List of Physical Puzzles I Own

  • The 'rating' is a subjective assessment of how good the puzzle is.
  • The 'difficulty' is a subjective assessment of how hard the puzzle is, based on the time it takes to solve. Some puzzles are difficult but not good, and vice versa.
  • I've done my best to locate pictures and analogues, but I am not positive on all of them. Some puzzles look quite different, but solve the same.
  • It's also not always obvious how to categorize puzzles. When sorted by 'type' (the default display), puzzles are organized by their underlying solution method.
     sort by type
sort by difficulty (hardest puzzles first)
sort by date acquired (most recently acquired puzzles first)

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Last update: Jan 26, 2007

Puzzles Sorted by Rating (best first)
Wooden Nest / Locked Nest



One of my favorites, just because of how it looks when assembled.
Pro: Despite the haphazard appearance, the construction is not too complicated, provided you can make a basic start.
Con: Takes time to rebuild, even once you know how to do it.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 9/10

Cast Elk



Given to me by tigerpricess, sabletiger.

From the Hanayama collection. Very pretty and well made, the solution is elegant, the challenge is good. Pretty much the only negative is that there are four directions to attempt, and only one yields the solution, but it's a minor quibble.

Type: Dis/Entanglement > Alignment

Acquired: December 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 9/10

Barrel / Barrel (variant)



Pieces are dissimilar, but out of necessity for the shape, not just for the sake of confusion. Reasonably elegant solution overall, easily repeated once known. Fairly well-balanced in terms of challenge / elegance.

Type: Dis/Assembly > Kumiki Barrel

Acquired: 2005

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 8/10

Cast Spiral



From the Hanayama Collection. Very pretty and well made.
Pro: Not too difficult to take apart, and the solution for that part is elegant.
Con: The pieces are dissimilar, so to put it back together, you have to get them in a certain order. That makes for an annoying sequence puzzle. My recommendation is not to mix up the pieces.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 8/10

Cast Nutcase



From the Hanayama Collection. Very pretty and well made. Unfortunately, it's quite frustrating, partly because (necessarily) the alignment needed is not flush with the edges of the bolt. Nevertherless, I think they could have made the bolts identical without taking away from the puzzle. The solution does have an aspect of insight I like, however.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: January 2007

Difficulty: 4/5

Rating: 8/10

Star Box



Although this is a one-piece-is-the-key puzzle, it's not obvious how to put it together and there are several steps needed to operate the key. Good balance of challenge/elegance.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 8/10

Cast Baroq



From the Hanayama Collection.
Pro: Beautifully made and the solution has some very aesthetically pleasing steps.
Con: Halfway through, there is a step that requires non-negligible force. Presumably due to manufacturing imperfections, but unfortunate.

Type: Dis/Entanglement > Alignment

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 4/5

Rating: 8/10

Cast News



From the Hanayama collection.
Pro: Aesthetically beautiful, and the real solution is very elegant.
Con: There's no way to arrive directly at the solution. Too much of a leap of faith involved. With a hint, it could be fantastic.
The hint (rot13'd):
Gur gjb cvrprf ner vqragvpny.
Rnpu cvrpr vf flzzrgevpny nobhg gur gjb cynarf crecraqvphyne gb gur snpr (nfvqr sebz gur qrpbengvir yrggrevat ba gur fhesnpr).
Nofbyhgryl ab sbepr vf erdhverq. Jvgu gur pbeerpg fbyhgvba, gur cvrprf yvsg ncneg sebz rnpu bgure.

Type: Dexterity

Acquired: June 2006

Difficulty: 4/5

Rating: 7/10

Desperado / Steps



Given to me by Landon, diana_nguyen.

Nice looking, and the setup makes it look suitably impossible.

Type: Sequence/Pattern > Chinese Patience

Acquired: 2005

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 7/10

Cast Heart



Given to me by sabletiger, tigerprincess.

From the Hanayama Collection. Pretty, but the chain means you will need some dexterity. Solution is good, not too difficult if you've done other puzzles of this sort. Fairly elegant overall.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: December 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 7/10

Jailbreak



Decent puzzle, and fairly attractive. Simple, but requires a reasonable amount of insight.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: February 2007

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 7/10

Dinner Bell / Tinker's Bell / Tinker's Bell (different)



Given to me by sabletiger, Landon, dnguyen.

A complex disentanglement puzzle, somewhat confusing because it's not obvious what is allowed and what isn't. Interesting solution. Forget whom it's from, exactly (it's not from all three).

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: 2005

Difficulty: 4/5

Rating: 7/10

Star Puzzle



Similar to the 6-piece burr, and in fact, the outer shape is identical to the transparent-plastic version. However, whereas the above 6-piece burrs have 3 types of pieces, this puzzle's pieces are all identical. That means there is no 'key' piece, and so the solution is not quite as obvious.

It's somewhat more loose than the 6-piece burr, and pulling on any two opposite pieces causes the thing to expand and fall apart. It can then be put back together in two ways - the hard way (by reversing the expansion, which requires quite a bit of dexterity), and the easy way, which is fairly elegant.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: July 2006

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 7/10

Tree Puzzle



Given to me by tigerpricess, sabletiger.

This has the distinction of being the most complex of my three (7 steps, I think, which is to say, 27-1, I think) Chinese Patience puzzles, and the one that requires the least dexterity.

Type: Sequence/Pattern > Chinese Patience

Acquired: 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 6/10

Rubik's Cube / Square One



Both of these are good examples of sequence puzzles - the available steps are immediately obvious, but figuring out a solution takes a long time. I figured out how to solve the Cube in college and have since forgotten the method. Never did solve Square One.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: 1990s

Difficulty: 5/5

Rating: 6/10

Wooden 6-Piece Burr / Similar to This



Given to me by parents.

Nice-looking 6-piece Burr.

Type: Dis/Assembly > Diagonal 6-Piece Burr

Acquired: May 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 6/10

Cast O'Gear



From the Hanayama Collection. Very pretty, and has an interesting motion. But the solution (or arriving at it) involves mostly guesswork, and is not too difficult.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: January 2007

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 6/10

Twin Tangle



From 'Metal Madness' by Pavilion. A rare interesting alignment puzzle, this is the only one in the 'Metal Madness' set worth getting/playing with.

Type: Dis/Entanglement > Alignment

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 6/10

Centipede / Catacombs / Patience



Given to me by mashats, increp.

This is the classic version of the puzzle. Requires a good bit of dexterity, which is one of my less honed skills.

Type: Sequence/Pattern > Chinese Patience

Acquired: 2005

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 5/10

Varikon



This is a decent sequence puzzle - there is a basic sequence of steps that quickly leads to the solution. I think it's the least frustrating sequence puzzle I've seen.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: 1980s

Difficulty: 4/5

Rating: 5/10

Cupid / Jester



Given to me by parents.

Slight variation on Casper, above, via the addition of two pieces. A bit more difficult, but similar solution.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: July 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 5/10

Porcupine



Given to me by grandmother on my mother's side.

From the IQ Collection series. The manufacturer's description states that this puzzle is "genius-level" and encourages you to "manipulate wooden rods" (yay juvenile humor). This thing is challenging because you can't see the interaction of the rods, and memorizing them really would take a genius. Fairly easy to solve with a sheet of paper and some time, though.
Con: Too big.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: May 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 5/10

Transparent 6-Piece Burr

A variation of the 6-piece burr made of transparent plastic, and with the outer shape of Star Puzzle. It's pretty, but shoddy due to its age.

Type: Dis/Assembly > Diagonal 6-Piece Burr

Acquired: 1990s

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 5/10

Riddler



Solves the same as Barrel. A bit more challenging because the pieces are more similar to each other, and the overall shape not obvious. Unfortunately, the pieces do not make a very tight fit.

Type: Dis/Assembly > Kumiki Barrel

Acquired: June 2006

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 5/10

The King



Decent-looking, but the solution is of the 'find the right alignment by guessing' sort. Not very interesting.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: February 2007

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 4/10

Star of David

Given to me by parents.

This is a Magen David broken up into six pieces (~1990s). While it is ostensibly an assembly puzzle, it is pretty obvious what needs to be done, all the pieces are dissimilar, and arriving at the solution is just a matter of figuring out the proper arrangement, which is why it falls here.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: 1990s

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 4/10

Six-Piece Burr



From 'Brain Benders' by Pavilion. Assembly puzzle of the six piece burr, similar to the examples of Diagonal 6-Piece Burr above. All the pieces are dissimilar, so solving it is a matter of figuring out the right combination. Annoying. Plus, it's poorly made, doesn't really hold together.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 4/10

Third Dimension



From 'Brain Benders' by Pavilion. One key, the rest of the pieces are identical. Pretty simple once you figure out the desired shape. Requires some dexterity to assemble, and it's poorly made, so doesn't really hold together.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 4/10

Sandpiper



Given to me by mashats, increp.

Balancing puzzle. The official solution is interesting, but there are more ways to solve it than that.

Type: Dexterity

Acquired: May 2006

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 4/10

Lucky Clover



Picture is deceptively pretty: the pieces do not hold together when solved and don't have a high-quality feel to them.

Once you undo the arrangement, the thing dissolves into a messy tangle. I've taken it apart, but haven't put it back together, largely because of how much of a nuisance it is. It takes way too much dexterity to isolate the pieces and keep track of the position. (Thus, the difficulty is a guess.)

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: October 2006

Difficulty: 5/5

Rating: 4/10

Casper / Handcuffs / Horse Shoe / Wire 6 / Old Shackles



Given to me by sabletiger, Landon, dnguyen.

Basic starter disentanglement puzzle. Forget whom it's from, exactly (it's not from all three).

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: 2005

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 4/10

Dovetail Burr



I initially dismissed this puzzle as a boring sequence once, because it came apart into 8 dissimilar pieces. It lay around on my table for a while after that, without me being interested in solving it.

Eventually, I looked at the instructions so I could put it together to donate it. However, it became apparent (as I was putting it together) that it was supposed to be 6 pieces (3 identical). Two of the pieces had been broken on arrival.

By then, the solution was spoiled, so I finished it from instructions, and am still planning on donating it. I don't recommend this puzzle, just because of the poor workmanship/quality, but if it were better-built, it would be pretty good.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: February 2007

Difficulty: 4/5

Rating: 4/10

Spherical 6-Piece Burr / Soccer Ball



Plastic 6-piece burr. Mine is from some convention, with a company logo.

Type: Dis/Assembly > Diagonal 6-Piece Burr

Acquired: 1990s

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 4/10

Pentagle Woodchuck



From 'Brain Benders' by Pavilion. Several types of pieces, two keys. Looks imposing when you see the number of pieces, but actually pretty simple. Requires dexterity to assemble, poorly made.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 2/5

Rating: 4/10

Yin Yang



Not as appealing as the picture, and the pieces don't fit tightly together (in fact, it's their looseness that permits a solution). The solution is inelegant and almost purely alignment-based.

Type: Dis/Assembly

Acquired: October 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 3/10

Eights



From 'Metal Madness' by Pavilion. Moderate alignment.

Type: Dis/Entanglement > Alignment

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 3/10

Arch Rival



Given to me by mashats, increp.

Looks complex, but the solution is pretty straightforward. The phrasing of the challenge is a bit odd, though.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: May 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 3/10

Jigsaw Puzzles



These are pretty much by definition pattern puzzles. We have a few, and they fit nicely into the 'sequence/arrangement' category, so I figured I'd include them. I'm okay with them, but don't really seek them out.

Type: Sequence/Pattern

Difficulty: 3/5

Rating: 3/10

Double G



From 'Metal Madness' by Pavilion. Basic two identical pieces alignmnet, two steps.

Type: Dis/Entanglement > Alignment

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 3/10

Double Twist



From 'Metal Madness' by Pavilion. Three-step alignment (have to get the small piece from one loop to the middle to the other loop and then out).

Type: Dis/Entanglement > Alignment

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 3/10

Name Unknown

Two circles with string, from 'Metal Madness' by Pavilion. Very basic disentanglement, almost not a puzzle at all.

Type: Dis/Entanglement

Acquired: August 2006

Difficulty: 1/5

Rating: 2/10

 

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