No, I'm not talking about the new Super Smash Bros. (That's mostly because I don't really care about the 3DS version of it and I'm perfectly happy to wait until the WiiU version is out.)
I'm talking about the fact that I actually got a professional demolisher to take apart one of the new Hasbro Rubik's Cubes so I can see what it looks like inside. My wife and I were waiting at one of my kid's appointments, and she figured out that she would be able to remove one of the egde pieces using her housekey. I waited a couple more days to post this, partly because I didn't have the camera batteries charged, and partly because I wanted to be sure that I could reassemble the cube again after I took the photos but before I posted this. If it was impossible to reassemble, I wanted to be able to warn people not to do this.
It's safe to say that removing a piece is non-trivial. Even with a broken-in version of this cube, it seems to be designed in such a way that removal is rather difficult. However, for sake of comparison, let's look at the original cube pieces. This is a corner piece and an edge piece from one of my older Rubik's cubes:
And here's the interior:
Here's a corner and an edge piece from the very smooth-turning DaYan:
Here's the DaYan interior:
And now, possibly for the first time outside the Rubik's forums, here's the new Hasbro/Funskool corner and edge piece:
And the Hasbro/Funskool interior:
Of particular note is the fact that there is a notch in only one side of the center flange on each of the six center pieces. Note that the flange you can see on the white center above has the notch, the flange on the red center does not have the notch. (Well, it has a notch, but it's not positioned so that you can see it at the moment.) When I finally popped the edge piece back in, I was so relieved that I can't remember if I was able to take advantage of the position of the notches or not. The edge pieces have two different sets of tabs to hold them in to the other pieces and it makes it very hard to remove and equally difficult to put in. Even with an edge piece out, the adjacent corner pieces don't really want to come out without substantial assistance.
Once I got it all back together, it still sounds like that I have a loose piece of something inside, but I never discovered anything when I had it all apart. There is some irregular wear on a couple of pieces, but it was inside a groove that I'm unlikely to be able to sand precisely without risking breaking it.
So, overall, here's my review of the new Hasbro/Funskool Rubik's cube.
- Widely available in Wal-Marts everywhere for $10, no need to wait for mail order
- Plastic tiles feel nice and are completely flush with the rest of the cube
- If you get a good one it turns much better than the previous model did right out of the box
- Nearly impossible to tamper with
- Much louder than nearly every other cube available
- Even the best ones don't turn as well as a DaYan or a Ghost Hand
- Hard to pop a piece out even with aggressive turning
- If you get a bad one it's difficult to fix because it's...
- Nearly impossible to tamper with
If you want a cube just to mess around with, and you're not worried about speedsolving, and you're not concerned about potentially having to buy it twice just to have one that doesn't give you tendonitis, then this is just fine. Otherwise I would have to suggest a Ghost Hand ($6 plus shipping), a DaYan ($8-$15 plus shipping) or a V-Cube ($20 but maybe not shipping. Barnes & Noble seems to be selling V-Cubes at some of their locations.)
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