Review: Fresh Picked Flowers

Fresh Picked Flowers
Fresh Picked Flowers by Jane Maday – Sunsout – 500 pieces

The beautiful, bright colors of this image made this puzzle so much fun; and the quality was so much better than the previous Sunsout puzzle that I assembled. Don’t you love it when a puzzle is so much better than you anticipated? I do!

The last Sunsout puzzle I assembled – Rainy Day Sketch – was purchased at the same time, from the same store. The difference in quality between the two was striking – and that is NOT a good thing. When you don’t know for sure what you’re going to get, it makes it difficult to trust that you’re getting your money’s worth. I’m not a fan of having to guess or gamble when it comes to the quality of the puzzles I buy.

Fresh Picked Flowers had very good quality, in fact I was surprised at how good. Having had a much different experience with the previous Sunsout puzzle, I was dreading this one a little bit thinking it would be equally as disappointing. Thank goodness that wasn’t the case! This puzzle had thick pieces with a very good variety of shapes, and a truly wonderful fit. As you can see the reproduction is bright and crisp, with clean lines – it was a joy to work with.

Fresh Picked Flowers 1

For some reason the dullest colored thing in the puzzle, this brown bird (I have no idea what species this is), was one of the things I really enjoyed putting together. For some reason I can’t really express this bird was lovely to assemble.

Fresh Picked Flowers 2

This bowl of cherries is bright and fun, and was really challenging too. When I look at it the first thing that comes to mind is Erma Bombeck; she was a humorist and columnist that I used to really enjoy reading when I was younger. I’m sure if I had one of her books here now it would still make me laugh. She had a book entitled “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What am I Doing in the Pits?” and it seems to pop into my brain whenever I see this.

The artwork by Jane Maday made for an excellent puzzling experience, and the quality of the puzzle itself was wonderful to work with. If only all Sunsout puzzles could be this good! If by some miracle you find this puzzle out there, it’s definitely recommended. I loved it. ūüíĖ

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Fresh Picked Flowers
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Jane Maday
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Sunsout
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†500 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 18 x 24 in. (46 x 61 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

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

Overall Rating:      Very good, recommended

Review: Baked With Love

Baked With Love
Baked with Love – MasterPieces – 500 pieces

Unfortunately I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this puzzle, other than the thickness of the pieces was very good. It’s a pretty picture I suppose, but it’s really not my cup of tea/pile of pieces. Those are all the good things.

Usually MasterPieces has good quality; in fact, the puzzle completed immediately before this one – Quilting Country – was a MasterPieces puzzle with excellent quality. This one however, perhaps because it was a special edition (The Cake Boss), was less than optimal. There was terrible cutting, imperfect image reproduction, and not a great fit.

Baked With Love 1

You can see that the cutting was not up to par. Not that the pieces weren’t cut all the way through, it looks as if the die wasn’t even and it didn’t come close to getting the whole piece cut completely through. And this happened on many pieces, not just this one.

You can see the color difference between the box image on the left and the actual puzzle on the right. Actually the box image flowers look much more pink than even my picture shows. It doesn’t show as much here, but there was a big difference between the color on the box and the completed puzzle. In addition, while you can see each of the petals in the box image, on the puzzle itself they are just fuzzy, indistinct blobs of color.

Again, I have found that MasterPieces puzzles are normally good quality, but this special Cake Boss edition puzzle fell below their usual standards. In my mind they’re still a company that puts out good puzzles and it won’t stop me from continuing to buy them.

But if you run across a Cake Boss puzzle from MasterPieces, be wary. Baked with Love is definitely not recommended.

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Baked with Love
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Unknown
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Masterpieces
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†500 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 18 x 24 in. (46 x 61 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† Used, thrift store

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Poor
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Poor
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Fair, opens at the top
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Fair
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Small amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Random cut
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Very good variety
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat

Overall Rating:      Poor quality, not recommended

Review: Rainy Day Sketch

Rainy Day Sketch
Rainy Day Sketch by Tricia Reilly-Matthews – Sunsout – 500 pieces

I was quite disappointed in the quality of this puzzle, particularly the fit. Even though it’s adorably cute, it wasn’t enough to make up for pieces that seem to fit where they do not belong and a mushy feel that doesn’t let you know whether or not you’ve got the right piece. The image is great, the rest of this puzzle – not so much.

Sunsout is one of those companies whose puzzles can range from excellent to poor quality; you never seem to know what you’re going to get. Because of that I normally do NOT purchase this brand retail, but I admit to buying this and one other Sunsout puzzle last month in an attempt to stock up a bit before….well, you know.

I’ve done several puzzles with artwork by Tricia Reilly-Matthews, and they’re always sweet and cute, she captures the innocence of childhood and it makes for beautiful puzzles – that must be why I caved and bought the two puzzles. If it weren’t for the quality, it would have been quite an entertaining assembly. It wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, image-wise, but the challenge kept me on my toes.

The way jigsaw puzzle pieces fit together is one of the most important aspects of quality, and when it is lacking it makes for an assembly experience that is less than optimal. It was an extremely frustrating assembly that might otherwise have been entertaining. Even with chipboard that was a good thickness, a good variety of piece shapes and lovely image reproduction, the poor fit negated most of the pluses and I am not recommending this puzzle.

Usually what I tell myself is that it won’t happen again. That the next time I’m in a store near the puzzles I will remember my bad experience with this brand and will not buy any of their puzzles. The problem is that the brand isn’t consistent with it’s quality and I always want to believe that the puzzle I want to buy is going to be one of the good ones; sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn’t. Did I learn my lesson this time? Only time will tell.

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Rainy Day Sketch
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Tricia Reilly-Matthews
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Sunsout
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†500 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 19 x 19 in. (48 x 48 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Good
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Good/Fair
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Average
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Poor
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Large amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Grid cut – offset
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†Good variety
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish, lays flat

Overall Rating:      Fair/Poor, not recommended

*These days finding any jigsaw puzzle in stores or online is almost a miracle, so if you find this puzzle out there you have to take my recommendation with a grain of salt. All reviews are only opinions; my puzzle and my opinion of it might differ from yours. So if you come across this one and you’re out of puzzles….you do what’s best for you.

Review: Butterflies * Vintage Stamps

Butterflies
Butterflies * Vintage Stamps – Eurograhics – 500 pieces

This is where I would usually show you a picture of the completed puzzle, but as you can see I’ve taken a picture of the box instead. Why? Because this puzzle had terrible quality, and once I’d put together six pieces of the edge that was all I needed. Life is too short to waste on crappy puzzles.

The entire time I was sorting my brain was telling me to really think about whether or not this was a puzzle I wanted to assemble. There were MANY pieces still attached, not because they just didn’t get broken up, but because they weren’t cut all the way through – not even close to all the way through. There were groups of 2, 3, and even 4 pieces still together, and to separate them without damaging them would have required a sharp craft knife and lots of time. ūüėź

The thinness of the pieces was a concern as well, I don’t ever remember a Eurographics puzzle having such thin, bendable pieces before – and there have been many a puzzle from this brand on my table through the years. If I hadn’t purchased it new myself, the quality would lead me to believe this was a dollar store puzzle.

Once I started putting the edge together I knew this puzzle was going to be horrid to assemble and that it just wasn’t worth it. The looseness of the fit was crazy, there was way too much play in the pieces.

Butterflies 1

This is the pieces pushed together tightly.

Butterflies 2

This is how much play there is within the fit. You couldn’t lift two assembled pieces.

I’m not sure exactly when Eurographics quality went downhill, but the last few puzzles of theirs that I’ve assembled have been quite disappointing. They used to have nice, thick pieces with a random cut that made for an interesting assembly. The newer puzzles I’ve assembled have had thinner pieces with only one piece shape. This puzzle just put them on my naughty list, because I absolutely cannot recommend this brand anymore.

It may seem odd to review a puzzle I haven’t completely assembled, but there were so many quality issues that I felt a responsibility to let my readers know – a review seemed to be the best way to do that. It isn’t coming as a shock, I’ve expressed disappointment with the last few Eurographics puzzles that I’ve assembled; but this was by far the worst quality puzzle of theirs I’ve ever seen.

Once I decided to review this puzzle I gathered the pieces for the two yellow butterflies and put them together to be sure about the quality of the whole puzzle. Absolutely awful. Perhaps my puzzle was just one from the very end of the run when the die is dullest, but when you put this disappointing quality together with the problems of the previous ones it all adds up to a brand that has major problems, in my opinion.

Please remember, all reviews are only one person’s opinion. I do my best to be objective, but in the end this review is only about my puzzle and my experience; take it with a grain of salt. Far be it from me to tell you what to buy or not to buy; but for myself I know there won’t be any more Eurographics puzzles in my shopping cart anytime soon. It’s such a shame too, they used to be such nice puzzles. ūüė•

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Butterflies * Vintage Stamps
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Unknown
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Eurographics
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†500 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 19 x 13 in. (48 x 33 cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Poor, very thin
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Poor
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Very good
  • Box:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Average
  • Fit:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Poor, very loose
  • Puzzle Dust:¬† ¬† ¬†Moderate amount
  • Piece cut:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Grid cut
  • Piece shapes:¬† ¬†No variety, all one shape
  • Finish:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Slightly shiny finish

Overall Rating:      Poor quality, not recommended

Review: The Bookshop

The Bookshop
The Bookshop by Aimee Stewart – Ravensburger – 1000 pieces

This gorgeous puzzle is an Aimee Stewart – I had no idea! I don’t really check who the artist is most of the time before I start working a puzzle; I just knew the image spoke to me, and thought it would be fun, if a bit challenging to assemble. Well, of course it was – it’s an Aimee Stewart! I put together the entire puzzle and didn’t know until I started writing up this post that it was by my favorite artist.

The quality was fantastic, as per usual for a Ravensburger. Just feeling the weight and finish of the pieces makes me smile; I think I could tell a Ravensburger piece from all others at 20 paces. (Well, maybe 2 paces, these eyes are getting older every day). Holding a piece while contemplating it’s placement and rubbing my thumb across the top of it gives me a quiet kind of happiness, it’s like meditation.

This was a little more challenging than your average Aimee Stewart puzzle; the colors are much more muted, and the scene itself was more difficult. The flowers below the sign and the ivy around the edges were the hardest for me. The books everywhere were less difficult than I’d assumed, even though there are so many of them!

The Bookshop 1

This little girl in her pretty purple frock is so sweet, and it’s such a pretty color.

The Bookshop 2

All those books in the window? You can read the titles, and look at the detail! I should have known who the artist was. I can’t believe I didn’t. I’m hanging my head in shame.

I’d seen this image several times before I finally took the plunge and got it for myself, and am I ever glad I did. Have you been thinking of buying this? Go for it, this puzzle is highly recommended. ūüĎćūüĎć

Details:

  • Title:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† The Bookshop
  • Artist:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Aimee Stewart
  • Brand:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Ravensburger
  • Piece count:¬† ¬† ¬†1000 pieces
  • Size:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Approx. 27 x 20 in. (69 x 51cm)
  • Purchased:¬† ¬† ¬† New

Quality:

  • Board:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Cutting:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • Image:¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Excellent
  • 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:      Excellent, highly recommended