We used to associate wooden gizmos with muesli-munching hippies. You know, the sort of people who knit organic yoghurt, wear hemp shoes and dress their ridiculously-named kids in Victorian night smocks during the day. More to the point, Firebox is all about cutting-edge innovations and inspirational products with a twist, so why would we waste time raving about a simple wooden puzzle?
Well it's mainly because Porcupine is as far from simple as you can possibly get. This innocuous-looking wooden block is fiendishly perplexing and it's guaranteed to have seasoned puzzlers ripping their hair out in frustration. It might look a tad old-fashioned but Porcupine makes plenty of today's hi-tech puzzles seem about as challenging as tying your laces.
The concept is simple: puzzlers must push and pull ten rods that pass through this beautifully-crafted block in order to release a central disk. Yes, we know that sounds a doddle, but take it from us, it's not. In fact, we've had to lock the office Porcupine in a secret location, as some employees were becoming obsessed with this pesky little puzzle.
Porcupine comes from the I.Q. stable of brain bafflers and its makers classify it as a 'genius' level puzzle - high accolade when you look at some of the annoying little mind manglers they produce. Personally, we'd classify it as an 'aarggh!' level puzzle, as that's the only expletive we can think of that's printable on a family website.
Did we also mention that Porcupine looks the part too? Well it does - so much so you might be tempted to display it on a shelf or give it pride of place on your desk. That way, even if you fail to solve Porcupine you can console yourself by telling friends and colleagues that you're well into modern wooden sculpture which symbolises the eternal incarceration of the oppressed (the disk) and the unyielding stance of would-be emancipators (the rods). If you want.
Porcupine is a brilliant hour-cruncher and because there are no irritating electronic distractions such as lights and beeps you can fiddle with it anywhere - in front of the telly, on the bus, even at work! Stephen Hawking recently described Porcupine as the most flummoxing puzzle he'd seen in aeons. Well okay, he didn't. But that's exactly what he'd think if he saw it. Maybe. The point is, Porcupine might not be particularly hi-tech, but just like A Brief History of Glue you'll be unable to put it down.