That 1980s puzzle fad is back big-time!
No batteries required.
By: Kurt Badenhausen
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I N A PIVOTAL SCENE FROM THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS WILL SMITH’S CHARACTER SOLVES A RUBIKS CUBE IN FRONT OF A BROKERAGE EXECUTIVE STUMPED BY THE PUZZLE.
The feat lands him an internship despite his less than stellar résumé. Then, on Oprah Winfrey’s show last month Smith reprised his film stunt, solving the cube in two minutes.
The Rubik’s Cube —that maddening twistable puzzle that requires mental and digital dexterity to twist and turn bands on a cube until each side is a solid color —is making a comeback.
The cube was invented by a teacher, Erno Rubik, in Budapest. The first ones were produced in small quantities in Hungary in 1977 . Ideal Toys brought the cube to the U.S. in 1980 and sold 100 million of them in three years.
Hasbro now has the U.S. rights. After a 73% jump in 2005 its 2006 sales of the $10 toy should rise another 80% to more than 3 million units, propped up in part by the Christmas release of the Smith film and the appeal of a stocking stuffer that doesn’t need batteries or plugs . It’s a refreshing alternative to $600 game consoles.
“The Rubik’s Cube provides balance in the toy box,” explains Adrienne Citrin, speaking for the Toy Industry Association. And with the Internet, no need to buy books like You Can Do the Cube. There’s even a Yahoo Speedcubing group where cubers share techniques and solutions online.
But it’s not enough just to solve the puzzle. In keeping with the digital age, how fast you do it is key. So there are speedcubing competitions in places like San Francisco, Paris and Tokyo . Events include doing it blindfolded, one- handed and underwater.
To teach Smith to solve the cube, Sony Pictures brought in Tyson Mao of California. His specialty is the blindfolded solve, which he does in less than two minutes. Blindfold off, he can solve the puzzle in 14 seconds. Smith just needs a little more practice.
December 25, 2006. (Pg.48)
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