The Puzzle Pod Cryptex is a fun gift to any puzzle-lover and an great part of any pop-up escape room, scavenger hunt, or treasure hunt. Inspired by the original Cryptex from Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code, this cryptex can hold fun gifts (like candy or money) and is protected by a 5-letter word you choose yourself.
- Opening diameter (container): 2.75 inches (70 mm)
- Exposed top portion diameter (container): 4 inches (102 mm)
- Depth (container): 7.75 inches (197 mm)
- Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Buy on Amazon: $29.95
- Buy on Official Webstore: https://vino-vault.com/products/ (20% off for April 2017 with promo code GIFTS)
Open the Cryptex
The Puzzle Pod Cryptex is a plastic container that can only open after the user has input a 5-letter word. After inputting the right 5-letter word with the letter dials along the bottom of the puzzle, the user can take out the container, unscrew the bottom, and access the objects instead of Cryptex.
In the example here, the correct 5-letter word to open the Cryptex is “SWEET”. You can change the 5-letter word to whatever you want, as we will detail in this next seciton.
Set up the Cryptex
The default 5-letter word is “GRAPE”. However, you can disassemble the Cryptex to have the code be any 5-letter word you want. Resetting the code is fairly straightforward after you follow the instructions carefully. It involves taking apart the cryptex, taking off the outer rings, and then replacing the outer rings in the right configuration.
How the Cryptex works
The “pod” on the Cryptex (shown on the right) contains two arms with 5 notches each. These arms slide into the base (shown on the left), and are held in place by notches in the outer / inner rings (shown on the center). The notches lock the pod in place if the right letter combinations are not input into the dial.
The mechanism is quite simple and the only real moving parts in this whole contraption are the dials themselves, which freely rotate.
An amusing feature of this cryptex is that if you forget your 5-letter combination, you will be forced to either:
- break the cryptex (unclear how the best way to break it is)
- or try to “pick” the dial lock by pulling apart the pod and the base and while spinning the dials in order of tightness until you hear “click” sounds.
Full instructions for the Cryptex are available in the gallery right below (and also available in pdf form on the website).
The main shortcoming of this cryptex is that the base of the cryptex can come loose after the container has been removed. This is a bit awkward and distracting. However, this can be fixed with a piece of tape stuck on the inside of the base, holding together the cap of the base with the rest of the body. Electrical tape works here since it’s black. Superglue could potentially work, although it’s a bit dangerous since you could render the cryptex non-functional.
Another smaller shortcoming is that it can be a bit difficult for a first-time cryptex user to input the 5-letter word, as with the wrong hold, the other dials will shift when you try to input a letter into one of the dials. The dials also don’t lock into place or give any satisfying “clicks”, they just spin freely. With practice, a frequent user of the cryptex will be able to input in the word efficiently.
An additional small shortcoming is that the “triangle” on the top of the base that points to where the word should line up is the same color as the rest of the base, and can be hard to find initially. Escape room owners can fix this by painting the triangle so that it’s a much more visible color.
This Puzzle Pod can be used for at least three different purposes. I am listing the purposes below along with my recommendations. Notice that the price point of the Cryptex will be either a bit expensive or a great bargain depending on what you plan on using it for. Amazon typically sells it for $29.95, although sometimes will lower the price.
As a gift to a puzzle-loving friend
Although a bit pricy for this use case, the Puzzle Pod Cryptex is a whole lot of fun for both the gift recipient and any audience of the gift recipient (e.g. during an office gift exchange). Candy or money works extremely well as a fun item to put into the Cryptex, but of course you can put whatever you want.
The box of the Puzzle Pod Cryptex lists some fun examples of how this gift can be a lot of fun:
“My boyfriend proposed to me in the most unique way. He gave me this Star Wars R2D2 looking Puzzle Pod cryptex gadget filled with my favorite candy. Little did I know that secretly packed beneath the candy was my engagement ring. Was I surprised!”
“Linda and I gave a Puzzle Pod with a $100 bill inside to our nephew for his high school graduation. We emailed him clues and made sure that he was able to crack the code the night before graduation. This was a whole lot of fun for all of us!”
“Our VP bought a Puzzle Pod and places two tickets to the ball game inside monghtly Every time we reach a set goal we recieve another clue in the series. I want those tickets and need to bust that code, so I better start making my customer calls. When he retires, we’ve all decided to give him a Puzzle Pod stuffed with Cuban cigars and make him work for it – ha!”
You can also technically use this as a coin bank but it’s a bit awkward as a coin bank – you have to turn the Cryptex upside down in order to put anything in.
As an puzzle in a scavenger hunt, treasure hunt, or ad-hoc escape room
If you’re making a temporary escape room, a mobile escape room, a scavenger hunt, or treasure hunt for a group of friends or office mates, this is an excellent highly portable prop.
This is especially convenient since it combines both a 5-letter word lock and the container in one go. No need to buy an additional chest or drawer kit. This Puzzle Pod Cryptex works well to contain the final prize of the escape room or scavenger hunt, although also works to contain any intermediate clues. The price is reasonable here for this purpose.
As a puzzle in a permanent escape room
The Puzzle Pod Cryptex is a plausible alternative to the popular 5-letter word Masterlock combo lock. However, this cryptex is molded from plastic and not meant for the heavy-duty usage that comes from an escape room. Eventually the cryptex will likely be dropped, scuffed up, or stepped on, and will need to be replaced.
Thematically, the cryptex can work in a room that is full of mysterious symbols everywhere, else it might look a bit out of place. You can hide anything you want in the cryptex – my recommendation is an “artifact” that you will physically need to complete a puzzle somewhere else.
Recommended modifications for an escape room include
- Securing the base with tape so that it doesn’t fall apart easily
- Also painting the triangle on the base so it’s more clear where the word should line up.
Overall, the cryptex could work as a low-cost, self-contained puzzle for any brand new escape room business, although as your business grows I’d recommend investing in more durable puzzles that can live up to heavy-duty usage.
The best escape rooms that I’ve been to have puzzles that are built into the room itself, are highly thematic, are incredibly robust to wear and tear, and avoid using any word combination locks. Using puzzles like these for escape rooms are an OK place to start out your business, but as you get enough revenue to finance new rooms, you’ll be able to expand beyond these puzzles you can purchase easily on Amazon!
Full Disclosure: We were provided with a free sample of the product in exchange for a review. All Amazon links in this post are affiliate links. This means that we may get a small commission from any purchases made from the links.