Tag Archives: Puzzle Review

Belated – Trick or Treat! My Halloween Puzzle Review

Sometimes getting back into the saddle after a length of time can be difficult. I had finally shaken the nasty cold that had plagued me just in time to work NekoCon October 31-November 3rd. Unfortunately, even though I had gotten my flu shot days before, after con I had a small relapse of the cold.

While I was well enough to blog last Friday, I’ll admit to having a bit of a mental block. I wanted to write…but the very thought of tackling nearly a month’s backlog of emails and empty space was daunting. It still is. But! SC and I did an awesome puzzle for Halloween in the short space when I felt well, and I miss having the schedule of posts to organize my weeks. So this week you get a bonus post or two. I have a small backlog of projects to write up before I can tackle new ones.

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My mom knows I love Dowdle puzzles and she got me a handful of different ones during a summer sale.

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Included poster, front and back sides.

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if you can’t read the above photo, the Dowdle website has both the poem and a scavenger hunt here.

I don’t have my usual frame and pieces photos as I assembled this puzzle in a bit of a hurry with SC. I wanted to do SOMETHING for Halloween since I’d been too ill to decorate and had the last convention of the season coming up in a few days.

So I sorted the pieces according to location; sky/street/townhouses and we spent an enjoyable 3 or so hours trading pieces and exclaiming over all the little Easter Eggs that Eric Dowdle puts into his art.

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Because it was Halloween, I did dress up the cats in costume! Pandemonium as a BumbleBee and Hurricane Enlil as Sharknado!

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I have to admit, this 500 piece was a great way to get back to my puzzling habit. It’s bright, colorful, and busy; and the pieces are the perfect size for slightly arthritic hands.

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PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Dowdle Puzzles
  • Title: Trick or Treat
  • Artist: Eric Dowdle
  • Year released: Unknown
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 16″ by 20″
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy and compact, 7.5″ by 7.5″ by 3″, with paper sleeve
  • Board:  Medium weight chipboard, sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss, with great color saturation
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: A good mix of traditionally cut and irregular pieces
  • Piece Fit: Very Good. Some of the irregular pieces make it so that pieces can only be moved in small groups.

Disability Notes: The slightly larger size pieces of the 500 piece puzzle are kinder to the hands while still being complex enough to challenge lovers of larger piece count puzzles. Honestly, I want to try this brands 300 and 100 piece counts for this winter when my hands threaten to swell into claws. I can recommend this for people with mild to moderate arthritis or hand/eye coordination.

Where to buy: Trick or Treat is available on the Dowdle Puzzles website for $19.99 USD.

Dowdle Puzzles : Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I received this puzzle as a gift. 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!

The New Ecru – Mystery Puzzles

I’m a sucker for a good mystery. It piques my curiosity and I just can’t seem to help myself! When Artifact Puzzles announced that they were debuting a new line of wooden puzzles I knew I wanted to try them out. Then Artifact upped the ante and announced that the new Ecru puzzles would include Mystery Puzzles. I was doomed!!

The Ecru puzzles are different from the main Artifact line in that they are made with a closer cut and a matte finish. The Mystery Puzzles are made to be ephemeral, they are only made for a few months at a time, then they are “revealed” and added to the main Ecru lineup.

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I love this. I was sent Mystery Puzzle #1, and it arrived in a plain gray box. IMG_6488

Like all Artifact puzzles, the box and contents are curated for maximum sustainability.  The box has a magnet closure in the lid and as you can see, you are given an envelope of resealing stickers so that you can be sure no pieces have escaped while in storage.

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These pieces look fiendish! I’ve never worked with anything quite like these. The pieces look like interconnected hexagons or simple chemical formulae. In fact, while assembling, I swear I saw a piece that looked like a sugar molecule!!

Continue reading The New Ecru – Mystery Puzzles

Of Butterflies & Birthdays

September 12th is the start of Birthday Hell in my family. My younger but much taller sister, Little-Big(not her real name) turned 33 today. She loves everything butterflies and purple, so I had to get Cobble Hill’s new Butterfly Magic for her.

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All right, full disclosure here. I did not touch this puzzle except to help sort out the edge pieces. Little-Big loved the idea of a birthday puzzle, and whenever I turned around, she was happily assembling her own present!

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This puzzle went together relatively quickly. I was down with no spoons yesterday, so Little-Big sent me pics while I rested in bed.

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Little-Big started sorting her pieces by trying to finish the monarch butterfly with the sunflowers; then ended up sorting her pieces into the different framed sections.

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My sister had the best time working on the random cut, which had her scrambling to find where pieces fit right up to the last 2 pieces!

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TaDa!! Butterflies! Little-Big managed to get this finished just a few hours before her birthday. It will be glued this weekend and then mounted in her room.

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Cobble Hill
  • Title: Butterfly Magic
  • Artist: Rosiland Solomon
  • Year released: 2019
  • Pieces: 500
  • Cut-Style:  Random
  • Finished size: 19.25 x 26.625
  • Bonus poster: Yes
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy, Medium-weight, 10″x14’x2.5″ Matte-Linen Finish
  • Board: Thick and sturdy pieces
  • Cut: Steel-cut Die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Satin, linen texture
  • Puzzle Dust: Almost none
  • Piece shapes: Random
  • Piece Fit: Very Good, nice tight fit that if careful, I could lift it up completely

Disability Notes: Little-Big likes the larger pieces, which are easy on hands. The bright colors and different sections make dividing the pieces into workable groups easy.

Where to buy: Butterfly Magic is available on the Cobble Hill website for $15.99 USD. While Fall is fast approaching, this puzzle is perfect for any butterfly enthusiast or to brighten up those upcoming  gray days!

Cobble Hill Puzzle Company : 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!

Shark Week Blogiversary – Tuesday

Sharks of the Badlands-

I rather liked this episode, but thought the title misleading. The trial and error aspect of finding a working solution for the problem of keeping humans in the water safe from the sharks that live there was well represented. I’m glad that the scientists in questions opted for a preventative solution, rather than a reactionary one.

Legend of the Deep Blue-

This episode was iffy for me. I thought the plot was amorphous, and not well defined. While the shark known as Deep Blue is one of the largest ever tagged, she isn’t the only large shark in the ocean, and finding her without tag data is like looking for a needle in a haystack. As the scientists I follow on Twitter noted, scars do heal, so they are not reliable identifiers after several years. DNA is the only way to be sure. That being said, the episode was fun and had amazing shark cage footage!

The Sharks of Headstone Hell-

So many tiger sharks! Another great shark episode with a great explanation of both the history of the area and the current events impacting both locals and the shark population. Hopefully, now that it is known that the area around Norkolk Island is a tiger shark hotspot it can be designated as a protected area.

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Today’s puzzle is a fun one! Ravensburger’s Smiling Sharks is a puzzle I’ve been hoarding for months, waiting for Shark Week. It is a part of Ravensburger’s Perfect Age Fit series, which features graduated piece sizes for young puzzlers. As a puzzler with hand issues due to arthritis and nerve problems, I really wanted to test these puzzles out. s-l1600

Smiling Sharks is a 300XXL puzzle, which is the smallest piece size in the series. I found the pieces to be comfortable in my hands, and the thick chipboard satisfyingly heavy.

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The border was the easiest part of this image.

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I love the fact that each shark in this puzzle has a different face and personality! Ravensburger is known for quality puzzles, and the attention to detail is  one of the reasons why!

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I adore this little fish!
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Look at their smiles!

Overall, a great puzzle! The image is challenging without being overwhelming. Little-Big and I had a nice afternoon puzzling. Shark Week and puzzles go together!

Want a chance to win your own Shark puzzle? Giveaway Link: Here!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Ravensburger
  • Title: Smiling Sharks
  • Artist: Howard Robinson
  • Year released: 2017
  • Pieces: 300XXL
  • Cut-Style: Grid
  • Finished size: 19 x 14 inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in Germany

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 13 x 9 x 1½ inches, Linen finish
  • Board: Extra thick chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Linen matte
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: 2 different shapes that repeat, Large size for easy handling
  • Piece Fit: Excellent! Great snap and I could move multiple pieces easily

Disability Notes: The 300XXL size puzzle pieces are a great size for a person with hand issues, or a short attention span. The pieces are sturdy and wellmade.

Where to buy: Smiling Sharks 300 XXL Puzzle is available on the Ravensburger website for $14.99 USD.

Ravensburger 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!

Shark Week Blogiversary-Monday

I’m tired from traveling home from DC, but I had this sweet little puzzle by Ceaco and the first two episodes of Shark Week 31.

Expedition Unknown: Megalodon 

I’ll admit that I enjoy Josh Gates’s Expedition Unknown series. I found this episode to be both funny and informative, and SC and I loved all the movie references! It was a great mix of shark science and entertainment, while making no bones of the fact that Megalodon is extinct. The “can I lick science” moment was hilarious, and the explanations of the current theory behind the possible why of Megalodon’s extinction were well done.

Shark Trip: Eat. Prey. Chum

Ugh. I’m not going to mince words here. I despised this show. Rob Riggle and his friends are actors, and you cannot convince me that they knew EXACTLY what the script entailed. That being said, the writers of this particular episode need to go back for sensitivity training. Rob’s bullying and toxic masculinity for the sake of cheap laughs and Anthony Anderson’s over-the-top screaming and flailing were not funny. I watch Shark Week for sharks and shark science, not to watch actors act like jerks and spread shark fear.

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I had a devil of a time trying to find this puzzle! I’d seen it in my local Walmart months ago, but hadn’t bought it at the time. When it got closer to July, I started to panic because I could no longer find it! I trolled through every Walmart I went into looking for it! Thankfully, I found it in NH while camping.

IMG_6133 At 100 pieces, this isn’t meant to be a difficult puzzle. Normally,  puzzles of this size are marketed to children, but I’ve found that they are fantastic for bad hand days.

IMG_6136 My sister Little-Big has recently moved in with us, and she helped me assemble this puzzle.

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I found this image of a Great White swimming through a set of presumably Megalodon jaws perfect to start my Shark Week!

IMG_6161 This puzzle is part of Ceaco’s glow line, so SC pulled out the black light for this pic!IMG_6160

It glows!!!

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Here is the puzzle in all it’s sharky glory!

Giveaway Link: Here!

PUZZLE SPECS

  • Company: Ceaco
  • Title: Under Sea Glow – Great White Delight
  • Artist: Jerry LoFaro
  • Year released: 2016
  • Pieces: 100
  • Cut-Style: Grid
  • Finished size: 15″ x 11″ inches
  • Bonus poster: No
  • Made in USA

QUALITY: 

  • Box: Sturdy but lightweight, 6x6x2 inches
  • Board: Medium thickness, chipboard
  • Cut: Cut with a steelcut die
  • Image Quality: Excellent, great color saturation
  • Finish: Semi-gloss with glow in the dark lines
  • Puzzle Dust: Minimal
  • Piece shapes: 4 different shapes that repeat, Large size for easy handling
  • Piece Fit: Good,I could move small sections of 2-4 pieces

Disability Notes: This is a great puzzle for people with hand or eye issues. The image is clear and the pieces easy to handle. A quick small puzzle, it fits well on a lapdesk or puzzle board.

Where to buy: Under Sea Glow – Great White Delight Puzzle is available on the Ceaco website for $6.99 USD. It can also be found at certain Walmart stores.

Ceaco Puzzles: Website / FaceBook

Disclosure: I purchased this puzzle 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!

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!