. At first glance, I didn't think the puzzle was that difficult, after all it's only four pieces, and all I needed to do was to pack the four into the plastic tube, but how wrong I was. Of the four pieces, two are identical, while the remaining two look very much alike but have slightly different angled surfaces.
It took me a good half an hour or more of trying before I found the right orientation of the pieces relative to each other. The angle and facets of the pieces really confuse but once put together correctly, the final shape is a nice symmetrical polyhedron and fits just nicely inside the stubby plastic tube. I wonder if Allard/Jane had designed the puzzle just the right size (about 4cm all round) to fit the tube or the other way round. Any other way would result in some portion of the marble being exposed and the puzzle sticking out, preventing one of the two plastic caps from covering the tube properly.
Depending on who's playing with it, some may find it really hard, some not. In the words of puzzler Eitan Cher, it's a very "disorientating" puzzle to solve. Agreed! IMHO, its not an overly difficult puzzle but not an easy one either...just somewhere in between with the right amount of challenge for an exchange puzzle. Contact Allard via his blog site if you are keen to get one.