Puzzle Brand Comparison – Ravensburger

This page is part of our Puzzle Brand Comparison. You can find the overview page here.

REVIEW DATE: 1/20/2015         PUZZLE TESTED: various

OUR RATING: 76 points, AA Grade

CATEGORIES: cartoon, fantasy, photographic landscapes, pets, painted landscapes, collage, ‘puzzle plus’ (What If?), vintage

CUT: grid cut, high variation                FINISH: matte, seamless

PIECE FIT:  fairly tight                               PIECE SIZE: normal

Ravensburger website: Euro and US            Jigsaw Junkie’s Ravensburger Coverage

SUMMARY: Ravensburger ranks highest in our brand quality assessment for good reason. They make quality puzzles through and through–from the outside of the box, to the goodies you’ll find inside, to the thickness and cut of their pieces, to the crisp ‘softclick’ fit, and their lovely image reproduction. They have a fresh and interesting puzzle catalog with unique and commissioned new images offered frequently. Long live Ravensburger!

1. BOX  — 11/10

How deluxe does the box looks and feel? Is it sturdy? Will it hold up over time?  How nicely does it arrange on the shelf?

Ravensburger has some of the best boxes in the puzzle industry. The boxes feel quite heavy, like a high-end German board game. The sharpness and color of the box image is perfect, and it has a nice matt/linen finish.

All the 1000 piece Ravensburger boxes are a standard  14 5/8″ x 10 3/4″ x 2 1/8″.  This makes shelving easy as the boxes are consistent.

Front:

The Ravensbuger name and piece size are easy to find. While the artist name is not on the front of this box, the series name “What If? No 9” and puzzle image name “Santa & Rudolph” are very visible. And the artist name, bio, and even photo are on the box bottom. I love the graphic design of this front, with the gold background, the red, gold and blue color scheme, and the ‘fun time’ words and fonts. It’s very compelling–and the cartoon image is awesome.

ravens_whatif_9_SantaAndRudolph_1000

Side:

All four sides of the Ravensburger box have the Ravensburger logo and a picture of the puzzle. The series logo and number is also shown on both a long and short side (see below), as well as the name of the puzzle “Santa & Rudolph”. I love having the series name and number because it makes for particularly attractive shelving of a series.  TThe artist name is not on the sides, but the series logo somewhat replaces it, and info on the artist is shown on the bottom of the box. The copyright year is on one side of the box (2014 in this case). (Ignore the cruddy shrink wrap — I did that when I re-shrinked it. It didn’t come that way!)

ravens_whatif_9_SantaAndRudolph_1000c

.  ravensburger_sideview_shelf

Back:

ravens_whatif_9_SantaAndRudolph_1000b

Ravensburger knows how to do the back of a puzzle box! So many brands have a blank bottom or some generic warranty info that goes on all their puzzles. This lovely box uses the bottom to tell us more about the puzzle series and puzzle image, show us yummy graphics, and have a bio and photo of the artist, Geoff Tristram. Yay!  I love knowing more about a puzzle image and artist. There are also ‘puzzle hints’ on the back, clues to the final image.

Note that some Ravensburger puzzles, particularly those not in a series, don’t have a specialized back like this, but instead use their standard multi-lingual back, shown below. But I’m grading based on this series box.

ravensburger_std_back

FINAL SCORE:

I gave a bonus point for this box because it makes you want to start solving the puzzle the minute you pick it up. Very fun design!

raven_box_section

2.  INSIDE THE BOX:  11/10

How deluxe are the internal goodies (such as posters or brochures)?  When you remove the pieces is there puzzle dust, pieces stuck together, hanging chads, and places where the image has begun to separate from the backs?

Ravensburger puzzles have excellent quality inside the box as well as outside.  The puzzle below was issued in fall of 2014 in the UK and was puzzle #11 in the “Best of British” series.  Inside we have 4 color inserts — a multi-page brochure of Ravenburger’s 2014 puzzle collection, a ‘guarantee’ page, a page that contains the puzzle image and description for separate reference when piecing together the puzzle, and a page about a different series, the “What If?” series. Lots of goodies!

ravensburger_box_inside-F1

Below is a photo of the puzzle reference page that comes inside the puzzle — very nice!  (click for closer view). It has info on the artist too.

ravensburger_box_inside-F2

As for the puzzle bag itself — the puzzle is in sturdy plastic with small holes to prevent the build-up of moisture. The pieces are completely separated, as you can see in the photo, with no hanging chads or need to rip pieces apart. The image top is firmly adhered to the piece with no lifting and no damage. There is very little puzzle dust. The piece backs are a nice blue color.

ravensburger_box_inside-F3

FINAL SCORE:

This box gets an extra bonus point for not only having a poster-like reference image, but having a mini-catalog and additional color series sheet as well.

ravensburger_chart

3. PIECE THICKNESS:  10/10

How thick are the pieces compared to other brands? How does a piece feel in your hand? How easily are pieces damaged or bent during assembly and separation?

We use Ravensburger as our ‘benchmark brand’ for good quality thickness in puzzles, so that should tell you something. The brand is widely accepted to have high-quality pieces, so we use it as our baseline. Below are photos of Ravensburger vs the other thickest brand I’ve found so far (Gibsons) and the thinnest I’ve tested (D-Toys).

gibson-1

D-Toys3

FINAL SCORE:

ravensburger-chart

4. PIECE SIZE AND SHAPE:  9/10

Are the pieces standard shapes? Special shapes? How much variety do they have? Are they large or small?

Ravensburger is a grid-cut puzzle–more or less straight rows and columns with all corners lining up. This is the standard for European puzzles and some puzzlers prefer it. Personally, I prefer more creative non-grid cuts like Springbok, House of Puzzles, Sunsout, and Bits and Pieces. However, within the field of grid-cut puzzles, Ravensburger has it’s usual amazing quality. The pieces have funky lines versus being exactly straight and there’s a good variety of piece shapes, not too many basic two-knob, two-hole. As you can see from the image below, each piece is unique.

ravens_BestOfBritish_Holiday_2x500_bCU

The piece size is a good, average puzzle piece size, not too small. In fact, we use Ravensburger as our baseline for piece size also.

comparison-1

FINAL SCORE:

ravensburger-chart

5. PIECE FIT:  10/10

Do pieces interlock well? Can it be confusing if a piece fits or not?  Can you move groups of pieces together? Does it look snug when it’s done?e?

The puzzle fit is excellent.  Ravensburger boxes tout a patented “Softclick Technology”, and there is a particularly satisfying feedback when you put a piece in place. Even when there are broad areas of similar color/pattern, it’s never confusing if a piece fits or not. You can feel that it fits (or doesn’t). When a group of pieces are assemble, they’re movable with care, though the fit is not as tight as some, and not tight enough to lift the puzzle without glue. The final picture has a seamless look.

FINAL SCORE:

ravensburger-fit

6. IMAGE REPRODUCTION:  10/10

Are the colors bright and vivid? Is the image sharp or feel like a bad Xerox? How is the finish/texture on the pieces?. 

Ravensburger puzzles are excellent in this category. Their colors are bright. The finish on the puzzle top is a quality-feeling linen matt that eliminates glare, and the crispness of the image is perfect.

rav_ColinT_BizarreBookshop2_CU2

FINAL SCORE:

ravensburger-image

7. IMAGE VARIETY:  15/10

Does the brand have a wide variety of fun images and good artists?

ravensburger-3

Above: “Kitchen Cupboard” by Colin Thompson 1000 pieces, “Best of British 10: Frog and Trumpet Pub” by Geoff Tristram 1000 pieces, “Tarot” by Ciro Marchetti 1000 pieces.

Ravensburger covers all popular puzzle categories. They carry photographic puzzles, children’s puzzles, Disney and other licensed brands, painted rural scenes, cartoon puzzles, vintage, fantasy, collage, and even 3D.  They release a great many new puzzles each year. And their images always feel fresh and not overused or too ‘same old same old’.

Specifically, I’m grading the Ravensburger UK puzzle catalog. The US Ravensburger (same company, different catalog) is, in my opinion, far inferior in images and offerings. For example, the US catalog doesn’t have ‘series’ or much in cartoon images or fantasy. But that’s easily solved in our global economy–I just get the UK puzzles!

Ravensburger scores extra points in this category for a number of things. First, unlike many lesser puzzle companies that just license existing artwork, Ravensburger commissions special exclusive art for some of their puzzles. In fact, I believe Geoff Tristam, who does their marvelous “Best of British” and “What If?” series, works exclusively for Ravensburger. They also carry some great puzzle artists that are (at least currently) exclusive to Ravensburger like Colin Thompson. And they also offer ‘puzzle plus’ ideas such as their wasgij-like series “What If?”–which is, in my opinion, even better than Jumbo’s Wasgijs. They also have offered spiral puzzles, have a ‘challenge’ series (Perplexing Puzzles), and other unusual concepts. They also have one of the top limited edition annual Christmas puzzle series on the market. In general, I love the way they do “series” because they’re more fun to collect that way.

FINAL SCORE:

ravensburger-catalog

SUMMARY: 76 points

Ravensburger ranks highest in our brand quality assessment for good reason. They make quality puzzles through and through–from the outside of the box, to the goodies you’ll find inside, to the thickness and cut of their pieces, to the crisp ‘softclick’ fit, and their lovely image reproduction. They have a fresh and interesting puzzle catalog with unique and commissioned new images offered frequently. Long live Ravensburger!

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD OUR RAVENSBURGER ASSESSMENT AS A PDF HERE

JJ

34 thoughts on “Puzzle Brand Comparison – Ravensburger

Add yours

  1. Im trying to find one puzzle from my childhood.. not sure abut manufacturer but box was triangular… scene is three trains are crashing in cartoon with tons of funny people with large noses all looking same…

    1. The company is Heye. Triangular boxes and big noses. Check them out. Hope you find it.

  2. Thank you for the good writeup. It if truth be told was
    a leisure account it. Look complex to far added agreeable from you!
    However, how could we keep up a correspondence?

  3. Have always preferred Ravensburger and Colin Thompson is my favorite. But I discovered that I must order from the UK to get the newer ones. I don’t mind but it does take longer. I would like to obtain the UK catalog – how do I do that? I found the puzzles before by accident on a website I don’t remember, darn it!

  4. I’ve found Artpiece/Pomegranate to be superior in feel and thickness but I have trouble finding them for sale. Have you rated them?

  5. Hi everybody,

    I want to share my recent experience with a Ravensburger puzzle: I bought London from the “Beautiful skylines” series (1000 pieces) for my son but we never got to finish it as there were more than 15 pieces missing (probably 20 or 23). I wrote to Ravensburger and their reply – a kind one – was “Sorry to hear your jigsaw puzzle was found to be incomplete. We operate stringent quality control procedures where errors such as this should have been detected during the production process” and why don’t you ask the retailer for your money back or a replacement. I don’t know in other countries, but in mine you don’t show up to stores and say ‘give me another product’ because the product Ravensburger sent to you was defective’, especially when the product they have given you is clearly new/’unopened’. Why am I writing all these? To be honest with you I did expect them to say that they will replace my son’s puzzle. We are not missing one piece to deserve their standard answer [“Unfortunately, we are unable to match or source any individual puzzle pieces therefore do not keep spares or offer a replacement service. A brief explanation: Our manufacturing process uses handmade cutters which are frequently replaced to maintain a clean, sharp cut; as a consequence, puzzle piece shapes for the same title will differ during any subsequent production runs”]. We miss a ‘whole’ side of the puzzle!

    Anyway Ravensburger is on the whole a good brand for toys and I will try to keep my trust in them but when it comes to puzzles…. God bless competition!

    Thanks for ‘listening;!

    MB

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