The Rubiks puzzles were SO frustrating!
Firstly, the Cube. The Rubiks Cube came out in the late 70s, but has never really gone away. Kids nowadays still play with Rubiks Cubes, making them one of the most recognisable toys in the world.
The idea of the Rubiks Cube was to twist and rotate sections of it so that all the matching colours were on the same side as each other. It was easy enough to get one side done, but as soon as you tried to get a second side you ended up disrupting the first.
I spent hours with this damn thing. In fact, I still have my original Rubik Cube hidden away somewhere, still incomplete. I hated it, but it was just one of those things that I couldn’t let beat me. Unfortunately it did.
I can’t see why it was so difficult though. It was very easy to complete, you just peeled off all the coloured stickers and then stuck them back on in the right place to complete the puzzle. That’s a long-standing joke about the cube, the only unfortunate thing is that my original cube didn’t cheap little stickers on it. The colour was actually on the plastic itself.
Although the cube was invented by Erno Rubik in 1974, it wasn’t until late 1977 that it first appeared on the shelves of Budapest toyshops.
Apart from a small seepage across the Hungarian borders, the Cube made its international debut at the Toy Fairs of London, Paris, Nurnberg and New York in January/February, 1980.
I don’t see the Rubiks Snake as a puzzle as such, more of a stress relief toy. There was no “solution” to it, but you could make some cool shapes with it.
By twisting the sections you could make a ball, a swan, a scoop, a long stick… the possibilities were not endless as such, but there were a lot of them!
The first time I got to play with a Ribiks Snake was in the playground at primary school. Someone brought one in, possibly Gorsey or Ian, and they made a ball out of it. Then they straightened it out and started hitting people with it. I remember thinking how weird that was. They could probably have made hundreds of other shapes as this new toy had limitless possibilities but instead, as with most of our playground games, it came down to how much pain people could inflict on each other.
The Rubiks Magic was the next puzzle out of Rubiks towers. This was such a weird thing to play with, and incredibly easy to break. It consisted of 8 pieces of plastic that were tied together with a weird winding loop of fishing wire. Together the pieces showed three separate rings. The solution to the Rubiks Magic was to twist the puzzle in such a way that the rings linked.
I actually bought the solution book to the Rubiks Magic and learned how to “do” it. On a good day I could solve the Magic in under 10 seconds, which sounds quite impressive. Then my friend Andrew showed me a “move” that reduced the amount of time it took to solve it, and I genuinely managed to solve the Rubiks Magic in under 2 seconds. I can still solve it to this day, but with my fatter adult hands, it takes me around 4 seconds nowadays.
Finally for the 80s, the Rubiks Clock came along. The Clock was a two-sided puzzle. Each side had 9 clock faces on it and 4 pushable switches. You could push the switches from either side. It also had 4 cogs, one at each 90 degree angle, on the outside edge. The idea with the Clock was to get all the clock faces on both sides to show 12 o’clock. The problem was that both sides rotated different ways, depending on which switches you had pressed. It was a nightmare!
My friend Paul showed me how to do this one at school playtime, and on one (lucky) occasion I was able to do it in 29 seconds. As an average I could to it in just under a minute.