Review: Circles Strokes

Circles Strokes
Circles Strokes by Kirsten Hinte – Milton Bradley – 750 pieces

I do so love blocks of color. ūüíĖ This puzzle was a lovely respite from holiday images (it was finished on December 22), and even though it was a bit difficult I enjoyed the unique image and the gold foil accents. It’s such different and interesting artwork, and you know how much I love things that aren’t the norm.

As I do many times, after purchasing this puzzle I opened the box to look at the pieces; then, as I do, put it away because it looked like it would be pretty difficult. Several times the box came out when it was time to choose the next puzzle, and it went back in the pile every time. Luckily, this time I jumped at the chance to do a puzzle without snow or Santa, and started sorting before giving myself a chance to question how challenging it would be.

This is a special Gold edition Milton Bradley puzzle, and I found the quality to be quite good. Nice, thick chipboard with a good fit, wonderful colors, and beautiful gold foil accents. I wish pictures could capture the gold foil, it’s really quite beautiful.

Some of the colors were easy to pick out, and once I started getting things assembled the pieces became more familiar and it was easier to notice the subtle differences in color. It’s like most images, the more you do the more you become familiar with it; the more familiar the pieces become, the easier it is to see what you’re looking for. It provided a good challenge though, and kept me intensely focused only on what piece was next and which color goes where.

If you’re looking for something out of the ordinary and this image is one that strikes your fancy, I can definitely recommend this puzzle. I found it to be very good quality, with an image that made for a challenging and engrossing assembly. ūüĎć

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Circles Strokes
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Kirsten Hinte
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Milton Bradley
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†750 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 27 x 20 in. (69 x 51 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent, gold foil
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Average
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Small amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Grid cut
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Very good variety
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat

Overall Rating:      Very good, recommended

Review: Best Friends

Best Friends
Best Friends by Dean Russo – Starz Puzzles – 158 pieces

Best Friends is a gorgeous puzzle with amazing quality, and I enjoyed every difficult minute of the assembly! I wanted to experience the quality itself and how the pieces went together so I put the image away and assembled this one blind. It was a fantastic puzzle, an entertaining assembly, and is most highly recommended.

Starz Puzzles is a newer puzzle company that I’ve written about before on My Jigsaw Journal, asking for my reader’s input on the brand in general and the uniquely shaped pieces. Fortunately I was asked to assemble and review one of their puzzles so I can now personally speak about the brand and it’s quality. I’ve worked with quite a few brands of wooden puzzles, and this brand was extremely interesting to assemble with wonderful all-around quality. Their star shaped pieces make for an engaging assembly, and their process of printing directly onto the wood makes for crisp and vibrant colors. The puzzles are also spill-proof according to the packaging, but I love puzzles too much to have tested that out. Because they print directly onto the wood they are also able to re-print over the artwork, which I find intriguing. What a novel concept!

Most Starz puzzles come in a custom wooden box made from solid Ash hardwood with pinned hinges; this puzzle came to me in their new sleeve packaging, which I think is a great idea. It’s fantastic for storing puzzles, quite thin compared to a regular puzzle box, but very sturdy. The sleeve packaging is only available for their x-small, small, and medium sizes, the heirloom boxes are available for all sizes except the x-small. Their website doesn’t currently show the sleeve packaging, but they are working on updating it and their puzzles sold on Amazon do have the sleeve packing available.

Best Friends 5

The puzzle comes assembled and laying flat in the sleeve. It wasn’t as easy as dumping out pieces on the table and starting assembly; the fit was tight enough that I had to disassemble it piece by piece, and this was my only criticism for the packaging. Most puzzlers are raring to go when they open a new puzzle, and having to take the puzzle apart could be annoying for some. I didn’t find it too annoying, but it’s worth pointing out.

This was a puzzle with star cluster silhouettes (whimsies), shown on the left, and they certainly made the assembly interesting! Once I wrapped my brain around how the pieces went together I came across the actual stars and that upped the difficulty level; it was definitely a challenge but I really did love it. Their signature star shaped piece is on the right, with extremely thick 1/4″ maple wood.

Best Friends 2

Dean Russo’s images have been on quite a few puzzles, but this is the first artwork of his that I have put together. It¬†was such a fantastic image of colors and patterns and adorable canine faces –¬† love, love, loved it! ūüíó All those patterns and colors made for a more difficult but extremely gratifying assembly.

Most of the comments on my previous post about these puzzle were about the price – Starz Puzzles are on the more expensive side of wooden puzzles – this 158 piece puzzle in the sleeve packaging is $119.00. The bottom line is every puzzle isn’t for everyone; just like the Christian puzzles I reviewed earlier this year, they’re made for a specific consumer. Not everyone has the inclination or ability to buy these puzzles, but many people are so inclined and this review could assist them in making a purchase decision.

My bottom line is that these puzzles are excellent quality and I enjoyed both the artwork and working with their uniquely shaped pieces. I may not currently be able to afford these puzzles, but I adored working with this one and thought it was beautiful and beautifully made. Definitely recommended! ūüĎć

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Best Friends
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Dean Russo
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Starz Puzzles
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†158 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 11 x 8 in. (28 x 20 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† N/A, sent for review

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent, 1/4″ Maple wood
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Sleeve packaging, excellent for storage
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†None
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Unique star shaped pieces
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Very good variety with silhouettes
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat, spill-proof

Overall Rating:      Excellent, most highly 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.