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!


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


  • 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.

Jigsaw Puzzling in Bed

Trayed puzzling

In case anyone wonders what it looks like when I “puzzle in bed”, here it is! A few days ago I was still recovering from helping out with Thanksgiving dinner, so I spent most of the day in bed with my trays and my sorted puzzle pieces. If I can’t sit in a chair at the puzzle board I can at least still assemble puzzles, if only in small bits.

After deciding on this puzzle from a brand I’ve never tried, JaCaRou, I sorted the pieces into little sections – some of which you can see above. Then it’s easy to grab a cookie sheet lined with paper (that’s what I use for trays) and a small container of sorted pieces and get to puzzling! I know that even if I can only sit at the board for 15 minutes or so at a time, I’ll still be able to get this puzzle put together – trays are my friend! 🙂

Another Non-Problem

Can't pick a puzzle
I want to do all of them, and none of them!

I’m having another one of those not-really-a-problem problems. I cannot seem to make a decision about what puzzle to do next.

I feel as though I should do a Christmas puzzle, since the season is officially underway, but, ugh. And most of the holiday puzzles I have are wooden. I’ve almost exclusively been doing wooden puzzles this month because most of the ones I have are small and I was able to assemble them in bed. I have four 250 pieces and a bunch of micro Christmas puzzles from Wentworth, but I really want to do something cardboard. On the other hand, I could probably assemble all the micro puzzles in one day, and that would definitely help to rebuild my queue of finished puzzles ready to post.

I’ve got a 1000 piece puzzle from JaCaRou (new brand I’ve never tried) of The Nutcracker, and while I’m excited to try a new brand I’m just feeling blah about Christmas puzzles in general at the moment. Still, I love trying new brands, and the image isn’t your typical Santa and the Christmas tree, which is a big plus in my book.

I also have a REALLY cool older 500 piece puzzle mom found at a thrift store. It’s an American Greetings brand called Fitting Reminder, and it looks to be from around the 1970’s. The image is a gorgeous picture of a mosaic made from petrified wood. And while it’s an awesome image, the pieces are very muted and fuzzy. It’s one of those images that looks amazing completed, but the pieces separately are quite indistinct. It’ll be a challenge, and I think it would be more fun if mom and I assembled it together. The more difficult ones don’t seem as bad when there’s someone helping with the assembly.

I keep going back and forth in my head. I’ll decide on one for a minute or two, take off the box cover and hold some of the pieces in my hand, and then I put the lid back on. I realize it truly isn’t a REAL problem to have enough puzzles that I can’t decide which to do next, but I can’t decide what to do next! 😐