Eric Vergo has his own museum.
It’s filled with Vergo’s Cubes—colorful, twisting block puzzles, some more advanced than the familiar Rubik’s Cube. These creations are in the “museum” section of Twisty Puzzles.com alongside some of the top puzzle designers in the world.
“What I did was fall in love with solving puzzles,” said Vergo, who started unscrambling Rubik’s Cubes in high school. “I always had ideas for different puzzles. When I was out of school for a short time, I was bored. I missed school, and I needed something to fill my time.”
What he found during that downtime was an entire community dedicated to designing puzzles and the motivation to challenge himself, not only in creating new puzzles, but in understanding the engineering behind the designs. Using Solid Works software and ingenuity, Vergo, from Westchester, N.Y., produced his first design and released it to the puzzling community.
“Since then it has been a progression of making more interesting things and collaborating with people,” said the fourth-year mechanical engineering technology student in RIT’s College of Applied Science and Technology. He’s designed a collection of multi-faceted, vibrantly colored challenges, some with 12 or 18 sides, twisting corners, rounded edges, and with names like Ultra-X, Royal Pentultimate and Rex Skewb.
They’ve captured the attention of amateur puzzlers and toy companies alike.
About two years ago, MF8, a major toy company in China, approached Vergo to purchase one of his designs, the Pentagram. Soon, it will be out of the museum into the hands of puzzlers around the world, sporting a logo-sticker with his signature, Eric Vergo Designs, on it.
“I’m not going to make a lot of money off of this,” said Vergo, who will graduate this May. “But that’s not really why I’m doing it. This is probably going to be a hobby of mine for the rest of my life.”
Inside the puzzles are multiple inter-connected parts that Vergo designs in Solid Works based on familiar geometries such as squares, triangles and rhomboid shapes and produced using a 3D printer.
“Even puzzles that look very simple on the outside can be unbelievably complicated on the inside. There are a couple of puzzles that are over a thousand pieces and it’s just mind-boggling what goes on inside them,” he said. “When you make a puzzle, sometimes it feels like you are discovering something rather than inventing something, which is very cool.”
When Vergo sent MF8 his design, they modified it slightly for mass production, finished the molds then sent him the final prototype—along with a contract.
“I gave the prototype to my parents as a gift since they’ve been so supportive of me and this whole thing.”