The Rubik’s Cube gets all the attention, but the colorful toy isn’t the only baffling mechanical puzzle out there. Here, you can find the right level of challenge to match your solving skills.
Claim victory over the roughly 6-inch-tall Oliver String by removing the center ring. The balls on either side of the spire won’t fit through the gap, and the flat wooden circles can’t squeeze through the doughnut, which will come off only when you find the magic setup.
An extension of the human fascination with furniture featuring secret compartments, puzzle boxes present a simple goal: Get inside by sliding the wooden panels in the correct order. This agathis wood Oka Craft Yosegi Kuzushi container will reveal itself in precisely 12 moves.
To untangle the extremely difficult Cast Rotor problem from Japanese toymaker Hanayama, align each identical zinc piece exactly right and then separate them. The fun isn’t finished even if you figure out the path to success—putting it back together can be just as tricky.
This story appears in the Fall 2020, Mysteries issue of Popular Science.