Review: “Christmas Fayre” by Tony Ryan, Gibsons – 9.25/10

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Publisher: Gibsons (UK), 2015

Title:  “Christmas Fayre” by Tony Ryan, 1000 pieces

Review by Jane

OUR RATING: 9.25/10

Box Quality:  (10/10)

The Gibsons boxes are of excellent quality–thick and exceptionally sturdy with a lovely design. You can see the front above. Most of their boxes (except for a few series like the Limited Edition Christmas puzzles) come in blue boxes. They make a gorgeous collection on the shelf. Note: This puzzle is Christmas themed but is not one of their annual Limited Edition Christmas puzzles, which you can see here. The front features the name of the puzzle and artist as well as the puzzle image.

The back of the box shows another copy of the image (which would come in handy if multiple people are working on the puzzle). It also has a bio of the artist and bit of information about the image too. Awesome!

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Here’s a close-up of the blurb about the artist and puzzle.

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Inside:

The box contains the bag of puzzle pieces–in excellent condition with no damaged pieces or puzzle lift–a small warranty card, and a full color mini catalog. I love getting a catalog in the box.  It’s nice to see what else is on offer, and years later it helps you find puzzles that may be out of print.

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Sides:

The sides show a thumbnail of the complete puzzle image, the piece count, Gibsons logo, and the name of the puzzle and artist. I really like being able to see the name and artist when the box is shelved with the end facing out.

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This box gets a perfect score for design, information, and durability!

The Image: 9/10

This lovely, hand-painted Christmas image from Tony Ryan has plenty of the color and detail that makes for a superb puzzle. The scene is a traditional Christmas market in a small English village. There’s lots of greenery around, from the market’s Christmas tree to the pine boughs, wreaths, and smaller trees for sale in the market. The night time colors are dramatic with a purple sky and bright yellow-orange of the booth lights. There are a lot of characters in different outfits and Christmassy items like toys, advent candles, and roasted chestnuts.

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The art is hand painted, probably an image commissioned by Gibsons. You can see the brushstrokes in the close-up below. There’s a good amount of detail as well. There are no digital shortcuts and cut-and-pasting evident in this image. I’ve given this image a high 9 score.

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Puzzle Quality: 9/10

Gibsons is one of my favorite brands, and I always know I’m going to get great quality. I am happy to buy any of their images. No other brand feels like a Gibsons. Their pieces are exceptionally thick and heavy, and I love the waxy tactile feel of the coating on top. It’s a brand that is a pleasure to work with.

Like most European/UK brands, Gibsons puzzles have a traditional grid cut (aka a ribbon cut), as you can see in the detail close-up below. The corners of the pieces meet precisely. You can see our full brand comparison for Gibsons here. I have deducted 1 point for quality because of a persistent quirk of Gibsons–because they have a lot of 2-knob, 2-hole pieces which are quite similar, a piece can appear to fit where it doesn’t actually go. This doesn’t become apparent until you try to attach the 3rd or 4th adjacent piece. For some puzzlers, this is simply a little extra challenge in the brand but some can find it frustrating. In this particular puzzle that wasn’t a big issue because there’s so much fine detail and not a lot of random pattern or monotone color areas. The purple sky is broken up by the moon and tree limbs, so there’s little solid color to become confusing.

The puzzle has a flat, seamless finish, and the pieces hold together well. It’s easy to move groups of joined pieces without them falling apart. And check out the lovely image and color reproduction below.

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Assembly: 9/10

This puzzle is of easy-to-moderate difficulty. It took me three sessions to complete.

I began by separating the pieces into sorting trays and pulling out all the border pieces during that process. The border was assembled first and was pretty straight-forward since there’s various colors around the edge of the painting. After the border, I did the purple sky.

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The sky pieces have a distinctive purple-blue color and are easy to pull out when sorting into trays. There aren’t many sky pieces that don’t have a bit of something else in them–the moon, branches, smoke, bit of a roof top, etc. And putting together the sky provides a nice anchor for the buildings.

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The orange yellows were next to be assembled–these pieces form the interiors of the lit-up booths. There are some other orange pieces that can be done at the same time, such as the hat and scarf on the woman in the lower right and a little girl’s coat.

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Next I tackled the reds including all the red and white stripped market awnings and some coats, hats, and aprons. The red and white awnings are interesting because there are several around the scene. It works best to piece sections together based on the size and tone of the stripes. Once you get a grouping that has some “edge” around it showing what’s nearby, you can compare it to the box lid and place it where it goes in the puzzle.

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The purples, pinks, and blues of clothing can be pieced together and all the pieces that have “people” in them can be finished up. The green and white awning is a different texture than the green of the greenery, and can be put together easily.

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The pieces that are left at the end that are all the various bits of greenery around the scene and the white snow on the ground and the tops of the roofs and awnings. There are little splashes of greenery everywhere (see the photo below), but each little tree or wreath has slightly different ornaments or beads. It’s more challenging to do the greenery at night, when the greens and blacks tend to darken and merge together, versus in natural daylight. But the bits of color help.

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There’s quite a bit of white snow, but most pieces have a tip of something else as a clue. So once you have everything else placed, filling in the white isn’t difficult.

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Overall, I’ve given assembly a 9 score. It’s a fun puzzle with a uber Christmassy feel and nice, bright colors for the most part. I always enjoy working with the fat, waxy Gibsons pieces.

Conclusion

“Christmas Fayre” is a beautiful holiday puzzle from Gibsons set in a traditional English village Christmas market. The puzzle is easy-to-moderate in difficulty. The night-time colors are rich with purples, oranges, and reds. The artwork is a hand-painted scene with a good amount of detail. There’s some repeating greenery and red and white stripes throughout the image that make assembly slightly more challenging–in a good way. I enjoyed seeing all the characters as I put the puzzle together, young couples and families out enjoying the market. There’s lots of Christmassy details like wreaths, trees, advent candles, roasted chestnuts. The Gibsons quality is exceptional with thick pieces and a waxy finish that feels good to the touch. The puzzle has a grid cut with some variety of piece shapes. Recommended!

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Where to find:

For the next three days you can get this puzzle for 15% off. This sale is good through 12/23/2016. Click on the logo below.

PWLOGO

JJ

5 responses to Review: “Christmas Fayre” by Tony Ryan, Gibsons – 9.25/10

  1. jigsaw dave says:

    I have over 500 gibsons puzzles and I can count on one hand how many puzzles have had puzzle lift or bad pieces. The only problem I have is the fact that they are now doing similar puzzles and not trying new things. A few collages and fantasy puzzles would be nice. Otherwise its a brand I trust

  2. Isaac Bickerstaff says:

    I love your reviews, and tend to agree about ribbon cut puzzles, but it seems in this instance that the ribbon cut doesn’t really impeded this puzzle, so it seems that in this case removing a point for this seems unfair. Does a ribbon cut automatically remove a point or should it depend on the puzzle image? Again, love the work you put into these reviews, I use them for making my puzzle purchases and appreciate your thoroughness.

    • I try to reserve the 10 for “couldn’t be improved upon” in a category, so I don’t usually give grid-cut puzzles a full 10 for quality, but that’s just my personal preference. Obviously I still do a lot of them and enjoy them! Some people prefer grid cut over random cut.

      • Isaac Bickerstaff says:

        Fair enough! I tend to dislike grid-cut puzzles just for aesthetic reasons, but have friends who like that uniformity.

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