Publisher: Sunsout (US), published September, 2016
Title: “Red River Crossing” by Sam Timm, 1000 pieces
Finished size: 20″ x 27″
OUR RATING: 8/10
FALL-THEMED PUZZLES WEEK:
Fall is my favorite time of year and I know I’m not alone. This week we’re getting into the fall season by reviewing fall-themed puzzles. This weekend we’ll have a ‘top ten’ list of the best fall-themed puzzles on the market right now! Let’s get started with this review of a brand new puzzle from Sunsout
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.
Three of the sides are the same, showing a tiny image of the puzzle, puzzle name, artist name, piece count, finished size, and Sunsout logo. The fourth side has a bar code. Sunsout does a good job of promoting their artists and I like how prominent the artist’s name is on this box cover and sides. Unfortunately the year of manufacture isn’t given. “Red River Crossing” was just released in September 2016.
The back of the box is plain white and made of a thinner cardboard.
Nothing comes inside the Sunsout box except the bag of puzzle pieces and a very small paper slip with the company url and a short blurb. There was some puzzle dust. The pieces were fully separated and undamaged.
The Image: 8/10
Sam Timm is an Americana artist who paints nostalgic rural scenes that often have birds as a feature element. His art has been made into many lovely puzzles by brands like Springbok, White Mountain, Sunsout, and Bits and Pieces. You can see more Sam Timm puzzles here.
When I saw the new Sunouts Fall catalog this year, this Sam Timm puzzle was my favorite of the new fall-themed puzzles. I love the orange and gold fall leaves, birds, covered bridge, and peaceful rural feeling of this image. It’s a lovely puzzle to work on as September finally starts to cool down!
I’ve given this image an 8 score. It’s a very pretty image, and I love the bright orange leaves and the overall fall palette. My only niggle is I would have preferred to see a little more detail/color in the sky and in the dark green parts to break those sections up. I’ll talk more about that in Assembly.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (9/10)
Sunsout did well in our brand comparison. You can see our full brand comparison on Sunsout here.
The Sunsout puzzles I’ve done this year have all been of very good quality. The pieces are thick and sturdy and undamaged out of the box. I like their random cut, preferring it over a grid cut. As you can see in the close-up below, Sunsout cut has a wide range of piece shapes from short and straight to long and slanted and various configuration of knobs. This makes the puzzle more interesting to assemble, plus it means there’s less of a change for a piece to appear to go where it doesn’t actually fit.
The finish is flat and not as seamless as Ravensburger or Jumbo, but not super distracting when you look at the final puzzle as a whole. The colors and image reproduction are good. There is a glossy finish and glare, which was more of an issue on this particular puzzle because of large sections of darker green. It was difficult to distinguish the variation in the dark colors when working the puzzle at night under overhead lights.
As usual, the fit is tight, making it easy to move joined pieces around.
I’m giving a 9 score to quality in this puzzle.
This puzzle is of moderate difficulty mainly due to the large areas of sky and dark green. It took me three evenings.
I assembled the border first. I had extra time, so I started on the brightest red/orange bits and put together the covered bridge, the red birds, and the reddest leaves.
The covered bridge and yellow field at the center of the puzzle are very easy to assemble. The white horizontal lines in the field are helpful for piece orientation.
The bird feathers are easy to recognize with a different red than the bridge or leaves.
In my second session, I tackled part of the sky and worked on the leaves a bit more.
There is a slight color gradation in the sky from yellowish near the bridge to more blue at the top. There are also sections of sky that have some tree leaves on the far left and right side of the image. Still, there is quite a large area of unbroken blueish-white sky, as you can see below. It wasn’t impossible thanks to Sunsout very odd piece shapes. Looking for the right shape helped speed up assembly. But it was moderately difficult. It would have been nice to see more color gradation or some birds to break up the sky area.
I completed the puzzle during my third session. It was mostly the darker areas of the puzzle that were left. The brightest of the fall leaves got done early on, but the darker and less distinct fall leaves were still left to do. The leaves are a little tricky because they cover a wide area and the individual leaves have similar colors. It’s not immediately apparent what leaf a piece belongs to. The best strategy is to work on connecting individual leaf pieces to each other–for example, match up exact shades of rust or blue vein lines. Once you have a grouping of three or more pieces, you can compare it to the box cover and start to recognize what leaf that is and put it where it goes in the composition. The art style is loose so the details in the leaves are sketchy rather than super detailed.
The most difficult area of the puzzle, however, was the areas of green pine needles and similarly colored dark green grass. These sections run along the right side of the puzzle, the upper left, and are a background behind the fall leaves. There’s some blue frosting on the needles, which helps a bit. But the needles are comprised of a random pattern which makes more visual sense once assembled than it does in pieces. Working the puzzle at night under overhead lights, with the glossy finish of Sunsout, made the dark colors hard to distinguish. The slightly brighter green of the tops of the needles didn’t stand out much from the darker green of underneath.
The dark areas of this puzzle aren’t so large that it was ultimately frustrating, but some berries or other items to break up the dark green would have been nice.
I’ve given this puzzle an 8 for assembly. I enjoyed piecing together the fall-ish sections like the orange leaves, the birds, bridges, and field. It’s got a good mix of easy and moderately difficult sections.
Red River Crossing is a lovely fall-themed puzzle featuring gold-orange leaves, brightly-colored birds, and a peaceful covered bridge scene. It has easy sections and moderately difficult sections like the blue sky and dark green pine needles. The Sunsout quality is very good with thick, sturdy pieces, excellent color reproduction, and a fun random piece cut. The pieces are on the normal-to-large side and easy to hold. The art by Sam Timm is sure to get you in the mood for fall. Recommended.
Where to find:
This puzzle is 15% off for the next 3 days (through 9/30/2016).