Thursday, 13 November 2014

Borg Box (Stickman No.5 Puzzle Box)

This 3D printed version of Robert Yarger's extremely famous Stickman No.5 Puzzle Box (nicknamed the Borg Box) came to me courtesy of Brian Pletcher. For meaning of the Borg, click here. For a detailed description of the original wooden version of the box, click here.

Brian had modeled a copy of the original Borg Box for 3D printing by Shapeways. You can read his account of how he came about putting all this together (no pun intended). Thanks to Brian, I received my copy early this week. 

As it is made of 3D printed plastic, its a rather light puzzle but with a surprisingly solid feel, although there is that very slight bit of flex if you try to squeeze the puzzle hard (and during play), which can't be helped since it is made of plastic. Another reason for the slight bit of flex is that the entire Borg Box is made up of an astounding 78 interlocking pieces of various shapes and sizes. Notwithstanding, the pieces hold themselves together very well. Brian had done a good job of sanding and assembling the individual pieces to ensure a proper fit before shipping the puzzle to me. 

The Borg Box is an incredible puzzle to say the least. Even though I have never seen the original, just by looking and playing with the 3D printed version, I am absolutely astounded by the level of intricacy of the pieces and the way they were designed to interact with each other to form an interlocking 6-sided box. 

It takes 32 moves to open the top panel (as pictured) and a further 3 moves to be able to start removing each panel which can then be further dissected into 78 individual pieces. To open the top is not too difficult once you start to figure things out (like which panel is the top and which is the side) and where you need to slide what etc. But I still spent the good part of an evening just to reach this stage. I have decided I would leave it to another day for the total dis-assembly of the box, if ever that day comes.

By all accounts, the re-assembly of the 78 pieces is supremely difficult, so much so that when Eric Fuller made a limited number of copies for sale, he charged $50/- for any returned puzzle requiring reassembly. Thankfully Brian has generated a Burr Tools solution for the Box so there is help at hand, not if, but when its needed!

For another write-up on the Borg Box, you may wish to check out Allard's blog post. He is very lucky to be able to afford and own one of the real ones!

The Borg Box is available for sale through Brian. My copy costs $180, but it has since gone up in price due to the changes in pricing from Shapeways. 

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