We often associate Puzzle Boxes where the object is to slide the side panels in a specific order to open the box with the country of Japan. But now there’s a Chinese Puzzle Box that includes a totally different and ingenious take on a similar strategy at a very affordable price.
This is a very, very complex puzzle both to make and to solve for such a good price.
The puzzles are manufactured in China by Zoyo for the designer.
As is our normal practise with puzzles we do not make ourselves we check every box and solution to ensure it’s of a suitable standard for our customers.
With the Answer Box we did pick up problems with the lid being too tight when we tested them so before listing them for sale Brian has done significant work on the puzzles to correct this. In the process he’s also strengthened and reinforced the locking mechanism by gluing and nailing another laser cut piece of wood inside. At Mr Puzzle we’ve also corrected errors in the original printed solution and replaced it with our own corrected version (most people will need the solution to do this one!).
In doing the 42 moves to open it, repairing the puzzle, and doing the 42 moves to replace the lid again (there are no shortcuts to this even for Mr Puzzle!) Brian has started to memorise some of it but still has to resort to the printed solution occasionally. So you can see it’s not going to be an easy puzzle to master.
It’s time consuming work and Brian only does small batches at a time so consequently, we have only small numbers of these puzzles available at any given time.
Having said that he is getting better at it the more he does. He did this quick video to show just how confusing the moves can be. It could be considered a *spoiler* so don’t watch if you think it gives stuff away. On the other hand if you can follow this as a solution then we think you’re doing pretty well! https://youtu.be/bGpyDQEwkVs
The Answer Box was originally designed for Zoyo by Benno de Grote; a Dutch university professor. It has 42 steps so of course, he called it the Answer Box! Isn’t 42 the answer to life, the universe and everything?
The story he told about this design is:
The way I design most boxes is a bit different than most people would expect. I start by deciding the looks of a box. Of Course, I keep the inner mechanism in mind while deciding how a box will look like, but I have no idea how many steps it will be. Once I’ve decided how a box will look like I design a mechanism which will work with these looks. Because of this I never know how hard a box will be when I start designing. When I finished the mechanism it turned out the box had exactly 42 steps. Because of this I named the box “The answer box” as a reference to book the hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy in which 42 is the answer to the question “what’s the meaning of life”.
Mr Benno thinks the puzzle would be suitable for 10 years and over, but mostly aimed at adults, and he says it will need a lot of logic and analysis skill to solve.
Unlike standard Japanese puzzle boxes where you’re moving external panels that are visible, this box has finger holes that allow you to slide panels under the outer layer. You have a sense of them sliding but you cannot actually see what they are doing or how one side of the box is interacting with the other sides, or the top and bottom. But they definitely are interacting. And with the right sequence of moves, in the right order, all 42 of them, the lid will come off the box.
Once opened there’s quite a lot of space inside this box (100mm cube), and it’s ok to put something inside without interfering with the mechanism, but perhaps it’s not a good puzzle for doing that because it is quite complicated to solve, even with the solution. So much so that we’ve included a few hints below.
The puzzle box is made from laser cut craft wood and is unpainted.
Size: 130mm x 130mm x 130mm
Space inside: 100mm x 100mm x 100mm
It is packaged in a natural cardboard box with a printed step by step solution inside. This is an eXtremely diabolical puzzle.
These couple of handy hints are not spoilers. Just a couple of pointers to help you solve the puzzle if you give up and want to use the solution.
First, you will need to be very observant and orientate the box to the solution sheet.
Second, pay attention to reset the box back to the beginning by making sure that all the finger holes are centralised.
Then, using a piece of removable tape mark every piece with the name of the side and the letters of the four moving pieces before you start like in the photo included. If you do not do this you’re going to get very confused very quickly!