Publisher: Piatnik (Austria), published 2012 (currently in print)
Title: “Story of Wine” by Francois Ruyer, 1000 pieces
Finished size: 26.5″ x 17.4″
OUR RATING: 8.75/10
This week I’m featuring cartoon puzzle artist Francois Ruyer. He has done puzzles with a few brands, but primarily with Austrian manufacturer Piatnik. I’ll be reviewing two Ruyer puzzles this week and I have an interview for the weekend.
“STORY OF WINE” by Francois Ruyer REVIEW
Box Quality: (8/10)
The Piatnik boxes are standard rectangular boxes similar to Ravensburger or Jumbo puzzles. You can see the front of the box above. It is a very minimalistic approach with only the image and the Piatnik logo on the front. The box is sturdy and nicely designed.
All four sides show a detail from the puzzle image, the piece count, and Piatnik logo. The name of the puzzle and artist name are shown in fine print. This design works well for shelving short or long side out. There is a copyright date for the image of 2011. The puzzle was published in 2011 or 2012.
The bottom shows other puzzles from Piatnik.
There’s nothing in the box except the bag of puzzle pieces. The bag of pieces was in excellent condition with no damage to the pieces, fully separated pieces, and a moderate amount of puzzle dust.
I’ve given the box an 8 score. It’s good but a bit minimalistic. It would have been nice to have a small artist bio somewhere, especially since Piatnik features a lot of Francois Ruyer puzzles.
The Image: 10/10
Ruyer has done many cute puzzles, but this is one of the cutest, I think. The scene is set in the wine country of France and is filled with various references to wine. The colors are really appealing, especially with the purple and reds of the wine. As usual with Ruyer, it’s packed with unique characters with lots of personality. I particularly like this image because the characters are human here, not bunnies or witches or elves (though I like those too).
There are some helpful sub-sections worked into the image–the buildings, the fields and sky in the background, the green grass, and the white dress and tablecloth. These areas help break up the assembly process. But there’s still tons of challenge thanks to all the big red noses, stick arms, googly eyes, and similarly hued costumes. I loved examining all the small gags in the image as I assembled it. The colors are bright and cheerful.
As usual with Ruyer, the execution is perfect with excellent line art and coloring.
This cartoon image gets perfect 10!
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (8/10)
Piatnik did well in our brand comparison. You can see our full brand comparison on Piatnik here.
This is a solid Austrian brand which is similar to the German brand Ravensburger. The pieces are slightly smaller than Ravensburger (their 1000 piece puzzles are 27″ x 20″ while this Piatnik is 26.5″ x 17.4″). But the pieces didn’t feel particularly small to me as I worked it.
The pieces are thick and sturdy and the finish is more of a matte finish. The fit is tighter than some brands, like Heye, and it’s not too hard to move assembled pieces around without them falling apart. The puzzle is grid cut, and mostly of the two-knob, two-hole variety, with some other shapes here and there. The image reproduction is perfect.
I absolutely did have the situation where pieces appeared to fit where they did not belong while working this puzzle. There are a lot of two-knob, two-hole pieces that are quite similar. This was really only an issue in areas of the image that had a repeating pattern, such as the red tile roofs. I’ll get more into that in assembly. But I did deduct an additional point in quality for that issue. It makes the puzzle more challenging, which I really don’t mind. I liked the challenge. But it’s an issue that might bug some puzzlers.
Overall, I’m giving this puzzle an 8 score for quality.
I’d rate this puzzle as quite difficult. It took me four sessions to complete it. A relative who was visiting spent hours working at it without finding many pieces, plus putting pieces in the wrong place, which is easy to do. Since I worked this puzzle over Thanksgiving, when we had a full house, I didn’t get photos of the work in progress. But I’ll endeaver to give you a good taste of how it went!
I began with the border, as usual. The border was straight forward to assemble. After the border, the first area I tackled was the blue sky and distant mountains, since there was very little of that, and then the tiled rooftops.
There are a few areas of red tiled roofs — on the buiding in the upper right….
…and the restaurant in the mid left. The tiles are a random pattern, and because of the Piatnik cut, with so many similar two-knob, two-hole pieces, a piece could look like it fit when it didn’t. A relative of mine who was working the puzzle with me got a lot of the roof in incorrectly and it had to be redone. I think this would be a common issue with people who are not used to doing jigsaws. I did find the piece fit a bit confusing on these random areas.
The green fields in the distance have a distinct pattern and went in next, since they are adjacent to the blue hills. The green grapes are distinctive too, and betwen those and the background fields, I got in the horses and carriages and most of the little men carrying grapes. (And they are cute too–notice the Santa Claus figure.)
The rest of the buildings went in on day two, including the bone-colored castle walls, and the red and white restaurant front. The buildings were straight-forward to assemble and the pieces were easy to recognize in the sorting bins.
Next came the big wooden wine tub and the figures in it. The figures in the tub have bright costumes that aren’t really repeated elsewhere, so the pieces weren’t hard to find.
The wine fountain can be done at the same time since it has that same grape colored wine.
At this point there was a ton of pieces with partial characters on them left to do, so I decided to focus on a background instead. I tried to piece together all the green grass. As a result, many of the little characters got “started”.
There’s a large area of white in the middle of the composition consisting of the bride’s dress and tablecloth. This is another good background color to tackle to set in some anchoring pieces.
After doing the buildings, distant fields, green grass, big wine tub, fountain, and white area, what was left was pretty much characters. I enjoyed this phase of the puzzle, but it goes a little slower with lots of comparing pieces to the box. There are some very distinctive costumes such as tuxedos, the soldier’s uniforms…
…and some brightly colored dresses.
Even though this was a quite challenging puzzle, I really had a lot of fun assembling it. There’s so much to discover in the art as you go along and it always keeps your attention looking for that one piece.
I’ve given assembly a 9 score.
If you’ve up for a challenge, “Story of Wine” by Francois Ruyer is a ton of fun. The image is super cute with lots of crazy characters and vibrant color. There are plenty of jokes and mini-stories to reveal as you assemble the pieces. The Piatnik quality is very good with thick, sturdy pieces, a grid cut, a fairly tight fit, and a nice matte finish. However, there are lots of similar two-knob, two-hole pieces which make a few areas, like the random red tiles on the roofs, challenging because pieces can appear to fit where they don’t go. There’re also lots of repeating elements such as the big red noses. This isn’t a fast and easy puzzle, but it is rewarding and very satisfying to complete. Recommended if you like busy cartoon puzzles or are looking for something to keep you occupied for a good while!
Where to find:
You can find this puzzle at Puzzle Warehouse. Click on the logo below.
More from Francois Ruyer.
I’ll do a gallery this weekend of all known Ruyer puzzles. You can see all the ones at Puzzle Warehouser here.