Relax had Two Tribes. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 had The Growing Pains Of Adrian Mole. Rockliffe's Babies had Rockliffe's Folly. Even C.A.B. had C.A.B. 2.
But the Rubik's Cube? Well, that's one unexpected runaway eighties success story that never actually inspired a sequel. Or so you'd think, given how it's now pretty much uniformly used as a textbook example of a one-off here-today-gone-tomorrow short-lived global sensation to rank with The Dirtwater Dynasty and It Bites. Which is a very strange way of looking at it, as not only does that version of events imply that precisely none of the millions upon millions upon millions addicted to attempting to master the art of flipping edges and twirling corners before flinging it at the wall in frustration with a copy of a You Can Do The Cube by Patrick Bossert in hot pursuit - in numbers and with an intensity that made Flappy Birds look like Atlantis Is Calling (S.O.S. For Love) by Modern Talking - would ever have been salivating at the prospect of a brand new follow-up puzzle from the same team, it also fails to entertain the likelihood that Professor Erno Rubik would have wanted to further capitalise on the phenomenal worldwide popularity of his maths homework that got out of hand.
The non-clip-show-friendly fact of the matter is that once the original plastic mind-and-wrist-hurter had caught on, a legion of cube-infringing imitators soon sprang up like third division Britpop bands singing about eating some loverley fish and chips, hoping to cash in on the purported puzzle craze by convincing punters to fork out for market stall-proferred Rubik-alikes in all sizes and shapes from barrel to tennis ball. And like a first division Britpop band, Professor Rubik responded to this poorly catered-for demand by changing direction entirely, promptly developing Rubik's Snake, a twisty turny angular shape-making whatnot that was pretty much that thing from the episode of The Monkees set in a toy factory made reality. Actually, Oasis make a bit of a mess of that analogy, but the point that hasn't actually been made yet still stands - namely that underneath all the branding and promotional fanfare the Snake was really just a fun novelty, and what everyone really wanted from the house of Rubik was another fully certified brainteaser and mindbender. And, bowing to public demand, a fully certified brainteaser and mindbender from the house of Rubik was exactly what they got in that year of pan-cultural transcendental symbiosis, 1986.
Rubik's Magic, as it was rather grandly dubbed, consisted of a set of eight elaborately-hinged plastic squares, each bearing a portion of two of three Olympic-esque multicoloured rings. Initially discrete, the point of the puzzle was to jumble the circular sections up and then reassemble them in one of many interlocked forms of ascending difficulty. It was, the global populace were breathlessly informed, the brand new trailblazing puzzle sensation with more than a hint of mid-eighties sophistication; literally the next Rubik's Cube. And so it was that on Christmas Day 1986, shortly after flicking through their copies of Cool's Out and scoffing their Citrus Spring selection boxes, an entire generation of youngsters attempted to get to grips with the foldy-flipboard-interlinked-circles thing. And attempted. And attempted. And... gave up.
Much like the Sinclair QL was to the ZX Spectrum, or if you prefer like Dramarama: The Young Person's Guide To Going Backwards In The World was to Dramarama: The Young Person's Guide To Getting Their Ball Back, this wasn't even so much an attempt to reinvent the wheel as it was to reinvent an individual spoke. Nobody could accuse Rubik's Magic of skimping on the need for dexterity, logic or flashy displays of lateral thinking, but the important element it left out of the equation was fun. It didn't look as appealing as the Cube, it lacked the vital fiddlability factor (in fact, fiddle too idly with Rubik's Magic and you ran the risk of twisting one of the interconnecting wires unusably in the wrong direction), and played straight into the hands - literally and metaphorically - of people who would solve it and then go 'ahhhhhhhhhhhh!'. If anyone did try to dazzle you with their Magic-solving skills, it was about as impressive as the 'David Copperfield Unplugged' tricks from Chris Morris' Radio 1 show. Where the Rubik's Cube had inspired still-bewildering Ruby Spears animated hijinks Rubik, The Amazing Cube, Rubik's Magic could barely even scrape a mention on BBC2's 'popular science' shows. Patrick Bossert's You Can Do The Magic would sadly never see print. He may as well have invented Rubik's Shark and jumped over it.
Within a couple of years, Rubik's Magic was a regular trestle table sight at church bazaars. And yet, for all its shortfalling in terms of hands-on puzzling thrills, it at least had and indeed retains a charming air of mid-eighties highbrow high-concept folly, and we can only guess at what might be found on a Fantastic Eighties! compilation with the Magic rather than the Cube on the front (though the smart money's on Atlantis Is Calling (S.O.S For Love) by Modern Talking). There was an attempt at making amends with Rubik's Clock in 1988, which presented the hapless puzzle-solver with nine chronologically-skewed clockfaces in the style of one of Peter Petrelli's hallucinations, and challenged them to reset the mechanically-interlocking dials to all show the same time. However, this wasn't actually created by Professor Rubik, who simply bought the rights to market it, and so it doesn't really count. Outwardly impressive, but lacking the true credentials, it was, in so many ways, the Beautiful South to his earlier creations' Housemartins.