Category Archives: Puzzle Review

Campside Series – A Day at the Lake

 I got safely to Massachusetts last night, and today I’ll be heading up to Swanzey, New Hampshire with the Boss and his wife to camp.

MasterPieces Puzzles has a new series out this year that is perfect for this weekend, and all summer long. Their Campside series is a set of 4 puzzles that showcase the fun of both summer and camping!

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 I love going to camp, it means different things to different people. For me, it means walking cool forest trails, petting all the other campers’ dogs and swimming in the lake.

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This is a fantastic 300 piece EZGrip puzzle. The EZGrip puzzles are made with larger puzzle pieces that are better for people with hand issues or for children learning to puzzle.

 I was having a bad hand day when SC and I assembled this, so I consider it a decent test of whether or not it works as advertised.

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I love all the different details and aspects of camping shown in this puzzle! It really hits all the best bits of a summer holiday in my mind.

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 This raccoon made me smile! The artist, Adrian Chesterman, really makes his images feel like you are really there!

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 It’s a picnic! Without ants!

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 As you can see, I had a ton of fun with this puzzle. As experienced puzzlers, it only took SC and I about 45 minutes to assemble. That being said, this is a great puzzle to do with the family, either at camp or home. SC and I thought it’d be perfect for a rainy day or after supper activity.

I’ll be definitely looking to collect the rest of the Campside series for my summer puzzling!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: MasterPieces® Inc.
  • Title: Campside – Day at the Lake 300 Piece EZ Grip Puzzle
  • Artist: Adrian Chesterman
  • Year released: 2019
  • Pieces: 300
  • Cut-Style: Grid
  • Finished size: 18x 24 in
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in China

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 8 x 8 x 2 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, recycled chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: 4 different shapes that repeat, Large size for easy handling
  • Piece Fit: Excellent, small clusters of pieces could be moved without falling apart

Disability Notes: I found this puzzle to be easy on my hands and the many bright colors to be easy on the eyes as well! This is definitely a puzzle for (almost) all ages and abilities!

Where to buy: Campside – Day at the Lake 300 Piece EZ Grip Puzzle is available on the MasterPieces website for $12.99 USD.

MasterPieces Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

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Endless Starry Sea, Reviewing InGooooD’s Wooden Puzzles

I love contests. I do. Sometimes I even win!

I’d been following InGooooD, a new puzzle company for about a year now. In May, I won their Mother’s Day contest; which let me choose one of their original run of puzzles. This is the hardest part of being a puzzler, I swear.

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I ended up picking Romantic Star Sea. It’s soooooo pretty! Galaxies of stars reflect from a seashore where a couple holds hands.

InGooooD is a little different from traditional puzzles. They make their puzzles from basswood, not cardboard. This makes for a lightweight, but very nice puzzle. IMG_5948

InGooooD prides themselves on quality and presentation. Each puzzle comes in a nice mesh bag, and includes a fullsize  poster and a postcard. I’ve heard from puzzlers that have bought some of the newer puzzles that now they have saver sheets as well!

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Poster

This is a really challenging design. Thankfully, InGooooD has labled the back of the puzzle. The puzzle is divided into 8 grids, labled A-H. I was smart and sorted my pieces.

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Pandemonium loves smelling the pieces!

Being a laser-cut wooden puzzle, the pieces fit very tightly. I spent a lot of time flipping my sections over to check that I had placed correctly.

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Zane playing Dragon and sleeping on a horde of pieces!

I enjoyed this puzzle, and will admit to having a very large wishlist on Amazon full of InGooooD puzzles.  I did learn my lesson, next puzzle will be an easier image.

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Back!
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Tada!!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: InGooooD
  • Title: Romantic Star Sea
  • Artist: Unknown
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 1000
  • Cut-Style: Ribbon Cut
  • Finished size: 19½x 29¾ inches
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in China


QUALITY: 

  • Box: sturdy,  8¾ x 11¾ x 2 inches
  • Board: Very sturdy and rigid, wooden pieces
  • Cut: Laser cut
  • Image Quality: Excellent
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: None
  • Piece shapes: One shape with two orientations
  • Piece Fit: Incredibly Tight!, If you misplace a piece, you must be wary to not break the piece when removing it.

Disability Notes: This design was rather difficult, and I do not reccommend it for anyone with eye issues. However, InGooooD has tons of images, and is always adding new ones. The pieces are nice and light, easily handled when my hands were mildly arthritic. The alphabet grid is nice and clear.

Where to buy: At the time of this post, Romantic Star Sea is listed for sale on the Ingooood website for $23.17 USD. Ingooood puzzles can also be found on Amazon.

InGooooD : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I won a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Puzzle by Number, A TDC Games & For Dummies Collaboration

Do you remember the For Dummies books of the nineties and early aughts? I do!(Yes, I’m dating myself, I don’t care.) 

I found this treasure in a lot of used puzzles I bought last winter with a friend. While a lot of the puzzles were in awful shape, this one wasn’t. I knew I had to assemble this puzzle as soon as beach weather came around.

 

Beach Babies is a 1000 piece grid-cut puzzle, with each piece labeled on the back with both letters A-Z and numbers 1-39. Like all Dummies products, this puzzle has easy to understand instructions. While the map and instructions were missing, I found them online at the Dummies Website here.

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I’ve never done a puzzle with numbers on the back before. I did the logical thing and sorted alphabetically.IMG_5733

I tried a couple of different styles of assembly. IMG_5734

First I did lines A,B and C individually. Then I did lines D,E, F and G as a group. This went faster than most puzzle assembly, but was visually boring. So I flipped the sections over, connected them together and started assembling like I normally do. This took longer, but was far more enjoyable. The fact the pieces are labeled on the back helped me place pieces when stumped.

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H3 is missing.

TaDa!! Yes, I know there is a missing piece, but for a used puzzle, I’m super pleased.

I liked how firmly these pieces fit together.  While I haven’t done any other TDC puzzles, I’ll have to start looking for them. This puzzle had pieces that were thin and sturdy, and I could pick up full sections.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: TDC Games / For Dummies
  • Title: Beach Babies
  • Artist: Donald Zolan
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 1000
  • Cut-Style: Grid cut
  • Finished size: 19 X 26 inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in USA


QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy,  8 x 8 x 3 inches
  • Board: Very sturdy and rigid
  • Cut: Cut with a steel-cut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent
  • Finish: Slight gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: None
  • Piece shapes: Standard 2 knob
  • Piece Fit: Excellent! Really tight, can be picked up entirely

Disability Notes: This sort of puzzle is rather helpful for beginners or people who have difficulty assembling sections that all look the same ie: sky, sand, etc.

Where to buy: At the time of this post, Beach Babies is available for sale on Amazon, for $85.65 CDN. The high price is due to the puzzle being discontinued. 

TDC Games : Website / Twitter

For Dummies : Website / FaceBook / Twitter

Disclosure: I bought this puzzle for the purpose of review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Cats and Dinosaurs, Summer is Here!

It’s June! June = Summer!

Alright, so I started this blog last July with a Eurographics puzzle, and I’ve been itching to do this awesome puzzle for weeks!

Screenshot_2019-06-04 Dinosaurs, Jigsaw Puzzle at Eurographics

This was one of my favorite finds last winter, when I was out thrifting before the cold weather really hit. Imagine my delight to find a brand new Eurographics still in its plastic!  I love dinosaur documentaries and movies, and my godsons are huge fans, so I have to be able to keep up.

The fun thing about this puzzle isn’t the design or the random cut, but that Hurricane Enlil, my kitten is strangely possessive of it.

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No Mom, these are MY pieces!

Every time I turned around, Hurricane was there. I swear she has a dinosaur as a spirit animal, the way she loved to sit on or near the puzzle.

Kitten craziness aside, this is a fantastically informative puzzle. Under the title is a color coded listing of the different eras and their relation in time to each other. At the bottom of the puzzle is a combination timeline and biological tree showing all the dinosaur family types.

Assembling these timelines was the easiest part of the puzzle. The majority of the puzzle is done in muted earth tones, presumably because it was drawn before the emergence of both the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, and the brightly colored theory. All those earth tones on a beige background, mixed with the random-cut pieces made for a challenge. Add in the fact that my tortoiseshell cat, Zoomie got jealous and deliberately launched herself off the puzzle board, destroying hours of hard work…

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This is after rebuilding the puzzle twice after Zoomie’s tantrums.

Thank goodness for SC. He helped me reset the puzzle to the picture above before bed last night. Mind you, as mad as I was at Zoomie, who almost never sits my puzzles; I was grateful for a chance to watch SC. He relies heavily on pattern recognition to place each piece into its place. Martial Harmony can be as simple as working a puzzle together and appreciating your differences.

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All done! Well…sort of.

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I’m missing my triceratops’ face. I’ve swept the living room, searched under the couch and puzzle board, and it is nowhere to be seen. I’ll wait a few days as I’m certain that it will eventually show up. If it doesn’t, I’ll contact Eurographics’s Puzzle Warranty page.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Eurographics Puzzles
  • Title: Dinosaurs
  • Artist: Unknown
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 1000
  • Cut-Style: Random cut
  • Finished size: 19¼ x 26⅝ inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled board and printed with vegetable based ink.
  • Made in USA


QUALITY: 

  • Box: sturdy,  10 x 14 x 2.5 inches
  • Board: Very sturdy and rigid
  • Cut: Cut with a steel-cut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent
  • Finish: Slight gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Moderate
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Good, a bit loose until the entire puzzle is assembled, pieces cannot be moved in groups

Where to buy: At the time of this post, Dinosaurs  is listed for sale on the Eurographics website for $17.99 USD.

Eurographics Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I bought this puzzle for the purpose of review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Just Ducky! Crystal Rubber Duck 3D Puzzle

I have a collection that tends to make people laugh. I collect rubber ducks. All kinds, really, so long as they conform to the generally standard ducky shape. When I visited University Games’s booth at Toy Fair, I knew that their Rubber Duck Crystal puzzle had to be my starting point. IMG_5482

I’ve been wanted to assemble this puzzle for ages, but…I listed to SC, who kept telling me how difficult puzzles of this type were. Note to self. Do Not listen to the Spouse-Critter about puzzles! I loved this!  

I’ve never done a 3D puzzle quite like this. The pieces are made of translucent thick plastic (I keep wanting to call it Lucite). There are 43 pieces and the assembly is a matter of trial and error. 

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If you watch my little slideshow, you can see how each layer builds up and interlocks to create a sturdy shape. Not shown are the 2 locking bars and the plastic key. There is a small bar that is inserted into the hole you see in the back-end of the ducky, covered by the tail tip. The second bar is longer and is inserted from the top of the head and locks the whole puzzle into a solid piece. 

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Zoomie supervised the newest ducky build.

Honestly, there were only 2 places I struggled, the neck, and putting on the eye stickers!

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I hate stickers, so my ducky has one eye slightly askew. Other than that, this puzzle only took me about and hour or so. I am definitely going to start looking for more like them!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: BePuzzled / University Games
  • Title: Original 3D Crystal Puzzle™ Rubber Duck
  • Artist: Not listed
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Year released: 2015
  • Pieces: 43
  • Cut-Style: Knob and Hole
  • Finished size: 22x 22 in
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in China

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Lightweight,6 x 4 x 2 inches
  • Board: N/A 
  • Cut: N/A Molded Plastic
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Clear Gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: None!
  • Piece shapes: Knob and Hole
  • Piece Fit: Very good

Disability Notes: This is one of those puzzles that is perfect for bed or couch days. With under a hundred pieces, assembly depends entirely on your level of dexterity or vision. Due to the translucent pieces, I recommend strong light for people with impaired vision. 

Where to buy: Original 3D Crystal Puzzle™ Rubber Duck is available on Amazon, at Walmart, or at AreYouGame.com for $12.99 USD.

A little background, BePuzzled® is a brand that is under the University Games corporate umbrella. So, while BePuzzled® has their own Facebook page, all of their products are found on the UGames website. 

BePuzzled: FaceBook

University Games Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

 

Sunny May Days and Baseball!

Tonight my baseball team, the Boston Red Sox will play against the Seattle Mariners.

Team loyalty is a strong human trait. Most people “choose” their sports teams early in childhood and rarely switch them. I’m no different. My first baseball memory is my Grandpa Roy (maternal grandfather) taking my brother and I to a game when I was around 8 or 9. That was 30 years ago. Grandpa Roy was a diehard Mets fan, and while he failed to give me a love of the Mets, he did teach me to love baseball.  At the time, I was living in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Naturally, I was a Red Sox girl. When we moved to Upstate NY, I found myself in enemy territory. The dread Yankees merchandise was everywhere!  I clung to my beloved Sox fandom, throughout the long years of no Pennants or World Series wins. I celebrated with the rest of the Red Sox Nation when in 2004 we broke the Bambino’s Curse at last!

When I saw the new puzzles that MasterPieces  and Major League Baseball had created, I knew I needed to do one! This is the Boston Red Sox 500 Piece Home Plate Shaped Jigsaw Puzzle, which is a mouthful to say! Thankfully, the title tells you all the pertinent details; it’s 500 pieces, is shaped like home plate, and features the Red Sox! This puzzle is officially licensed by the MLB.

I don’t have my usual frame picture, because I started to assemble the puzzle on my new puzzle board, not having checked to see if it would fit first! Ooops! I ended up having to slide my frame onto the puzzle board SC made me. Shaped puzzles can be tricky, as the nonstandard dimensions may not fit on your puzzling surface.

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This was a really fun, and challenging puzzle. Not only is it a shaped puzzle, but it has 5 shaped pieces, known as whimsies. The whimsies are larger than all the other pieces, and added to the difficulty. That being said, this is a random cut puzzle and the pieces fit together amazingly well.

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Home plate, cleat, glove, cap, and jersey

I haven’t been to Fenway Park since I was a little girl. I live in Virginia now, but visit family and friends outside Boston often. Eventually, I’ll get a chance to cheer my Sox in their home stadium like I did as a kid. In the meantime, I watch from home and wear my colors proudly!

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PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: MasterPieces® Inc.
  • Title: Boston Red Sox 500 Piece Home Plate Shaped Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Artist: Not listed
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style: Random
  • Finished size: 22x 22 in
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in China

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 10.5 x 10.5 x 2 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, recycled chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: Irregular pieces and 5 whimsy pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very good, small clusters of pieces could be moved without falling apart

Where to buy: Boston Red Sox 500 Piece Home Plate Shaped Jigsaw Puzzle is available on the MasterPieces website for $19.99 USD.

MasterPieces Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own. All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!

Puzzle Board as a Disabilty Aid?

Living with a chronic disease sucks. When it is one that also happens to be invisible, life can be very hard indeed. Like many people, I have a ton of hobbies. Most of those hobbies form the basis of this blog and do double-duty as a way to keep my brain and body active. Puzzling and diamond art are wonderful mental exercises, but they are absolute murder on my back and neck.

Over the last few years, I’ve had to accept that mobility aids are a part of life. They help me expand my quality of life. So I’ve been looking at different products that other puzzlers use to help them. When I was at Toy Fair, I was intrigued by their puzzle board and the possibility that it could help me on bad days.

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The board  came in a rather intimidating box, but once the travel packing was removed it revealed a really nice traveling box.

I was really surprised to find that the puzzle board comes pre-assembled. This is already saving me spoons! The board is beechwood with a blue velour covering. It is 20 inches high by 27 inches long and somewhere between 15-20 lbs.  Ravensburger says it can handle puzzles from 300 to 1000 pieces. It has 4 possible settings, so that you can adjust the tilt to your preferred angle.

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I decided to test the puzzle board in my two main puzzling locations, on the coffee table in the living room as well as on my bed in the bedroom. The velour cloth that covers the puzzle board creates a slightly static environment that allows pieces to stay in place on the board, even when the board is at its most extreme tilt.

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Hurricane resting under my puzzle and not on it!

I found that I liked the third notch position, and that my puzzling was much less painful after several hours. The non-slip velour kept my pieces on the board and the few that fell were caught by the ledge at the bottom. My back and neck didn’t cramp up from leaning over! The only issue I had it that the puzzle I started didn’t fit the board! this was my fault, because it was a specialty shaped puzzle and I forgot to check the dimensions before starting.

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Yes, my messy bed. With SC out-of-town, I live in a nest of blankets.

I also tried puzzling on the bed. the puzzle board’s base is too long to fit my bedtable, but I found that I was equally comfortable balancing it on my legs or sitting cross-legged with it on the bed itself. Obviously, I couldn’t spend as long puzzling in bed; my legs have issues being stuck in the same position for long periods of time. However, I was able to assemble a 100 piece puzzle and not overstress myself. Due to the nature of my illness, I expect that the puzzle board and I will be great friends this next winter!

Because I live with cats, when not in use, I’ll be keeping the board in its travel box. I’ll also be investing in a really good lint roller! Overall, I think this will be a wonderful aid in my puzzling. At least now I have a way to assemble larger puzzles in bed on bad days!

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy cardboard with a plastic travel handle
  • Board:  Lightweight Beechwood, sturdy wooden pieces, blue velour surface
  • Finish: Semi-gloss
  • Weight: Estimated 15-20 lbs
  • Dimensions: 20 x 27 inches

Disability Notes: Obviously, there is the weight of the board if you have any weight restrictions. If you cannot lift 20 lbs, have someone help you move the puzzle board to your preferred puzzling location. Like most Ravensburger products, you will pay for the quality. That being said, saving up for a puzzle board is much like saving up for any upgrade to a mobility aid. I don’t need the shiny glow-in-the-dark cane tips. But I like them and they make my life easier.

Where to buy: At the moment, the only place you can buy a Ravensburger Puzzle Board is at one of their physical store locations. The price of the Puzzle Board is not listed on the website, but I did a bit of research and found that it retails for $149.99 USD on EBay and Amazon.

Ravensburger : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle board from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.All links are direct, I do not make money from them.

Thanks for reading, and please click the Follow Button under my profile on the right side of the page. To support posts like this in the future, consider joining my Patreon!