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Net Block's UFO Puzzle
Net Block's UFO.
The original UFO.
While shopping for puzzles on Meffert's site, I stumbled upon a very nice puzzle called "UFO".

It was categorized in the "Net Block" puzzles. Most of the Net Block puzzles are plastic assembly puzzles, not really sequential movement like the typical Rubik/Meffert-like puzzles. The UFO puzzle looked different though, so I bought it for only $5. When I received the puzzle, I was quite happy. It really was more like a Rubik-like puzzle. In fact, it reminds me of Tricky-Disky or Smart Alex.

Don't confuse this with the old UFO puzzle which worked as far as I can tell from the photo EXACTLY like Tricky-Disky.

Unfortunately, the picture of the new UFO on the Meffert site is from only one angle and doesn't show the puzzle's motion very well. It consists of circular top and bottom halves which rotate about their center exactly like Tricky-Disky and Smart Alex. Along its circumference are 3 different colored balls. Each ball is also equally divided into 8 sections by 3 perpendicular planes making a total of 24 partial spheres to get scrambled. The top 4 sections of each ball stay with the top circular half and the bottom 4 sections stay with the bottom half when the two halves are rotated. Each left/right half of the balls can also rotate about an axis tangential to the top and bottom halves.

The construction of the puzzle seems a little more flimsy than typical Meffert's puzzles, but what can you expect for only $5! The parts do move with quite noticeable detents to give it a tactile feel like most of Meffert's puzzles. But it appears to me that the detents are created by springy plastic features which might not hold up quite as well after a lot of play unlike Meffertís typical metal balls and springs which seem to last forever.

As far as solving the puzzle, it was quite easy for me since I already knew the solution for Tricky-Disky. The new UFO is a bit easier to solve than the Tricky-Disky because it only has 3 colors to manipulate instead of the 8 on the Tricky-Disky. Iíd probably classify it in about the same difficulty range as the Pyraminx puzzle. I was also able to make a pretty checkerboard pattern on all the balls, though I havenít yet figured out an easy sequence to create it from a solved puzzle. Overall, I would consider the Net Blockís UFO as a welcome and quite worthy addition to any Rubik cube-like puzzle collection.

Doug Mueller

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