Around Cubes: Fangshi Shuang Ren Review

Rubik’s Cubes are on the rise again within the new generation. Speedsolving and twisty-puzzle wrangling are becoming more commonplace hobbies. To help you keep up to date, I detangle this seemingly impossible puzzle for you in “Around Cubes”.

The Fangshi Shuang Ren is the third 3x3x3 I’ve owned, one of six working 3x3x3s I own, and the first speedcube I’ve owned. Ever since I got it approximately a year and a half ago, I’ve been using it out-of-the-box and it’s proven itself to be a sturdy option.

My Fangshi, scrambled and looking photogenic and stuff.
My Fangshi, scrambled, and looking photogenic and stuff.

I have the Fangshi Shuang Ren v2, and I bought it assembled from Amazon. I have not lubed or tinkered with the tensioning. Here’s a rundown of what I think of it.

  • Construction: The Shuang Ren is built differently than other cubes; unlike many, which have 20 corner and edge pieces which intertwine into a six-centered core, the Fangshi has corners and edges that are locked into a core, without stickers, or faces to affix the stickers to. Instead, the stickers are put on piece caps, separate pieces altogether, that are inserted onto the cubies. No doubt this is an unusual construction, but there is no particular disadvantage to this method of building a cube.
  • Durability: The plastic is not a particularly hard one; it looks and feels like a soft one. Nevertheless, my Shuang Ren has only received a couple nicks in a year and a half of heavy use. The stickers are not in “new” condition, but
    On the left is the most battered face of stickers on my used cube, which has seen perhaps two thousand solves. The right cube is practically new, having experienced perhaps ten solves. There are subtle differences, but for the most part, the used stickers are in great condition.
    On the left is the most battered face of stickers on my used cube, which has seen perhaps two thousand solves. The right cube is practically new, having experienced perhaps ten solves. There are subtle differences, but for the most part, the used stickers are in great condition.

    they look much better than many stickers would look after perhaps two thousands solves. In terms of physical durability (rather than performance degradation, which I am terming “aging effects”), the Shuang Ren does notably better than other cubes.

  • Aging Effects: Out of the box and new, the Shuang Ren has a very smooth, paper-against-paper feel. Over time, however, it does become considerably less pleasantly-textured, feeling more like other cubes with a normal feel. The insides of the cube grind together a lot, creating plenty of plastic dust inside (everywhere inside, I might add!). This contributes to the loss of that paper texture, as well as hindering performance a bit (less fast in turning speed, and less smooth corner cutting).
  • Handling: The Shuang Ren is a very easy-to-handle cube, but depending on previous experience with other speedcubes, some people may find it too fast. Another review has claimed that they had problems with frequently
    I've taken some of the piece caps off here; if you look carefully, you can spot the tons of dust that is not only cropping up between cubies, but inside them as well.
    I’ve taken some of the piece caps off here; if you look carefully, you can spot the tons of dust that is not only cropping up between cubies, but inside them as well.

    overshooting turns, although I’ve personally never found the handling hard. Something to note is that, especially when it’s old, the cube is noticeably harder to control when the plastic is physically cold (rather than warm).

  • Turning Speed: To be honest here, I have very little variety in experience with other cubes, but the Shuang Ren seems to be up to par in turning speed. At the very least, there is no resistance when I take it as fast as I can go.
  • Corner Cutting: The corner cutting on the Shuang Ren is satisfying; for “outwards” corner cutting, it can make up for just less 30 degrees of misalignment at the maximum (although I don’t recommend that much inaccuracy while solving). In the face of top-speed triggers, the Shuang Ren has never stopped from doing any outwards corner cutting that I want to. On the other hand, “inwards” corner cutting is a bit weak on this cube. One has to come down to less than 10-15 degrees to get inward corner cutting to work. The Shuang Ren is by no means exceptional at corner cutting, but is not stunting in this aspect of performance.
  • Piece Popping: An interesting thing to note is that because of the peculiar cubie construction with the sticker caps, the Shuang Ren is unpoppable. I have never so much as gotten a piece out of the cube, whether on accident or pulling by force. I really should get to experimenting, but I suspect the only way to disassemble the cube is to take the center caps off and unscrew the core. Unfortunately, the cube is not invincible in this aspect; a good drop on a hard floor can dislodge the caps (the edge caps in particular).
    On the left, my heavily used cube. On the right, the basically new cube, with the replacement caps missing. Yes, that's a banana sticker.
    On the left, my heavily used cube. On the right, the basically new cube, with the replacement caps missing. Yes, that’s a banana sticker.
    • I have, in fact, lost two caps because I left the cube in the hands of a stranger for ten minutes. He dropped the cube (on accident, I presume), and fled the scene. I was unable to recover all the popped caps, and the only solution for replacing them was to buy a second cube for spare parts.
  • Corner Twisting: If, for any reason, you would need to, it is possible to intentionally twist corners without removing the caps (even with the tough core construction). However, I have never twisted a corner while solving.
  • Lockups: If there’s any weak point in the Shuang Ren’s performance, it’s lockups as a result of inaccuracy. These become very prominent with aging; two misaligned layers can be a problem, and as mentioned before, inwards corner cutting is a common cause of lockups. The lockups are not very severe at all, though, and the occasional hiccup in turning is able to be dealt with. Middle layer turns, however, are great, and never lockup on their own.
  • Price and Buying Options: The Shuang Ren can be purchased in quite a few convenient online retailers, such as Amazon ($11, assembled), The Cubicle ($15, assembled; $16, DIY), hknowstore ($17, DIY). Overall, it’s not a very pricey cube; it’s pretty reasonable for the quality.

So what do I think of it in all? The Shuang Ren, with its unusual construction and uniquely exceptional durability, has average specs for a good speedcube, helping a 20-40 second solver to their best. However, its performance glory fades quite a bit after many solves, posing issues with long-lasting. (I often speculate whether lube would help cut back on the grinding the pieces do to each other, but I think the effect, if any, would not be particularly preventive.) Altogether, the impression is an amazing all-around cube, but gaps in its specs lead me to guess that many other cubes are better than it. You could call it “on the low end of the high end”.

Should you buy it? For the newbie, you can do better than the Shuang Ren for the same price and quality range, but if you’re not very particular about getting the best, or if you don’t plan to be a heavy user, the Fangshi Shuang Ren is still a good choice. For more experienced cubers, the purchase of a Shuang Ren will be of little use to you–if you’ve learned on a very good cube but need a new, better cube, the Shuang Ren is little of an upgrade. If you’ve already got a great cube and are hovering somewhere around sub-twenty times, the Fangshi will not meet your needs for faster times or better quality.

Personally, the Fangshi Shuang Ren has served me well for one and a half years, introducing me to the twenty-second club, but as soon as I find the money, I will be moving on to something more advanced and “fancy”.

More resources:

Advertisements
Around Cubes: Fangshi Shuang Ren Review

Around Cubes: Snake Pattern

Rubik’s Cubes are on the rise again within the new generation. Speedsolving and twisty-puzzle wrangling are becoming more commonplace hobbies. To help you keep up to date, I detangle this seemingly impossible puzzle for you in “Around Cubes”.

I think anybody who likes to solve Rubik’s Cubes as a hobby, whether as a competitive speedsolver, or a higher-order puzzle lover, likes to play around with patterns. Even those who don’t know how to solve the puzzle know they can rotate the middle layer of each axis 180 degrees and get a cool fireworks pattern.

In my pattern ‘repertoire’ is the snake pattern; it’s one of my favorite patterns to do, and to look at. It’s relatively less well-known, and a bit more complicated to remember, than, say, the flower pattern, but it’s definitely a rewarding pattern to have in your toolbox of impressive tricks.

On your 3x3x3 cube, perform this algorithm:

R U F’ U’ L2 F’ L2 U’ F U’ R U2 F R2

You can now trace the line all around the cube as it snakes around. Yes, it does create a topologically complete circle!

The snake pattern on my 3x3x3 cube.
The snake pattern on my 3x3x3 cube.

To reset your cube, hold the cube so that one of the two faces with a line on it is the F face, and the line is horizontal. Then, just invert the algorithm. Here’s the ‘undo’ algorithm:

R2 F’ U2 R’ U F’ U L2 F L2 U F U’ R’

Using your favorite algorithm memorization methods, it’s a relatively easy sequence to remember. Naturally, as is with most other algorithms, it’s just as easy to forget. Keep it in practice if you’d like to keep it around.

The snake pattern is a really pretty pattern, as well as fun to look at, and I’d wager very few of any cuber-acquaintances of yours know how to do it. Nothing works as well as a fresh new trick that they can’t do to impress your friends! Good luck.

Around Cubes: Snake Pattern