Product Idea |

Grandpa's Gramophone


As long as you can remember, Grandpa displayed his prized possession, a vintage gramophone, on a shelf in his den. When he started to lose his hearing, he passed it along to you, his favorite grandchild. You have displayed it on your mantle ever since. It even has one of his vinyl records still in place on the turntable. Recently, Grandpa asked if you've enjoyed his gramophone, and you sheepishly admitted that you have never even tried to play it. He cryptically suggested that you should take a closer look at his treasured item, because music isn't the only treasure that the gramophone holds...

Grandpa's Gramophone is a puzzle box in the form of an old-time gramophone. It looks wonderful as a display piece, and it contains many secrets. This puzzle box features a false wall held in place by friction, a hidden drawer locked with gravity pins, a turntable that actually moves when operated with a hand crank, hidden gears that are operated by the knobs on the front of the box that reveal a hidden tool, and a lever-operated drawer that contains Grandpa's treasure. The tiles next to the knobs will be labelled "RPM" and "VOLUME."

The solving sequence is shown in the photos. 

1) A false wall is removed, revealing a tool.

2) The tool can remove the speaker from the side of the box, but only after two grille pieces are moved up to reveal a hole.

3) The tool goes in the hole and pulls the speaker out of the box.

4) The speaker contains a crank.

5) The crank fits in a hole in the back of the box, but the turntable doesn't budge.

6) Removing the stylus arm reveals a hole in the record.

7) The crank can now turn the record. The hole in the record needs to align with a hole in the gramophone.

8) Manipulating the two knobs on the front of the box engages a system of gears that raises a tool up through the hole in the record.

9) The tool will fit into a hole in the side of the box.

10) Pushing the tool into the hole moves a lever which pushes open a secret drawer.

11) The secret drawer contains Grandpa's treasure, which can be anything you can fit in the drawer.

I am a high school music teacher by day, and a Lego enthusiast/mechanical puzzle collector/escape room designer in my spare time. My mechanical puzzle collection is displayed next to my Lego collection, and I realized one day that the mechanisms I've discovered in my Japanese puzzle boxes and sequential discovery puzzles could be reproduced with Lego. Like an escape room, this puzzle box contains a variety of tricks and secrets that are discovered and solved in a sequential order. 

I believe this would be a great set with broad appeal. The recent rise of escape rooms has made puzzles (as a solo or social pursuit) a hugely popular pastime. There has also been a rise in interest in mechanical puzzles around the world, driven by increased exposure on various YouTube channels, and the recent need for quality entertainment at home. This set combines both of these popular pastimes. The aesthetic appeal of an intriguing design meets a highly functional toy that doesn't necessarily give away its secrets as it is being assembled. Owners of this set will be proud to display it and invite their friends to pick up and manipulate it.

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