Review: “Whistle Stop Christmas” by Charles Wysocki — Buffalo Games 9.25/10

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Publisher: Buffalo Games (US), published 2016

Title:  “Whistle Stop Christmas” by Charles Wysocki, Buffalo Games, 500 pieces 

Finished size: 21.25″ x 15″

OUR RATING: 9.25/10

Box Quality:  (9/10)

The Buffalo Games boxes are very sturdy and have nice packaging design. The box is small at 8″ x 8″, but it comes with a poster inside so you don’t need to depend on the image on the box lid. The front, which you can see above, has the “Holiday Collection” logo, the Charles Wysocki logo, and the Buffalo Games logo. The name of the puzzle, “Whistle Stop Christmas”, is not shown on the front.

Back:

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

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Sides:

The sides all have the Charles Wysocki logo prominent and large. The puzzle name is shown on two sides. There’s also the Buffalo Games logo (but only on the sides that don’t have the puzzle name), the piece count, and a picture of the image. I like the way the image is featured with both a closer view for detail, and a smaller thumbnail of the whole image, on the side with the Buffalo logo.

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Inside:

The box is glued shut on the sides (instead of being shrink wrapped) and it has to be cut with a knife. Inside the box the pieces are packed loose (not inside a bag) and there’s also a poster. You can see the poster below. It’s good size, nearly as big as the finished puzzle. The poster shows a few other Charles Wysocki puzzles too. The back of the poster is blank white.

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Overall, I’ve given the box an 9/10. I particularly like the poster and the way Wysocki’s name is used so prominently, like a series name. When the puzzle comes with a poster included like this, I prefer the smaller box because it takes up less space in my collection.

The Image:  10/10

This is a fantasic image from Charles Wysocki. I like a great many of his images, but this one is particularly nice. I love the Christmas theme, of course, but also the wintry snow, the color palette of white and red and green and orange, and all the wonderful characters. There are larger characters in this composition than we usually see in a Wysocki image–particularly the ladies in the foreground. There are many wonderful figures in this painting, each in a unique and authentic period costume.

The art style is wonderful with high-quality line art created by hand–nothing digital here. The faces and small details are so much fun to examine as you assemble the puzzle.

I’ve given the image a perfect 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 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.

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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.

Assembly:  (9/10)

My difficulty rating for this puzzle is: EASY. It took me a single session to complete it.

I assembled the border of the puzzle first and then the red train station. There are a lot of red pieces, but the train station has various horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, the black sign, windows, greenery, and bows, all of which help break up the red wall and keep assembly fun and interesting.

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I always like the titling and font work in Wysocki images. There isn’t a ton of it in this image, but the train station sign is nice and easy to locate thanks to the black background.

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The windows all have similar framing and orange glass, which adds a little interest, figuring out which window a specific piece belongs to. The Christmas tree with colored lights is a nice unique texture.

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After the red building, I did the sky with the smoke cloud and awesome orange horizon. It wasn’t necessary to refer to the box lid for this section. You can just relax and match up pieces by color.

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The characters and the train came next. There are similar colors used throughout, but if you compare a piece to the box lid, it’s clear where it goes. My favorite characters were the group of four happy ladies below.

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On the lower right side there’s a large grouping of figures with gift boxes, suitcases, a sleigh, and horse. As I mentioned above, I especially liked the larger figures, like the lady in the lower right. The costumes and faces are all so detailed.

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The last part of the puzzle to come together was the remaining white pieces of snow and white sky. But there aren’t many white pieces that don’t have a tip or hint of some color on them, or at least a shadow on the snow. The snow plow on the front of the train was a nice, authentic feature.

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I’ve rated assembly a 9. It was a fun and easy puzzle, perfect for a single session. There’s lots of detail and color throughout the image that kept things interesting til the end, and cute things to discover as you go.

Summary:

“Whistle Stop Christmas” is a sweet holiday puzzle from artist Charles Wysocki and Buffalo Games. It’s an easy puzzle to assemble with 500 pieces and strong color and detail that makes it clear where each piece goes. I love the theme of people arriving home for Christmas. As you assemble the puzzle, you’ll smile at the happiness on all the individual faces. The unique costumes and expressions are delightful. I partricularly liked the orange sky on the horizon, the red train station with all the windows, bows, and detailing, and the wintery “white Christmas” snow. The Buffalo Games quality is very good with grid cut pieces and a nice box that comes with a poster. Recommended to all fans of Christmas puzzles.

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Where to find:

Find it at Puzzle Warehouse. Click on the logo below.

PWLOGO

JJ

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