Review: “Summer House” by Steve Crisp, Sunsout – 9/10

Sunsout_SummerHouse-Box1

Publisher: Sunsout (US), published 2015

Title:  “Summer House” by Steve Crisp, 1000 pieces shaped

Finished size: 35.25″ x 26.75″

OUR RATING: 9/10

STEVE CRISP WEEK & GIVEAWAY:

This week we’re featuring puzzle artist Steve Crisp! I’m very excited about it. I’ll be reviewing two Steve Crisp puzzles this week, and on the weekend we have an interview with the man himself. How awesome is that?  Click here to see my past coverage of Steve Crisp puzzles.

In addition, we’ll be giving away a copy of the Steve Crisp puzzle “Market Day” from White Mountain this week, courtesy of Puzzle Warehouse. To enter to win, comment on one, two, or all three Steve Crisp blog posts this week. Your name will be entered in a hat for each blog post you comment on. I’ll draw a name next Monday. You must be able to ship to a US mailing address to qualify. Also check back Monday for the winner, or email me, because I can’t reach you unless you send me your email address. You can email me at jigsawjunkieblog@gmail.com.

Note 8/8/2016: The winner of the giveaway was RandyR and he claimed his puzzle. Thanks for participating!

scene in a greengrocer's shop in 1950's.

 

Box Quality:  (7/10)

The Sunsout boxes are very large and square in shape. They’re oversized compared to most boxes on the market. This takes up more shelf space but also provides a nice big image when you use the box lid for reference.

Sides:

Three of the sides are the same, showing an image of the puzzle, puzzle name, artist, piece count, finished size, and Sunsout logo. The fourth side has a bar code. I like how prominent the artist’s name is on this box!

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Back:

The back of the box is plain white and made of a thinner cardboard.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-Box2

Inside:

Nothing comes inside the box except the bag of puzzle pieces and a small paper slip with the company url and a short blurb. I did not notice any puzzle dust in my bag of pieces. The pieces were fully separated and undamaged.

 

The Image:  9/10

We’re celebrating Steve Crisp this week, one of my favorite artists in the British nostalgia genre. He does beautiful, high-detail digital illustrations. A few years ago he had a Christmas house puzzle (see it here). The “Summer House” is a newer image, probably created because of the popularity of “Christmas House”. This is a popular image and several puzzle manufacturers offer it, but Sunsout’s version is shaped so I wanted to give it a try.

The ‘cut away building’ motif has been used in puzzles before. Gale Pitt did a series of cut away doll houses, and there have also been cartoon puzzles with cut away buildings from artists like Jan Van Haasteren and Loup. It’s an idea that works well for puzzles because it essentially breaks the scene up into smaller vignettes–the contents of each room. So you get both a collage puzzle and a scenic puzzle in one.

I really like this “Summer House” image with the various cozy rooms. Each room has different colors and furniture plus you have the thatched roof and the half-timbered walls of the house which make separate puzzle areas. It’s a cohesive scene but provides lots of separate bits to puzzle. I’ve dinged one point because some of the areas of the illustration, like the cupboard in the kitchen, get quite blurry, yet other areas of the house at a similar depth are crystal clear, which gives it a “Photoshopped” feeling.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-mainjpg

(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)

Puzzle Quality: (10/10)

Sunsout did well in our brand comparison. You can see our full brand comparison on Sunsout here.

I like the Sunsout quality a great deal, but especially on their shaped puzzles. The pieces feel thick and very sturdy. There’s no bending of knobs, warping, or image lift. I also particularly like the very random cut. I reviewed a White Mountain Steve Crisp this week, and White Mountain has a random cut, but by comparison Sunsout is really a crazy cut, in a very good way! As you can see below, some pieces can be almost the size of two pieces and some are small. The pieces along the shaped edge are especially interesting.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-CU11

Also, I got a surprise with this puzzle. One thing I haven’t seen in Sunsout puzzles before are whimsies. Whimsies are pieces shaped like objects such as a star, cat, or car. This puzzle has them! Look at the image below. There’s a dog-shaped piece I circled in red. I also circled two pieces that aren’t an object (I don’t think) but have particularly interesting shapes. The only other company I know of who does whimsies (besides the wooden puzzle makers) are The House of Puzzles out of Scotland. So I was very excited to see whimsies in a Sunsout puzzles. I’ve given them an extra quality point for that.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-shaped

Below: a bird-shaped whimsy. And look at that lovely irregular edge on the tree.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-whim2

 

Assembly:  (10/10)

Assembly was a joy on this puzzle. I love shaped puzzles, and it’s always extra-fun to do one after I’ve done a bunch of rectangular puzzles in a row. The quality on this was also a pleasure to work with, and then there’s the Steve Crisp illustration and the cut-away-house vignette design. All those things are favorites of mine.

I’d rate this puzzle as easy-to-moderate. Most of the puzzle is easy except for the last bits! (more below) It’s not a fast puzzle to assemble necessarily. It takes a little time and patience. It took me three sessions. Let’s look at the progression.

DAY ONE:

Unfortunately, I didn’t grab a photo after my first session, but the first things I put together were the green pine tree on the left and the green-and-flowers border along the bottom of the puzzle. Since this is a shaped puzzle, you can’t do the ‘border’ first, so it’s best to just pull out the brightest color areas. In this case, the greenery acts as a border on a few sides anyway.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-CU7

Sunsout_SummerHouse-CU1

After doing the greenery, I did the brick that surrounded the front door and the two windows there (but not yet the thatched roof, which looks like all the other thatch).

Sunsout_SummerHouse-CU8

DAY TWO:

Sunsout_SummerHouse-WIP3

Having completed the green tree and lawn, and the brick and windows near the front door, my second session was spent on the interior rooms. The gold living room, green kitchen, yellow-and-purple bedroom on the left, the pink-and-blue nursery on the right, and the wood-paneled den in the center of the house, are all distinctive vignettes. The pieces are easy to identify and pull out and all the rooms are small enough to be easy to assemble.

The brick chimneys and upper story window were put together while I was working on the brick and windows near the front door.

DAY THREE:

The final session was all about piecing together the half-timbered exterior walls of the house and the thatched roof. Without these areas, this would have been an ‘easy’ rated puzzle, but these areas were a little more challenging. The black-and-white half-timbering is easy to find, but it pops up in various places around the house.

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Similarly, all the thatching has a similar texture and color, so it takes a bit more work to figure out what goes where. But it’s good to have a little challenge in a puzzle. The birds on the roof help too.

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I’ve given this puzzle full ’10’ marks for assembly. It was fun and very unique.

Additional Images:

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Summary:

Sunsout presents “Summer House” by Steve Crisp as a house-shaped puzzle. I love the irregular border on shaped puzzles and this one is quite fun with the pine tree, roof of the house, and flower beds providing the border. The quality of the puzzle is excellent with thick pieces and a crazy fun random cut. The cut includes whimsies–pieces shaped like dogs, birds, trees, and other objects. The image reproduction is wonderful with bright colors and sharp details. The beautiful illustration by Steve Crisp makes a great puzzle. The various colored rooms in the house are separate vignettes you can piece together. The rooms are easy, but the half-timbered exterior walls and thatched roof provide a little more challenge. This is an unusual puzzle that goes above and beyond the standard rectangular, grid-cut puzzle. Highly recommended.

Sunsout_SummerHouse-RF

Where to find:

Click below to see the puzzle on Puzzle Warehouse.

PWLOGO

JJ

 

27 responses to Review: “Summer House” by Steve Crisp, Sunsout – 9/10

  1. Nancy Bowers says:

    I am hooked on jigsaw puzzles! love your website and your comments. I’m 70 and just started doing them. I’m only doing 500 pieces, just bought my first 1,000 piece one. Enjoy your website.

  2. RandyR says:

    Nice puzzle. I too like whimsies. The two unknown ones look like a fish (in two pieces) and an apple, upside down.

  3. Chris says:

    I just ordered several puzzles from Puzzle Warehouse this week so I’m going to have to put this on my wish list. I love the whimsies! I haven’t seen that before.

  4. DebbyZ says:

    I don’t really care for whimsies or extremely odd pieces. On the other end I really hate those puzzles with only one piece shape! I do like the inside the house views and have done several puzzles featuring them. One of my favorites is Higgledy Piggledy House by Colin Thompson (Ravensburger). Love, love, love your reviews. Please keep doing what you’re doing!

  5. Stacey says:

    I love the craziness of the random cut in this puzzle! I haven’t worked a sunsout puzzle before, but this puzzle has been added to my ever growing wish list!

  6. Troop113 says:

    This is an interesting puzzle. I’ve never tried a shaped puzzle before. Out of curiosity, you said it took you three sessions…do you mind telling roughly how long a session is?

  7. Genae says:

    I bought this puzzle several months ago and had a very hard time with the pieces staying together. They were loose and if the puzzle got bumped at all, they fell apart. I ordered the same puzzle by Gibsons rather than SunsOut and it was far superior. It didn’t have the shaped roof or odd shaped pieces but it was a much better product to work with.

    • Hi, Genae. I’m sorry to hear that. That’s very odd. My pieces fit tightly and I’ve never had that problem with Sunsout. I wonder if perhaps there’s a difference depending on where it is in the production run.

  8. Deanne says:

    Very cute puzzle! I have several other Steve Crisp puzzles and I must put this in my wish list. Thanks for all the reviews. They are very helpful and I really enjoy them.

  9. Jacqui M says:

    Hi Jane. Gibsons have also done a very similar version of this one (just a couple of differences including the name) which I have completed and loved. Usual great Gibson s quality and like you I think Steve Crisp is great. I really like it when they do variations of the same theme. There’s a link to the image here but you might also be able to get this in the States?: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Gibsons-Behind-Closed-Jigsaw-1000-Piece/dp/B018FPKIO4/ref=sr_1_17?ie=UTF8&qid=1470380699&sr=8-17&keywords=gibson+puzzles+1000+pieces

    Now just have to see if I can find the Sunsout one!😄

    Jacqui

    • Hi, Jacqui – Yes, Gibsons does have a version of Summer House too in a rectangular puzzle. I liked the large size and shaped outline of this one, but I’m sure the Gibsons is great. They’re a wonderful brand.

  10. Nancy says:

    Those pieces are really oddly shaped! Is that typical of SunsOut puzzles? It looks great…I’ve never tried a shaped puzzle before. I do like Steve Crisp’s puzzle though.

    • Hi, Nancy — Sunsout puzzles have a random cut, but this is the ‘most random’ I’ve ever seen in their puzzles and the whimsies are new. Fun.

  11. Stanleyzet says:

    Greetings from Singapore! Whimsy – that’s interesting. Sounds like advanced jigsawspeak to me! Got me interested in Sunsout and House of Puzzles 🙂

    Thanks for the work put into this blog – it got me hooked on puzzles! Me thinks more people will appreciate a jigsaw puzzle greater if you could do a post on the process of manufacturing a puzzle, a behind-the-scenes of a prominent puzzle company.

  12. Note 8/8/2016: The winner of the giveaway was RandyR and he claimed his puzzle. Thanks for participating!

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