Publisher: Bits and Pieces (US), published 2014
Title: “Young Calf and Friends”, Artist: Jack Williams, 750 pieces
OUR RATING: 9.5
In the early spring, when I’m anxious for the first daffodils and rays of heat, I like to do a Spring-themed shaped puzzle. Last year I did a ducklings one from Bits and Pieces. This year, it was this Jack Williams puzzle “Young Calf and Friends”. I just got an email notice today that this puzzle has just gone on sale for $11.99, so I thought I’d hurry up and get this review up.
Box Quality: (7/10)
The Bits and Pieces boxes, as we pointed out in our brand comparison, are just so-so. I like the fact that they are a bit smaller in size and take up less space than the European boxes. But the back of the box is blank, and the box is not as sturdy as other brands. There is nothing inside the box except the bag of puzzle pieces. I also dislike the fact that Bits and Pieces doesn’t put the year of the puzzle on the box.
On the plus side, they put the artist’s name on the front, and all sides are good for shelving with an image of the puzzle and the puzzle name.
Puzzle Quality: (8)
You can see my Bits and Pieces brand comparison here. I have a ton of Bits and Pieces pieces so I quite like the brand. I like BnP’s non-grid cut, as you can see in the close-up below, which makes the puzzle more challenging to assemble. And, in my opinion, they have the best shaped puzzles in the industry. There is never confusion over whether a piece fits or not. The pieces are not as thick as Ravensburger, but they are ‘thick enough’, and the image reproduction is good. The puzzle surface is non glare.
Click on the picture above for a close-up of the piece shapes
The Image: (10)
It’s no secret that I love BnP’s shaped puzzles. Jack Williams has done a ton of them, mostly animal themed. Compared to early shaped puzzles, the current ones have really perfected the art. I love how the shape of the puzzle really is that of a calf, with his (or her, let’s not assume) head being perfectly defined instead of sort of in a loose blob shape like some shaped puzzles. And the plants leaves and hooves at the bottom are just lovely.
Inside this ideal shape, we have lots of color and various vignettes to assemble. The Spring theme is quite nicely represented with all the colorful flowers. This image is a complete winner for me!
These shaped puzzles are not easy puzzles despite being only 750 pieces. The unusual piece cut makes the puzzle more challenging than a Ravensburger or Gibsons. But this image has so much variation that it wasn’t especially difficult to assemble. There are a lot of yellow flowers, but they have different textures. I assembled the flowers first, then the sky, the red barn, and pigs. The rest filled in from there.
I love assembling shaped puzzles and seeing the outline of the puzzle come together. It’s such a nice change from the regular box-shaped puzzle.
I gave this puzzle an additional bonus point for being shaped. The final score is quite high, 9.5. If you liked shaped puzzles, grab this one while it’s on sale! Happy Spring.
Where to find: