Review: “Trick or Treat Hotel” by Charles Wysocki, Buffalo Games – 9.25/10

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Publisher: Buffalo Games (US), published 2016

Title:  “Trick or Treat Hotel” by Charles Wysocki, Buffalo Games, 500 pieces 

Finished size: 21.25″ x 15″

OUR RATING: 9.25/10

Halloween Puzzle Week

Our theme on the blog this week is Halloween puzzles. Yay!  I’ve been looking forward to covering this topic. I love this time of year and I love Halloween. There aren’t too many Halloween puzzles that come in adult sizes. This week we’re going to focus on the best out there. I’ll be reviewing two Halloween puzzles during the week and on the weekend I’ll have a top ten list of Halloween puzzles on the market.

Box Quality:  (9/10)

The Buffalo Games box, at 8″ x 8″, is smaller than most brands’ boxes. The smaller size saves room on the shelf. The fact that the puzzle image on the front is also smaller doesn’t matter with Buffalo, because a poster is included in the box. The front of the box is shown above. The design if very attractive.

Charles Wysocki is a popular sub-brand of Buffalo Games, and his name logo is prominent on the front and sides of the box. The year of manufacture is not listed anywhere.

Back:

The back of the box has a generic Buffalo Games back (below).

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Sides:

The sides have a photo of the puzzle, the puzzle name, artist name, and piece count. The Buffalo Games logo is on two sides so you can shelve the puzzle  facing out.

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Inside:

The box comes with a good-sized poster which can be used for reference when assembling the puzzle. That’s particularly nice when you’re working the puzzle with another person since one person can use the box lid and the other person can use the poster.

The poster is shown in the photo below. It has the puzzle image to use during assembly and shows a few other Wysocki puzzles. The back of the poster is blank white.

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Overall, I’ve given the box an 9/10 score. I love the added poster but dislike cutting the box open. The prominence of the Wysocki name has added a point over other Buffalo Games boxes where it’s difficult to find the artist’s name.

The Image:  10/10

I first saw this Wysocki Halloween image on ebay on an older Milton Bradley puzzle that was long out of print. The price on it was crazy–several hundred dollars. I didn’t bid on it, but I loved the look of the puzzle and wished someone would reprint it. So when Buffalo Games announced this new puzzles a few months ago, I was thrilled. I would have liked a 1000 or even a 2000 piece version as well, but this 500 piece version is quite a nice little challenge in its own right.

There’s lots to love about this image. Being a Wysocki, there’s plenty of fine detail and the art style is impeccable. The scene is filled with fantastical creatures siting in the trees, on top of the house, and in front of it. The spooky old mansion in orange is surrounded by a forest with a hanging Spanish moss/cobweb vibe. And there are little Halloween touches, like a graveyard and pumpkins, throughout. I like the adult style of the art, which reminds me a little of Edward Gorey. The palette is very pleasing–lots of fall/Halloween colors without being neon bright and childlike. I’ve given this image a full 10 score.

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

Puzzle Quality: (9/10)

You can see my brand page for Buffalo Games here.  This brand new 2016 500-piece puzzle is fully compatible with the puzzles I reviewed for my brand analysis. The quality is very good, the pieces feel sturdy, the box and contents are undamaged and in great condition, and the artwork reproduction is perfect. The cut is the same as their 1000 piece puzzle cut, as you can see in the close-up below. It’s a standard grid-cut puzzle that has a few ‘zip zag’ sided pieces. There’s a good variety of piece shapes throughout. I never had a question about whether or not a piece actually fit. The connections are fairly tight and you can move small groups of pieces without having them fall apart if you’re careful (but not larger sections).

The final finish is very flat and seamless, which I really value in a puzzle. I want to be able to focus on the art when a puzzle is done, and not the piece cut. On the downside, the finish is glossy so you can get glare under overhead lights. Overall, puzzle quality scores a high 9 out of 10.

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Assembly:  (9/10)

This puzzle is easy-to-moderately difficult and took me two sessions. Most of the puzzle is fairly straight forward, but the forest background is a little bit trickier.

DAY ONE:

I assembled the border of the puzzle, the mansion and the green ‘land’ areas in the foreground and to the side of the mansion. These elements are all pretty easy. The mansion has a horizontal lines, windows, roofs, and little creatures all over it, so it’s very easy to put together.

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In front of the mansion, there’s a large piece of driftwood and black carriage.

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The green areas on either side of the mansion include a path and graveyard on the left….

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…and a green area around tree roots on the right.

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DAY TWO:

I completed the puzzle in the second session, which focused on the forest behind the mansion. The forest is a bit more challenging because a lot of it is a random pattern with all the brown vertical lines and cobwebs. Still, there are lots of interruptions in this pattern, like various birds and creatures, tree limbs, and rooftops, so it’s not frustratingly hard.

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Overall, I’ve rated assembly a strong 9 score. I was really looking forward to doing this puzzle and it didn’t disappoint. It’s fun to discover all the details along the way, like the tongue-in-cheek signs–“Rooms to Ferment” and the “Pithias Bloodlust Wrinkledeath” motto on the hearse.The little unanticipated challenge in the forest made the puzzle more satisfying and rewarding to complete.

Summary:

I love this 500 piece Halloween puzzle from Charles Wysocki and Buffalo Games. The artwork has a wry, adult tone reminiscent of Edward Gorey. The scene is populated by strange creatures, pumpkins, cobwebs, and tongue-in-cheek signs like “Rooms to Ferment” and the “Pithias Bloodlust Wrinkledeath” motto on the hearse. The puzzle is mostly easy but the forest behind the mansion has a random pattern which offers a little more challenge and makes the puzzle overall more satisfying to complete. The Buffalo Games quality is quite good. The pieces feel thick and are pleasant to work with. It comes with a poster in the box so you have a larger image to work with. There is some glare off the glossy surface under strong overhead lights. This puzzle is a real treat. Highly recommended!

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Where to find:

“Trick or Treat Hotel” is 15% off at Puzzle Warehouse (thru 10/15/2016). Click below for the sale page.

PWLOGO

JJ

6 responses to Review: “Trick or Treat Hotel” by Charles Wysocki, Buffalo Games – 9.25/10

  1. Bernadette E. says:

    Oh, thank you, Jane! I really enjoyed your review! I have this puzzle but haven’t assembled it yet. I intend to get right to work! 🙂

  2. Richard says:

    I agree. This was another great Wysocki puzzle to assemble. Should make the top ten.

  3. stanley sia says:

    Was wondering when you would review this puzzle! The color tones and whimsy details hit the bullseye for me too. Thanks for this article!

    Just wondering: do you have any tips on tackling humidity? Living in the tropics means high levels of humidity, and some of the puzzles i own already have some age to them.

    • Hmm. I’m not sure. Have you tried a dehumidifier in the room where you store them? That might help. Also keeping them shrink wrapped or in a protective plastic bag when you’ve opened them.

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  1. […] that come in adult sizes. This week we’re going to focus on the best out there. We reviewed “Trick or Treat Hotel” by Charles Wysocki (Buffalo Games 2016) and “Halloween Town” by Randy Wollenmann (Vermont Christmas […]