Top 10 Versions of the Mysterious Hedgehog in the Cage Puzzle

Top 10 Versions of the Mysterious Hedgehog in the Cage Puzzle

Hedgehog in the Cage (in Czech: Ježek v kleci) is a very enigmatic puzzle, over a century old. It travelled through 3 continents to become a cultural phenomenon in Czech Republic and to play a key role in a trilogy of adventure stories by Jaroslav Foglar written in 1940. The object of the puzzle is to find the correct position and angle that allows the object - the "hedgehog" - to be removed from its entrapment in the cage. The puzzle is also known as Cage & Ball Puzzle. A weird course of events presented in Wikipedia goes like this. The first known model of the puzzle was patented by the American inventor Clarence A. Worrall in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 7 April, 1896. It has been suggested that Worrall's invention was inspired by a Japanese puzzle called the Snake and Star, which appeared in the catalogue of the games manufacturer Selchow & Righter on 25 May, 1895. The puzzle seems to have arrived in Czechoslovakia around 1935. It was produced at a toy factory in Roudnice nad Labem. In 1940 Jaroslav Foglar published "Záhada hlavolamu" (Mystery of the Conundrum), the first part of his sequence of stories about the Rychlé šípy (Rapid Arrows) boys' club. The puzzle plays a key role throughout the entire plot. Rychlé šípy comics series began to appear in the magazine Mladý hlasatel (Young Herald) in December 1938, and gradually became the most popular series in the history of the Czech comics. However, their adventures involving the Hedgehog in the Cage are written in the standard novel form. As a cultural phenomenon the puzzle inspired a myriad of similar puzzles and remakes to be invented, predominantly by Czech designers. This review highlights just a tiny fraction of them, which we consider the most interesting to try your hands at. Happy Puzzling!
#10

US patent #558,009

by Clarence A. Worrall

Source:

USPTO

The original American patent features the 13-spike “hedgehog” and the 4-rod cage.

Clarence A. Worrall from Philadelphia was granted the patent for the following claim: “The combination in a puzzle of a central portion furnished with thirteen projecting pins placed at different angles to one another and a cage formed of four or more wires, placed at distances from one another somewhat greater than the diameter of the central portion carrying the pins, and the ends of which are immovably secured to bases, all substantially as and for the purposes set forth.”

#9

Cast Star

Replica from Hanayama

In 1983 Hanayama came up with a replica of that old Japanese/British version of the Snake & Star Puzzle from the end of 19th century related to the story behind the Hedgehog in the Cage.

This is what Nob Yoshigahara wrote about it then: “At the end of the 19th century, Britain experienced a huge puzzle craze. I managed to pick up a number of the puzzles famous during that period in flea markets, despite their rarity. Based on these original puzzles from Britain’s famous puzzle period, this is one that we have successfully revived in its new form. The key part of this puzzle is the “star," which needs to be freed from the snake binding it. If only the star wasn’t so stubborn in its return to the snake."

Difficulty: Hanayama Level 3 (out of 6).

Buy at:

Amazon ~$9.62
#8

Wooden version

Source:

Puzzle Master

Most of the Hedgehog in Cage puzzles are made as metal versions. Sometimes, plastic. If you want to solve a wooden one, this is the version to try. It is a classic one with the 5 holes in the cage, openings on its bottom and top and the hedgehog with over 10 spikes.

#7

Original Version

Manufactured by Rademic Puzzles

Source:

Rademic Puzzles

This version is made and designed according to the original artwork in the famous novel by Jaroslav Foglar, The Mystery of the Conundrum. The cage of the puzzle is made from one piece of material and has an elegantly curved shape. The hedgehog with 10 conical spikes (also a part of original artwork) has a ball separable by screwing and it hides a plan for construction of a flying bicycle, again based on the novel.

#6

Nerves of Steel

Manufactured by Bits and Pieces

Source:

Bits and Pieces

Also known as Trapped Satellite. Made of aluminum. Not hard to solve but feels nicely in hands.

Buy at:

Amazon ~$9.98
#5

The Škoda version

Promotional puzzle

Source:

Rademic Puzzles

This is the case when one Czech legend meets another Czech phenomenon - Škoda auto - the legendary Czech automaker, now part of the Germany’s VW Group. The natural blend of those two Czech brands made it an instant icon among the promotional puzzles.

#4

GEN

Manufactured by Rademic Puzzles

Source:

Rademic Puzzles

A futuristic design version with aligning bearings established inside the cage. The bearings can be spun and flipped in all directions, preferably in a horizontal position. The hedgehog has six stainless steel spikes and an aluminum satin red ball. This version has a unique and a surprising solution, which will tease your brain.

#3

Cast Cage

Replica from Hanayama

No wonder that Hanayama Toy company of Japan also has a version of this puzzle in its famous Cast series. This is what Nob Yoshigaharawrote about it back in 1996: “This brass puzzle was first introduced to me by Professor Bakalar in Prague. I borrowed it in Atlanta and returned it to him in Luxembourg half a year later. While in my possession, I managed to replicate it, with full permission, of course. This Cast Puzzle version may be even better than the original. It definitely remains one of the most amusing puzzles. The key idea with this one is its 'cage.'”

Difficulty: Hanayama Level 3 (out of 6).

Buy at:

Amazon ~$10.73
#2

AXIS

Manufactured by Rademic Puzzles

Source:

Rademic Puzzles

This is the version, which could be also called a puzzle of a new generation. It uses a totally new and unique way of solving, which requires about 10 correct moves. The task is to remove the hedgehog through the hole in a shape of a keyhole. The puzzle is not that hard - it’s easier to get a hedgehog out of the cage than inside though.

#1

Man the Torpedo

by Stanislav Tvrdík

Source:

Bits and Pieces

A.k.a. SPIKEROLLER in a cage (or Ježival in Czech). It dates back to 1966, when it was invented by prolific Czech puzzle designer and collector Stanislav Tvrdík. The puzzle wasn't very succesfull in production in Czech Republic. But it became popular and mass produced abroad, mostly known under its current Man the Torpedo name.

This version is made of brass and aluminum. The cage has six holes instead of typical five ones.

After all, no wonder this ingenious version of the Hedgehog in the Cage puzzle also originated in Czech Republic.

Buy at:

Amazon ~$9.98
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