: There's recently been a bit of flak here over people who make puzzles and sell them in places like ebay.
: As a person who does make his own variations, like Steve or Tony Fisher, I think something should be kept in mind. The time and effort that goes into one of these puzzles is long and tedious.
Agreed. Perhaps if people knew how much effort goes into even designing some of these puzzle variants, they'd be less inclined to judge those who make them. Let's skip over the puzzles which require the use of custom moulds and look at a few which are simply modified versions of existing products.
1) Bandaged Cube. First of all, which cubies should be bandaged together? If I bandage them in a certain fashion, will be it be easy, moderate, difficult, or impossible to solve (eg. bandaging them all as pairs on an odd ordered cube is impossible)? Will I need to dismantle the cube and fuse the pieces together (how?), or will the bandaging itself be strong enough? What kind of cubes should be used: Ideal, OddzOn, Ruby, ...? What material should I make the bandages out of: stickers, tape, tiles, card stock...? How should they be coloured? What would I need to create a solid bond between the bandages and the cube?
2) Siamese Cube: What kind of cubes should I use? Should I join the whole edge together, or should I stagger it? Can I make it simply by taking off one edge of cubes and supergluing the other cube to it (answer: no, if you want a fully functional puzzle)? If not, how should I create the fused edges: cutting, sanding, ...? Do I need to do all bound pieces, or can I get away with 2, or even 1? How do I save the corner stickers of the fused edges so it looks professional? Would I need to, or will I merely be fusing the edge pieces, making this question irrelevant? If it gets too badly damaged, where, if anywhere, can I find replacements (tougher than you'd think)? Once the fused pieces on each cube have been modified, what can I use to create a solid bond? What would I need to do in order to make it a tight fit so light doesn't show through and to ensure a strong bond?
3) Extended Cubes. What cubes should I use to make the puzzle? How many do I need? What would I use to bond the outer cube to the inner ones? Should the inner stickers be removed first? How would I bond the outer centres to the inner ones? Would I even need to, or could I fake it with any extra pieces of other types that might be left over from the cubes I'm destroying? What's the best way to remove all the tabs from the cubies I'll be gluing to the inner cube? If it turns out that the cubes I'm working with are hollow and have a missing side, what do I do if I need to glue the hollow side to the inner cube?
4) Rubik's Magics. What puzzles should I break down for the components: Ideal, OddzOn, clones? How big do I want to make the puzzle? How do I remove the strings safely? How tightly do I have to wind it around the tiles to ensure I can restring it safely? Suppose a string breaks. Where can I get replacement parts to make new ones? What length fishing line would I need? What thickness should I use to ensure that 4 lines can fit in a groove without overflowing? What elasticity should I use to ensure that it'll remain tight, but will still stretch enough to safely restring the puzzle? What size/kind of crimps should I use to ensure a strong bond, but is small enough to fit in the groove with the rest of the strings? Is it OK if I double up the ends, or should I try to ensure the ends of the string are just barely touching each other when I crimp them? What should I use for pictures? Should I scan my own, or will pictures from the net do? if I take something off the net, will it be the required dimensions, or will it need to be cropped? Will it even be possible to crop the picture to fit, or will it have to be cropped so much that the picture's effectively destroyed? What kind of paper should it be printed to: 20 bond, card stock, ...? if I print both sides of the puzzle on opposite sides of the same sheet, will it be lined up right, or will the pictures be uncentred and/or criss crossed, requiting 2 different sheets? How do I modify the size of the picture in order to ensure that it fits the tiles exactly? Just how big are the tiles, anyway? If I'm trying to create a Master Magic or even a Super Master Magic, will I be able to fit all the tiles on one sheet, or will I need to break it down and print on several? If I need to print on more than one, how should I modify each part to make it print to scale? When it comes time to cut the tiles, should I use a cutting board, scissors, ...? How accurate to do the cuts need to be? Is it necessary to be exact, or will minor variations either way still look OK? Now that they're cut, how should they be attached in order to guarantee that the puzzle's solveable? Given that a single quarter turn is enough to make it completely unsolveable, this is a very crucial point. If I printed each side on different sheets, what should I use to join them: glue, tape, nothing, ...? If I managed to use only one sheet to print both sides, did I ensure that each component of both sides was properly positioned/rotated relative to each other, or will I have to do it again from scratch?
These are only a few of the worries necessary in designing some of these puzzles, then there's the problems associated with putting all of these into practice. Hopefully now Kevin and the rest will have a better appreciation of what goes into making these puzzles, and won't be so quick to judge the "obscene" prices they see them going for on eBay or anywhere else.