Thursday 12 June 2014

Cross Box / 18 Dutch Mills

Last month, I received an email from Vaclav Obsivac or Vinco (as he is known) stating that he had a number of new items on his puzzle website for sale. 

Vinco has a very extensive website comprising numerous interlocking, co-ordinate motion and packing puzzles. He also designs his own puzzles. Prices range from less than 10 euros to about 60 euros so there is something to suit every budget. 

I ordered 5 puzzles including the 2 mentioned here. Both these puzzles are co-ordinate motion puzzles. Presently in my collection, I have 3 such other puzzles; the Choreographed Motion, CM-13 and Diz Puz.

Cross Box
Made of 3 different woods of Walnut, Ash and Plum, the puzzle has a nice colour contrast. Measuring in at 9.7 cm all around, it is a 6 piece puzzle. This one looks more "conventional" compared to the 18 Dutch Mills which is spherical with spaces. It is very well made with a nice fit and finishing. Priced at 38 euros.

Rated difficulty level 4, this is on the more challenging side of things and it took me a while to find out which are the panels to push and pull to start the separation process. Once you hit the sweet spot, everything starts to move outwards and you can see the pieces slowing sliding apart away from the centre. There is a fair amount of sliding motion before the puzz
le totally disentangles into the 6 identical pieces.

Each of the pieces have been meticulously glued together using the 3 different woods and really look like small pieces of art. I found reassembly easier than the taking apart and the pieces could slide into their positions without much difficulty. For this puzzle, you can actually assemble the pieces one by one and while while keeping the 5 pieces still "locked" together just before the point where they fully separate, snuggle the last piece into place...and then slide all the pieces towards the centre again to "close" the puzzle.

18 Dutch Mills
This is one of the biggest interlocking wooden puzzles I have come across. With a 16cm diameter (but actually there's quite a bit of hollow in the centre), it is humongous compared to what's commonly out there. Priced at 32 euros.

The 18 Dutch Mills is made entirely of Cherry. Very good quality of construction throughout with nice fit, but feels rather delicate. It has 6 interlocking pieces comprising of many many triangular blocks glued together. Quite a handful as all the pieces have relatively sharp edges and corners. 

While it looks great with it imposing size, one has to be very careful handling this puzzle. A drop on any hard surface even just a few centimetres high will almost certainly guarantee damage to one or more of the sharp corners.

The challenge is actually figuring out where the pieces join and then how to split them apart. Didn't take me long as with just a bit of pulling and tugging, suddenly everything came apart on my dining table. Thank goodness I had a dinner mat under it or some corners would have been flattened for sure.

Re-assembly was a bit more difficult as I pondered the 6 pieces. Unlike the CrossBox where the engagement points of the pieces are pretty well defined (partly due to the use of mixed colours) this one I had to first determine the orientation of the pieces and how they are suppose to interact. Took me a few attempts but eventually got everything back to the solved state. The rather delicate nature of the puzzle certainly didn't help much either as I was rather over cautious in my handling. Definitely harder than the CrossBox in terms of assembly but strangely, its rated only a 3 in difficulty.

Both are really great well built puzzles and value for money. If co-ordinate motion puzzles are your kind of thing, well, there are these two to consider. If not there are a huge number of other puzzles on Vinco's site with something to your liking, so its well worth a visit.

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