Product Idea |

Tic Tac Tile (Dynamic 3D puzzle)


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What is this?

This is a little dynamic customizable 3D puzzle. It is built around the Lego 1x1x2/3 tile and 2x2x1 turn table as the main components. The object is to design and build your own puzzle and put the pieces together so all engaging tiles match. Once they do, they have that nice accurate Lego fit and you did a great job of solving it with a systematic and patient approach.

The puzzle consists of:

  • A base plate with five 2x2 turn tables each fitted with four tiles. The turn tables are located in the corners and the center like a dice showing five
  • Four 5x1 pieces each fitted with four tiles
  • Four 2x2 pieces each fitted with four tiles
  • Knobs around the edges of the base plate designed to hold the pieces that have not yet been placed in the puzzle

The concept

The eight pieces must be placed together on top of the base plate to form a 6x6 square while the tiles on the pieces and the base plate face together and match. Making the 6x6 square from the eight pieces can only be done in two ways (geometrically) and is not the challenge here. The challenge is to make all of the facing tiles fit. To do this, the pieces as well as the turn tables have to be oriented correctly. Two facing tiles fit when their entire sloped surfaces touch.

Successfully placing one (any) piece on the base plate will lock two turn tables. Placing more pieces will lock more turn tables.

So… - add pieces, lock turn tables and decrease the number of remaining combinations – hopefully towards the solution. If not, you might want to reorient or substitute a piece or rotate a turn table or two.

It sharpens the spatial sense recognizing pieces and single tiles and how individual tiles not only transform in shape but also change their relative positions when pieces and turn tables are rotated. Patience and working systematically are key factors here.

Design your own puzzle, - with a level of difficulty that suits you

Lego is unique and allows you to make the things you want, the way you want - to your liking. It is easy to build a Tic Tac Tile puzzle that has at least one solution. Simply add the 20 tiles to the base plate in any pattern you like. Then carefully add tiles to the pieces and place them one by one so they match until the puzzle is complete. This process also requires a little care.

Remove the pieces, shuffle them and give the turn tables a spin. In the beginning you might want to keep an eye out as to where the first piece goes, perhaps by color coding. This is just to help you to get off to a good start and to get familiar with the puzzle.

The difficulty level can vary from easy to quite hard depending on what ‘features’ are made in the base plate. If there are a few very recognizable and unique features, then you are quickly off to a good start. If, on the other hand, the base plate is completely randomized and uniformly colored, this puzzle can be quite difficult, at least in my opinion. That is of course if you are honest enough to shuffle the pieces quickly after assembly and not trying to remember where specific colors or shapes are supposed to go.

The best way to make a randomized puzzle truly difficult is to build the pieces from a drawing so there are no clues as to where the first pieces go. I made an excel workbook where I can design the base plate, either with recognizable features of my choice or completely randomized. Once I am happy with the layout, it will generate an illustration of tile orientations on the eight pieces.

In the case that this project approaches a review, Lego is of course most welcome to make use of any software I made to generate puzzles. Including the excel file. I am sure though that Lego has plenty of programming skills in house, but as I read the project rules, programming in relation to products is not really an option.


If the pieces and base plate are built from a drawing, then it is of course important to be very careful not to make mistakes since that may cause a solution to be nonexistent. As with any Lego set, this is good practice in the careful and correct construction from a drawing. To achieve a good fit between the facing tiles it is also important to align the tiles well up against the edges of the pieces. This can be done by pressing the sides of the finished pieces and turn tables up against a flat hard surface.

One day I couldn’t put the puzzle together at all and I began to wonder if I really did make the pieces correctly or perhaps some friendly person reoriented a few tiles. It was none of the two, I just had a bad day not paying attention and not being sufficiently patient.

The coloring in my layout serves as a sort of help over viewing and distinguishing pieces and turn table orientations. Other than that there is no correlation between colors and solutions in the original layout. But it is of course up to you to decide if the coloring should have some significance or not.

In the box

Apart from basic assembly instructions and the bricks necessary to make the pieces and the base plate, I imagine that the box will contain some extra tiles. For example 20 tiles in a uniform color for the base plate and a few additional randomly colored tiles so you can experiment with color layout to make some hints within your puzzle. A minimum of 52 tiles in total is always needed.

Finally there should be drawings of say five to ten pre designed puzzles with varying levels of difficulty.

Thank you for your interest

If you read this far, you probably like Lego as I do, and perhaps also puzzles. If you happen to like this particular puzzle concept, any support would be greatly appreciated.

The LDD rendering of this project can also serve as a drawing since that layout actually has a solution. If you happen to have the parts lying around already and are able to decipher the tile orientations from the image, why not go ahead and give it a try?

I hope the description of my project makes sense. Otherwise please don’t hesitate to ask or comment.

Thank you very much.

Best regards

Jens Jacob

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