The incredible Superplexus Vortex puzzle
By Jude Garvey
February 19, 2010
Remember that old wooden labyrinth puzzle you used as a kid? You had to manipulate a small steel ball through a series of mazes by altering the orientation of the plane using two knobs. Prepare to meet its big brother – the Superplexus Vortex. It’s a humungous, three-dimensional, spherical labyrinth that promises to both challenge and frustrate you.
The Superplexus Vortex is designed to use your manual dexterity and spatial aptitude by getting you to manipulate a wooden ball through an incredibly complex series of chicanes, hairpin turns that are multi-planar, staircases and spirals. Oh, and if that’s not challenging enough - as the name suggests – there’s a vortex as well!
This extraordinary puzzle was designed and hand-crafted by Michael McGinnis. Apparently each one takes an incredible 400 hours to construct, so you can imagine how much detail goes into each piece. Just consider the track - if you laid it in a straight line, it would be 31 foot longer than a football field. And during the ball’s journey - it needs to be manipulated on a 1/16" diameter stainless steel wire pathway at eight different points.
The track is made from three and six ply Finnish birch and is set inside a 36" diameter acrylic sphere. This in turn is attached to a Jatoba base by a stainless steel gimbaled mount. The mount allows the user to tilt the sphere in any direction to try and get the ball heading the right way.
Luckily, there are directional arrows to show you which way you should attempt to move the ball. This may be little consolation though – apparently it will take you a minimum of 425 turns or plane changes to complete the journey. That’s assuming you manage to keep the ball on the track at all times.
If you doubt your ability to solve this monster puzzle, fear not, it can be customized in order to ease the degree of difficulty.
The Superplexus has a height of 50" a 36" diameter, weighs 65 lbs and is available now from Hammacher Schlemmer. So what would you expect to pay for a hand-made puzzle that takes 400 hours to make and could potentially occupy you for days, months or even years? Try US$30,000…let’s hope it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.