Wood Puzzle Series 4, #1


There’s yet another 3D wood puzzle series available in the capsule ball dispensers. 6 in the set, 200 yen ($2 US) apiece. Initially, I’d seen this machine on the 6th floor of Amu Plaza, but I wanted to wait on getting anything from it for a little while. A week later, when I came back the machine was gone. However, I discovered it a block away at Bic Camera (the other side of the main train station), and I tried my luck then. 3 of the puzzles are repeats – Pyramid, Neo Cross (2-color) and what they’re calling “Masu” (mass?) Masu is a smaller version of the soccer ball I ran on the blog about a year ago. The other 3 are Grand Cross, Lattice and Helios.

I ended up receiving Grand Cross. It’s about 3″ to a side. It’s deceptively easy to disassemble. The first time, I was careful to put the pieces down in order and I could reassemble it right away. Then I made the mistake of taking it apart again and mixing the pieces up. The pamphlet recommends 45 minutes for solving this one. It took me over an hour. I tried every single wrong combination possible before finally stumbling on the solution. The next day, I thought I could take it apart and put it together while taking photos for the blog, but after 20 minutes, I still couldn’t get the solution again. Eventually, I figured it out, and now I’m down to maybe 30 seconds from disassembly to reassembly. I practiced 5 times before trying to take photos again.

You have 6 pieces, all different. #6 is a solid block (the locking piece). #2 has one wide notch. #5 has a wide notch and a narrow notch. #3 and #4 are mirror reflections of each other, with 2 narrow notches. #1 has a kind of finger notch. The goal here is to put the pieces together as if you’re making a wall around a cubical hole, which is where the locking piece is going to go. If you don’t have that hole, the puzzle won’t lock.

Start out by taking #1 and placing #2 under it perpendicularly. This is actually the hardest part to figure out because it’s not intuitive.

Now, it’s not really going to matter if you use #3 or #4. #3 will go on one side of #2, and #4 will go on the other side. Regardless, you want the piece to be pointing up and down, and fitting into the gap to the side as shown in the photo. I’ve found that the pieces aren’t all cut exactly the same way, and they do fit in one orientation better than the other. But, again, it doesn’t really matter because #3 and #4 are mirror reflections.

Take the other piece (if you used #3 above, then use #4) and slide it into the gap so that it lays atop #2. You can see the locking hole pretty easily now.

Align #5 so that it holds #2 and #4 (or #3) in place, and finishes the formation of the locking hole.

Slide #6 into place and you’re done.
I’m still a bit burned out on collecting wooden puzzles, and I don’t want to amass another big box of stuff at this point. On the other hand, I’d like to see how hard Lattice is, and I like the look of Helios. So, I may try getting those two when I have a bit of spare change.

Now listening to: Larry Fast – Synergy – Sequencer


Larry Fast – Synergy – Sequencer (1976)

Metal Legend kit – Dragon


(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Back in July, I mentioned that I’d picked up the Gakken Metal Legend dragon kit, but that I wasn’t going to build it right away. Well, in August I built it. Again, these kits consist of flat parts made from soft metal, probably tin. You can bend most of the pieces with your fingers, but sometimes you need the slot tool provided in the box. Most of the kits are for either dinosaurs or insects, and are in the 1,000-1,400 yen range ($10-$14 USD). Dragon was 2,400 yen. (I went back to the bookstore I bought this from, and most of their other kits are gone now. No indication that Gakken will come out with a second Metal Lord, but I hope they do.)

The booklet that comes with the kit has 6 pages of pictures and descriptions of dragons through history, from Europe, Japan and China.

The rest of the booklet has the assembly instructions, plus one page of suggestions for customizing the kit.


(Neck support structure and main torso, assembled.)

I didn’t count the number of pieces, but I’d guess it would come out pretty close to 50, not including the nuts and bolts. Most of the pieces were already fully punched out, but a few were connected together and needed to be separated. The metal is so soft that I could easily cut them with a small scissors, without damaging the scissors. I also didn’t keep track of exactly how long I spent on this kit. I’m pretty sure I worked on it for 2 hours one night, and then 2 more hours the following day. I did have some problems following the instructions (I didn’t try translating it from the Japanese) and ended up putting the head on upside down twice. When I got near to the end of the assembly, I apparently made a mistake in mounting the tail connection hinge (or, I was mistaken in thinking it was a mistake, and could have just swung the hinge piece out) and I then disassembled the entire body and removed the head to get to the hinge piece within the torso assembly. Regardless, I did take the body apart once, and disassembled the head 3 times.


(Torso with finished neck plates, plus the pieces for the head. The eyes and teeth are actually plastic decals. There are a couple different decal designs to choose from.)

The bolt mounting the head to the neck was just short enough as to make threading on the nut a real pain. That was the only place where I had to resort to using tweezers to hold the nut, and using pliers to squeeze the head assembly to be more narrow. The bolt has to thread through the outer head shell, the jaw, the tongue and the neck piece, which isn’t all that easy. Screwing up and having to do that a total of 4 times was not fun.


(All the sub-assemblies are finished, and the tail hinge at the back of the torso is extended correctly now.)

For the most part, making the sub-assemblies wasn’t difficult, just fiddly. But, it is important to fold the metal the correct way the first time. Folding, then refolding does stress the thinner metal bands, and risks causing them to snap. In fact, one of the leg pieces didn’t quite double over exactly right, with one side being a little higher than the other so that the bolt holes didn’t line up. When I tried correcting the fold, the little metal band between the two parts of the leg snapped on me. Fortunately, that piece was covered up by other sheet metal, and the break didn’t adversely affect anything. At the time, I was worried that I’d messed up the kit.

The hinge points attaching the wings, legs and tail to the main torso all consist of a metal pin that force-fits into a plastic grommet, so they are intended to pivot if so desired. The neck spine and tail are single strips of metal; you can bend them if you want, but they’re not actually hinged.

The box advertises that the dragon is 37 cm (14.5″) long. It’s a bit shorter than that if you curve the tail. Still, it’s the biggest kit in the Gakken metal series, and, it’s gotten me a lot of attention when I brought it to restaurants. It makes a great centerpiece in the middle of a table. Definitely worth buying and building if you like making stuff.

Because the box says that the Dragon is part of the “Metal Legend series,” I’m hoping a second large kit is going to come out at some point.

Now listening to: QUASAR – Man Coda


QUASAR – Man Coda (1981)

Maker Space


I was visiting family and we happened to be in Chippewa Falls. As we were driving around, I started yelling “stop, stop, stop!” Really, there was no particular reason for that, but when the car did stop, we found ourselves in front of the Club MTC Maker Space.

And, since it was there, I took photos of the Maker Gator in the parking lot.

I wish I had a maker space when I was a kid.
Or, now, here in Kagoshima…

Now listening to: Gong – The Flying Teapot


Gong – The Flying Teapot (1973)

Kaleidocycles, Part 7


These are the last of the square cycles. As mentioned before, there are 6 geometric solids, 6 hexagonal cycles, 4 square cycles, and the 1 twisted cycle. I’d already run the first square some weeks ago, so this is the last of the patterns.

The ring to the right is 4-step, and the other two rings are two-step cycles. They look good, but there’s not much to take pictures of.

Overall, the Kaleidocycle box set is worth the money if you get it at $10-$12 USD, and you like making papercrafts. There’s not much replay value, so after a little while you’ll probably just want to leave them on a shelf or give them away. The alignment of the patterns over the cut lines is off by an eighth to a sixteenth of an inch on every single sheet, which is annoying. You’d think that having 30 years from the original printing of the book that the publishers would have gotten that right. But still, if you like Escher, this box set is a good deal.

Now listening to: Hawkwind – The Chronicle Of The Black Sword


Hawkwind – The Chronicle Of The Black Sword (1984)