Basket Case Family Pieces Puzzle: A Review

I know that most people with disabilities have families. Okay, all humans pretty much have families, but what I meant was; most of us have kids. My kids have fur, and do more damage to my projects than help…oh, wait, just like real kids. Nevermind that! Anyway, not having human children, I borrow my friend’s. I play auntie and Godmom to a small horde, who sometimes like to help out with my hobbies.

A few days ago, I “borrowed” Minion 1 and Minion 2 from their mom. Minion 1 is 8, and loves puzzles. Minion 2 has just turned 5 and while he likes puzzles, his attention span is hit & miss (SC Edit: He has the attention span of a ferret on speed!). Anyway, I’d gotten some of Cobble Hill’s new Family Pieces puzzles, and the boys were keen to do one.IMG_3929

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Top-Minion 1, Far Left -Minion 2, Bottom Center- Me!

The Family Pieces Puzzles come with 3 distinct size pieces. Large for young children, Medium for older children, and small for adults.

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Sorting didn’t take long with three pairs of hands! Minion 1 was a little miffed he had less medium pieces than his brother’s large ones, but once we started, he was helping everywhere! IMG_3933

Some of the edge pieces were tricky to find! We had a blast matching colors and seeing who could complete more kitten faces. At the end of the assembly, Minion 2 was starting to get a bit bored, as we were down to the small adult shapes. Still, he rallied to help place the last 4 pieces and complete the puzzle! IMG_3935

There was lemonades in celebration!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Basket Case
  • Artist: © Braldt Bralds
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 350
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 24″ x 18″
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Mediumweight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces, good for all 3 sizes of pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, but loose. You cannot pick up multiple large or medium pieces and move them, but the small pieces could lock together and be moved in small batches.

Disability Notes: I can definitely recommend this for any multi-age family, or for a person whose hands have good and bad days. The boys had fun and the full assembly only took about 2 hours. My hands didn’t ache after assembly, and the difficulty level was certainly up to adult standard.  I can happily recommend a large piece puzzle for people with fine motor skill issues, or arthritis.

Where to buy: Basket Case is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 usd.

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

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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Basic Intro to the Cats of PuzzlePaws!

I’m on my way to DragonCon in Atlanta. Since I’m still building content, I’m cheating a little bit . I found this awesome picture in a coloring book my mom had given me a few years back. The majority of the coloring was done with Bic® Brand Markit Markers.

 

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Do you know how hard it is to find a coloring page with 5 cats??

Since this is such a perfect page for my cats, I figured I’d do a brief intro to the furballs that end up photo-bombing my posts. I’ll be doing in-depth interviews with each cat on my Patreon when I get back home in early September.

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Pandemonium:  Pan is my shadow, my therapy-cat when my disease makes life miserable and an all-around sweetheart. She is 13 years old and starting to show her age. Don’t let her fool you…her fangs are still sharp!

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Teedle: This picture doesn’t do Teedle justice. He’s a 25 pound orange marshmallow. Teedle is 9 years old and sweet, but dumb. He has a bad habit of drinking water with his paws, which makes the other cats cranky because it makes their water dirty.

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Zoomie:  SC calls her PuzzlePaws, due to her tortoiseshell coloring. Zoomie is also 9, about 6 months younger than Teedle. Zoomie is shy, but can be demanding.  She loves playing indoor soccer with hard jingleballs, and is learning fetch.

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Zane: SC brought Zane into our marriage. As you can see from his dapper tux, he is a consummate ladies man. As Zane was adopted when full-grown, we think he’s between 9-11 years old. He’s not much for treats, but he likes to steal Hurricane’s wet food. Zane is freely affectionate with headbutts and cuddles.

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Hurricane: This is our baby. Hurricane Enlil was teeny kitten barely 2 weeks old when she and her sister were given to me to hand-rear last September. She’ll be 1 on Sept 14, (estimated). While her sister found a good home, Hurricane bonded to me. She loves to play fetch and grooms my hair. She is taking therapy-cat lessons from Pandemonium.

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Disclosure: I received this coloring book as a gift from my mother. The opinions are my own.

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!

I tried finding the publisher of this coloring book online, but was unsuccessful. If you are affiliated with ©Product Concept Mfg., Inc please, email me.

Whiskers At The Window: A Large Piece Puzzle Review

I’ll be the first to admit that I have issues accepting all the changes that my disability has forced upon me. Some are easier to accept than others; it is easier for me to ask my husband to tie my shoes, for example, than to deliberately reach for the large piece puzzles. I really hate the fact that my hands have problems with both sensation and grip on bad days.  Thus, when my representative at The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory offered a 300 Large piece puzzle, I balked. I’m not that bad yet, really! My mind protested, but I know that while this blog is about my reviews and opinions; it is mainly about discovering things to make hobbies accessible.

So I waited for a day when my hands were sore and swollen, which after last week’s brick kit, wasn’t hard.

 

 

Whiskers At The Window reminds me of the puzzles I used to do as a kid. Not in a juvenile sense, but a fond nostalgia. I love the fact that the back of the box was given to the artist, Jane Maday.

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Nice neat packaging! No puzzle dust!

The size of the pieces where certainly large! Better yet, each side has a different texture, glossy and smooth on the front, and matte and pebbled on the back.

 

On to the puzzling! The sorting went quickly enough, as this is only a 300 piece, and I’ve been doing 500-1000 pieces for a while now.

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I forgot an important fact! This puzzle is ROUND! My normal boards are rectangular! I ended up having to have the Spouse-Critter set up the full-size card table and help me move my setup.

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So big! The diameter of the puzzle is 24 inches!

Amazingly, none of my cats were interested in this puzzle. My only interruptions were SC wanting my opinion on his current project. IMG_3889

All in all, I think I managed to assemble this in about three hours, which is a new record.IMG_3890

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory
  • Title: Whiskers At The Window
  • Artist: Jane Maday
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 300
  • Cut-Style: Grid-cut puzzle
  • Finished size: 24″ round
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy medium weight, 8 x 8 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, recycled chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steel-cut die, all pieces fully separated
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Slightly glossy
  • Puzzle Dust: None!
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Good, but loose. You cannot pick up multiple pieces and move them

Disability Notes: I have to give my rep credit, this a wonderful puzzle. My hands didn’t ache after assembly, and the difficulty level was certainly up to adult standard. I can happily recommend a large piece puzzle for people with fine motor skill issues, or arthritis.

Where to buy: Whiskers At The Window  is available on the The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory website for $14.99 USD.

The Jigsaw Puzzle Factory: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

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!

TICO Bricks Smithsonian Institute: A Review

In February, at NY Toy Fair, I came across a micro-brick booth I hadn’t seen before. The ladies running it were very nice, and gave me a mini pterodactyl kit to try.  I’m ashamed to admit it has sat in my brick box since then. I remembered it when starting the blog, and reached out to The Lazy Dog & Co., TICO® bricks’ US distributor. I’m really glad I did!

I was asked which kits I was interested in, and I responded back with a list of possible kits, including The Smithsonian Institute, which was my pie-in-the-sky item. Imagine my surprise when that is exactly what they sent me! Poor Spouse-Critter, there was much squealing and happy-dancing that day.

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The Castle

Now, the Smithsonian Institution name covers over 19 museums, a zoo, 9 research facilities and tons of affiliated buildings. The building featured in the kit is called “The Castle” which is the first of the Smithsonian buildings, and its headquarters to this day. Look at this pretty building! There are days I think it lovelier than Buckingham Palace.

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Not a lot of spare packing material, TICO doesn’t pad the box!

Set up is easy, open the box, lay it all out, grab tweezers and magnifier, and check out the instructions.

Okay, so this just jumped a level of difficulty! Unlike some other brick companies; each step is only shown by pictures, there are no lists of how many bricks of each type are needed.  I know that a kit this big will have a ton of pieces, nearly 1,100 according to the box, so I haul out my MasterPieces™ Puzzle Sort and Save. Sorting all the little pieces by type and keeping them away from the cats is a necessary thing!IMG_3776

This build took me about three and a half days over the course of several sessions. My hands tended to start to ache after a few hours, so I was glad to have photographed the process.

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I hit a snag on step #9, I had a piece missing! I searched all my sorting trays, thinking it may have been missorted, no dice. Okay….I’m a resourceful brick-builder, I subbed in a 1×2 and a 1×1 brick for the missing 1×3. I kept moving on until by step #11, when it was very noticeable that I was missing not one, but several pieces! Worse, these were pieces that I needed! I dug into my stash of micro-brick spares, and found a few that would sort of match. The upside to this? I found out that TICO® Bricks are compatible with their competitor’s bricks!

Then I emailed my contact at TICO®. She was awesome! Quick response, a request for a full listing of my missing pieces so they can be replaced, and a promise to let the manufacturer in Taiwan know. Customer Service Win!  In the end, I was only short 9 pieces, 2 of those because I subbed them in on step #8. In a kit of 1085 pieces? That’s a minuscule amount, and I would not have noticed if there was a large amount of spare bricks.

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Spare pieces!
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So Long! Just under 11 1/2 inches
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Standard micro-brick kit width of 3 1/2 inches

This Is Now Officially My Biggest Micro-brick Kit Ever!

TICO stands for Tiny – Intelligent – Combinative – Originality. Honestly, this company really embodied this! It is tiny, it took and stretched my intelligence, I managed to combine pieces I did not think would fit, and while following a set of instructions doesn’t use originality, TICO® also sells bulk piece kits.

Brick Kit SPECS

  • Company: TICO
  • US Distributer: The Lazy Dog & Co.
  • Title: Smithsonian Institute
  • Kit Number: T-1536
  • Year released: 2018
  • Pieces: 1085
  • Difficulty: 3/5 I personally rate it a 4/5 for the instructions
  • Brick Size: 4mm x 4mm x 5mm
  • Figure size: N/A
  • Finished size: 28.75cm x 9.5cm x 12cm 
  • Made from ABS Plastic
  • Made in Taiwan

QUALITY: 

  • Box: lightweight, 20cm x 14cm x 5.5cm
  • Build Integrity: Very Good, the trees and flag are a bit fragile
  • Recognizability: Excellent
  • Piece shapes: Standard brick shapes, with some new shapes like 90° angles
  • Piece Fit: Excellent

Notes: The size of the bricks lean towards using angle tip tweezers. As there are extra pieces provided, I recommend saving them with the instructions in a sealed bag. I will be sure to add an update to this blog post when the customer service issue of the missing bricks is fully resolved.  I’m incredibly happy overall with both the Smithsonian kit and highly recommend TICO® for other micro-brick enthusiasts!

Disability Notes: Due to the fine motor control required for this build, I do not recommend TICO® Bricks for those with fine motor control impediments, arthritis, or palsy, unless you have assistance. If you have a visual impairment, this is possible to do with the assistance of a magnifier.

Where to buy:  The Smithsonian Institute and other kits are available on The Lazy Dog & Co. website for $64.99 USD.

The Lazy Dog & Co. Tico® Bricks : Website 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary brick kit from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

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!

Present from the Mailman!

I’m a bit overwhelmed by just how much mail running a review blog generates. Every few days there are new boxes to open, email receipts of delivery to send, and project scheduling to do.

I was introduced to TICO Bricks at the New York Toy Fair. When I emailed their US distributor, The Lazy Dog & Co., they were happy to send me my pie-in-the-sky wishlist item. TICO stands for Tiny, Intelligent, Combination and Originality, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this build stands up to this wonderful motto!  Follow this link to my YouTube Channel where I’ll host my videos until I can upgrade WordPress.

Click for Video!

TICO Bricks: Website

Disclosure: I received a complimentary brick kit from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

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!

 

Patreon is Live!

After many suggestions and with SC’s help, I’ve started my Patreon. I know the blog is new and we’re still growing but there’s been some interest in our videos.  We also want to help others create content on a shoestring.

(SC Edit: From personal experience, half of what we do was done by someone else who blogged about it.  Making videos about “How did you two do that?!”, and providing them for free is a perfect form of “Pay it forward”.  To provide video content for free, financial support helps (I work 40+ hours/week, I help PuzzlePaws in my spare time).

Individuals who support PuzzlePaws via Patreon will get benefits based on the level of their contribution including: Content from me (the Spouse-Critter), First-look content (before it is available on the blog), exclusive content, and access to giveaways (we can’t keep ALL these puzzles/coloring books/kits, no matter what PuzzlePaws would like to do!))

NanoBlock Review : The White House

I was in Washington DC last weekend, working for a friend as a vendor at Otakon®. Otakon® was my very first anime convention way back in 2001, and I was thrilled to go again. DC is full of fantastic national monuments, but the one everyone recognizes is 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, AKA The White House.

Brick kits are a great way to keep my mind active when my body rebels. Nanoblock® kits are perfect because they are so small! I’ve assembled them in bed or on the couch with a lap desk; and with the micro-scale of the builds, I don’t have to worry about the build overflowing my work surface. IMG_3723I had not done The White House kit before, but with a difficulty of 2/5, I wasn’t overly worried.

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Ack! White pieces on a white board. This will not work……
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SC made me a black work board! Much better!

Nanoblock® kits come with very little extraneous packaging. The pieces are in small plastic bags, presorted by size and type. There is also an incredibly detailed and easy to follow building instructions.IMG_3726Set up was easy; open all the plastic bags, grab some tweezers, and put on an audiobook.IMG_3727

What followed was a few hours of quiet, detail-focused fun! SC had set up my camera so that I could create a slideshow of the building process.

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Pretty cool, right? It starts slow, but builds up quickly! And at the end, I have a nifty little souvenir of my latest trip for my Around the World shelf!

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The kit includes an itty bitty Nanoid of the 45th president.
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Extra pieces were included, which is great. With kits this small, breakage or piece losses are inevitable.
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Hurricane acting as Godzilla, great scale model!

My Rating: 5/5 

Brick Kit SPECS

  • Company: Kawada
  • US Distributer: Schylling
  • Title: The White House
  • Kit Number: NBH-144
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 420
  • Difficulty: 2/5
  • Brick Size: 4mm x 4mm x 5mm
  • Figure size: 1.5cm
  • Finished size: 8cm x 8cm x 4.2cm with the flag, the height is 5.5cm
  • Made from ABS Plastic
  • Made in China

QUALITY: 

  • Box: lightweight, 14cmx14cmx4.5cm
  • Build Integrity: Very Good, the trees and flag are a bit fragile
  • Recognizability: Excellent
  • Piece shapes: Standard brick shapes
  • Piece Fit: Good, small noticeable gaps along brick lines

Notes: The instructions recommend the Nanoblock branded tweezers, but I don’t own a set and found that angle tip tweezers work just fine. As there are extra pieces provided, I recommend saving them with the instructions in a sealed bag.

Disability Notes: Due to the fine motor control required for this build, I do not recommend Nanoblock® for those with fine motor control impediments, arthritis, or palsy, unless you have assistance. If you have a visual impairment, this is possible to do with the assistance of a magnifier.

Where to buy:  The White House is available on the Schylling website for $19.99 usd. It and other Nanoblock® kits can also be found at your local Barnes & Noble.

Schylling Nanoblock® : Website 

Disclosure: I received a complimentary puzzle from the manufacturer in exchange for review. The opinions are my own.

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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