Review: “Santa’s List” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company 8.75/10

Publisher: Vermont Christmas Company (US), published 2014

Title:  “Santa’s List” by Randy Wollenmann, 1000 pieces

Finished size: 30″ x 24″

OUR RATING: 8.75/10

You say it’s not even Thanksgiving? Psah! I was in the mood for a Christmas puzzle this week, so why not? I decided to do a Randy Wollenmann from Vermont Christmas Company. I’ve become a big fan of Randy Wollenmann puzzles and it’s astonishing how many great ones he has out now with VCC. See the end of this review for more of my favorites. I’ve had this “Santa’s List” puzzle for awhile and was ready to tackle it. So let’s see how it went!

You can see all Christmas puzzles at Puzzle Warehouse here.

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.

Sides:

All four sides of the box have a photo of the puzzle, the puzzle name, piece count and dimensions. The Vermont Christmas Company logo, which I like to have on the side for easy reference when shelving, is unfortunately only shown on one long side. The artist’s name only appears in a small copyright notice. Randy Wollenmann has done enough puzzles for VCC by now that they should really feature his name!

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 and is blank on the back.

Overall I’ve given the box 8/10.

The Image:  10/10

This is a fun Christmas image with a “busy puzzle” feeling to it. There are lots of elves and presents around the scene, plus some reindeer, penguins, and Santa himself. I love the soft, illustrated style and the pastel blue background.

In terms of a puzzle image, there are a few things in the image design that add some welcome challenge. First, the parchment paper “lists” are in quite a few places in the scene, and the elves have similar clothing. There’re also a few boxes in the same gift wrapping that repeat. Yet there’s also plenty of variety in color and pattern with the wrapping paper. It’s really an ideal image for a jigsaw puzzle.

This image gets a full 10 score.

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

Puzzle Quality: (8/10)

Here’s my brand comparison for Vermont Christmas Company. When I did the brand comparison, I liked VCC well enough to add them to my list of brands I am comfortable buying anytime I like an image. Since then I’ve done quite a few of their puzzles and have found the quality consistently good.

The cut on “Santa’s List” is somewhat of a ribbon or grid cut–but not exactly! (As you can see in the image below.) There are more or less vertical and horizontal rows, but a lot of the corners do not line up and some sides are very wavy.There’s a nice variety of piece shapes. I liked the cut and enjoyed assembling the puzzle. I never ran into a situation where a piece appeared to fit where it didn’t really go.

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 and not going anywhere. There was no image lift and a small amount of puzzle dust. I also like the flat finish–the cut blends in nicely in the final puzzle. The pieces are glossy and there is some glare under overhead lights.

The interlock has normal-to-tight snugness. I was able to move groups of assembled pieces with care without them falling apart.

Overall, I’ve given the quality an 8 and feel very comfortable recommending the brand.

Assembly:  (9/10)

I had fun working on this puzzle. It’s a nice mix of easy and slightly more challenging elements.

DAY 1

I assembled the border first and then decided to do the parchment “list” areas of the puzzle. The parchment/paper is a solid light-to-dark tan color that isn’t in anything except the list. And I thought it would anchor the middle of the puzzle. It wasn’t until I began to assemble the “list” that I really looked at the image and realized the “list” is not just in the middle of the image in Santa’s hands. There are shorter pieces the parchment “list” all over the puzzle. So it was a bit tricky to get all those paper areas assembled and positioned approximately where they go in the puzzle frame. But I liked encountering this bit of unexpected challenge.

As you can see in the detail below, the “list” is in front of Santa as he’s reading it, but you can see piece of “list” to his left and right near his belt and to his left and right near his boots.

There are more “list segments” in the sky.

And more of the “list” by the gift boxes too. After getting most of the “list” areas assembled and roughly positioned in the open frame, that gave me lots of anchoring points. The next thing I did was all the gift boxes because the wrapping paper and bows are brightly colored and easy to piece together. There are a lot of presents!

I also assembled the penguins on day 1. Since they’re the only black thing in the scene, they’re easy to do.

DAY 2

On the second day I decided to spin the JigBoard around and do the blue sky. The sky is fairly simple to assemble with some nice snowy trees in pastel shades and snowflakes to break up the blue. You could also tackle the blue sky first if you prefer.

I next did Santa, the elves, and reindeer. The red velvet with white trim is a repeating element, being used on both Santa and some parts of elves. The snowflakes on Santa’s outfit help identify where the red pieces belong.

The elves are cute, and they were my favorite part of the image. The brown reindeer have some differences in shading that make them easy to piece together.

More pieces of list!

There wasn’t any “left over” or “dark” areas to assemble in this puzzle. The entire image is stuff with colorful animals, gifts, elves, or Santa. Fun to the last piece!

Overall, I’ve rated assembly a 9 since I really enjoyed it. There’s a lot of detail in the image and it will get you in the Christmas mood with all the cute wrapping paper and characters.

Summary:

This is a super busy, colorful, and fun image to assemble. There’s a nice mix of unique colors/patterns (such as all the gift wrap boxes and the animals) with some repeating elements that add a little more challenge (all the red and green velvet and the “list” on parchment paper. There’s lots of fun detail to discover and the elves and animals are very cute. There’s no “dark” or “left for the end” areas of the puzzle. Every bit is stuffed with color and detail. 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. This gave the puzzle a unique personality, and I enjoyed working it. Recommended to put you in a holiday frame of mind!

Where to find:

Click below to see “SANTA’S LIST” on Puzzle Warehouse.

PWLOGO

MORE RANDY WOLLENMANN CHRISTMAS PUZZLES

Below are some of my other favorite Randy Wollenmann Christmas puzzles in stock now. In 1000 and 500 pieces!

(Click on a photo to see the puzzle at Puzzle Warehouse.)

CHECK OUT MY REVIEWS OF OTHER RANDY WOLLENMANN PUZZLES HERE.

JJ

1 response to Review: “Santa’s List” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company 8.75/10

  1. Anonymous Person says:

    I might end up opening up a Christmas puzzle early too — it’s getting too hard to officially/unofficially wait for the holiday season to begin!

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