We’ve been taking a very close look at a puzzling phenomenon, known as CyberCube. We tried to look no further than their amazing, lovely to look at website, filled with invitations and incentives for purchasing these extremely attractive magnetic marvels, but couldn’t stop there. We had to have one, at least. The very shiny silver one. Though the gold one looked at least as attractive, and the nickel and black at least as playworthy as the others.
Attractive indeed. Attracting curiosity, creativity, dexterity, ingenuity. Visually and haptically engaging. They are executive wonder toys. Moderately expensive investments, that payoff in hours of meditative, and sometimes moderately aggravating play.
Made of Neodymium magnets – the strongest, longest lasting of rare earth magnets, the Cybercube magnets really, really want to stick together. Assembling them into any of the amazingly attractive configurations shown on the web or featured in their documentation sometimes requires very strong fingers and deep, abiding dedication. Assembling the 6x6x6 cube (a challenge so fundamental that it has become a magnetic-ball-puzzle industry standard to include at least 216 – or 6-cubed balls) can get profoundly frustrating, not because it is conceptually difficult, but rather because the balls can offer surprisingly strong resistance to being pulled apart or forced together in any way other than that which seems to appeal to them at the moment.
They also all come with ample warnings about the dangers of swallowing, heating, or handling these magnets should their coatings be compromised. CyberCube recommends that they most definitely should not be played with by children aged 8 or under.
The spectacular variety of sculptural puzzles that these magnetic balls lend themselves to can be found everywhere on the web. On flickr you can find image after image of CyberCube. On Youtube you can watch a minor myriad of people making mini-metal-marble magnetic magic with CyberCube. As you watch, it is clear that making these extremely attractive configurations is as much a performance art as it is an act of conceptual mastery.
CyberCube come in a variety of packages and colors. You can get them in tins – which are fun to build on and, when the balls are stored inside the tin, helps eliminate the magnetic field. You can get them in boxes. You can get them in boxes (the magnets are a little smaller and cost a little less). You can get enough to make a 6x6x6 cube (with a few extras) or a 7x7x7 cube.
Until this review, the story of these amazing magnet balls has been uniformly focused on the many marvelous puzzle-like activities available to the magnet-ball-empowered few. Our explorations have revealed equally marvelous toy-potential. Here is a very simple example – showing what happens when you roll one ball at another, with appropriate speed and something like aim, on a plate. Turn up your sound to appreciate the fullness of the inherent glee.
With this very preliminary foray into the “toyetic” qualities of it all, we hereby invite your contributions of similarly jolly, playworthy discoveries. This first is but a taste. (Actually, more of a hint than a taste as the frame speed of the video doesn’t show the full spinning glories we experienced. But a tasty hint, nonetheless.)