Giant Pyramid puzzle—a memoir

See disassembled view below

The Giant pyramid was invented by Len Gordon and produced in 1972 by Gordon Bros. in injection-molded polystyrene in various colors on black plastic bases. When Kadon's president, Kate Jones, met Len in 1982, she decided to add his pyramid puzzles to the Kadon catalog. Len supplied us with all assembled and vacuum-packed sets in red, blue, green and crystal, and in three sizes. The most difficult was the Giant. It was recommended for determined teens to adults. It sold for a mere $8 in 1986 and for $29 thirty years later.

The nine pieces of this monster (see below) fit just one way to make the order-5 tetrahedron of 35 balls on its base. Solving it has been known to take anywhere from an hour to a year, or more. The solution was not included but was available by request.

Eventually we ran out of colors and really preferred the beautiful crystal version, so purchased only the crystal balls from Len and made our own bases when his ran out.

For its 25th anniversary in 2009, we added silver trim to the base. For the Maryland Renaissance Festival's 35th Anniversary in 2011, we made a special version on a jade-and-silver inscribed base. You can read more about the Giant in the historical notes.

In the mid-80s, Len sold his puzzle business and the molds for making pyramid pieces to Gerry Gonsalves, a furniture maker in Chico, CA, and retired to Arizona. Gerry kept us supplied with crystal parts for as long as they lasted and even had more made until the molds wore out. In 2016 Gerry also retired, the molds were scrapped, and the puzzle pieces ran out. As of March 2017, the Giant is no more. It was beautiful while it lasted and tantalized thousands of puzzlers. An enterprising soul solved it and made a diagram of the solution to post online.

Many ball pyramid puzzles have come on the market since Len Gordon's heyday, especially since the 3D printing technique was developed. Whether the Giant will see a rebirth is an open question.

Back to 1986 Historical Notes

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