Feed Your Brain with Professor Puzzle
In honour of International Space Day we’re collaborating with Professor Puzzle to learn about the process of developing new puzzles. We spoke to Axel Holm, Puzzle Specialist, Sales and Product Design, to find out what it takes to create their one-of-a-kind puzzles that exercise the brain.
Living in an age dominated by digital technology, it’s not only nice but advisable to take a break from our smartphones, tablets and computers. As most of you know we at Evolve Toys advocate not just regular playtime, but quality play.
We believe that kids should have a balanced life, where there’s time for TV and technology, and a time set aside for playing with toys that are lots of fun, engaging, innovative and that throughout the process, seamlessly teach.
We are big fans and carry Professor Puzzle because their products do just that. They offer a perfect balance between fun play with non-traditional puzzles that are interesting, provide added-value and get the brain working. Professor Puzzle brings puzzles to another level. Many of their puzzles aren’t just aimed at children. They’re just as challenging and fun for adults.
We invite you to get a glimpse into their interesting world and to enter The Evolve Toys & Professor Puzzle #internationalSpaceDay Giveaway, running May 4th until May 9th. We are giving away 24 Puzzle Planet characters to 24 different lucky winners. For more details visit the Evolve Toys Facebook.
It can’t be easy to develop and create your brainteasers. Can you walk us through the process?
For me, the process is the most fun part. It’s the brainstorming portion where no ideas are bad. As someone who likes to journal a lot, I usually will start by spilling out all my thoughts surrounding the subject in question. Be it a ball rolling maze, a mechanical box or a 2-player strategy game, my favorite approach is to start with a blank sheet and then fill the page with sketches, notes and questions of my own. Then, it’s all about the feedback received. If a concept is enjoyed or shows promise, we’ll move forward into prototyping and gameplay testing.
What’s the best part of the creation process?
I would have to say it’s the part when I share my ideas with others. When I’m excited to take one of my sketchbook ideas to a colleague and share, I’m always hoping the concept is met with enthusiasm. Then, when they share in the excitement or have suggestions on how it can be made even better, that’s when things really start moving.
What’s the biggest challenge in the creation process?
I’d say that the hardest part is keeping the momentum throughout the entire development process. It’s easy to have a lot of fuel in the fire when I come up with a new idea, but after spending weeks and weeks looking at the same problem, an idea can lose a little luster. It’s important to keep the drive alive, somehow.
Is the process different when creating wood challenges versus metal ones? If yes, how so?
I would say that the initial process is similar, but there are a few differences if certain problems arise. For instance, with wood, the designer must keep in mind that the material will swell with changes in humidity and temperature, and in metals it’s more about the pliability and density of the iron, steel, or aluminum being used.
Why do you think, now more than ever Professor Puzzle’s product is relevant and gaining popularity? Why are they important?
I believe that our metal and wood products bring us closer to our roots. So many products these days focus on technology and screens, while the items in our catalog are more tactile and tangible. There’s something to be said about the physical qualities of a puzzle. I feel we’re not only preaching fun and creativity, but nostalgia as well.
What is your favourite puzzle or puzzles?
Personally, my favorite puzzles are the ones that have a 3-D design component built into the solution. Or, the ones that provoke the user into doing something they wouldn’t think of normally. I like puzzles that reward clever thoughts, and challenge uninspired thinking.
Are there any puzzles that you haven’t worked on in the Professor Puzzle collection that still have you stumped?
Plenty! I would say that I can solve about 60% of the products in our catalog. Some of the disentanglement puzzles from the Puzzle & Perplex range have had me scratching my head for years, and the Sword of Nine Seals from our Grandmasters collection is one that I don’t think I’ll ever figure out. However, that won’t stop me from trying!
What’s the best reaction you’ve seen from Professor Puzzle fans? What do they love most about the puzzles?
The best reactions I’ve seen are when you can watch a person’s facial expression change from intense focus and frustration, to surprise and delight upon finding a solution! It’s hard to beat that feeling of the sense of accomplishment!
How long would you recommend someone try to figure out the puzzles before looking for a solution.
It really depends on the puzzle, but I would say that you should never give up in your first interaction with any puzzle. If you struggle at it for a couple minutes without making any progress, don’t let that deter you. Feel encouraged to set it down, forget about it and come back to it later. Sometimes a fresh look at a familiar problem is all you need. If you’ve tried three of four different times with no progress, then perhaps it’s time to visit www.professorpuzzle.com to find your solution.
What new and exciting puzzle have you recently launched or will you be launching?
We’ve just launched three new puzzles to our Einstein Range. The first is a 2-part reconfiguration puzzle made to look like an atom. Once apart, good luck putting both puzzles back together! Another is a sliding block puzzle lock. See if you can manipulate the pieces within to release the latch! The last one is a number puzzle that’s similar to a Sudoku puzzle. The idea is to add up every row so they equal 264- but watch out because the number 81 becomes 18 when it is upside down, 68 become 89, and so on. There are a bunch of solutions to this mathematical challenge! We hope to continue to add onto our Einstein Range, and we believe the world will be really pleased when we launch the next range to rival Einstein. You’ll have to wait and see!
Which Puzzle Planet character would you like to spend a day with in outer space, and why?
I would definitely choose the ALIEN! I think I could learn the most from him. I’m not sure if we’d speak the same accent, but I bet we’d be able to communicate well through body language. He could teach me all about what kind of games or puzzles they play with on his home planet, and I could show him some of my own concepts! I think we’d have an awesome day together.