Publisher: Buffalo Games (US), published 2016
Title: “Christmas Village” by Nicky Boehme, Buffalo Games, 750 pieces
Finished size: 38.25″ x 11.25″
OUR RATING: 8.5/10
Christmas Puzzle Week #1
Our theme on the blog this week is Christmas puzzles. Yup, it’s that time of year! There are so many great Christmas puzzles on the market, and a lot of new ones this year too. I’ll be reviewing two Christmas puzzles this week and on the weekend there will be a “top ten” (or twenty) Christmas puzzles this season. I’ll be covering more Christmas puzzles up through the end of year.
“Christmas Village” Review
Our first Christmas puzzle reviewed this year is a brand new one from Buffalo Games. I like the panoramic shape of this puzzle. It reminds me of the WHSmith limited edition Christmas puzzles, which are impossible to get in the US. The size count, at 750 pieces, is a nice mid-point for most puzzles. It’s a very soft and pretty image as well, and it’s from Buffalo Games, which always has good quality. So let’s check it out!
Box Quality: (8/10)
The Buffalo Games boxes are very sturdy and have nice packaging design. Their usual 1000 piece box is small at 8″ x 8″. But this puzzle has a long, rectangular box to go with the panoramic puzzle inside. The box size is 15.5″ x 7.5″.
The front, which you can see above, has the “Holiday Collection” logo and the Buffalo Games logo, which is nice. I like that Buffalo has created a series for their Christmas puzzles to make them easier to find. The name of the puzzle, “Christmas Village”, is also on the front. The name of the artist is not shown anywhere on the box except for a small copyright notice on one side.
The back of the box has a generic Buffalo Games back (below).
The sides have a photo of the puzzle and the”Holiday Collection” logo. Only the long sies has the puzzle name and piece count. I would shelve this short side out, so I wish the puzzle name, artist name, and piece count has been on the short side. The artist name only appears in very small print in the copyright notice by the bar code.
The box is glued shut on the sides (instead of being shrink wrapped) and it has to be cut with a knife. I was a little surprised to open this box and find nothing but the loose pieces. Most Buffalo Games puzzles include a poster, but this one did not. Possibly they reasoned this is a larger box (it is longer though not wider), but still the box image is 4″ x15″. Four inches is a little small for a reference photo. The art work is in a fairly loose style, so some of the building details were challenging to see on the box lid.
Overall, I’ve given the box an 8/10. I like the design and it will stand up in storage, but I would have liked to have a poster included and to see the artist’s name more prominent.
The Image: 9/10
Nicky Boehme is an American artist who creates landscape oil paintings that can be classified as Americana/nostalgia. Her work has some similarities to Thomas Kinkaid, though Nicky Boehme’s style is distinctive. You can see more examples of her artwork here. Her art has been made into puzzles by WHSmith, Bits and Pieces, Sunsout, and other brands.
As I mentioned above, when Buffalo Games announced this puzzle, I was excited about it. It reminds me of the WHSmith limited edition Christmas puzzles, which are also panoramic. In fact, Nickey Boehme did their 2008 puzzle. You can see it here. It’s very difficult to get the WHSmith puzzles over in the States, so it’s nice to see Buffalo Games offer something similar that is avaliable for a good price point here in the US.
The image shows an intersection of streets in a snowy town. There are quaint old buildings, Christmas greenery with lights, assorted characters, a horse-drawn sleigh, a snowman, and other holiday tropes in this image. I like the soft, painterly style and the wintery vibe of this scene. And the panoramic shape is a nice change.
I’ve given the image a score of 9.
(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 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 spot on.
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 ‘zig 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 average–neither particularly tight or lose. If you try to move small groups of pieces around they will fall apart unless you’re very careful.
The final finish is fairly flat and seamless. The finish is glossy, which can lead to glare under overhead lights, but that didn’t cause a problem with this puzzle because there aren’t a lot of dark areas.
Overall, puzzle quality scores a high 9 out of 10.
My difficulty rating for this puzzle is: EASY. It took me about one-and-a-half sessions.
I assembled the border of the puzzle first and then the buildings. The various buildings each have a different texture and color of brick or stucco. I also did all the characters and animals. Basically everything except the snow, greenery, and sky.
On the central building, the windows, sign, and white beams help make it easy to assemble.
The building below has green shutters and an unusual rooftop and balcony. it reminds me of a Western town.
The part of the village that’s in the background on the right is very loosely sketched and a bit hard to see in the box lid image.
The characters are all easy to identify thanks to the unique outfits.
On the second day I completed the puzzle. The areas that were “left for the end” included the background trees and sky, the greenery of the large Christmas tree and bush on the left, and all the white snow in the street. These areas weren’t particularly difficult, just not as easy as the colored characters and buildings.
The trees in the background on the left have a white feathery pattern which makes that area distinct.
Overall, I’ve rated assembly an 8 score. It’s a pleasant and quick holiday puzzle, and a nice way to warm up for the Christmas season!
“Christmas Village” is a lovely holiday puzzle from artist Nicky Boehme and Buffalo Games that’s easy to assemble. The beautiful and nostagic wintery scene is from an oil painting, and it brings back wonderful memories of Christmas’s past. Buffalo Games’s quality is very good with sturdy pieces and a well-designed box. The puzzle has a grid cut with a nice variety of piece shapes including a few zig-zag shaped pieces. The panoramic design of this puzzle makes for a nice change from the usual rectangular size. No poster is included in this box, and the box image is a little on the small side, but I didn’t have too much difficulty with that. Recommended to all fans of Christmas puzzles.
Where to find:
This puzzle is 15% off at Puzzle Warehouse (thru 11/19/2016). Click below for the sale page.