Cast Box is one of the most recent Hanayama puzzles, released at the end of 2012. This is Yuta Akira’s first contribution to the Cast Series, and I might add a great addition. The puzzle made its first appearance at the 2011 IPP Design Competition, then known as “Simple Solid Ring Maze” and also with a wooden frame. Understandably, Hanayama later changed its name to a simpler version, the Cast Box.
I must confess, the first time I saw this puzzle I immediately thought of Oskar van Deventer and his Cast O’Gear. The concepts of the two puzzles are not that different, since you have to find the best route to free the gear, and in the Box’s case the ring. The box has these grooves on its edges that let the ring pass when aligned with the pin found at the ring’s opening. Once you free the ring, you have to put it back in the “Start” position.
The design of the Cast Box is visually appealing and feels heavy (comfortable) in your hands. The box itself has the usual Hanayama treatment, which makes the metal appear more aged. The cage is relatively small with a diameter of 3.6cm (1.4″), while the ring is slightly bigger with a 5cm (2″) diameter.
The goal is simple to understand and it should be simple enough to solve, as this is just a difficulty level 2/6, but for some reason I spent more time to solve it than I was expecting for this kind of puzzle. After almost half an hour trying to get the ring out, I understood why I took so long to free it. You could spend hours with this puzzle having the ring return to its original position over and over again, until you change the way you look at how the ring moves around the frame. If you keep making the same movement of passing through just one of the box’s edges, you won’t get far.
Skip ahead of this paragraph if you don’t want any hints on how to solve it. The trick is to get the ring to a position where you have two of the box’s edges inside the ring, not just one. After this, the puzzle is all but solved. Getting it to to the start position was easier and less time consuming, although I didn’t do it at my first try, because I started at the wrong edge of the box. Just remember the position where the ring is free and you’ll do fine.
Solution: Click here to download a .pdf with the solution.
The Cast Box is your typical Cast Puzzle. Just by looking at it you’ll associate it with Hanayama right away. It’s a nice puzzle to start with the series, because it’s easy to understand, yet offering a good amount of challenge.
Hanayama Cast (in English) – Very useful website in English, with plenty of information on all things Cast.
Hanayama’s Factory Visit (Many thanks to Roxanne Wong for sharing these pictures)