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 Post subject: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:26 pm 
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You can read it at:
http://robspuzzlepage.com/whatsnew.htm


Adam Cowan was kind enough to loan me and ask me to review one of the first samples of his new production Helicopter Cube. I own one of his hand-cast original Helicopter Cubes, so naturally I was very interested to compare the two. I believe there are plenty of folks in the "Twisty Puzzle" community anxiously awaiting the chance to get their hands on what has until now been a fairly rare collector's item. For those who haven't already heard all about it, the Helicopter Cube isn't some rehash of an old puzzle - it's a completely new type of twisty cube - Rubik's Cube allows face turns, and Meffert's Skewb allows vertex turns, but the Helicopter allows edge turns.

Here are some photos of the sample production Helicopter Adam loaned me:
Attachment:
prodheli-ryb.jpg
prodheli-ryb.jpg [ 43.23 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]

Attachment:
prodheli-gow.jpg
prodheli-gow.jpg [ 42.44 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]


The production version is stickered using more traditional colors than the custom version - white opposite blue, red opposite orange, and green opposite yellow, with a clockwise green/orange/white corner.

Attachment:
prodheli-jumble.jpg
prodheli-jumble.jpg [ 37.74 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]


The production version jumbles just like the custom version, so rest assured that you won't miss out on the jumbling madness!

Here is a size comparison. The original custom version is the "standard" 57mm - the production version is 60mm - the same size as an Eastsheen A4. I don't have a postage scale so I don't have a precise weight for the puzzles, but the production version is lighter than the cast version, as expected. It's heavier than the A4, though. Regardless, it feels good in the hand.

Attachment:
prodheli-size-comparison.jpg
prodheli-size-comparison.jpg [ 74.15 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]


As to the size, Adam says, "60mm gave it just a little more room, and made the pieces a little stronger and easier to design. Also, it makes the puzzle different from the original cast puzzles."

The following are my initial impressions, and some additional comments from Adam.

The first thing I noticed is that some of the stickers were askew. Actually, no, the first thing I thought was, "Wow! Cool! I am holding an actual sample of one of the best original new designs to be mass-produced!"

Anyway, Adam tells me that he did the stickering on this one by hand, quickly and in a dimly lit restaurant at that! He hasn't yet received a factory-stickered version, but believes they'll be better.
Yeah, yeah - excuses, excuses :-)... Frankly I don't think this will be an issue - certainly not another Flowerminx sticker fiasco!

The next thing I noticed was that, perhaps due to the mis-aligned stickers in combination with some partial turning of the edges, some of the faces appeared trapezoidal and not truly square to me. Weird. Here is a picture:

Attachment:
prodheli-align.jpg
prodheli-align.jpg [ 29.8 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]


I've fiddled with the cube to line up all the edges flat on the table, and perhaps this is an optical illusion due to the stickers. Not a big deal.

So, I'm sure you all want to know, how does it turn? In short, very nicely, though out-of-the-box, I don't think it's speed-solvable. The production plastic is nice and smooth, so the turns have none of the "scratchiness" associated with cast puzzles. The sample I have isn't really finger-trickable - maybe with some wearing-in and lubrication it could be improved. I'm not sure the Helicopter shape will ever lend itself to really fast finger-tricks - but then I am not a speed-cuber by any means, so someone else will have to properly evaluate the potential here. I did experience more hang-ups than with my custom version - but I have to emphasize that the catching wasn't excessive and I never experienced any pops. I'm not even sure this thing can pop. The photo below shows how it tends to catch, a little exaggerated for clarity:

Attachment:
heli-hang.jpg
heli-hang.jpg [ 31.12 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]


It wasn't clear to me whether the cube could be disassembled and re-tensioned by the user - Adam tells me, "I had to choose between making it really easy to adjust the tension and hide the screws. With the way the geometry overlaps at the axis parts, it is pretty difficult to remove the caps without taking the puzzle apart, and it is difficult to take the puzzle apart, at least for the first edge. For a speed solver that wants to tweak the tension, I think they will want to cut the tips off of the caps to allow screwdriver access, but this will be for the hardcore speedsolvers, and not the general puzzler."

Here is a comparison of the custom version on the left and the production version on the right, showing the difference - the custom version has easily accessible screws. It's a question of aesthetics versus function. I'm sure there will be folks who prefer each over the other.

Attachment:
comparison-screws.jpg
comparison-screws.jpg [ 61.24 KiB | Viewed 3535 times ]


Bottom line? If you have any interest at all in twisty puzzles, you're going to want one.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:29 pm 
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Awesome! Any word on the price yet? I need to know how much I'm saving for this, it's definitely a must-buy!

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:39 pm 
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We didn't discuss the price. Maybe Adam will comment...

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:14 pm 
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I can't wait. I'm buying one, whatever the cost. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:39 pm 
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Awesome, I'm willing to spend my entire cube money for the year on this, and plus Chinese New Year is coming up! :D (Yay! Red bags full of money) I'm also very pleased to hear that it turns well, and that it's slightly larger than a 3x3. (I prefer larger puzzles)

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:13 pm 
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Will you guys stop saying you'll pay a lot of money for these puzzle? Don't give them any ideas. :P I'm hoping to be able to afford one, and that means it will have to be relatively cheap.

Thanks for the review, Rob. You never said which you liked better, the custom or the mass produced. But we all know the custom hand-made ones are better. :) At least IMHO.


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:31 pm 
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I like my hand-made copy better. It's smaller, denser, and turns better. But, unless the production copies end up costing much more than I assume they will, the custom copy was definitely an expensive toy!

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 7:51 pm 
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The best ones I made were the very few 3D printed ones. With a nice polish on the pieces and some silicone lubricant, they turned amazingly smooth. The cast ones received more attention per piece than the injection molded ones, but that is just part of the casting and cleanup process. Quality master parts and consistently good molding is essential to making a great puzzle.

The injection molded puzzles required a lot more design time to make the parts mold-able. In fact, I tried at least 3 different configurations to design the parts...


In the end, each method has it's advantages and disadvantages. It has been quite fun to try them all!

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:18 pm 
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flambore wrote:
I'm hoping to be able to afford one, and that means it will have to be relatively cheap.

You'd better get a black one even though they're expensive to produce.

The white ones are cheap because they reproduce uncontrollably.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:25 pm 
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I love the older color scheme, too. :D I forgot to mention that.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:38 pm 
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ndiamond wrote:
flambore wrote:
I'm hoping to be able to afford one, and that means it will have to be relatively cheap.

You'd better get a black one even though they're expensive to produce.

The white ones are cheap because they reproduce uncontrollably.

How do you know? Do you have pricing, or have seen the mass produced white and black ones? Or was this a joke that went over my head?


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:50 am 
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Probably a jab at the prevalence of white puzzles these days.

If you guys can answer this one... will these be available as a DIY kit, or only assembled?


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:05 am 
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^^ ditto

I'd at least like to be able to apply my own sticker configuration. I'd like to keep all my puzzles with the same stickering if possible. I have a hard enough time as it is knowing where 3 colors are relative to each other without looking.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:07 am 
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I too would like a DIY kit as I would like to try it out with only jumbling and trying to find the shape for a while.


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:18 am 
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Rob you lucky dog, I'm gutted. I was hoping I would get to be the first to report on these. :lol: Next time! Nice write up and I can't wait to get one.

I wonder how much longer we will have to wait. Can't be as long as I waited (my fault mostly for taking my good sweet time to order one-Adam's partially for taking his good sweet time shipping it to me :lol: ) for my hand made Helicopter! Which by the way, is sitting proudly on my shelf!

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 1:35 pm 
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I hate you!

Also, I hope there will be a non-stickered version. I want to choose my own colour scheme.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:42 pm 
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I need a helicopter cube, but I don't think my pocket can stretch to all of the new puzzles that are coming out. :(

Alex

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:06 pm 
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Excellent review Rob! :)
(especially as you made Rox green in envy LOL)

:lol:


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:34 pm 
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flambore wrote:
ndiamond wrote:
flambore wrote:
I'm hoping to be able to afford one, and that means it will have to be relatively cheap.

You'd better get a black one even though they're expensive to produce.

The white ones are cheap because they reproduce uncontrollably.

How do you know? Do you have pricing, or have seen the mass produced white and black ones? Or was this a joke that went over my head?

Um... It was intended to be a joke, about the white ones reproducing uncontrollably. I thought you would be ready to laugh at it now. If you weren't recovering I wouldn't have posted it.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:43 pm 
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Twisted humor, its only funny if everyone gets it :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:40 pm 
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ndiamond wrote:
Um... It was intended to be a joke, about the white ones reproducing uncontrollably. I thought you would be ready to laugh at it now. If you weren't recovering I wouldn't have posted it.

Ohhhh white cells out of control. Now I get it. LOL That is a good one. And yea, we'll see how I'm doing tomorrow. I have an appointment at Hopkins in the morning. 7 hour round trip not counting idiots who don't know how to drive in a little snow. This should be fun.


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:46 pm 
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Good luck! Hope it's good news! Also if people are being idiots on the road, honk at them for me. I understand people being careful when it's hazardous weather but people driving 10 mph with hardly anything on the road really gets on my nerves.

Edit: Wow I became so road raged i forgot about the topic :lol:. I love the puzzle, but I didn't see anywhere when it would be available.


Mark


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 2:02 am 
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flambore wrote:
ndiamond wrote:
Um... It was intended to be a joke [...] If you weren't recovering I wouldn't have posted it.
Ohhhh white cells out of control. Now I get it. LOL That is a good one. And yea, we'll see how I'm doing tomorrow.
It really was intended to be a joke. If I'd known what was coming, I wouldn't have posted it. Now if we can get our hands on whoever corrupted all of our wishes for you...

flambore wrote:
7 hour round trip not counting idiots who don't know how to drive in a little snow.
I hope this suggestion will still be safe:

Avoid the defective drivers. Take a helicopter.

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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 9:31 am 
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I think we're getting off-topic here.

Wish I knew when these were coming out. I'd really like to get ahold of one.


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 Post subject: Re: Special Scoop! Review of a production Helicopter Cube!
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 1:17 pm 
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I remember when the first one was made. When will they be for sale?

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