Tuesday 30 August 2016


The label on the packaging reads "Design from the twisted mind of Derek Bosch"...hmm, I wonder if there was an intentional pun here. Well, Vapors is a "twist" puzzle...of sorts.

Vapors is Steve Nicholls IPP36 Exchange Puzzle. Conceptually it is similar to his Pole Dancers where the goal here is to twist the two spirally interlocking pieces out of the cube. However, physically there is little similarity to Pole Dancers. Instead of the cylindrical "burr" style design like the latter or others in the "Helical" range, Steve has chosen to encase the red spiral pieces inside a square white cube. Which leads me to conclude that the exterior design and colours were deliberate, to match those of the Japanese flag (since IPP36 was held in Kyoto early this August). I say it looks rather eye-catching and unique. However, I am not sure why it's called Vapors?

The puzzle was 3D printed by Steve (mostly Steve fabricates all his puzzles using 3D printing) and measures 5.8cm all round. Its the same size as that of a standard Rubik's Cube. The cube itself is textured on four sides not only to make gripping easy but to give the puzzle some pattern. There is sufficient tolerance to allow the pieces to "twist" reasonably smoothly without jamming nor it being too loose.

Like burr pieces, the spiral pieces contain various protrusions and notches and they interact with other protrusions on the inside hollow of the cube. To extract the said pieces, you have to pull, push and twist one or the other of the pieces or sometimes even both at the same time in particular (sequential) manner. Similar to how you would solve a burr, but now, the pieces go up, down and round, instead of up, down, left and right. Vapors is not easy and I found it harder than Pole Dancers from last year. Removal was not too difficult and done within minutes. But it took me several sessions of play over the course of one and half days to re-assemble everything back to its original state. My poor memory of how I took it apart didn't help either. I might have taken less time, but during the putting together stage, I accidentally broke one of the pieces and had to use epoxy glue to join the broken halves and wait a good eight hours for the glue to set completely before resuming assembly.

For puzzlers who like cylindrical "burrs", this is a must have to add to any collection. A couple of puzzlers have lamented the fact that these puzzles are not made of wood....Don't we all wish they can be made of exotic woods. However, I am not sure if wood turning (or other methods of wood-working) can produce such designs into actual working copies. Granted 3D printed ones can't compare with the quality of their wooden counter-parts, but at least these designs have been realised into functioning copies for puzzlers to enjoy. And as far as I can tell, so far Derek has designed and Steve produced, everyone of this type of puzzle that have come onto the market.

Those interested to get a copy of Vapors can contact Steve Nicholls via his website here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi - this may hold a clue to the title