Review: “Christmas Tree Farm” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company – 8.5/10

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Publisher: Vermont Christmas Company (US), published 2016

Title:  “Christmas Tree Farm” by Randy Wollenmann, 1000 pieces

Finished size: 24″ x 30″

OUR RATING: 8.5/10

Box Quality:  (8/10)

The Vermont Christmas Company box is rectangular and has a solid, sturdy top (above). The packaging design is very basic on the tops and sides. The artist name is not given on the front of the box.

Bottom:

The bottom of the back is plain white.

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Sides:

All four sides of the box are different. Two sides have a photo of the puzzle, the puzzle name, piece count and dimensions. Missing is the Vermont Christmas Company logo, which I like to have on the side for easy reference to the brand when the puzzle is shelved. One side has has a little information about the company provided in three languages.

Unfortunately, only the long sides include a photo of the puzzle and the puzzle name in English so you would not be able to shelve this puzzle with a short side out. Also, the artist’s name only appears on one side in a small copyright notice. No date of manufacture is given.

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Inside:

The box contains the bag of puzzle pieces and a promo flyer for Vermont Christmas Company. The flyer shows a few of their other puzzles.

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Overall, I’ve rated the box an 8.

The Image:  9/10

In 2016 I became aware of artist Randy Wollenmann, who has done quite a few puzzles for Vermont Christmas Company. His work reminds me a bit of Ray Cresswell (who does puzzles with House of Puzzles in Scotland). Randy’s images are hand-painted, colorful, and a little bit on the cartoony side. I find them very appealing.

In “Christmas Tree Farm”, we have a wintry outdoor scene at a “choose your own Christmas tree” farm. There are a number of characters in the scene in unique outfits, and some larger features like the pink coffee booth,  pink fence, fire-in-a-barrel, and sleds. These elements all look straight forward to assemble. But there are also harder elements like an abundance of fir trees all over the scene, the snow, and sky with the repeating colored bulbs. It’s an interesting and thoughtful blend for a puzzle, and, of course, it’s a very pleasant and Christmassy scene overall.

I’ve given the image a 9 score.

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

Puzzle Quality: (8/10)

You can check out my brand comparison for Vermont Christmas Company. In the brand analysis,  I liked them well enough to add them to my list of brands I am comfortable buying anytime I like an image. This puzzle stays true to that analysis. I found the quality good.

The cut on this puzzle is not as random as a brand like Springbok or Sunsout. It’s similar to a grid cut–but not exactly. As you can see in the close-up below, not all corners line up and some sides have a wavy curve in them.There are a good variety of piece shapes. I liked the cut and enjoyed assembling the puzzle. The pieces were unique enough that I never thought a piece fit where it didn’t belong.

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Another important issue for me is the thickness of the pieces, and VCC pieces, while not super thick visually, are hard and solid, not bendable or frayed. The image was firmly bonded onto the backing and there was no image lift. There was a small amount of puzzle dust. The final puzzle is not as flat and seamless as some brands, like Jumbo, Ravensburger, and White Mountain. As you can see above, the cut is pretty obvious at the end with a bit more “gap” visible between the pieces. The interlock has average snugness and pieces will definitely fall apart when you move them or pick them up, so you have to use care. The image reproduction is quite good. The pieces are glossy and there is some glare under overhead lights.

Overall, I’ve given the quality an 8.

Assembly:  (9/10)

I’d rate this puzzle as easy-to-moderate in difficulty. It took me three sessions to complete it, which is average for a 1000 piece puzzle.

DAY ONE:

I began with the border and then the “pink bits”. The pink pieces included the pink coffee booth, fence, the tall poles in the background, and the coat of a girl in the foreground.

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I like the pink in the scene. It’s a nice change up from the traditional Christmas red and green colors and the pink looks good against all the green and white. The coffee booth is my favorite element in the scene, along with the tree with gold ornaments that’s near the booth. The signs on the booth are fun to assemble too.

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DAY TWO:

During the second long session, I completed all the characters and the snow. What was left over after this session were the bulk of the fir trees and the sky.

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The sled in the foreground is a cute mini-scene with three kids, a cat, bird, bunny, and fir tree.

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There’s another little scene in the lower left, two kids enjoying hot chocolate near a bonfire. The green of the can is distinctive, especially with the star stencils.

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I like the little dog in the foreground and the “sold” tag.

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DAY THREE:

During the last session, I assembled all the evergreen trees in the mid and background as well as the blue sky.

There are lots of fir trees in the composition, but there’s some variation in the size and color of the lights on each one. It’s also helpful that there are distant figures among the trees, which break up the expanse of green branches.

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The blue sky has some lighted bulbs strung through it. The colors repeat, but even so, the colors give you a big clue about where the pieece goes (if you compare it to the box lid). I didn’t find the sky overly difficult or frustrating.

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The sky is much darker on the left side of the image, which helps.

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Overall, I’ve rated assembly a 9. It’s a fun puzzle and offers a little challenge thanks to the abundance of snow, sky, and fir tree textures.

Summary:

This is a lovely Christmas themed puzzle from artist Randy Wollenmann. The bright colors are fun, especially the pink in the image. The wintry scene is appealing with kids and families out choosing their Christmas tree. The puzzle is a nice blend of easy elements, like the characters in their unique outfits, and slightly more challenging elements like all the fir trees, snow, and night sky. The difficulty is easy-to-moderate. I especially like the art style, which is hand painted and a little bit cartoony. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The cut is mostly a grid cut, but not all edges line up and some sides have wavy and diagonal edges. Recommended for all who enjoy cartoon or Christmas puzzles.

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Where to find:

Click below to see the puzzle on Puzzle Warehouse.

PWLOGO

JJ

1 response to Review: “Christmas Tree Farm” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company – 8.5/10

  1. Barbara McMillan says:

    Looks like a really nice and very enjoyable puzzle Jane.

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