The Fifth Day of Christmas – Sailor Moon Cube Puzzle
On the fifth day of (Sailor Moon) Christmas, we have an interesting little rotating cube puzzle toy going back to (and marked as being from) the time of Sailor Moon R, though oddly enough all of the pictures – to the best of my knowledge – seem to date to the original anime season. Not that this would stop most companies from trying to turn a quick buck by re-branding their toy with each new successive season, but hey, I could at least hope, right?
For what this is, it’s actually a pretty neat little toy. In consists of 9 cubes, each with a portion of a picture on it. When the handles (on the left and right of the picture) are pushed in, all the blocks come together and can’t move, but when you pull them back out, you can rotate the cubes around (left or right) to match up one of four different images. The images themselves don’t correspond to a specific side of the cube, so it’s not simply a matter of – for example – rotating each one to the right to get the next picture, though it’s not exactly a complicated endeavor.
That said, the images are surprisingly high quality, and aren’t just a simple sticker plastered on like you’d expect. I don’t know a lot about technologies for printing on plastic, but these are either directly printed/painted onto the plastic (using silk-screening, perhaps?) or it’s a sticker covered in some sort of lacquer. They’re smooth and don’t show any wear and tear, despite being over 20 years old.
Now, as far as being a “toy” is concerned, I can’t say with absolute confidence that this would keep a child entertained for long – and the entertainment value didn’t really last terribly long for me either – but I do think it would make a neat little collectible for a young child or maybe as a good sort of hand-eye coordination and memory-matching toy for a pre-school-aged child. What’s more, unlike a normal puzzle, you can close both sides when you’re done and put it up on a desk, and use it as a nice picture frame that you can change any time you want to see a different scene of your favorite anime!
Judging by the construction and the design, I’d say it’s incredibly likely that this was a simple toy back in the day that was re-branded with different franchises by simply using different colors of plastic, different images on the cubes, and a different sticker on the top. That doesn’t take away any of the fun factor from it, of course, but it’s definitely interesting looking at this stuff in retrospect and seeing how it was designed to get the most utility out of it!