Publisher: Sunsout (USA), 2007, 1000 pieces
Title: “Japanese Garden”, Artist: T.C. Chiu
OUR RATING: 10/10
This has long been the top-rated Sunsout puzzle on Amazon. I finally got around to putting it together and now I see why!
The Sunsout boxes are not my favorite feature of the brand. They’re overly large, larger than pretty much any other brand, so they require more space between shelves. The box design looks amateur to me and does not compare to brands like Gibson or Ravensburger (or pretty much anyone, really). The back of the box is plain white. Fortunately, there are many other things to like about Sunsout!
Three of the sides show an image of the puzzle, puzzle name. artist, piece count, and Sunsout logo. So you can tell what the puzzle is when it’s shelved.
Inside the box:
Nothing comes inside the box except the bag of puzzle pieces. The image on the front of the box is sufficiently large enough to use for reference. There’s very little puzzle dust, and the pieces are fully separated and undamaged.
I love the puzzle’s image. First, it’s shaped. The fan shape is quite nice, sort of a round puzzle on top with the fan bottom. It’s always a nice change up for me to do something like this after I’ve been working on rectangular puzzles. I also like the Japanese garden theme. It’s a nice composition with several figures, flowers, birds, trees, a Japanese house, two bridges, etc. The puzzle is also LARGE. The widest part is 3′ across! So it feels like a worthwhile project.
Other than the boxes, I quite like Sunsout. You can see our full brand comparison here.
Sunsout and Bits and Pieces are both very similar to Springbok. The cut is much more creative than a standard grid cut, with pieces of all kinds of shapes and sizes. This makes it a bit more challenging and interesting to assemble. The pieces are thick, fairly large overall, and have a heavy, glossy feel.
The fit is very tight on this brand. As you can see below, you can easily move groups of pieces without them falling apart. And at the end, I was able to completely flip this puzzle over to the back using just my hands, and not a single piece became dislodged. (I usually have to use a board to flip puzzles.)
This puzzle is a bit more challenging than your average Ravensburger. The piece shapes and the overall puzzle shape make it a little more difficult. But there’s plenty of unique color and detail in this image. I’d still place it in the ‘medium’ difficulty range.
I don’t usually assemble the border first in a shaped puzzle, but in this case the border pieces were easy to see because there is a gold edge around the top round part of the puzzle, and the bottom of the fan is obvious too. The fan part with the birds and butterflies came next, then the clear features of the image like the house and figures and birds and bridges. As usual, the greens came last.
I don’t hand out 10 scores readily, but this puzzle is really rather special with it’s interesting shape, lovely image, fun unusual cut, and thick pieces. The puzzle is still in print from 2007 and it seems to be a perennial bestseller. Recommended!
Where to find:
In the US, you can find it at Puzzle Warehouse
Outside the UK, you can find this puzzle on amazon UK for just £14.66.
If you like this puzzle, also check out Sunsout’s more recent fan-shaped puzzle with a Panda theme.