Introducing Huzzles, Stocking Stuffers Extraordinare
Hi, Guest Geek here. I've been asking the gals at Board's Edge to carry puzzles since they opened up shop. Well, looks like they finally listened - and just in time for the holidays too. Let's meet Hanayama puzzles (aka "huzzles").
- Scaling difficulty
- Durable and well made
- Puzzles are challenging. It's tempting to blame manufacturing defects when you can't solve one, but the truth is, they're just hard
- Small enough to lose (or, for young kids, swallow pieces)
Hanayama puzzles are my go-to holiday gift. They are cheap enough to meet restricted dollar amounts for gifts, like for a gift exchange at work or a stocking stuffer. They are unique enough that everyone talks about them. Every Hanayama puzzle is a metallic marvel. They look good and they are fun to play with.
The scaling difficulty of Hanayama puzzles is amazing. The company rates the puzzles for you so you don’t have to think too much about it. I buy puzzles based on level and how cool they look. For reference: I am not good at puzzles. I don’t have the talent, inclination, or patience for them. I haven’t solved most of the ones I bought my husband as gifts. But I really enjoy playing with them. They feel good in the hand and I feel like I’m making progress even when I’m not. My husband enjoys puzzles and can solve most of them given enough time. He isn’t a card carrying member of a secret puzzle society, so if he can do it, you can probably do it too. Let's meet the levels.
Levels 1 and 2 are easy enough that even someone who doesn’t do puzzles can solve them quickly. (My husband solved a Level 1 huzzle in six seconds.) These are a good level for a Secret Santa - the recipient can probably solve it at the party and then pass it around as a game. We recommend them for kids.
Most of the puzzles I buy are Level 3. Level 3 puzzles typically take a little longer to solve while still being possible. Level 3s are perfect for anyone who wants a puzzle that demands critical thinking. These usually last a few hours in our house, but rarely more than one day. My husband considers them a light bit of fun and is very happy when he solves them. I have solved a few level 3s, but they took me a long time.
Levels 4 and 5 are hard. I group these levels together because I generally don’t solve them. These puzzles often take my husband a few days to solve, and sometimes longer. Usually he is able to solve them before he loses interest (or misplaces the puzzle). I usually buy these in conjunction with a Level 3 puzzle. The Level 3 is a guaranteed win; it helps boost his morale and gets him ready to tackle a Level 4/5.
Level 6 puzzles are for puzzle enthusiasts, mechanical engineers, and people who have really really really good minds for spatial reasoning. Not falling into any of the previous categories, I only buy them out of spite. I particularly recommend buying a Level 6 puzzle for that annoying guy who thinks he is so smart. Bonus points if you pre-buy yourself the same puzzle, look up a Youtube video on how to solve it, and solve it in front of him while telling him it isn’t that hard.
Most puzzles I’ve attempted have a method or two that looks like it will solve the puzzle. This is a red herring. It isn’t a manufacturer defect. The solution you thought would work simply does not work. Usually the red herring gets it almost completely assembled, except for one piece that is slightly out of place. On the harder puzzles, I’m happy with chasing a few red herrings and never truly solving them.
These are durable. I haven’t run them over with a car or anything, but they can withstand the occasional table slam or wall toss. I haven’t bent or chipped any puzzles out of momentary weakness. I also haven’t been able to grind down the puzzles by repeatedly rubbing the same spots together (even though it would totally work if that piece was just a bit smaller). It is much more likely that you will lose (or hide) the puzzle before you break it.
Receiving a puzzle as a gift is flattering; people feel smart when they get one. I recommend giving Hanayama puzzles to: anyone you need to stuff a stocking for, significant others for holidays or spontaneous gift giving, any Secret Santa, and anyone you don’t know that well but are pressured into giving a gift for, anyone who thinks they are the smartest person in the room (especially if they are ultra competitive about it), and the mechanically inclined. They are perfect for every situation.