POTM Review: “Kodak: Dream Cottage Retreat”, Lafayette Puzzle Company – 8.25/10

Publisher: Lafayette Puzzle Company (US), published 2017

Title:  “Kodak: Dream Cottage Retreat” by Cra-Z-Art, 1000 pieces 

Finished size: 19.25″ x 26.625″

OUR RATING: 8.25/10

Puzzle of the Month: October 2017

This is the Puzzle Warehouse “PUZZLE OF THE MONTH” for October 2017. So if you are in the POTM club (click here to check it out), you will be getting this selection with no effort required on your part. For those who want to order the puzzle, there is a link at the bottom of the page.

The “Kodak” series from Lafayette Puzzle Company is a series of extremely colorful puzzles with very good quality. They range from photographic puzzles to more hand-drawn scenes like this one. CHECK OUT ALL LAFAYETTE PUZZLES HERE.

Box Quality:  (8/10)

The box is 8″ x 8″, similar to a Ceaco or Buffalo Games size. It’s very sturdy with thick cardboard. The smaller size takes up less shelf space but also means you have a smaller image to work with when you use the box lid for reference. There is no poster included in the box (unlike Buffalo Games). However, I had no issues going off the box lid with this puzzle image since the details are fairly distinct and large. The Kodak series is prominent on the front. In fact, “Lafayette Puzzle Company” does not appear on the box anywhere. The name of the artist of the image, Cra-Z-Art, appears small in a copyright notice. But this series is really about extreme color and not artist, so this isn’t surprising.

Sides:

Three of the sides are the same, showing a small image of the puzzle, Kodak logo, piece count, and finished size. The fourth side has a bar code and copyright info. The year of manufacture is given (2017).

Back:

The back of the box shows the image again (I suppose if two people are working on the puzzle, one could take the front of the box while the other takes the back). In addition, there are 5 mini thumbnails showing other puzzles in the Kodak series. There’s also a blurb on the puzzle quality, which I’ll discuss in the quality section of this review.

Inside:

Nothing comes inside the box except the bag of puzzle pieces. There was some puzzle dust in the bag. The pieces were in great condition and undamaged. However, I did have to manually separate about six pieces that were still attached a bit at a corner, but no damage resulted from this.

The final box score is 8.

The Image:  (8/10)

The Kodak series has a number of super brightly-colored photographic puzzles, but I chose this cottage, which is a created image. Obviously, this art has a ton of color from the sky to the various flowers. The art style is decent, though not really comparable to great puzzle artists like Steve Crisp, Trevor Mitchell, Mike Jupp, etc. There is a 3D quality to the cottage, so this is likely a digitally made image. The art style is loose and not very detailed in the blossom and leaves, being more repeating ‘dots’ of color. There are some “random pattern” areas like the green tree and pink blossoms, which makes the puzzle more challenging. For a puzzle image, it works though. It’s got a lot of unique color areas, variety in the plants and man-made textures, and it’s a pleasant, serene scene. I particularly like the gradient in the sky.

I’ve given this image an 8 score.

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

Puzzle Quality: (9/10)

You can see our full brand comparison on Lafayette here.

The Kodak series appears to be a sub-brand of Lafayette with specific quality requirements. The print on the back reads as follows:

“KODAK Premium Puzzles represent the highest quality photography and puzzles available today. These are the brightest, richest, most colorful puzzles we’ve ever made. Mounted on European Blue Puzzle Board, you will feel the weight and quality in every piece. Each piece is fully interlocking and has a beautiful “snap” as you assemble the puzzle.”

I would say this is a fairly accurate, if over-capitalized, description. 🙂 I was impressed out of the box with the quality of the pieces. They are pretty thick and solid feeling. You won’t see the knobs or ends bending on this puzzle and there is zero image lift. The colors are certainly bright and clear.

I really like the cut, which is extremely random, as you can see in the sky section in the photo below. The shapes are quite different from each other and there are some pieces which are pretty small and others which are much larger, as much as double the smallest size.

I never had any issues with “it looks like it fits but it really doesn’t” moments because the piece shapes vary so widely. However, the fit is definitely on the loose side. I had to be careful not to jar the border of the puzzle until I had built up quite a bit of it, or it would fall apart.

The bright colors are definitely a highlight of this series and this particular puzzle. There are no dark areas whatsoever and I wasn’t aware of any glare.

Overall, I’ve given quality a 9 score.

Assembly:  (8/10)

This is an moderately challenging puzzle that took me three sessions to complete, about average for a 1000 piece puzzle.

DAY ONE:

As usual, I assembled the puzzle border first. There are some odd-shaped pieces in the border that I didn’t recognize as border pieces initially, only finding them later, but most of the border pieces have a traditional flat side. There’s enough color change around the border that assembly wasn’t difficult.

After the border, I did the blue and yellow sky and then the masses of pink blossoms near the sky. Still having some time left over, I assembled a few easy-to-spot areas like the windows in the cottage, the water in the stream, and the bridge, which has a lighter stone color than the cottage.

The sky is monotone blue in a good-sized area that required really looking at piece shape to “solve”. The yellow section is much smaller and most of it borders leaves or flowers, so it was easy.

The pink flowers are a random pattern and there’s quite a bit of it, so it was a little more challenging too. But the arcs of darker purple help.

The purple/yellow water and the deep gold rocks along the stream are really nice colors and easy to pull out of the mix. The stonework of the bridge is a different color from the cottage, being lighter and more golden in tone.

DAY TWO and THREE:

On the second day, I tackled the cottage since it’s a large area. The space is broken up by the windows, doors, and roof, so it’s pretty straight-forward to assemble.

After the cottage, I finished up all the various flowers in the scene. I had two sorting boxes filled with flower pieces! Most of the spots of flowers around the cottage have unique colors, though some are close in hue (dark pink, red). The flowers are easy going though. And since the flowers edges the pathway, the path fills in naturally.

The gazebo is also an easy area to do since the man-made textures are unique in the scene.

The last part of the image to be assembled was the remaining green, including the large green tree on the upper right. This is a random pattern, like the pink blossoms. A little tricky but not impossible.

Overall, I’ve given assembly an 8 score. It would have earned a 9 except that the looseness of the pieces did bother me a bit during assembly, mostly at the start when the border was easily disturbed until the area around it got filled in.

Summary:

“Kodak: Dream Cottage Retreat” is a vibrant and lovely puzzle to enjoy on those cool fall or winter nights. There are many areas of bright color in unique hues that are easy to assemble. Some random patterns in the image, like the tree with pink blossoms, and the green tree, give the puzzle a touch of difficulty. The quality is quite good with thick, sturdy pieces and a fun random cut piece pattern. There are no dark areas or boring spaces. The cut is a little loose, so use care when moving pieces around. Recommended for those who love bright colors in their puzzles and cottage landscapes.

Where to find:

Click below to see the puzzle on Puzzle Warehouse.

PWLOGO

CHECK OUT MORE LAFAYETTE PUZZLE COMPANY PUZZLES HERE

JJ

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