3D Galaxy Puzzle

I was surprised recently to find that one of the capsule ball machines in the Tenmonkan shopping complex currently has a line of 6 small 3D puzzles for 200 yen (approx. $1.80 USD) each. I decided to take a chance on one, and received what the company is calling “Galaxy”. Doing a yahoo search, I found a larger, more complex version under the name “Meteor Star”, and this same version on youtube (with video instructions) as “Falling Star”.

There are a few differences between Galaxy and Falling Star that make the Japanese version harder to solve. First is that Galaxy is only about 1.5″ long corner to corner, and the surfaces are very slick.

So the pieces are harder to hold on to and keep slipping around and falling on the floor.

Second is that Falling Star has two longer pieces with square notches in the middle, and one longer piece with a half-notch. The half-notch piece fits snugly into place on one of the full notch pieces, creating a stable starting point for assembling everything else. Galaxy, though, only has 3 full-notch pieces (5 smaller notched pieces, and the locking pin piece). The assembly is the same, but again, the pieces slide around too much – you really need to have two sets of hands on this puzzle.

The trick is to put one of the shorter pieces on the longer piece first as kind of a stabilizer. Afterward, the assembly is just like in the youtube video. I admit that I needed to resort to the video a lot because the capsule toy didn’t come with instructions. I knew how to unlock the locking piece at the beginning, so taking it apart was fairly easy (unlocking is a bit challenging though, just because it feels like you’re going to break the puzzle). And I got really close to getting it back together again, except that I couldn’t figure out how to orient the third long piece to put it in right. Once I got that, finishing the kit became trivial. Again, though, locking the last piece in place takes a fair amount of force, and because the kit is so small, there’s this sense that the piece is going to snap in two. I can disassemble and reassemble this kit in under 40 seconds.

(Take the second longer piece and put it on top of the short bracing piece, with the wide notch facing up, and the short notch facing the first piece.)

When I got ready to take photos for this blog, the locking piece was so hard to turn that I had to use my penknife to crowbar it. In the end, I shaved the locking piece axle pin to thin it a bit and round the inner corner off. With this mod, it’s a LOT easier to turn and lock, without actually unlocking on its own.

(Take the remaining long piece and orient it so the long notch is facing up and the short notch is facing left. When you pick it up with your free hand, turn it 90 degrees counter-clockwise so the short notch is facing down.)

Because the puzzles are so small, and only 200 yen each, I’m willing to try my luck on the capsule dispenser to see if I can get 2 or 3 of the more interesting ones. I’m thinking that I’ll spread things out so that I only buy one capsule ball a day. Hopefully, I’ll get the ones I want before the machine is changed to dispense something else. (There was one machine in the Amuplaza department store that had Japanese ghost fox keychains for 200 yen that I was somewhat interested in, but apparently I waited too long because I can’t find it in Kagoshima any more.)

(Put the remaining long piece against the side of the first one, in the little exposed notch. This is where things start getting tricky because the pieces keep slipping. This is also the step I kept getting wrong.)

(Put one of the short pieces in the long notch on the back of the long arm you just put on. This stabilizes the puzzle a little and gives you something to brace with using your work hand. The pieces face each other to make a flat assembly.)

(Put the locking pin piece into the upper notch. When it locks, the axle pin part will be at the top right corner (as referenced in this photo). But, as you’re assembling the puzzle, you want the axle pin part rotated to be at the lower right corner, as shown in the photo. Follow this with another short piece. Put it in the front part of the notch (nearest you) of the long arm you just put on. This should strengthen the puzzle enough now that it doesn’t fall apart so easily.)

(Lift the locking pin piece to create gaps beneath it, and slide the remaining two shorter pieces into place on both sides of the arm.)

(All of the pieces are in place now, and the locking piece is shown still in the raised position. Note that the axle pin part is facing you, and is rotated so that the locking piece can move up and down inside the notch.)

(All that remains is to rotate the locking pin so that the axle pin piece is at the top, facing you. This step may require a certain amount of force, but it shouldn’t be hurting your fingers. If the rotation is really difficult, disassemble the puzzle, shave the inside edges of the axle pin a little bit, and try again.)

How to solve the Falling Star puzzle (AKA: Galaxy)
direct youtube link


Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. 3D Puzzle Series 2, #4 | threestepsoverjapan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: