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. ūüėČ 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.

Review: Oh My, What a Pie!

This post is sponsored by Puzzle Warehouse.
Oh My, What a Pie!
Oh My, What a Pie! – Ceaco – 300 pieces

This was the most difficult puzzle so far from the Sweet & Salty¬†multipack. It took me at least 10 times longer than a 300 piece normally does. Wow. And I have to say it looks amazingly real – if it were also a scented puzzle I wouldn’t be able to keep my son away from it!

Again, I’m naming these myself as they aren’t named on the box or in the foldout poster enclosed. I started the first few with just plain, boring, descriptive names like Donut and Macaroons. Yawn. Then I decided to punch it up a bit with What, No Chocolate?! and today’s Oh My, What a Pie! I’m hoping to keep finding more fun and interesting names, and perhaps I’ll come up with some enigmatic, bizarre sounding name that has absolutely nothing to do with the picture. ūüėĀ

Ceaco puzzles have a great selection of images to choose from, although sometimes I find the quality to be lacking. The quality of these puzzles has been better than I expected, especially from a multipack. The fit is excellent, the images are beautifully reproduced, and the pieces are a good thickness. Sometimes the chipboard is fanning on the backs of the pieces, and there are some that aren’t cut all the way through; overall though, the quality is good. Click the link above to see their puzzles currently in stock at Puzzle Warehouse.

This image was quite difficult, and had me working it completely differently than I normally would. I started off by separating all the pieces by shape, which is something I usually only do near the end of the puzzle or when there are large areas of one color. It doesn’t look as though it would be so challenging, but it really was! So much so that it overwhelmed me and I set it aside for several days and only worked on it a few pieces at a time.

As usual though, the closer you get to the end, the more you get excited to finish and see the entire puzzle completed. It’s not an easy one, but I was so proud when it was done! If you enjoy a challenge, consider the Sweet & Salty multipack by Ceaco, I’m enjoying it very much! 4 down, 4 to go. ūüĎć

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Oh My, What a Pie!
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† iStock
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Ceaco
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†300 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 14 in. (36 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† N/A, sent for review

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Good
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Good
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Average, 8 puzzles in 1 box
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Moderate amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Grid cut
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Good variety
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat

Overall Rating:      Good, recommended

 

I received this product at no cost in order to facilitate this review. All thoughts and opinions expressed are truthful and 100% my own.