Friday 21 June 2013

Hedgehog In The Cage

Hedgehog In The Cage - GEN
Hedgehog In The Cage - BEARING

The inventor of this puzzle is Clarence A. Worrall and dates back to 1896. Subsequent to him, a number of variations of this puzzle have come about including a cast version from Hanayama called the Cast Cage. Eureka came out with its own version called "Man The Torpedo"  while I also acquired one from Wil Strijbos called "Aluminium Hedgehog In Cage" which I am not sure where he sourced from.

Various materials are used in the making of these puzzles apart from aluminium and these include wood and plastic. All versions are based on the same principle; solving the puzzle requires the removal of a trapped object ie "hedghog" through the gaps/holes of its "cage". The two newest versions reviewed here are from Radek Micopulos.

Hedgehog GEN on the left and BEARING on the right

Radek Micopulos. From his online store. The GEN cost 549 Czech Crowns (US$28) while the BEARING is 599 (US$30.50). The web store is in Czech language but Google Translate should do the job.

Reasonably priced puzzles but the only let down is that you cannot use PayPal to pay! I had to resort to doing a telegraphic bank transfer of funds to Radek to purchase the puzzles and this added about an extra US$30 to the total cost.

For more information and the history of the hedgehog, prototypes and other examples, check out the following:-

Type & Classification

GEN - 7.4cm (H) x 4.8cm (Diameter)
BEARING - 7.5cm x 4.8cm (Diameter)

Materials & Construction
Both puzzles are made from aluminium throughout; the cage and hedgehog. Machine cut (most likely computerised CNC) with both polished and matt surfaces, the quality, fit and finish is excellent. Very well made with a really solid heavy feeling in the hand, particulary the BEARING.

The GEN and BEARING attracted my attention for two reasons. Firstly as mentioned, they are very high quality metal puzzles (yes, I am a sucker for metal puzzles). Secondly, both are unusual variations of the "standard" design. The GEN has diagonal gaps/slots instead of the usual vertical slots which gives it a rather different and (I think more interesting) look.

Also what is interesting about the GEN is that the method of solving is totally different from the normal hedgehogs. While not difficult to solve (I managed it in under two minutes), it does provide a different twist to the puzzle

The BEARING is solved in the traditional way (more challenging than the GEN) but what makes it stand out from the rest is the affixing of ball bearings (hence the name BEARING) to the top and bottom of the puzzle. Functionally the ball bearings serve no purpose (Clue: has nothing to do with the solution) but their addition lends the puzzle a very cool industrial and machine-like appearance.

Difficult Level
GEN is relatively easy while BEARING is more challenging (especially if you have never solved a hedgehog before)

From Left- Aluminium Hedgehog In Cage, Hedgehog BEARING,
Hedgehog GEN, Man The Torpedo & the super-sized XL Hedgehog In Cage

If you like metal puzzles like me, especially high quality and well-made ones, then both the GEN and BEARING are must-buys for collectors. For the casual puzzler, it is not overly challenging to put people off. For the prices I paid, it also represents excellent value for money; as the quality is far beyond some of the other typical cheaper-feel mass produced metal puzzles.

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