Review: “Roll Out The Barrel” by Ray Cresswell, House of Puzzles – 9.25/10

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_box

Publisher: House of Puzzles (Scotland)

Title:  “Roll Out The Barrel” by Ray Cresswell, 1000 pieces

Review by Jane

OUR RATING: 9.25/10

Box Quality:  (9/10)
The box is shown above. It’s a fairly large rectangular box about the size of the typical Ravensburger or Jumbo box. Each House of Puzzles box has a different base color and this one, as you can see, is pine green. The name of the artist isn’t on the front, but you can see it signed in the lower right of the image.

Sides:

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_box2

The name of the puzzle, image, and piece count are on all sides. The HOP logo is on a long and a short side so you have have that face-out no matter how you shelve it. The artist name is only in the small copyright info.

Back:

The back of the box is plain white.

Inside the box:

Besides the bag of puzzle pieces, there’s also a full-sized, full-color mini catalog of puzzles that were released at the same time as this one (HOP names each release a “collection”, though they don’t really have much in common other than release date). There’s also a “lost piece replacement” guarantee card, which, as anyone who has ever lost a piece knows, is invaluable!

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_insert

The Image: 9/10

I’m very fond of British nostalgia artists like Ray Cresswell, Trevor Mitchell, Steve Crisp, and Jim Mitchell. Maybe it’s because I grew up reading Agatha Christie and Jane Austen, but I actually prefer British nostalgia puzzles to Americana puzzles, even though I’m American.  Ray Cresswell does a lot of puzzles for HOP and no other puzzle company that I’m aware of. I like his style a lot because I love color, especially in puzzles, and he uses very bright colors. There’s a slightly cartoony feeling to his art style that I like as well.

This particular image shows a small British village where a delivery of ale is being made. I like the large green truck in the center, the red car, and the distance scene with the church, bridge and horse rider. There’s plenty of detail in the scene and no large boring areas.

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_MainWeb

Above: The completed puzzle. Click for closer view.

Puzzle Quality: 9/10

My favorite thing about the House of Puzzles brand is the very usual piece shapes. This is obviously not a grid-cut puzzle. But beyond that, they have some really different piece shapes–some don’t even have any knobs or holes!  No other cardboard puzzle company has shapes like this. You can see in the close-up below the usual shapes at the driver’s door of the red car and in the window below the “Flowers” sign. It makes for a nice change from the usual Ravensburger or Gibsons  shapes.

The HOP pieces are not as thick as Ravensburger or Gibson, but they don’t feel skimpy or fragile. The fit is never confusing, but you do have to use care when moving pieces around, especially since some of the special pieces are held in place only by the pieces around them. It feels very solid once assembled though.  (See our full brand comparison for HOP here.)

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_CU1Web

Assembly: 10/10

I’m giving full marks in this category in appreciation of the unusually shaped pieces! Overall, it’s a fun and fairy easy puzzle to assemble because there’s lots of small areas of distinct color and pattern–like the roof tiles, green truck, wishing well, sky, tree, etc. It’s pretty much a matter of assembling lots of small areas and hooking them together. But the colors are bright and easy to work with and I really do love the little extra twist of the unusual piece shapes.

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_CU2Web

Additional Images:

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_CU3Web

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_CU4Web

Conclusion

House of Puzzles/Ray Cresswell puzzles are a special treat for me, and I value them as part of my collection. Sometimes I get an anglophile craving, and I just want to relax with an HOP and some vintage village scenery.  This is a very pretty puzzle and among my favorite Ray Cresswell’s. Recommended.

HOP_RollOutTheBarrel_RF

Where to find:

House of Puzzles is difficult to get in the US, unfortunately. For a while there was a UK seller putting them on Amazon US, but they didn’t put up the fall 2015 puzzles. And for some reason, Amazon UK carries them but won’t ship them to the US.

Your best bet is ebay, though most of the sellers there charge a lot for shipping. You can also order from the UK shop Bright Gift Ideas. They ship internationally and are willing to combine shipping.

JJ

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