Cube’s fascination not just for squares

IN 1974, when Hungarian architect Erno Rubik created an innocuous little 3-D puzzle, he surely never imagined it would one day earn the title of “world’s most popular toy”.

TWIST AND SHOUT: Tamworth Toy and Hobby Mega World sales assistant Brooke Urquhart poses with the ever-popular Rubik’s Cube. Photo: Barry Smith

TWIST AND SHOUT: Tamworth Toy and Hobby Mega World sales assistant Brooke Urquhart poses with the ever-popular Rubik’s Cube. Photo: Barry Smith

But the Rubik’s Cube – unparalleled in its ability to evoke fascination and frustration in equal measure among users – is this month celebrating its 40th anniversary.

While its popularity peaked in the early ’80s when “cube fever” first swept the world, the toy  remains in high demand as new generations discover its quirky charm.

“It’s something we always have and it’s something that always sells – people are always wanting the Rubik’s Cube,” Tamworth Toy and Hobby Mega World store manager Stephen Briggs said.

Mr Briggs said although it was difficult to explain the cube’s enduring appeal – nostalgia certainly plays a role – there is no shortage of locals with the skills to solve it. “My son goes to school with a couple of children who can do it in a matter of seconds,” he said.

Remarkably, the cube’s makers maintain every single possible starting permutation – all 43,252,003,274,489,856,000 of them – can be solved in just 20 or fewer twists.

In 2013, a Dutchman completed the puzzle in a staggering 5.55 seconds to smash the world record, but a new benchmark of 3.25 seconds was set earlier this year by a super-computer. Kristie Lamb, of Collarenebri, told The Leader on its Facebook page that her daughter had asked for the toy for her seventh birthday a few weeks ago.

“She wanted a Rubik’s Cube so we got her one – she loves it!” she said.

Tamworth’s Taylah Shields conceded she “could never figure that thing out”, while Kayarna Pepper admitted resorting to the age-old trick of taking “the stickers off and put(ting) them in order”.

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