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Sunday, 20 January 2013

Augmented Stellation / Vega (Stewart Coffin)

Not so long ago a new puzzle site popped up that was offering excellent hand crafted puzzles for very affordable prices. This site is Wood Wonders, which is run by a skilled woodworker by the name of Brian Menold. Brian has created puzzles from the designs of several prolific puzzle designers, including perhaps the most prolific of them all, Stewart Coffin.

I've ordered a few things from Wood Wonders in the past, and I've seen plenty more ordered by others. Brian's craft skills just seem to be getting better and better, so I thought I'd share my most recent acquisition.

Augmented Stellation - Fully Assembled
Brian sold this Stewart Coffin puzzle under the name of 'Augmented Stellation', although I believe it is the same design as Vega which is number 46 in Stewart's numbering system and was first made in 1972.

Brian made a few different wood combinations in the latest run, and although they all looked great I was lucky enough to get hold of my favourite which is made from a light coloured English sycamore with contrasting tips in walnut. The cuts on this puzzle are spot on, leading to a perfectly snug fit. And the points are sharp!

The puzzle is made up of six identical pieces, and it is essentially the same as the Diagonal Burr that can be found practically everywhere. It is quite tricky if you haven't come across this design before, but very easy if you have. The ends of the pieces have been extended to give the pointed look. I think it looks best when it is take to the very edge of collapse.

I really recommend keeping an eye on Wood Wonders, I'm always eager to see what designs Brian will create next, especially since his creations just seem to be getting better and better.

Almost Apart
In Pieces

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Gear Ball (Oskar / Meffert's)

A while back I wrote about a twisty puzzle called the Gear Cube designed by Oskar van Deventer. To this day it is still my absolutely favourite puzzle from the twist genre as it is such a fun puzzle to solve and it looks awesome. Recently Meffert's decided to produce a spherical version of the exact same puzzle, and how could I pass that up?
Gear Ball by Meffert's - Solved

As a puzzle it is essentially exactly the same as the original Gear Cube, so I won't go into that here as you can always check back on the previous post. The only real difference is that where on the Cube I had to add small stickers (Fisher Design) to the inner edge pieces, the Ball comes with those pieces already colour tiled along with all of the other pieces. So out of the box it is technically more difficult that the original Gear Cube.

I've played with (not solved) quite a few twisties now, and honestly this is one of the best turning mass produced puzzles I've come across thus far, which is especially surprising considering it a puzzle based on a geared mechanism! The pieces almost never catch each other, and the black ridges dividing the coloured faces make it nice and easy to quickly turn the sides back and forth. You can also easily remove the square plastic centre caps on each face to loosen or tighten the screws beneath if you feel to, but mine didn't require any fiddling at all.

I really think this is the kind of puzzle that anyone can enjoy, so if you don't already have one I'd suggest adding it to your list. It is currently available from several retailers including HKNowStore and of course Meffert's.

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