A very Happy New Year to everyone! This is my first post for 2017.
This weekend's puzzle was Vesa Timonen's Cast Infinity produced by Hanayama. In case you do not know Messr. Timonen, he has designed many puzzles and a number for Hanayama such as the Cast Loop, Square, Cylinder and Donuts. A number of them award winning, including his non-Cast Symmetrick.
The Infinity comes with a shiny surface and is very well made (of zinc alloy). Tough and heavy. Generally I would prefer a matt to gloss surface for metal puzzles but in this instance, the shininess actually works pretty well and accentuates the curves of the Infinity. IMHO, it's one of the more beautiful and aesthetically pleasing puzzles around.
Size wise, its measures roughly about 5.3cm x 3.2cm x 1.7cm and large enough to be handled quite comfortably.
The object here is to remove the two inner circular pieces from the "8" shaped cage (the Greek symbol for Infinity).
From the puzzling aspect, this is not an easy puzzle. Hanayama rates it at a level 6 stars; ie most difficult in the Hanayama range. But with only two moving pieces, its not excruciatingly difficult and I would rate it rather at about 5 stars. Both pieces rotate within their respective housings inside the cage, but they are interlocked against each other via a series of notches on the pieces as well as the inside of the cage itself. At any one time, only one of the two pieces will move in one particular direction. To solve the puzzle, the pieces need to be rotated in both clockwise and counter clockwise manner (as well as upwards and downwards) and there is a sort of sequence to this, otherwise one or the other piece would simply find a dead end.
In some ways, I kinda have the feeling that the Cast Infinity is almost a bit like a "N-ary puzzle" where there is a series of repeated moves, but technically I don't think this is the case [Edit 8 Jan 2017: Puzzler Michel van Ipenburg has confirmed to me that the Infinity is indeed a N-ary puzzle]. Other puzzles with a similar "style" that came to my mind when I was playing with the Infinity are the circular type burrs designed by Derek Bosch such as the Helical Burr, Pole Dancers and Vapors , where you manipulate two main opposing interlocking pieces in a particular sequence to disassemble. For lack of anything else, I guess you can call it a flat(ish) burr.
Overall the Infinity is great puzzle and I was rather surprise that I took less than 20 mins to disassemble the pieces and just a tad longer to put everything together again, the latter in the reverse order, but more difficult. Once you have gotten used to the moves, its fairly repeatable also. And coming from Hanayama, you can be assured of decent quality and value for money pricing.