Keychain Puzzles

any novelty keychain fobs and charms are available and can be considered collectible - one can find scores of different designs, both modern and some decades old. Among them are a variety of keychain puzzles (or key chain puzzles) - the subject of this section. Keychain puzzles include interlocking, twisty, sliding piece, dexterity, and other types. Their most important characteristic is being small - according to experts three inches or less in the longest dimension (and even that is pushing it). Even when no chain or cord is included, often there is a hole or a loop where one could be attached. In this section, I have focused on the interlocking variety of keychain puzzles though I do show some other types I've collected. Most collectors of keychain puzzles will admit certain small interlocking constructions into their collections even when the puzzles were not really intended to be hung on a keychain - I have included some examples here. They are referred to as "Miniature Plastic Interlocking Puzzles" and many were produced in Japan. In addition, some keychain "puzzles" either are very simple - consisting of only two pieces - or don't interlock but rather press together. Such items are in a controversial gray area on the periphery of proper keychain puzzles. But of course part of the fun of collecting is to define one's own boundaries.

I have organized the keychains shown in this section into several categories (you can mouse over and click on the entries in the menu box below):

Below is a showcase of thumbnails of most of the types of keychain puzzles I have found.

  • Guided by Dundas (see below), I have highlighted like this about 70 puzzles that probably belong in any basic collection. The focus is on puzzles issued in the U.S. in the 40's and 50's, many by Lional and Lido.
  • I have highlighted like this another 30 or so puzzles an avid collector should be able to obtain - some from Hong Kong, England, France, or Germany.
  • Many of the rest are from Europe or Japan and may be comparatively rare. What I have experienced to be the rarest, I have highlighted like this.

Keychain Druopta dog Keychain dog - DDR

 
Small, intricate and colorful plastic keychain puzzles were sold beginning in the 1940's by American manufacturers or brands such as Helenhart Novelty, Plas-Trix, Toy Trix, Pal Plastics, Chemtoy, Harrison, Lional, Lido, and Mechanical Servants. In the UK they appeared under brands such as Peter Pan, Randall or Merit, Roddy, and Bell, and in Germany under the Pussy or Pussycat brand. Several interesting designs were issued in France, Japan, and others in eastern Europe. Some interlocking keychain puzzles - spheres, cubes, elephants, and pigs for example - are still made today in Hong Kong.

The puzzles, aimed at impulse buyers and sold for pocket change, were usually displayed in stores on large cards from which several puzzles - usually of the same type but occasionally a variety - were hung by their chains. Each puzzle would be accompanied by a small solution sheet - taken at sale time from a stack stapled to the display card. Some of the old larger store display cards can still be found - a few examples are shown here.

Sometimes individual puzzles were accompanied by an attractive heavier printed card, or packaged in small bags - either assembled or in pieces - or appeared in boxed sets or blister packs. Most often today they're found loose and without a card or instruction sheet, so it is always nice to be able to acquire an original card or solution sheet along with a vintage keychain puzzle. Shown below are some example cards and solution sheets.

 

Using Google Books search, I have been able to find several notices for wholesale lots of keychain puzzles dating from the late 1940's and early 1950's, in Billboard magazine. An example is shown at left, clipped from the May 28, 1949 issue of Billboard.

A determined collector should be able to find dozens, if not hundreds, of intact examples of vintage plastic interlocking keychain puzzles, and collecting such puzzles has the advantage of requiring a minimum of storage space! While the typical puzzle has only six pieces, and many of the puzzles share an internal architecture derived from one of a few common recurring designs, some of the interlocking designs can be unexpectedly challenging and pleasingly clever.

I am aware of very few published articles concerning keychain puzzles, and until recently the 1998 book Toys That Shoot and Other Neat Stuff by James Dundas was the only real reference showing a large variety of interlocking keychain puzzles (AFAIK). The book has a section on keychain puzzles on pages 70 through 80. Dundas shows about 70 puzzles and suggests rarity and dollar values for them - but the valuations given by Dundas are no longer considered accurate. Collector Steve Butler has written a couple of articles on keychain puzzles - one article entitled "It's a Puzzle" appeared in the September/October 1991 issue of The Toy Collector magazine. Another two-part article "Key Chain Puzzles" appeared in Antique Toy World in April and May 2004.

In 2011, Jerry Slocum and William Waite issued their Compendium of Keychain Puzzles, which gives details for 465 puzzles (467 according to the internal numbering but there are unassigned numbers). The Compendium has been updated to a 2nd edition as of August 2015 and now contains 558 puzzles according to the internal numbering. Several from the 2011 1st edition have been reclassified or renamed, or dropped as it was decided they don't really qualify well. Unfortunately the assigned numbers have changed from the 1st to the 2nd edition.

William Waite has an extensive collection of keychain puzzles. You can see a variety of interlocking keychain puzzles at Waite's website.

In the U.K. several of what we in the U.S. know as "keychain puzzles" are known as "Jig Toys" and have been issued as cereal box premiums. I like the idea of thinking about these puzzles as miniature "jigsaw toys" - the best designs seem to me, while not exactly having the traditional curvy tabs and notches of a jigsaw, to have pieces that interlock along non-obvious borders. You can read more about Jig Toys at Hugh Walter's Small Scale World blog, in his post entitled "Jig Toys - Puzzle Key Chains." There is also a website called Cereal Offers that aims to document all U.K. cereal promotions over the years. That site has nice pages about Jig Toys free in Corn Flakes in 1959, in Sugar Smacks in 1960, in Frosties in 1960, and in Frosties in 1970. The website has numerous photos including pictures of the boxes, puzzles (many on sprues), and instructions.

Most of the Jig Toys were issued in soft plastic, and the designs which appeared as cereal premiums starting in 1959 - the Jeep, Covered Wagon, Helicopter, Aeroplane (equals Merit's Jet Fighter), Liner, and Transport Lorry, had been issued by J & L Randall Ltd. in their Merit line in hard plastic in 1954, or by Bell (the Liner equals Bell's Steamboat). In 1970, the Lorry, Plane, and Helicopter were replaced by a Tractor (the David Brown design but with a nearly non-existent exhaust stack), a Sedan (the Mechanical Servants design), and a Horse (the Dutch design). The Horse is almost always found without its tiny ears piece. The Liner was replaced by the Destroyer, and though the Covered Wagon remained, it underwent subtle design changes.

Keychain puzzles have inspired art - Steve Armstrong created a series of wooden sculptures - scaled-up renderings of classic keychain puzzles. They were on display at the Aron Packer Gallery in Chicago.

Starting in the 1960's, the Japanese food company Kabaya Leaf Inc. issued dozens of small plastic puzzles - many of them interlocking, and many made from soft plastic - as "extras" to accompany candy or gum products, including their Big League Chewing Gum. The Kabaya-Leaf company produced over 100 puzzles including 40 puzzle kun (the set of 40 is fairly rare, having been issued only for a short time in the early 1980's) and over 60 in the Big League Chewing gum series.

I began collecting keychain puzzles in 2011, after I acquired a "Wha Hoppen" in March - although as a child I had a small white Bibendum keychain puzzle I received as a souvenir of the New York Auto Show I used to attend with my father.

 

Here's my collection of keychain puzzles:

The First Keychain Puzzles
These are examples of the Trylon Perisphere puzzle souvenir from the 1939 New York World's Fair, issued by the Helenhart Novelty Company. It is very small, and it is said (see Slocum) that this is the puzzle that gave birth to keychain puzzles (even though it has no chain).

The Trylon Perisphere puzzle is made from a very early form of plastic and often the pieces have warped. One piece in particular seems susceptible to damage - in the group of orange pieces shown above, it is the bottom piece and is broken in two. You should not soak these pieces in water!

I found an intact example of the orange sphere / blue Trylon version, shown below.
In each Trylon Perisphere puzzle, the six letters W-H-A-L-E-N are embossed, one in each of the six pieces.
Grover Whalen was president of the New York World Fair Corporation, and helped run the 1939 fair.

Here is an original instruction sheet that came in the box with the puzzle:

Irving Steinhardt received patent 2178190 in March 1939 for a six-piece interlocking puzzle. The patent depicts a spherical puzzle with an obelisk through it, but notes that the outside shape can vary. The drawings also include a bottle shape. The sphere pieces shown in the patent match the pieces of this puzzle. Steinhardt's design patent D112470 of Dec. 1938 clearly shows the Trylon Perisphere design, and is cited on the puzzle box. Steinhardt also received design patent D118253 in Dec. 1939 for an egg-shaped interlocking puzzle. Steinhardt has many puzzle patents.

 

This puzzle ball contains virtually the same pieces as the Trylon Perisphere, except the Trylon key piece has been truncated and become part of the ball.
According to Slocum and Waite, this is the first keychain puzzle, issued by the Helenhart Novelty Company of New York City.

The Ball's pieces also have the letters W-H-A-L-E-N inside.


The patent number (2178190) is embossed on the hollow inside of the key piece.

Steinhardt also patented the horseshoe-shaped clip, in 1942 (D132116), and another type of retention device having a cord, in 1944 (2361069).

Other Steinhardt Architecture Puzzles
Here is a version of the Steinhardt Ball from "Peter Pan" made in England, with its card:



The Steinhardt configuration in ball form is still made today in China.

A farily large version of the Steinhardt configuration in ball form has been used in France to advertise Air France and Pampryl.
Pampryl is an orange drink.
I believe both the Air France and the Pampryl versions were made from the same molds,
as in both cases the surface of the sphere has embossed "continent" outlines on it.

I have two Air France keychain ball puzzles, and they are of different sizes.
Also received a copy of an insert that seems to have accompanied the Air France puzzle. Note that what the insert says is incorrect! The "game" was not invented by the Japanese - as we know, this puzzle topology was invented by Steinhardt! And of course there are six pieces, not five.

Here is a comparison of Steinhardt Ball puzzle sizes.

The Steinhardt configuration in ball form appeared as the Sputnik.
According to my source, this was issued by Sumugam of India in 1988.

The Steinhardt configuration in cube form has appeared in the past in small and larger sizes, and is still made today in Hong Kong.
Here are ten examples in different sizes - one vintage medium-sized version is shown disassembled in the big photo.
The left two in the big photo are modern Hong Kong versions - one with loop and one without - and the HK pieces are shown in the next photo.
In the next photo, of two cubes, the larger cube is the same size as the HK cubes but it is stamped China. Its pieces are thin-walled cheap plastic.
The last two photos show a bagged cube, issued by the Czech company Druopta in 1983.

Kabaya Leaf of Japan issued a Steinhardt Ball and a Cube in soft plastic

Mechanical Servants issued a small Steinhardt Cube

The Steinhardt configuration in Drop or Droplet form.
Four examples.


This soft plastic version of the Droplet is from Kabaya-Leaf of Japan - three examples.

A set of four card suits from Japan - Club, Spade, Heart, Diamond. Soft Plastic.
All are sculpted instances of the Steinhardt configuration.

I found additional examples of the Spade and the Diamond:

Another interesting variation on the Steinhardt Cube construction, from Kabaya of Japan, in soft plastic - this is a Cube on a Diagonal:


A Crystal-shaped puzzle from Kabaya of Japan. Hard plastic.
With original box.
#548 "Octahedron" in Compendium 2nd Ed.

A faceted sphere on its original card.
Steinhardt configuration.

Other Keychain Puzzle Geometric Objects

Keychain Sphere - 7 pieces
Three examples - two blue and white from German company Pussycat,
7-color version obtained from France
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat

An example of the same sphere architecture, with Baseball stitching - Japan.
Hard plastic.

A soft plastic sphere from Japan (Kabaya-Leaf) - two examples




I know this as the "Frankfort Cube" - seven examples, the first two in hard plastic and the green, blue, yellow instance in soft plastic.
It has been used for advertising in France.
This design has a kind of "hinged" clip that swings out.
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat.


Allsides Cube keychain puzzle - designed by William Waite
Mine is #16, from a limited edition of 26 puzzles. Includes a signed card reminiscent of the way keychain puzzles were sold in the 50s.
Each of the four pieces touches all sides of the cube, hence the name. Four moves to remove the first piece. "One of the most difficult keychain puzzles ever produced."

Keychain Barrel included in Japanese candy - Kabaya Leaf

Keychain Cross included in Japanese candy - soft plastic - Kabaya Leaf
Was available in different color combinations:


Capsule - Kabaya Leaf

Checkerboard Brick - Kabaya Leaf

A six-piece hollow sphere - two examples.

Each keychain puzzle typically contains six pieces. Here is a photo of a bunch of pieces mixed together. Can you figure out which pieces go with which puzzle?

Keychain Billiards 1-8

Keychain Numerals 0-9 - Japan

Letter 'C' - soft plastic - Kabaya Leaf of Japan

Four Piece Cube - designed by Dic Sonneveld,
made by Lee Krasnow from various metals. It's tiny!


From Lee Krasnow at Pacific Puzzle Works, a machined stainless frame for Lee's
Sonneveld Four Piece Cube, making it a keychain puzzle!

Keychain Burrs


Several small geometric puzzles were issued by Pussy of Germany.
I have seen these counted in some keychain puzzle collections.
The Satellite, Tangle, Tripleknot, Cage Cube, Pussy Sticks, and Trick Star are shown separately.


Diagonal Star - Kabaya Japan

Here is a group of miniature plastic interlocking puzzles from Kabaya Leaf of Japan:

 
Keychain Burr - Brown & White - a version was made by Nanavati Plastics of India 2003, but see below - this design was also made in Germany.
There are no markings on the puzzle.
Keychain Devil's Knot - Franco Keychain Devil's Knot - Franco
Keychain Devil's Knot - Franco
 

Keychain Burr - France
Two examples shown, but I traded away the second.
 
Keychain Burr - Teufelsknoten Schlüsselanhänger
(Two shown but I traded one away.)
One in original package - Thanks, Bernhard!

Six-piece burr keychain puzzle

Keychain Diagonal Burr - Pussy Sixbricks

Keychain 14-piece Altekruse Burr

Traditional six-piece burr as a keychain - three examples.
The "Chinese Cross" piece set.
A recent production, made in Hong Kong.

Another "Chinese Cross" piece set burr without a loop.

Czech Caged Burr

Keychain OCC Burr

Keychain 6 piece Burr

A 3-piece wooden keychain burr.


Keychain Magic Circle - Bell 1954

Metal Sphere Burr keychain puzzle
Purchased in auction from an Asian vendor.
Inexpensive, but interesting - notice that the pieces have traditional six-piece burr notching.
The 1024 piece to which the chain is attached has a rounded edge.

Pontiac Indian Head automotive advertising keychain puzzle.
Really happy to have acquired this unusual puzzle!
"Canada" is embossed on the hair piece.
Similar to the Bell Magic Circle above. The blue wedge rotates to allow the green and red wedges to be removed. The white and red pieces shown near the metal pieces are thinner than usual to allow the metal pieces to fit alongside.

Circle Burr, soft plastic - Kabaya Leaf Japan
Listed in Compendium 2nd Ed. as Burr - Circle 4 No. 502 on page 84.


Maltese Cross keychain puzzle by Bell (rwb has replica card, 2nd example has original card) 1954
The Chinese Cross pieces

Q-Burr - originally designed by Jim Gooch
Keychain puzzle by George Bell

Stellated Orchid by George Bell

Burr in Ball from Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.

A tiny Pagoda Burr puzzle, in soft plastic, from Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.

Keychain Animals and Riders



This interlocking keychain puzzle is Spunky the Dog - four examples.
A U.S. patent was granted to Irving Hartley Steinhardt in 1953 (2651522) - though the patent was filed in 1947.
In the Feb. 28 1948 issue of Billboard magazine, Kim & Cioffi of Philadelphia were selling a gross of Spunky the Pup Keychains for $13.50. The same outfit is selling a "Keychain Puzzle Pup" in the Apr. 10 1948 issue. The Border Novelty Co. is selling a "Dog Puzzle Spunky Key Chain" for $1.25 in the Oct. 2 1948 issue.
According to Jerry Slocum, Spunky was Steinhardt's pet dog.
Note that the two examples on the left have asymmetric ear widths, while the example on the right and the additional example have symmetric ears.

The six letters in S-P-U-N-K-Y are embossed, one in each of the six pieces - see below.

I found an unusual version of the Spunky Dog - marked Made in Hong Kong in a circle on its head, and "WY No. 50" on its left rear flank. In size it is comparable to a normal Spunky (maybe a tad larger) but definitely less accurately made.

This follow-up to Spunky was called Plasty the Puzzle Pup - see original instruction sheet.


NOTE the shape of the ears, and the tail piece - these instructions match this type of dog.
It is also known as the Scotty or Scottie Dog. Five examples shown.

I found the letters V-P-A-T-O-I embossed inside three pieces of a version of this dog (the other three pieces show no letters) -
I have no idea what they mean - see below:



The large dog puzzle was also offered by Peter Pan in England - here is a Peter Pan Dog on its original card. The pieces are glossier than the previous version, and in six different colors.
At IPP37 I found this unusual version of a dog keychain puzzle, from Druopta.
Note the "uni-ear" and the wide nose.

Keychain Druopta dog Keychain Druopta dog Keychain Druopta dog Keychain Druopta dog Keychain Druopta dog Keychain Druopta dog
Keychain Druopta Dog

Keychain dog - DDR Keychain dog - DDR Keychain dog - DDR Keychain dog - DDR Keychain dog - DDR Keychain dog - DDR
Keychain Dog - DDR - obtained in a lot from Germany
Here is a keychain puzzle dog made in the DDR -
Note the shapes of the insides of the pieces - they are blockily hollowed out and contain no lettering.

There are several versions of this type of dog with subtle differences in appearance - here are some examples...

Keychain dog examples

In general, I have found that the keychain dog puzzles of this outward appearance fall
into two classes based on the internal shapes of their pieces
and whether they contain lettering - this blocky hollowed type, versus the type where
the hollowed areas are more rounded and contain lettering.
Examples shown below.

Blocky, no lettering:
Keychain dog - blocky internals Keychain dog - blocky internals

Rounded, with lettering:
Keychain dog - letter internals Keychain dog - letter internals Keychain dog - letter internals

Of course, the Druopta Czech dog isn't hollowed out...
Keychain Druopta dog




Puzzle Pup Junior keychain puzzle - two examples
Plas-Trix 1949
This version of the Scottie Dog is smaller and has a head like Spunky's and a tail like Pup Jr's.



The card shown above identifies this as Plasty the Puzzle Pup, by Toy-Trix.
The instructions on this card show the distinctive tail piece and more squared-off ears of this dog type,
but the larger dog shown above has also been called Plasty.
So, evidently, the name Plasty has been applied to more than one dog type.

The Pal Plastics Scottie Dog card below also shows the pieces of this dog type - note the tail in particular.
However, this card was accompanied by the larger version of the Scottie dog.
Go figure!

 

Here is a comparison of Spunky and the large and small Scotties.
The large Scottie is on the left, Spunky is in the middle, and the small Scottie is on the right. Each has six pieces.


A small dog issued by Roddy of the UK - similar to the small Scottie Dog above. Two examples.
Here is a five dog comparison:



This Czech version of the Scotty Dog has an "inverted" two-piece head.
The two pieces of the head fit together and into the body only one way.

Keychain Russian Dog


A Dachshund dog interlocking keychain puzzle (soft plastic) from Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc. - two examples

Spunky Dog - large modern version
A modern copy of Steinhardt's 1953 design (patent 2651522) - issued with different heads, including dog, llama (giraffe?), and elephant. These are larger than the vintage Spunky dog of the patent, and the pieces are hollowed out.
Who let the dogs out??


Compare this to the large modern Spunky Dog above -
here, the ears are swept back. Also, there is no protruding nose.
Is this supposed to be something other than a dog? Maybe a Goat?

Two examples of either a Llama or a Giraffe with a fairly short neck

The "Dog Body" style (large) Elephant - two examples


Jumbo the Elephant - two examples
Plas-Trix
The head is a single piece - note the tab at the top of the back of the neck.

In the Nov. 6 1948 issue of Billboard magazine, the Harris Novelty Company of Philadelphia was selling a gross of each of "Key Chain Puzzles, Elephant" and "Key Chain Puzzles, Donkey" for $13.50 each.


Comparison of four elephants
Compare Jumbo at left with the similar-looking examples below - each has six pieces. Simplified (Pussy) example in upper left. Soft plastic "split head" example in upper right. Vintage "simplified" example in lower left. Jumbo in lower right.
UL: note hollow head w/ no tab, chain eyelet, lack of pin on right-rear leg (RRL) piece.
UR: note split head, end point sockets for chain, pin on RRL piece.
LL: note hollow head w/ no tab, end point sockets for chain, pin on RRL piece.
LR: note solid head w/ tab, chain channel, pin on RRL piece.

William Waite also compares variants of this style of Elephant.

"Simplified" Jumbo the Elephant - 4 examples
The two blue and yellow examples are from the German company Pussy.
Note the absence of the tab at the top of the back of the neck -
also there is no pin on the right rear leg.
The white-headed example is from China - note its instructions are identical to the Pussy German version.

Elephant keychain puzzle advertising BASF
Note the hollowed out legs

"Split Head" Elephant - soft plastic
Pieces are similar to but different from Jumbo.


Keychain Bell Elephant
This nice version by Bell, with its original card, has examples of Bell's characteristic "flesh tone" (caucasian) and light green colored pieces.


Four examples of the "Mechanical Servants" style Elephant
Pair of MS versions on the left, HK copy on the right. Both types made in HK but the MS versions are higher quality. Note the difference in the tail, and the neck insert length.
MS instructions on the left, HK on right. Note that HK instructions do not reflect accurate tail.

Pig keychain puzzle
Five examples - the first pink and black version is higher quality (from Pussycat of Germany?)
This design is similar to the MS Elephant construction.

This version of the Pig comes from the DDR


Three examples of an Elephant with Clown rider keychain
The card I found calls this "Jumbo" from Lional

Another eye test - Keychain Puzzle Pieces Jumble #2 - can you tell which pieces comprise which puzzle?

Three examples of a German Elephant keychain

Desert Patrol / Camel Rider keychain puzzle - 3 examples
Lional

Keychain Dragon (large version) - three examples
All soft plastic.


The Dragon also appears in a small version.
It has the same pieces as the large and is also soft plastic.
Here is an example in its package, with a size comparison to the large Dragon also in its package.
Also shown is a loose mini Dragon and its pieces.


Alligator (soft plastic) - Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.


Mule Train or "Burro and Rider" or "Mule Rider"
A version was issued by Lional 1954
17 examples
(The Sombrero isn't a puzzle but is sometimes seen accompanying the Mule Rider.)


Interestingly, there is a design patent on this puzzle - D161829 Goodman - issued 1951, filed 1949.



"Don" Key (Donkey) keychain puzzle - three examples.
See the instructions - this one has only five pieces but requires various rotations.
Plas-Trix 1949


Lional Indian Raid set
Includes two Indians on horseback, each holding a tomahawk in the right hand and two cowboys on horseback, each holding a pistol in the right hand.

Indian with tomahawk in right hand -
three additional examples

Cowboy with pistol in right hand -
one additional (loose) example
Lional

Cowboy with pistol in left hand - 2 examples

Cowboy with rifle in left hand - 3 examples

Keychain Mini Indian on Horseback

Scout or Ranger (aka Mounted Police) (no firearm) - 2 examples
Lional
All of the Horse and Rider puzzles assemble in the same basic way, with a rotating tail piece as the key.

Comparison of Cowboy keychain puzzles -
Scout, Pistol (L hand), Rifle (L hand)

Jockey or Kentucky Derby keychain puzzle - three examples
Pal Plastics 1958

Bucking Bronco or Ride 'Em Cowboy keychain puzzle - four intact examples
1951
This puzzle is my least favorite - it holds together poorly and the key on the head is very fragile.

A rare Cowboy keychain puzzle, produced in England 1995 - two examples


Lucky Duck keychain puzzles - five examples
a.k.a. "Lucky Ducky"
Note on instructions in step D - "Find Egg Inside" - I found a copy of the Lucky Ducky with an egg still inside!
PT - Pal Toy or Plas-Trix

Puzzler Duck in Cannon Package

Duck in Top Hat - seven examples
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat.

Keychain interlocking puzzle Duck with Sailor's or Seaman's cap - four examples

Note that the Lucky Ducky is wider than this version:


Its belt and loop pieces are correspondingly larger.



Bell Goose interlocking keychain puzzle - two examples

Keychain interlocking puzzle Penguin
A very small, soft plastic puzzle from Kabaya-Leaf of Japan. Two examples.

Keychain interlocking puzzle Rabbit
A very small, soft plastic puzzle from Kabaya-Leaf of Japan.

Keychain interlocking puzzle Owl
A very small, soft plastic puzzle from Kabaya-Leaf of Japan.


Keychain interlocking puzzle Owl - alternative pieces
A very small, soft plastic puzzle from Kabaya-Leaf of Japan.
This version has a single-piece head.

Keychain Rooster - two examples

Keychain Russian Rooster

Keychain Puzzle Pieces Jumble #3

Keychain puzzle pieces jumble #4

Two Monkey keychain puzzles
The body can be installed with the "belt" either in front or back and
the arms or legs can be swapped side-to-side. I am not sure of the intended configuration.

Owl keychain puzzles - three examples
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat.

Keychain Fish from Pussy of Germany
This one has an interesting springy internal piece that when squeezed opens the mouth.

This version of the Fish is from Hong Kong and is so stamped on the tail. It has a simplified body and omits the spring and opening mouth. Fit is poor.

Fish, soft plastic - Kabaya Leaf of Japan

Keychain Piece Jumble #5


Puzzle Puss - three examples. Also showing two slightly different cards (can you spot the difference?) and a tear-off paper instruction sheet complete with tear!
Also issued by Bell and called the "Lucky Cat" -
Puss and Cat have slightly different faces - Puss' face shown above.
Cat has a semicircular nose and more even whiskers.

Keychain Horse puzzle.
A blue version (Dutch, vinyl) - missing the ears (a common issue),
and a hard plastic version from Germany in its package.

Keychain interlocking puzzle Boar or Hedgehog (Germany) - four examples

Donkey (German) keychain puzzle - Four examples


A Berlin Bear - this type has claws and a crown
Three examples.



Six examples of a keychain Berlin Bear
This type has a robot-style body and a simplified head with a simple pentagonal "crown."

A German keychain puzzle zoo.

Butagaz Bear Keychain puzzle
Very rare! Mine is slightly damaged - the piece in the lower right should
have a tab projecting forward and up to lodge between the legs.
Still very happy to have found it.

A very rare Giraffe keychain puzzle, produced in the 1950s-60s by Roddy in Southport, England.



A small plastic interlocking Triceratops dinosaur.

Keychain People, Robots, and Other Figures

William Waite was kind enough to provide some info on what I thought was called the "Contortionist" keychain puzzle. It turns out this model is actually known as the Wha Hoppen or Wrestler puzzle. The hapless wrestler has been tied into a pretzel by his opponent. I finally obtained an instance including the original card. This was marketed by the Harrison Co. of Long Island City NY in 1951.

Here is the Bell version, called the Wrestler, on an original card.

Five additional examples of the Wrestler.


Bibendum (Michelin Man) puzzles. This is the small version.
As a kid, I had a Bibendum keychain puzzle I got at a car show at the NY Coliseum.
It disappeared long ago, but after searching for some time, I finally found another one.
This puzzle is the last of four "Lost Puzzles of My Childhood" (Drive Ya Nuts, Phony Baloney, Screw Loose, and Bibendum)
that originally motivated me to start following auctions!

Bibendum - the medium sized version.

Bibendum - the large sized version.
Architecture is similar to a kumiki puzzle.

I also found two in their packages:


Bibendum Trio
After finding the above Bibendum versions, I learned from Peter Hajek of the existence of a variant of the largest Bibendum - whose key piece is wider than that of the version shown above, with a correspondingly smaller left hand piece. At IPP37 in Paris I discovered a copy of this wide-key variant, shown below with its accompanying card and in comparison with the narrow-key version.




Narrow-key variant on the left in all comparison pictures. Note that there are other minor internal differences, including internal grooves on the shoulder and hip pieces, and circular tabs on the sliding pieces of the wide-key version, and different tabs on the right hand piece.

Esso Oil Drop Man interlocking keychain puzzle - 2002
Hard plastic, 8 pieces. The chest is a front and back fixed together.
(Seems permanent to me and I didn't try to pry it apart -
the legs and arms have flanges and slide into it in grooves.)
Very happy to have found this extremely rare keychain puzzle!
In pristine condition, to boot!

Since this one is so rare, I have taken photos of the [dis]assembly steps.



宇宙人ピピ パズル (Alien Phi Phi or PiPi Puzzle) -【メーカー】ジュニア Manufacturer: Junior (Japan) 1960s
Listed in the Compendium 2nd Ed. as "Elf 1" No. 102 on page 17.
My green example is missing its face disk and the nose pin.
From a Japanese description:
"It is a puzzle figure named Phi Phi from a children's drama series "Alien Spirit"
written by Sakyo Komatsu and directed by Kazumasa Hirai with music by Isao Tomita
that began broadcasting on NHK in 1965."
The show was a pioneering blend of live action and animation.
See the Wikipedia Japan entry for Alien Spirit.
Watch a sample episode at the NHK archive.
This puzzle was produced in the 1960s by the manufacturer "Junior"
in various colors including yellow, green, red, and blue - the TV character was yellow.

Japanese Diver keychain puzzle.
Three examples - one in its original package.
Slocum and Waite identify this Japanese interlocking keychain puzzle as a Diver, but it reminds me of Gigantor.


Shmoo - two examples, one with original card
Toy-Trix 1949
Also shown - excerpt from Billboard magazine of May 1949 offering "Shmoo Puzzle Keychains with fortune" at a dozen for $1.50 or a gross for $16.20.

As indicated on its card, the Shmoo originally contained a fortune - on a small slip of flimsy paper and nestled in the cavity in the white piece shown at bottom center in my photo of the puzzle's pieces. I found an intact example in one Shmoo!

Aside from the head and tail pieces, the Shmoo puzzle is equivalent in architecture to the Lucky Duck keychain puzzle issued by Pal Plastics, which also appeared as the Lucky Ducky that itself contained a fortune - one instruction sheet promised 'Find your fortune inside "Lucky Ducky."' (See step D in instructions shown below - "Find Egg Inside.")

Here are some interesting facts about the Shmoo, from Denis Kitchen's website, the Wikipedia article on Capp, and the Wikipedia article on the Shmoo:
By the postwar 1940's Al Capp's comic strip "Li'l Abner" - created in 1934 - had millions of fans and had made him millions of dollars. In August 1948 Capp (b. Alfred Gerald Caplin 1909 in Connecticut, d. 1979) introduced a new character called the Shmoo, which became an unprecedented merchandising phenomenon, spawning dozens of Shmoo-themed products and lasting through 1952 - and generating over $25,000,000 in sales in one year (in dollars of the time - more than $200 million today). Shmoos packed with candy were dropped by the U.S. during the Berlin Airlift. A Shmoo Savings Bond was issued by the U.S. Treasury Department in 1949 - Al Capp appeared with President Truman at the unveiling ceremony. Shmoos appeared alongside Capp on the cover of Time magazine in 1950. For a not-so-flattering account of Capp and his strip, see an article The Brand Called Shmoo by Daniel Raeburn at the Baffler website.

"The Shmoo is shaped like a plump bowling pin with legs, but no arms." Oddly, the card shows a Shmoo with arms, but the iconic character has none. More Shmoo trivia - Shmoos are white - there are evil Shmoos called Nogoodniks and they're green colored.


Interlocking keychain puzzle Robots - four examples.
The black and white one came from Russia.
The purple-headed example is from China - note the Chinese instructions are identical to the German Pussy instructions.

Mechanical Servants Robot

Keychain Robot in package - China

Keychain Robot in box - Japan - Tamaki
Robot Keychain Puzzle
I found a robot puzzle with a chain mount embedded in its left shoulder.
The head piece has bejeweled eyes and the marking DGBM. I believe this one was issued by Pussy of Germany.
A second example fitted for an embedded chain in its shoulder and also marked DGBM lacks the eye jewels.
Comparison with other similar robots shown.
Usually the left shoulder either has an external eyelet, or no provision for a chain.


Here is an example of the Robot with a chain loop on its head.
Note that this one also has the provision for the chain to be embedded in the shoulder.


A Martian - based on the Robot design.
Here is an example of the Robot, from Japan, with a chain loop on its shoulder.


Keychain Robot with Long Legs - three examples


A small robot - Kabaya Leaf Japan
Two examples.

Keychain Czech Robot
Architecture similar to the Berlin Bear

Howdy Doody keychain puzzle - six examples. From Lido.

Baseball Players (or Batter) (six examples - a few short of a team...) - From Lido.

Knight. From Lido. Two examples.



Happo - The Jolly Clown Puzzle - seven examples.
Appears in 1951 Johnson Smith Catalog

An interlocking puzzle doll - thanks, Erhan!

Here is a female figure similar to the one I received from Erhan - but this one seems to be missing its chest piece. Perhaps it is a legitimate variant?

An interlocking puzzle doll - issued by the Czech company Druopta

An interlocking puzzle doll - Czech

An interlocking puzzle doll - Czech

An interlocking puzzle doll - Czech

Bartissol Man - France 2002
An interesting design with a spring-loaded button in the chest.

Keychain Insects, Plants, Fungi, & Molluscs

Three Ladybugs (two of orange/pink, and red/black German Pussycat version)

Dragonfly keychain puzzle - four examples
(soft plastic)

Keychain Cicadas - three examples

A keychain Beetle (with no horns)

Rhinocerous Beetle - two examples (in packages)

Stag Beetle keychain puzzle - three examples


Keychain Mushroom by Pussy of Germany - two examples


Keychain Almond - a four-piece interlocking Almond keychain puzzle from Spain

A keychain Gourd from Japan - Maruka
My copy is damaged, but it was a kind gift. Thanks, Peter!

Interlocking puzzle Clam - Kabaya Japan - soft plastic.

Interlocking puzzle Scallop - Kabaya Japan - soft plastic.

Keychain Artifacts
Score A Touchdown Football keychain puzzle - three examples
Plas-Trix 1949

In the Nov. 5 1949 issue of Billboard, Joker Novelties of New York was offering a "Football Puzzle Key Chain" at $8.40 for a gross.

This may resemble a Steinhardt configuration, but it is a distinct design and comes apart/assembles differently. I show pictures of the steps.

This one has been variously called the All-American / Cum-A-Part / Five Segment / Try A Pencil Football keychain puzzle - three examples


The letters T-R-Y-A-P-E-N-C-I-L are embossed in the pieces, two letters to a piece. One is supposed to poke a pencil in the tip to pry the pieces apart.

In 1955, Irving Steinhardt received patent 2712447 for this type of football keychain puzzle, called the "sector puzzle construction."
Note that the actual puzzle differs a bit from the patent - the loop is on one of the five segments rather than on a separate sixth segment of its own.

 

Here is a Football puzzle from Kabaya of Japan, in soft plastic. It looks like it would be a copy of the sector puzzle construction -
but its internals are completely different and it has six pieces.


Keychain interlocking puzzle Volleyball (?) - Kabaya Japan. Soft plastic.

Keychain Soccer Ball - two examples - black spots and white spots.
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat.

けん玉 Kendama puzzle - Japan
Hard plastic.
13 pieces for the body, 3 for the ball, plus one string.
Kendama, or Sword and Ball (a variant of Cup and Ball), is a popular dexterity toy in Japan.
See the Wikipedia Japan page on Kendama.
Listed in the Compendium 2nd Ed. as Cup & Ball 1, No. 233 on page 39.
The pointy-tipped rod (red here) slides out first, releasing the locking piece in the base (yellow here).
One of the base halves (the black one here) has a tab near its narrow end that locks it into the crosspiece -
so the base halves must be removed/inserted into the crosspiece hole one half at a time.

Keychain Japanese Jingle Bell

Keychain Legal Coffee Grinder (French) - two examples
The pieces are basically the Steinhardt cube.

Here is a keychain version of the classic Star and Belt tangle puzzle.
a.k.a. the Amazing New Spur-Belt Puzzle

Kumiki Barrel - three examples.

Keychain Barrel Puzzle in package - China
A keychain puzzle Bell was issued by the German company Pussy. Their version is made from a high-quality plastic and is well molded. The letters DBGM are molded into the bottom piece. The chain is embedded into the stem piece. Two copies are shown. I also obtained a copy from Israel - it is the same design but the inscription is missing and the plastic is more brittle. Its chain runs through a loop on the top.

Here is the copy from Israel:

Here is another copy of the Bell, from Japan:



Dice keychain puzzles - three examples, with three different styles of chain attachments
I've had the white one since I was a kid.
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat.

Lufthansa Supercargo Crate advertising keychain puzzle.
This has quite a few more pieces than the typical keychain puzzle!

Keychain Cheese Wheel - Wine and Cheese!
Four examples, one without stickers

Keychain interlocking puzzle Circuit Breaker (France) - four examples

Keychain interlocking puzzle Mini-Stotz Circuit Breaker (Germany - BBC)
Same basic architecture as the Robot.
Also has a small red "jewel" on the bottom of the green piece -
I imagine it is meant to represent an indicator.
Last image is a real mini-stotz.


Keychain Trophy - Japan
Two examples - gold in package, and loose silver. Also available in multicolored.
A nice assembly, with robust plastic. I really like this one!


Spray Bottle (France) - three examples

Keychain Terramycine Bottle (yellow)

Kodacolor (France)

BP Longlife Can - two examples

Avioline Can - same architecture as BP Longlife can

Keychain interlocking puzzle Oil Can BP T.O.U. - two examples
 
The Oil Cans and the Kodak Box puzzles employ similar mechanisms.

Keychain Lucky Charm - two examples


Two examples of a Lantern keychain puzzle
Note the difference in the corners on the base. The orange version, with rounded corners, was made by Pussy of Germany and is of higher quality.

This version of the Lantern is from Hong Kong

Legal Coffee Bean - four examples


The Legal Coffee Bean and Steinhardt Cube puzzles employ similar mechanisms.

Heart and Arrow keychain puzzle from "Mechanical Servants"
Also two examples of same heart but without the arrow
Has a rotational move - see step (E).


Heart interlocking keychain puzzle - three examples.
The pink one is by Pussy. The colorful one is from HK.
The architecture of this type of heart is similar to the Bell Goose.
I have instructions from the German company Pussycat.


Keychain puzzle parts Jumble #6

Keychain parts jumble #8.



Three examples of the Mystery Watch Puzzle
Tear-off instruction sheet on left, card on right (front and back)
1954

In the U.K. the Mystery Watch was issued by Peter Pan.
Note the logo on the back, and the vintage safety pin clasp.


Grandfather Clock Keychain puzzle - Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.
Two examples.


Bowling Pin and Ball
Three examples, two with card. Aka Skittles.
This one has a bowling ball hidden inside!

Bowling Pin with Ball Keychain puzzle store card

Bowling Pin keychain puzzle - "Thin type" - two examples.
Compare to the bottle below.

Another Bowling Pin - similar construction but this one is fatter. Two examples.

Bowling Pin Keychain Puzzle in package - China

This bowling ball and pin came in a set of puzzles by Kawada, from Japan. The "Fat Pin" style. Ball is Steinhardt config. Second bowling ball also shown.

Comparison of Bowling Pin puzzles

Keychain Bottle - two examples

An extra-large keychain bottle puzzle - two examples

Another example of the large bottle - this one labeled as Beer.

Keychain Movie Camera puzzle - the orange one is from Pussycat (Germany).
Four examples. Two marked "Bauer."

Drill (Peugeot France) - three examples
The pieces of this puzzle can sometimes get wedged very tightly together. Take a look at the instructions - don't break yours trying to pry it apart! The bit/chuck comes out first, then the handle, then the top front cowl slides forward.

Good Luck Horseshoe or Lucky Horseshoe keychain puzzles - four examples
Lional

The Horseshoe was available with three different inserts: horsehead, clover, and Davy Crockett (in order from most to least common).


Keychain Good Luck - Clover version (both sides shown) - two examples

Good Luck Horseshoe - Davy Crockett version

Tea Kettle or Teapot keychain puzzle
This one has an actual screw thread.

Vibromax Jumping Jack Tamper keychain puzzle

Wheel and Tire keychain puzzle

Keychain puzzle Suitcase

Keychain puzzle Top (Czech)

Keychain puzzle Curling Iron. Soft plastic. Kabaya-Leaf Japan
Relies on the flexibility of the white crescent.

Keychain puzzle Windmill (Czech)
The Windmill shares architecture with the Lantern, but here
the Lantern is upside down and its base is inverted.
The roof is friction fit.

This Old-style Telephone Interlocking Keychain Puzzle was designed by John Flower in 1952
and issued by the UK company Bell.
It has six pieces and assembly requires several pieces to be moved back and forth in sequence,
which is not typical for keychain puzzle mechanisms.
I like this one a lot!
This was designed by John Flower in 1952. 92,000 produced.
I show instructions for reference - but I do not have the card for this puzzle.


A vintage Crown interlocking keychain puzzle, issued by Bell.
With its original card!
This was designed by John Flower in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II. 235,000 sold.


Tower Bridge - Bell
Designed by John Flower in 1953. 28,500 sold.


Bell Piano Keychain Puzzle
Designed by John Flower in 1952. 40,000 produced.
I am very happy to have finally found one of these, with its original card!


Petrol Pump - Bell
Designed by John Flower in 1951. 172,000 produced.


Electric Iron - Bell
The first Bell keychain puzzle designed by John Flower, in 1951 - 134,000 sold.


Interlocking Keychain Puzzle Lock from Japan
I found one in its package, and a card.


Interlocking Keychain puzzle Mailbox from Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.

A Pagoda in soft plastic - Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.

Pagoda (hard plastic) - Japan

Pyramid (soft plastic) - Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.

Puzzle Tower (Eiffel Tower?) - Kabaya Leaf Japan (soft plastic)

American Flag - soft plastic - Kabaya



Television - Japan
Hard plastic.
With instruction card.

Keychain Guns



Raygun or Space Gun puzzle keychain - five examples, one with card.
A version was issued by Pal Plastics Inc. of New York.
Also Plas-Trix 1954


Here is the Bell version of the Space Gun, with original card.

Mini Space Gun 1985
It's got only five pieces compared to six for the full-sized Space Gun - the nose is a single piece rather than two.
The nose holds on only via friction so I imagine it is easily lost.

A Tiny Gun from Japan - Kabaya Leaf Inc.

Interlocking Derringer - Japan

Keychain Kumiki Pistol - Hong Kong, 1981?

I obtained this copy of the Kumiki Pistol from Japan - it is not marked "Hong Kong."
The assembly is the same as the Hong Kong version, but note the differences in the stock piece.

Keychain Space Blaster Guns
"Atomic Space Scout Gun" a.k.a. Atom Gun
Champion Plastics
Three examples

Here is an example of the Atomic Space Scout Gun in a box with a nice graphic, and instructions.

Merit Space Pistol Keychain puzzle 1953

This is a custom commissioned metal version of the Bell Atom Gun
At the armory...



Machine Gun or Tommy Gun keychain puzzle, issued by Lional 1961 - five examples



The Mystery Six Shooter Puzzle or Pistol or Revolver Puzzle
Four examples. I have an original card, and a separate instruction sheet (green) - both shown.
Also shown - comparison with Roy Rogers Straight Shooter.
The Mystery Six Shooter was issued around 1950, I believe, by Champion Plastics -
I found a reference in the July 1950 issue of Billboard.
(Note that the Roy Rogers gun's chamber is in two pieces as part of the barrel and doesn't
revolve, so the gun referred to in the magazine is definitely not that one.)


The Roy Rogers Straight Shooter Gun Puzzle Keychain - eight examples.
A version was issued by Plas-Trix Co. of Brooklyn New York (in 1951)
I obtained one with an original card.
Examples of this puzzle often suffer from warped handles where the halves have separated at the heel and sometimes at the tip of the barrel.
Also shown - comparison of pieces with Mystery Six Shooter.

Keychain Cowboy Straight Shooter, with card
This puzzle gun has also been offered as the "Roy Rogers Straight Shooter."



This interlocking keychain puzzle revolver came from Israel. Five examples.
As you can see from the photo of its parts, it is distinct from the two other revolver puzzles I have.

A trio of interlocking keychain puzzle cannons, one in its package.
a.k.a. "Action Cannon"


Field Gun - Merit 1954

Artillery Gun or Field Gun - HK copy - two examples

I have four variations of the Field Gun -
the one with no markings is a soft plastic Jig-Toy;
one HK version is marked "NOXIS";
another HK version is marked simply Made in Hong Kong;
the Merit version is marked "Made in England."

Interlocking keychain puzzle Tanks - three examples
PT - Plas-Trix
Keychain Tank in package
Keychain Tank - in package


The Tank was also issued by Fairylite in the UK.

An interlocking puzzle Personnel Carrier (Tank) from Japan.
In the Compendium 2nd Ed. as "Personnel Carrier" No. 397 on page 67.
The Compendium says the manufacturer is Ito.
I have a copy that is missing two wheels, but I found an intact store card.

On the top of the instruction card:
コンバトカー means "combat car"
パズルコーナー means "puzzle corner"

To the lower right of the main picture on the store card:
イギリスの means "England of" or "English"
装甲車 means "armored car"
サラテイン means "Saladin"

This is a model of the FV601 Alvis Saladin armored personnel carrier.


The logo in the lower left of the top of the card seems to read:
正ちぺん which transliterates as "Masa Chi Pe N" -
translations include "Regular" and "Right Side" but I am not sure how to properly read the logo.


The compendium identifies this as a Walker Bulldog Tank - Japan
Here is a photo I saved of an example of this in its package (I don't have this - shown for reference). It is the "M-41" tank, by ODK.

Keychain Vehicles
 

Circle the Wagons!




Covered Wagon (or Conestoga Wagon) by Plas-Trix 1954?
Eight pieces - the canopy and wagon are split lengthwise.
11 examples - hard plastic and soft plastic (pale blue) versions shown.


Here is a version of the Covered Wagon from Pal Plastics, with original card

Keychain Wagon with Horses
Happy to have found the horse team that occasionally accompanies the Wagon.

Merit Covered Wagon Keychain puzzle

DIY Covered Wagon - HK - soft plastic

Keychain puzzle parts jumble #7

Stagecoach keychain puzzle - two examples - Lido
Also a store display card:


Merit Stagecoach Keychain puzzle


Hi-Way Patrol (or Motorcycle Cop) keychain puzzle, issued by Lional Plastics Corp. of New York. Seven examples.

Peter Pan Speed Cop
Same architecture as Hi-Way Patrol, but smaller - see comparison photo.
Speed cop is on bottom.
Several examples of the Nu-Car sedan keychain puzzle issued by Plas-Trix 1949.
Also known as the Winner Stock Car, issued by Pal Plastics Inc. of New York.
The Nu-Car included a "license plate" that fit flat beneath the car, held on by slots in the wheels.

I found a Nu-Car with its plastic license plate intact, as well as an example with an intact paper license, and several examples on cards from Knight.



Card front and back, and paper instruction sheet.


Here is the Bell version of the Nu-Car puzzle, on an original card.


"Mechanical Servants Car"
Six examples of a Sedan type of car. This one has a neat mechanism I like - see the rotation in step 4.
The first red and green example is soft plastic and the others are hard plastic.
Pussy of Germany produced a version as well.


Sedan keychain puzzle by Pussy of Germany
The chassis piece has "DBGM" and a logo.

The Sedan in Russian packaging.
(I traded the white so don't have it any more.)

I found another Russian Sedan - this one is pink. The package was not sealed, so I scanned the instruction sheet.




Five examples of the Jericho Car keychain puzzle.
I found an original instruction sheet (actually on cardstock, not paper). It shows that this puzzle was issued by the Jericho Corp. of NY - hence its informal name. They called it simply the "Mystery Automobile Puzzle" however.


Race Car or Racing Car keychain puzzle
"Speedway Racer" - Lional
(In pic of 3, ends are Lional center is HK - note wheels and Lional's rounded cowl)

Here is an F1 race car keychain puzzle.

No. 6 Race Car - Japan


Keychain Renault Dauphine - two examples

Renault Dauphine - Blue
I found a rare blue version -
Unfortunately the top was cracked in half down the center, but I superglued it.

I found another dark blue example, intact:

I found an example of the Renault Dauphine in Light Blue


Renault Floride miniature puzzle
This one is pretty rare - and even though it is not really an interlocking keychain puzzle, most collections allow it.
I have included a photo I found on the web (not mine) of the car assembled, for reference.


Peugeot 404 from the French company CIJ
Probably too big to qualify as a keychain puzzle,
but this is one of several puzzle vehicles issued by CIJ and it is fairly rare.

A trio of Keychain Volkswagen (VW) Beetles
I have an instruction sheet from the German company Pussycat.


Hot Rod keychain puzzle - Lido - three examples


Merit Racing Car Keychain puzzle

Mini Race Car, with original capsule and instructions

Keychain Mini Race Car - two examples

Keychain interlocking puzzle car (Germany)




Keychain Puzzle Jalopy or Touring Car - four examples

A larger version of the Touring Car - Japan

Sportster - hard plastic - Japan
Listed in the Compendium 2nd Ed. as Roadster 1 No. 338 page 57.
My copy is missing its headlights and crank.

Town Car - hard plastic - Japan
Listed in the Compendium 2nd Ed. as Roadster 2 No. 339 page 57.

A keychain push-fit Jalopy, from Germany.
Not really interlocking, but I've seen it accompany other keychain puzzles.

A Puzzle Taxi - Japan (Maruka) マルカ


At the Motor Pool!
Keychain puzzle Jeep - smaller type with windshield up - 1949
7 examples


Keychain Jeep - larger type with windshield down
Red, white, & blue version is hard plastic, from Kiem set

Soft plastic large Jeep example from Hong Kong, in package

Soft plastic version of large Jeep with windshield down
several Jig-Toy examples

Soft plastic version of large Jeep - slightly smaller version, poor fit, loop on back
 
Old Fashioned Car (Open Touring Car) - Lional - four examples



Fire Truck / Fire Engine / Fire Chief keychain puzzles - Lional 1955?
The small "driver" figure is often missing.
The fire helmet is not a puzzle, but sometimes accompanies the truck.

Keychain Fire Truck / Fire Engine / Fire Chief with Siren - 2 examples

A Fire Truck / Fire Engine / Fire Chief - sealed in its package - issued by Knight Novelty
Note that even in the package this is missing its driver/siren piece.
Also note the instructions on the back of the package.


Kottage Kar (Ice Cream Truck) keychain puzzle - four examples
Lional 1954


There is a design patent on this puzzle: D172587 - Fleishman - issued 1954, filed 1953.


Keychain Tow Truck - two examples



Merit Motor Lorry on original card - hard plastic

The "Motor Lorry" (Flatbed Truck) design -
This copy is made from soft plastic and has a loop on the bed.

Another example of the "Motor Lorry" design, in soft plastic.

Several examples of the soft plastic Motor Lorry
The two blue instances are examples of the Kelloggs 1959 cereal premium "Jig Toy" from the UK
Dump Truck interlocking keychain puzzle with a tipping bed - three examples

SAVIEM truck - two examples, one in package
Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d'Equipements Mécaniques
was a French manufacturer of trucks and buses.

Mechanical Servants Truck - two examples

Keychain Covered Truck - four examples
one by Mechanical Servants with package.
The two trucks shown on the left in the photo of four are missing their canvas bed covers. I am told this style of truck was always produced with a canvas cover over the bed; folks often sell or buy the puzzle and don't even realize the cover is missing (as I did).

Mechanical Servants Dump Truck

Keychain Dumptruck - four examples


The David Brown Tractor by Randall/Merit 1954, with original card - two examples


Six hard plastic Tractor keychains, with packages

Soft plastic Tractor keychain


Tracteur Agricole Renault from the French company CIJ (Compagnie Industrielle du Jouet, meaning "Toy Manufacturing Company")
It's labeled "No. 2/11" but I have no idea what the other 10 models are.
This puzzle is fairly rare.

The "Loco" puzzle - from Lido - three examples. 1954?
(Blue cab is damaged.)


The Flying Scotsman - Peter Pan UK

The Loco-Motive (similar to the Flying Scotsman) - three examples shown...



A pair of small keychain Locomotives from China, and a third example in its package.
This one has 14 pieces.

Another nice locomotive.
In the 2015 Compendium 2nd Ed. this is #384 on page 64.

A locomotive from Japan, in its package.
In the 2015 Compendium this is #381 on page 64.
I obtained a second example in a bag.

Locomotive (soft plastic) - from Kabaya Leaf of Japan
Listed in the Compendium 2nd Ed. as Locomotive 09, No. 385 on page 65.

Another type of vintage Locomotive, in soft plastic - from Kabaya Leaf of Japan
Listed in the Compendium 2nd Ed. as Locomotive 12, No. 388 on page 65.

A Locomotive and Tender - DDR (Germany)
Mostly friction/press-fit, but the loco's cab does interlock into the base.

Keychain Boats/Ships

Examples of the Showboat (aka Ferry) - a flotilla!
By Lional, also leftmost two are HK repros.
The chain eyelet is smaller on the HK examples.
Lional is molded on the bottom on Lional examples.


Show Boat - Peter Pan UK with original card


Ferryboat - Bell UK with original card

The Mini Ferryboat or Mini Showboat - three examples
I found one in a capsule, with instruction sheet.
Shown in comparison with a regular-sized Lional Ferryboat.

Cruise Ship keychain puzzle - five examples.
Soft plastic.

Destroyer - Merit 1954 - two examples.
Hard plastic.

Keychain Battleship - no brand noted. Three examples.
Hard plastic, same construction as Merit Destroyer.
Hole for chain in tail.

Keychain Battleship - alt. version
Hard plastic
Note: rounded bridge, and simplified tail.

Keychain Battleship - another alt. version
Soft plastic
Note: small stack, loop at back

Steamboat - Bell (UK) - designed in 1952 by John Flower for Bell
Hard plastic.
This puzzle is very difficult to [dis]assemble because it fits too tightly and relies
on flexing the deck pieces. The soft plastic Hong Kong versions are easier to manipulate.
The open-sided deck piece is fragile and is broken at its narrow side in my copy.
I am not surprised the Bell version is rare.


Ship keychain puzzle - with package, made in HK
Soft plastic. Two examples.
This design had also been issued by Bell and called the Steamboat.
I have also seen it called the Cargo Boat.

Examples of the soft plastic Steamboat / Cargo Boat / Liner Jig Toy (Jig-Toy)
(One incomplete.)

Keychain Ship (pink) - soft plastic

Keychain Sailboats - soft plastic

Keychain Flying Machines

Jet Airplane keychain - two loose examples - Pal Plastics?
Also a filled store card by Knight Toy and Novelty Inc.



Five examples of the "Atomic Jet Puzzle Plane" aka "Mystic Jet Puzzle Plane" - Champion Plastics Corp. 1949
Note the rounded wingtips and chain attachment loop.
The wings say "JET 1148"

This is the Atomic Bomber Puzzle Keychain issued by Toy-Trix 1951
(See Compendium 2nd Ed. Appendix #41)
Note the oval-shaped, pointed wingtips and hole in the wing for the chain.
The tail has "USA" in raised letters on it.
Four examples - two with a one-piece fuselage+tail, and two with two pieces - see below.

Here is a comparison with the "JET 1148"

Shown below, instructions I found show the "LOCK" piece and the characteristic oval wing and body pieces, but note the difference in the tail.

As depicted in the pink instruction sheet, here is the alternative body piece for the Atomic Bomber puzzle -
incorporating the usually separate vertical rudder into the fuselage's central piece.

Here is a comparison - one with the one-piece fuselage with tail, and the other with a separate tail.

Another variant of the Atomic Jet airplane keychain puzzle with a smaller, pointed wing having "JET PLANE" embossed on it. Two examples.



Keychain Jet Fighter - Merit (hard plastic) 1954

Originally, I found the "Jet Fighter" in soft plastic.
To me, it looks more like a bomber than a fighter.

I found a soft plastic version in yellow, too.

Here is a version of the Jet Fighter in hard plastic that features a pilot!

Another version of the Jet Fighter design, but this Hong Kong package shows a more likely image (IMHO) of a passenger prop.
Two examples.

Russian IL-62 keychain puzzle jet airplane

Russian "Boing" Airplane puzzle

Keychain F-86D - ODK Japan - Odaka Sanyo (Odaka Industries)

Keychain F-104 - ODK Japan - Odaka Sanyo (Odaka Industries)

Airplane ("Fat Airplane") a.k.a. Aeroplane - five examples

Large airplane with folding gear, in package.

A rare keychain Zeppelin - Ito of Japan
 
Keychain Helicopter - Lido
 
Keychain Helicopter
The Lido design, but in soft plastic.

The Jig Toy Helicopter, in orange
Shown with other Jig Toy puzzles including a Lorry, Jeep, Field Gun, and Wagon


Helicopter - Merit 1954 on original card - hard plastic

A version of the Helicopter in soft plastic from Hong Kong.

The Lodaline (Dutch) Helicopter keychain puzzle - two examples (soft plastic)
Space Ship keychain puzzle - three examples
Champion Plastics Corp.
There is a design patent for this puzzle: D167570 - Haines - issued 1952, filed 1952.
Bell of the UK also issued a version of the Space Ship

At the launch pad...
the Blast Off Space Ship Puzzle with Secret Compartment - four examples




A really nice rocket ship. Translucent hard plastic - Kawada Japan

Here is a version in a Japanese package, made in China. Two examples.

Outer Space Rocket with card
Similar construction as above rocket, but with a longer pointy nosecone.


Japanese Rocket Puzzle Set


Japanese Space Plane

Apollo Command Module and Lunar Lander set (Japan)
(comes with small sheet of stickers)

Space Plane - Bell (UK)

Planet Plane - Bell (UK)
designed by John Flower in 1953 for Bell

Keychain puzzle piece jumble #9

Keychain puzzle piece jumble #10

Keychain Puzzle Sets

Lional Indian Raid set
Includes two Indians on horseback, each holding a tomahawk in the right hand and two cowboys on horseback, each holding a pistol in the right hand.
(SHOWN AGAIN IN ANOTHER SECTION)

Apollo Command Module and Lunar Lander set (Japan)
(SHOWN AGAIN IN ANOTHER SECTION)

A set from Chadwick 1977 - made in HK
The instructions are not the clearest...

Set of Six Keychain Puzzles
 
Keychain puzzle 5-pack
I am very pleased to have found this -
not only does it include a Helicopter, Flatbed Truck, and Destroyer
(nice puzzles of which I already have copies),
it also includes a Jeep with an unusual assembly,
and the rare Battleship.

Keim Keychain Puzzle Set from West Germany on original card
Includes a Plane, Destroyer, and Jeep in red, white, and blue.

Keychain Puzzle Piece Jumble #11

Hong Kong Keychain Puzzle Group

Mini Keychain Puzzle Set

Western Take-Apart Puzzle Set

Military Take-Apart Puzzle Set

Keychain puzzle set in package, from Ford Plastic Factory Hong Kong

Keychain Puzzles from Punch

Showcases

Puzzles from Mechanical Servants

According to Bloomberg: Mechanical Servants, LLC was founded in 1946 and based in Melrose Park, Illinois. According to an old Wiki entry: Mechanical Servants was incorporated in 1955 by Harold Baum under the name Mechanical Servants, Inc. The company originally focused on manufacturing mechanical vending machines and providing the products to be sold. In the late 1980s, the company shifted its focus from vending to traditional retail outlets by changing its packaging, and offering its products in a blister packed format. On March 3, 2015 it was announced that Cleveland-based private equity group Weinberg Capital Group had acquired Convenience Valet and its parent Mechanical Servants, LLC.

 

Puzzles from Lional

  • The Clown riding an elephant - they called this Jumbo even though that name had already been used on the plain elephant
  • The man riding a Camel - they called this the "Desert Patrol"
  • The Mule Train (Burro rider with sombrero)
  • The "Indian Raid" set which includes a cowboy on horseback and an indian on horseback
  • The "Good Luck" Horseshoe with various inserts
  • Tommy Gun
  • Hi-Way Patrol
  • Speedway Racer (many HK knockoffs)
  • Old Fashioned Car
  • Fire Chief (fire truck)
  • Kottage Kar
  • Showboat (many HK knockoffs)
   
   


   
   
   

 

Puzzles from Plas-Trix

  • Lucky Ducky
  • Puzzle Pup Jr.
  • Jumbo the Elephant (no rider)
  • Don-Key
  • Score a Touchdown Football
  • Space Gun
  • Roy Rogers Straight Shooter
  • Tank (with revolving gun turret)
  • Covered Wagon
  • Nu-Car

 

Puzzles from Lido

  • Howdy Doody
  • Batter
  • Knight with Sword
  • Stagecoach
  • Hot Rod
  • Loco
  • Helicopter


 

Puzzles from Merit

  • Blackpool Tower (very rare; I don't have it.)
  • Covered Wagon
  • David Brown Tractor
  • Destroyer
  • Field Gun
  • Fire Engine (I don't have it.)
  • Helicopter
  • Jeep (I don't have it.)
  • Jet Fighter
  • Motor Lorry
  • Racing Car
  • Space Pistol
  • Stagecoach









 

Puzzles from Pussy / Pussycat of Germany

  • Pussy Sticks - 2110
  • Elephant - 2200
  • Ladybug - 2201
  • ? - 2202
  • Owl - 2203
  • Fish - 2204
  • Heart - 2205
  • Sphere - 2206
  • Lantern - 2207
  • ? - 2208
  • ? - 2209
  • Cube (with embedded chain) - 2210
  • Cube (with loop) - 2210
  • Die (Dice) - 2211
  • Volkswagen - 2212
  • Bell - 2213
  • Car - 2214
  • ? - 2215
  • Movie Camera - 2216
  • Robot - 2217
  • ? - 2218
  • ? - 2219
  • Mushroom - 2220
  • Clover - 2221
  • Soccer Ball - 2240
  • Trick Star (Diagonal Star) - 2260
  • Astro Puzzle (6 D's) - 2261
  • Sixbricks (Diagonal Burr) - 2262
  • Hexon (6 Gears) - 2263
  • Tangle - 2264
  • Triple Knot (6 Piece Burr) - 2265
  • Cage Burr - 2266
  • Satellite - 2267
  • Polygon (18 Sticks) - 2268
  • Duck in Top Hat - 2900
  • Linde Fridge - (no number)
    (I don't have it.)










 


Non-interlocking Keychain Puzzles

Keychain Square Me assembly puzzle
Make a square without the small green square piece,
then make another square with all pieces.

Keychain Sliding Li'l Abner puzzle

The classic 3x3x3 cube as a miniature keychain puzzle.

Mini Molecube keychain puzzle
A 3x3x3 with Sudoku goal
Keychain Ultimate Skewb group
A nice group of keychain twisty puzzles issued by RecentToys
- including the Ultimate Skewb. Thanks, Jaap!

A Babylon Tower keychain puzzle.

A Varikon Barrel keychain puzzle.

Three keychain twisty puzzles from Mefferts.

mini Rubik's Snake

Missing Link keychain puzzle

Twisty Barrel keychain puzzle

Okki - a vintage keychain twisty puzzle


Six de Savoie - a keychain packing puzzle
This example is incomplete - there should be six wedges included.

A group of dexterity keychain puzzles

"Gray Area" and Non-Puzzle Keychains

Keychain Owls A group of simple Owl keychain "puzzles"
One "Nite Owl" in its package

Tiger - very simple, similar to the Owl
Two examples, one in original package

Mini 2-Piece Owl Keychain Puzzles

Three examples of a Two-Piece Fish - similar to the Owl and the Tiger.

The 2-piece fish was patented in 1958 by Olson - 2840878

Keychain two-piece Good Luck Clover in Horseshoe
Cites the Olson patent.

Yellow Pages keychain
Another very simple two-piece design.
Seems like it was intended to hide a quarter - but unfortunately it was made with an internal rib down the middle which prevents this.

A simple 2-piece advertising keychain.

Keychain Mack Bulldog (red, yellow, and white examples)
Minimally interlocking (only two pieces) and minimally a puzzle - but still nice.

Waldi the dachshund, the first official Olympic mascot.
Created for the 1972 winter games in Munich.
Instructions shown but my example is different -
it has a plastic spine and press-fit tail and ears.
Unfortunately someone glued the head, chest, and first segment together.
Since my first was slightly damaged, I found a couple more.

A Rude Clown - not a puzzle.
Push in the button on the back of his head and he sticks out his tongue and nose.
Parts of a broken one shown sans spring.

Another version of the Rude Clown - a Rude Professor - Lindex
Wearing a mortar board hat embossed "Collegiate Cap & Gown Co."
Reminds me of the iconic photo of Einstein sticking out his tongue.

Jerry Mahoney - the dummy popularized by ventriloquist Paul Winchell in the 1950s.
This keychain toy allows you to move the eyes and the mouth using a protruding knob.


Clown Magic Coin Carrier - Lindex
This novelty keychain accepts small coins and can eject them via its mouth when you actuate a lever on the back.

Egg-Laying Duck
This keychain toy duck releases a small egg through a hole in its base when you push a spring-loaded button on its side.

A vintage novelty keychain Football Helmet with a Football

Novelty Keychain Screwball

Novelty Keychain Toilet

Novelty Keychain Half Chamber Pot

Novelty Keychain Tic-Tac-Toe Game

Novelty Keychain GIMIX Opener and Pipe Tool

Novelty Keychain Coin Holder

Novelty Keychain Elephants

Novelty Keychain Bug-Eyed Skull
The jaw opens and the eyes bug out.

Novelty Keychain Voodoo Skull
A white marble inside makes the eyes appear.

A set of keychain gun models, made in China.
In most cases the chamber opens and trigger pulls.

Mini Soft Pellet Gun - 3 copies

Slot Machine - Mechanical Servants

Lucky Number

Games of Chance group

Lettered Kettle - France

Keychain Spools

Disney Knife

A posable puzzle doll - Kawada Japan 1985

A set of keychain barbells

"Don't Gamble" Die keychain puzzle
Only two pieces - almost a secret opening box.
Included in the 1st ed. of the Compendium but gone from the 2nd.

I found a second instance of the Don't Gamble die, in black. This one contained a surprise! Can you guess what it is - hint: it is in keeping with the theme "Don't gamble!"

Here is an example in pink:

Mini 3D Crystal Puzzles - Blue Heart, Pink Heart, Blue Slipper, Red Star, Blue Star
The Compendium 2nd Ed. excludes these since these are intended to lock permanently together and not allow disassembly / re-assembly.



Japanese Steamroller puzzle
(Too big to be a keychain)

Japanese Batmobile puzzle
(Too big to be a keychain)

An interlocking puzzle Camera Spy Gun from Japan.

A Bug-Eyed Alien from Japan.

I found these two versions of a Helicopter (two examples of one type), made in Hong Kong.
Small enough to qualify as a keychain puzzle, but not really interlocking.

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