Review: The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker
The Nutcracker by Anie Maltais – JaCaRou Puzzles – 1000 pieces

The Nutcracker is a beautiful image and puzzle, and although there was a slight quality issue I enjoyed it’s assembly very much. It’s the first puzzle of this brand that I’ve tried, and I was impressed.

JaCaRou Puzzles are a relatively new brand to the market, but I have to say for someone like myself who enjoys bright, interesting artwork they have an amazing catalog! All the artwork is done by Anie Maltais, who also the owner of the company. I surprised myself by choosing this Christmas image with all the other gorgeous, colorful puzzles they have, but something about this one spoke to me that day.

The pieces are a good thickness and quite sturdy with a very good variety of shapes that fit together well. I had some damaged pieces along with an image reproduction problem (the filigree along the edges was very blurry in contrast to the rest of the puzzle). I admit I was disappointed, but my email to the company prompted an unbelievably fast reply from Anie herself; and the excellent customer service I received leads me to believe that my damaged puzzle was an anomaly. I won’t hesitate to try another JaCaRou.

The puzzle comes in a special edition book box of very nice quality, with what seems to be a switch to turn on a small “music box” that I’m assuming plays The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky. It didn’t work (dead batteries), but I’m not holding that against them – it’s a great idea!

I started out assembling this puzzle in bed, on my trays. It went together pretty darn quickly.

Trayed puzzling

Now that it’s been moved to the board and filled in some it’s looking fantastic.

The Nutcracker 1

The top edge was easy to distinguish from the rest of the edges, and went together quite easily. The cord down the center was a little more of a challenge, but not too much so.

The Nutcracker 2

The filigree pattern around the edges was the most difficult part for me, but I love the look of the puzzle as a whole – all that’s left now are the edges!

The Nutcracker 3

Close-up of the presents under the tree…

The Nutcracker 4

The beautiful colors and patterns on these presents make me want to try one of the other JaCaRou puzzles with the bright artwork, the only problem is which one to choose. I’m leaning towards either Hearts of Glass or Home Sweet Home. I can’t decide!

Details:

  • Title: The Nutcracker
  • Artist: Anie Maltais
  • Brand: JaCaRou
  • Piece count: 1000 pieces
  • Size: Approx. 27 x 20 in. (70 x 50 cm)
  • Purchased: New

Quality:

  • Board: Very good
  • Cutting: Very good
  • Image: Good, blurry filigree
  • Box: Excellent, book box
  • Fit: Very good
  • Puzzle Dust: Small amount
  • Piece cut: Grid cut
  • Piece shapes: Very good variety
  • Finish: Slightly shiny finish

Overall Rating: Very good, recommended

**I don’t normally contact companies about small quality problems, things happen. It’s been my experience though that puzzles with specialty packaging have their own unique problems and are sometimes manufactured at different facilities. I thought that JaCaRou should be made aware of the quality issues I had, especially because of the packaging; I believe the damaged pieces were most likely the result of how they were placed in the box. Anie was apologetic, and graciously offered to replace either the damaged pieces or the entire puzzle (I declined both). She was also appreciative that I mentioned the fuzzy border, so that she can address the issue. I love that she cares so much about making sure the puzzles she produces are the best quality they can be, and that she took so much of her time to correspond with me about resolving any problems.

Darth Vader

Darth Vader
Darth Vader – Buffalo – 300 pieces

This was a fun but challenging puzzle, and it makes me smile every time I look at it. To me, it looks as if the The Dark Helmet is in the process of dabbing….

–“I just blew up Alderaan!” *dab*

–“Obi Wan is now a jumble of Jedi dust!” *dab*

I honestly didn’t see it until the puzzle was complete and sitting on my whiteboard waiting to be photographed; then all of a sudden it clicked. Perhaps it’s all in my mind and I’m the only one who sees it, but I don’t care – it makes me giggle. Once it suggested itself to me, that’s all I can see. I know it’s meant to look menacing and if he’s on the attack, but what I see is a self-satisfied bully dabbing to celebrate his dastardly deeds.

Dabbin’ Darth!