Coming Unhinged

Geek Culture

Unhinged puzzleUnhinged puzzle

No, this post isn’t about being stressed out about my upcoming trip to Taiwan and the prospect of a long overseas flight handling two children on my own. It’s actually about something that might help me retain a little bit of sanity on said flight. Unhinged is a pocket-sized puzzle from ThinkFun, purveyor of fun mind-benders and thinking games (like the previously-reviewed Rush Hour Jr. and Math Dice).

Unhinged is a set of 10 hexagons, blue on one side and white on the other, but attached with hinges in an irregular manner. The whole thing can be easily folded into one stack, and unfolding it flat results in all blue on one side and all white on the other. But because each hinge only folds in one direction, it becomes tricky to get a particular configuration.

unhinged puzzle 1unhinged puzzle 1

The toy comes with a little booklet with 40 puzzle challenges in increasing difficulties. Each page shows a particular configuration of blue and white hexes which you try to match by folding and unfolding various hinges. The beginner puzzles are quite easy, but once you get into intermediate it becomes incredibly tricky. Fortunately, the back of the book does provide solutions: each hinge is numbered, and the solution lists the hinges you will fold in order to arrive at the solution.

It’s a clever puzzle and will keep you busy for a while, but personally I didn’t find it as satisfying as some of ThinkFun’s other puzzles, like Solitaire Chess or Tilt. On the other hand, it is a one-piece puzzle that doesn’t require you to refer to a card or page to set up the puzzle before solving it, so as a portable non-electronics device I can foist on my kids, it’s not a bad choice. No small pieces to misplace!

It reminds me vaguely of the Rubik’s Magic puzzle my dad got when I was a kid, with pieces that only fold in a particular direction, but without all that weird fishing line that held everything together. I remember that being hard to solve and we ended up breaking it when we forced it to fold in the wrong direction. I suppose I’ll need to watch my kids as they play with this one so they don’t do the same thing.

The Unhinged puzzle retails for $14.99. For more great puzzles and brain teasers, visit ThinkFun’s website.

Disclosure: ThinkFun provided a sample of the Unhinged puzzle for review.

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