Color naming

Explore Light and Color with CMY Cubes

I recently received a set of CMY Cubes, a sensory toy that lets you play with light and color. They’re fun to display on your desk or windowsill, and can work as quiet toys (as long as you don’t drop them!) because they’re solid blocks of acrylic. CMY cubes come in different shapes, and the faces are colored cyan, magenta, and yellow (hence the name) to allow for color blending as you flip and rotate the blocks.

The three sent to me are the Original Cube, the Aether and the Mundus.

The original cube. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Although they are all listed as “50mm”, the original cube is the largest of the bunch simply due to its shape. Either of the others would fit pretty much entirely within its volume. The cube is colored so that opposite faces match. If you look perpendicular to a face, you’ll see one of the three primary colors, but tilting the cube will allow you to mix red, blue, and green.

The cube is nice and heavy, and the edges are crisp, almost sharp. I was also sent the cube holder, which holds the cube at an angle.

CMYCubes - EtherEther. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

Ether is an octahedron (a d8 for you table people). It also has matching colors on the opposite faces, but also adds colorless faces for the fourth pair. The sharp angles create some really fascinating shapes when you look through them, and you get more internal reflections than with the cube. It’s 50mm along the edge, so due to its shape that’s about 40mm tall when sitting flat on the desk, making it feel like the smallest of the three. The edges are not as sharp as the cube.

CMYCubes - the Mundus
The Mundus. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

The last one I got was the Mundus, a dodecahedron (d12). Of the 12 faces, six of them have colors (2 each of cyan, magenta and yellow) and the rest are colorless – although it took me a lot of twists and turns to figure this out, due to the way colors refract. It’s quite fascinating to go through it and see the whole thing in cyan while knowing that only two of the faces are actually colored cyan. The Mundus also has a lot of very cool shapes when you look at it. It’s also 50mm tall, but since it’s closer to a sphere, it’s smaller and lighter than the cube. The edges of this one aren’t as sharp (partly due to the obtuse angles), so it may be more comfortable to hold.

The CMY cubes were a fun way to demonstrate subtractive color mixing to my kids, and even though I understand the science behind it, there’s still a part of my brain that struggles to think in terms of CMYK rather than in additive terms where the primary colors are red, yellow and blue. I mentioned that they can be quiet devices, as they have no moving parts that make noise, but I must warn that if you let your children play with them, you might want to make sure that they are on a soft surface like carpet in case they drop them, because then they will be be loud and you risk damaging the CMY cubes or ringing your table. (I kept mine on my game table, which has a soft playmat on it.)

My main complaint is that the transparent surfaces are difficult to clean, especially if you have dirty little hands on them. Fingerprints and dust stick to it, and I guess mine will never be as pristine as they were when they arrived. (It’s hard to know how to hold them while cleaning because there’s no holding surface that doesn’t need to be cleaned.)

CMY cubes
Another view of CMY cubes against a dark background. Photo: Jonathan H. Liu

CMY cubes are made in Australia and can be ordered directly from the website. Currently, the original Cube is $19.95, and the Aether and Mundus are $29.95 each. The site also offers various other shapes, in case you want a full set of polyhedra, and there are also single-color C, M, Y, K, and colorless cubes.

For more information, visit the CMY Cubes website!

Disclosure: I received this set for review.

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