Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hachette 3D Puzzle 119

Hachette Livre is a French publishing group that has a subsidiary in Japan. It's primary presence here is in the "box set" market, with DVDs, model sports cars and 3D puzzles being packaged with a high-quality color magazine. Products include a complete James Bond movie DVD set, a line of pocket watch reproductions (one watch per volume), and a "how to draw manga" set.

A few days ago, I dropped by the Shosen Book Tower in Akihabara in the hopes of finding the next Otona no Kagaku kit (#27, the microcontroller) ahead of Amazon's proposed release date of May 12. No such luck. But, not wanting to leave empty handed, I went up to the 5th floor to look at the Hachette 3D puzzles just to have something to play with. The puzzles come out every few weeks and they're now up to about volume 123. Shosen only has back issues to 117, and most of them are simple mind benders. I wanted something to disassemble and put back together again, so I went with volume 119, the 8-piece peg cube, for 1600 yen ($17 USD).

The puzzle itself is very simple, but amazingly challenging to reassemble if you don't know the trick (it took a little bit before I figured it out and now I can complete the puzzle in 1-2 minutes). Along 3 sides of each piece are 1 hole and one peg, each in slightly different locations on each side. Some of the pieces have 1 or 2 identical sides, but there is only one way the puzzle can be put together right (about 20 ways to get it wrong). It's a fun little toy, and good for playing with to break up the monotony every so often. There may be a good justification to get about 5 or 10 of these puzzles to be able to switch between them to keep them interesting.

Along with the puzzle is the mook. For volume 119, the mook is 16 pages, and has punched holes for putting it into a binder. Part of the mook describes the current puzzle, and the last 3 pages give the solution to puzzle #118. There's also a 12-digit sudoku puzzle (3x4 boxes), a memory game (see below), a description of cribbage, and various other brain teasers. There are some similarities to the old U.S. Games magazine, but it is very "Japanese" in feel (ignoring the text that's all in Japanese).

The memory game uses "Madame Charpentier and Her Children", by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Look at the painting briefly then look away. Without looking at it again, what are the children sitting on? What's the color of their shoes? Etc.

Over all, it's a nice package, a good puzzle (although the pegs have a tendency to shred if you try to force them into the wrong holes), and a good mook. It just shows, along in combination with the deAgostini and Gakken product lines, that Japan is a more fun place to be than the U.S., if you like building small kits or playing with small puzzles.


Bunny said...

Hachette also = ELLE = run by complete loonies, I have to wonder what sort of person buys fashion magazines? They don't even make good cat litter. Then if you are bored and google names, you find them in bed with those sumisho losers and everyone's favourite alleged rapist Karaki (see 2ch.)

TSOTE said...

Bunny, I'm not finding anything directly on Karaki. So, you're saying that my purchases of 3D puzzles goes to fund substandard kitty litter production? Cool.