Puzzles: Cube Eraser

When my younger son told me that the prize for selling at least one item in his school’s fundraiser was a Rubik’s Cube eraser, I wasn’t too excited. I’m not excited by school fundraisers to begin with, though I do take the brochures to work and leave them in the breakroom for my co-workers to browse through. (Throughout the fall months, there is a steady succession of fundraiser brochures for different schools and community groups, often including multiples of the same fundraiser because our department has a lot of parents of school-age kids.)

My son gets a lot of erasers in goodie bags at holidays, and I couldn’t see much reason to be excited about another one. They are bright and colorful and sometimes cute, in every imaginable shape and theme: Christmas trees, smileys, rainbows, basketballs… just take a look at an Oriental Trading catalog to find dozens more. But I’d never seen a Rubik’s Cube eraser. I wondered if it was supposed to go on the end of a pencil or not.

When the fundraiser items arrived today, I found a colorful rubber cube, but it didn’t look a bit like a Rubik’s Cube. And the packing list just called it a “Cube Eraser.” But he was thrilled with it, and promptly asked me to unwrap it so he could take it apart. Take it apart? How do you take an eraser apart? I thought it was just going to look like a puzzle, not actually be one.

He handed me the six pieces, and I realized that it was in fact a puzzle, but unrelated to Rubik’s famous puzzle except for being in the shape of a cube. So I started putting it back together for him, taking advantage of the letters debossed on each side (debossing is the opposite of embossing – the letters are indented instead of raised). But after putting together A, B, C, and D, I found that E and F didn’t fit. I rearranged the first four, and the openings left were very close to E and F – but not quite right.

I began to see why one might confuse it with a Rubik’s Cube. I’m sure there are nearly as many ways to put together the first four sides as there are with a Rubik’s Cube (which can be arranged in approximately 43 quintillion ways), but there are enough to keep one puzzling for quite some time. You get tantalizingly close, but not quite there. Pretty soon you’re back at the beginning, trying to remember if you tried this particular arrangement before.puzzle cube eraser

I looked online to find a picture of the Cube Eraser to include here. And with this picture in front of me, I was able to put the cube back together (though it still took a couple tries to orient the pieces correctly).

I also started wondering if maybe the word Cube in the name had a double meaning – a puzzle for workers in cubicles to play with when they’re tired of whatever work they’re supposed to be doing. One could argue that it was there to use as an eraser, since it is in fact an eraser – or more precisely, six erasers. Though where I work, I can’t think of any use it would have, since virtually all our work is done on the computer, and when a co-worker looked through the office supplies yesterday for a pencil, there were none. (We do use pens and highlighters.)

I have no idea where you can get one, since the one place I found it online says it’s out of stock. But if you happen to have a child doing a fundraiser at school, maybe you’ll be lucky enough to get one of these too.


11 Responses to Puzzles: Cube Eraser

  1. renaissanceguy says:

    I would hate it. Despite my obvious intelligence :), I am no good when it comes to spatial orientation and manipulation of three-dimensional objects. Such puzzles simply drive me to frustration.

    I can certainly believe that your son likes it, though.

  2. Margaret Packard says:

    It reminds me of the Soma cube I had as a girl, although that is only 3 units across instead of 4 (but more pieces).

    • Pauline says:

      Jon has a puzzle very similar to your Soma cube – I think it’s even a similar shade of blue (it was blue, wasn’t it?). But the pieces aren’t all the same. The three-cube piece is straight – I think in yours it made a right angle.

      I don’t think it can make all the interesting shapes your Soma could, either – I remember it could make a bed, for instance. I think it just makes a cube. Every once in a while someone takes it out of its case to play with, or it gets knocked over, and I have to put it back together. I don’t know if it’s easier than Soma, or if it’s just that I’m better at these things than I was a few decades ago.

      Out of curiosity, I checked ebay to see if there was a Soma cube available. There is, the 1969 version that I’m sure is what you had. But it’s already over $15 with six bids on it, and will probably go higher – it’s actually brand new, still factory-sealed.

  3. we both have these cubes they are difficult to do we cant figure them out if u can help us then send a message to zoe zell and bruce contact us on facebook or myspace as zoe zell.

    • Pauline says:

      All I can say is use the photo I included in the post. The colors differ, but you should be able to figure out based on the shapes. If you get the pieces put together that show in the photo, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure out the rest.

  4. zoe says:

    Thanx 4 the pic! =D i colpleted it!… then i broke it up again… and now i cant put it back… 😦

    • Pauline says:

      Do your pieces have letters on them? Mine has a letter in the center of each piece. Turning the cube around, I have A, B, C, and D in order (with D attached to A on the other side). Then E on top (if the A, B, C, and D are right side up), and F on the bottom.

      I hadn’t noticed that when we first got it, before my son took it apart. I honestly hadn’t noticed until just now. But that makes it pretty easy to put back together.

  5. Chloe says:

    You should really tell people where u can get them from though

  6. Sra Rose says:

    Walmart carries these little frustraters in the birthday party section.

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