Saturday, November 15, 2014

Puzzle Toy Review: Kyjen Tic-Tac-Twirl

The Kyjen Tic-Tac-Twirl is a board game puzzle toy that is particularly fun for bulldogs and other flat-faced breeds. It has four spinning flaps the hide four treat compartments. The Tic-Tac-Twirl is unusually versatile in that it can be solved at least three different ways, and does not require the dog to retrieve their treats from a small cup or cavity.
Photo by Erin Koski

I've done it! I found a puzzle toy easier than the Kyjen Star Spinner! This one is particularly fun for Ulysses because he barely has to touch it for treats to come flying out. Literally, not kidding about the flying treats. This is what makes this game so accessible for brachycephalic breeds like bulldogs and pugs.

To properly understand how the Tic-Tac-Twirl works, it helps to know that the cavities underneath the spinning squares are shaped like half-pipes. There is just enough clearance for each square to spin, and that's it. Each cavity also has a little hole to the outside world in the side of the toy.
Photo by Erin Koski

The toy is loaded by spinning each flap vertical, dropping the treats inside, and then rotating the flap horizontal to cover them. None of the flaps stays flat, they all sit at a slight angle. Here are three methods for solving the Tic-Tac-Twirl puzzle:

1. Rotate each flap 90-degrees and slurp the treats out of the compartment.

2. Rotate the flap by pressing the inner edge of the square down first so that it sweeps the treats out of the hole in the side of the puzzle.

Photo by Erin Koski
3. Rotate the flap 180-degrees by pressing the outer edge of the square down first so that it sweeps the treats up onto itself.

This versatility makes this puzzle workable by dogs of all sizes and shapes, as well as a variety of other animals with hooves, paws, and beaks. Xhuuya the raven thinks it's pretty fun to explore as well. For a puzzle-savvy dog like Brisbane, this toy presents no challenge at all, but for a timid or less experienced dog it provides a fun and non-threatening game. It is certainly more accessible than some of our toys with the tiny treat compartments.

Photo by Erin Koski

Puzzle Toy Rating

Capacity: 3/5
I can put more than half a cup of food in here, but it is probably going to go spewing everywhere as soon as anyone touches it.

Loading Speed: 4/5
Dump and spin. The only thing that slows me down is trying to keep all the treats inside long enough to let the dogs have a go at it.

Unloading Speed (standard dog): 3/5
It doesn't take Ulysses very long to get the treats out, but the variety of ways they come out surprises him. The novelty provides a lot of enrichment.

Unloading Speed (superdog): 1/5
Briz utilizes method #1 and spends about the same amount of time emptying this as he would emptying four small bowls of kibble.
Photo by Erin Koski

Size: 5/5
The durability and mechanisms of this toy should make it usable by teeny tiny toy breeds and giants alike. Also large birds, and probably ponies or something.

Durability: 4/5
Unlike our other Kyjen Dog Games, the plastic base on this one is reinforced and quite heavy and thick. It won't stand up to real chewing, but it should be able to take quite a bit of dropping and kicking.

Noise: 5/5
Rubber feet keep it from sliding on the hardwood, and the rate of reinforcement for poking at the spinny bits makes it less likely that the dogs will be kicking this one across the floor in frustration.

Locatability: 5/5
Supervision required, no removable pieces, and no toy-flinging means I always find it right where I left it.

Washability: 2/5
Know how I said it has a reinforced base? This is accomplished by nesting two pieces of plastic together, making a nice thing place for water to seep in. Getting this toy properly dry is going to take a lot of shaking and waiting, and if it gets super gross there's probably no hope of salvaging it.

Hoardability: 1/5
Not going anywhere with Brisbane.

Total: 33/50

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