Today’s post is a mix of puzzle review and brand review. PuzzleTwist is a US brand. Though their website doesn’t give an exact location, I’d guess in the Midwest since many of their puzzles cover the Minneapolis/St. Paul’s region.
I’ve never done a PuzzleTwist puzzle before, and I was intrigued by the “puzzle plus” concept. All of the puzzles in the brand have some sort of twist on the box image. It might be that items are added or subtracted from the box image, or things are moved around. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles with that bit of extra challenge of not having the exact image on the box lid — like Wasgij or “Find the Differences”. But how does the PuzzleTwist quality stack up? Let’s find out….
Cycling the Cities – Puzzle Review
Publisher: PuzzleTwist (US), published date 2016
Title: “Cycling the Cities” by Adam Turman, 500 pieces
Finished size: 18″ x 24″
OUR RATING: 9.75/10
Box Quality: (10/10)
The boxes are impressive. They’re made of sturdy cardboard with a nice, professional, high-color design on front, back and sides. The name of the puzzle, the piece count, the “twist” concept (in this case, the puzzle image is a ‘mixed up’ version of the box image), and artist’s name are on the front (see above).
The sides all show part of the puzzle image, puzzle name, twist concept (“mixed up”), piece count, finished size, and PuzzleTwist logo. The fourth side has a a photo and short bio of the artist and image, which is awesome. I like to know background about the image I’m piecing together.
The back of the box is is a full color design about the PuzzleTwist brand. As you can see below, they currently have three “twist” concepts — “Something’s Amiss”, “4 More” and “Mixed Up.” They show some other puzzles in the line. This is a very nice reference to the brand and what you’re getting (as well as what else is available).
Besides the bag of pieces, there was a full-color sheet with more info on the brand and puzzle. The pieces were fully separated and undamaged and there was no puzzle dust. Interestingly, they provide a url where you can go see the “solution” of the puzzle in case you get stuck. (Though this puzzle is so easy, it seems unnecessary, at least in this case.). The sheet also shows a few more of their puzzles. The back of this sheet is blank white.
I’ve given the box full 10 marks, both for its sturdiness, nice design, inclusion of an artist bio, and a little something extra in the box. Nice job!
The Image: (10/10)
I’m a cyclist, so I have a soft spot for puzzles with a bicycling theme. I really like the art style on this puzzle too, with the strong colors and simple line drawings in a vintage poster style. Plus, it’s a collage of many different pieces of the artist’s work, which is always fun to assemble, and has the added advantage of exposing you to a lot of different art pieces in one go.
I’ve given this image a full 10 score.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (10/10)
As I mentioned above, this was my first “PuzzleTwist” puzzle, and I was very impressed by the quality. The box felt great, and the pieces immediately felt sturdy and thick with no rough edges, puzzle dust, or image lift whatsoever. The puzzle gives a tactile impression of excellent quality, similar to what you’d expect from a high-end German brand like Ravensburger.
As you can see in the close-up below, this puzzle has a lovely random cut with nice, large pieces. There’s a wide variety of piece shapes and never any question of whether a piece fit somewhere or not. The fit is nice and snug.
The pieces are sturdy and the piece size is above average but not huge.
The thickness is just slightly less than Ravensburger, but the puzzle cardboard is densely packed, giving them a hard, unbendable feeling and very clean edges, as you can see below.
The image reproduction and colors are excellent. Very crisp. There’s a nice linen-like texture to the pieces too, as you can see below. No glare!
Overall, I’ve given quality a full 10 score. It’s excellent.
The “twist” on this puzzle is that the blocks of the collage are “mixed up” — that is, they are laid out in a different order than on the box lid. I’m not going to worry about “spoilers” in this review, because you probably won’t “memorize” the order from my pictures, and it’s not a big deal if you do. But if you want to keep the exact order a mystery, you can skip over the pictures in this section.
This is an easy puzzle that took me two sessions to complete.
As usual, I first assembled the puzzle border. Although there is white around the edge. the border pieces have enough “not white” on them to make assembly fairly easy.
After the border, I next assembled the gold numbers at the center of the puzzle and the panels that had the most obvious colors like the blue and orange ones.
The gold numbers are an easy find among the pieces, and their position and look is the same as shown on the box lid.
My favorite panel was the blue one with fall leaves. There are several “blue and orange” panels in the puzzle, but each has unique textures.
There are also a few “dark orange/red” panels in a smaller size, and a few purple ones. Each panel is quite distinctive, creating a bunch of “mini puzzles”. Assembly is easy and enjoyable.
I could have finished the puzzle on day one, but I wanted to savor it so I saved some for day two.
The green panels and a few of the “sketchier” ones with less bold elements were left for the final session.
ABOUT THE “MIXED UP” ORDER
I didn’t find the puzzle difficult in any way. Because I knew the panels would be in a different order than shown on the box, I focused on building the individual panels. Once you have the border together, there are enough ‘hints’ along the border edge as to which panels are up against the border. You also have the “hints” around the central gold numbers as to which panels are immediately around it. And then once you put those in, the edges of those panels show you which panels are nearby.
I found the assembly easy enough that I didn’t really need to refer to the box lid, actually, so the fact that the order was “mixed up” didn’t come into it very much. Still, it’s a nice little “puzzle plus” concept that I would do again.
Overall, I’ve given assembly a 9 score. It was a fun, relaxing experience without a lot of challenge, but that’s what I wanted when I chose the puzzle. Nice for summer evenings, when you have less “dark time” to puzzle with!
This was my first PuzzleTwist puzzle and I was very much impressed with the quality. Hard, sturdy pieces, a fun random cut, snug fit, and great image reproduction get full quality marks from me. The “twist” concept of panels in the collage being mixed up compared to what is shown on the lid was a nice change, though the puzzle was easy enough that I didn’t refer to the box lid image much in any case. I enjoyed the bright colors and the cycling theme. I highly recommend the brand and want to check out more PuzzleTwist puzzles myself.
Where to find:
Other Top Picks – PuzzleTwist Puzzles
I picked out a few other PuzzleTwist puzzles that look awesome. YOU CAN SEE ALL OF THEM HERE.
That’s all for this post. Have a great week!