Puzzle Brand Comparison — Buffalo Games

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

SUMMARY:  Scored 57/70

A US puzzle brand with small, nicely designed boxes, a green philosophy, and good quality puzzles. Their pieces are on the small side, in a standard grid design but with lots of variation in shape. They specialize in Charles Wysocki images, Hartman Brothers nature prints, photo moasiac puzzles, and landscape paintings. They’re priced competitively at $14.99 for a 1000 piece puzzle.  Buffalo Games Website.

1. BOX  — 9/10

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?

Buffalo Games boxes are fairly small at 8″ x 8″.  The boxes are made with nice, sturdy cardboard, both top and bottom, and they have good, professional-looking product design. They make a point about being green, and their box size is part of that, as well as what’s inside (which we’ll see in a moment).  I don’t mind the small boxes as they take up less room on a shelf and still provide the info you need when stored vertically.

Front:

buffalo_1

Sides:

buffalo_3

The sides provide you with several options for storing the puzzles vertically, all of which are attractive.

Back:

buffalo_2

Unlike most US puzzles, the back of Buffalo Games boxes is not blank but has a general message about the company. The only thing that could have made this box better for me was info on the back about the collection, artist, or image like Ravensburger or Gibson boxes.

2. INSIDE THE BOX  — 8/10

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?

Buffalo Games puzzles come with a small poster of the puzzle image, which is quite nice and also a very good idea given how small the box is.  The poster shows several other designs in the collection. It has a blank back.

The thing I dislike about the Buffalo Games boxes is that they are sealed closed with glue that secures the four sides of the bottom to the inside of the top lid.  You can see in the image below, that there is no way to open such a box without damaging it, and, as a collector, I dislike that intensely.  It’s fine if a company wants to do away with shrink wrap for green purposes, but there’s no reason why they can’t use a simple plastic sticky tab on the sides of the box (like Master Pieces uses) to avoid glue. At least then you could cut through the tab without damaging the box.

buffalo_1

 

You can also see that they don’t have the puzzle pieces in a bag of any kind inside the box.  While the paranoid person in me prefers bagged puzzle pieces, I’m respectful of this decision to avoid plastic, and I’m not going to ding the brand for that (but I do for the glue!).

Besides the poster, and the puzzle pieces, there is nothing else in the box.

The puzzle pieces have no puzzle dust or image lift and are fully separated.

3. PIECE THICKNESS — 9/10

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?

The Buffalo Games pieces aren’t quite as thick as Ravensburger, but they are close. They are densely packed and have clean edges. They feel nice and sturdy in your hand.

buffalo1 buffalo2

4.  PIECE SIZE & SHAPE — 8/10

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

The Buffalo Games puzzle pieces are on the small side–I’d say they’re most similar to the Heye pieces in the comparison below, which is the smallest of the German brands.  This doesn’t bother me, but might not be ideal for people with poor eyesight.  A finished 1000 piece Buffalo Games puzzle is 26.75 x 19.75.  Ravensburger is 27″ x 20″. So you can see the puzzle pieces are ever so slightly smaller when compared to Ravensburger.

comparison-1

Shape:

buffalo_maxadirondacks_CU2_SM

Buffalo Games puzzles use a standard grid cut, but piece shapes vary widely for standard pieces. There’s a good mix of 2-knob/2 hole, 3 knob, 4 holes, etc.  There’s also a special shaped piece that is unique to Buffalo Games that has a zig-zag on one end and this appears in the puzzle frequently. You can see it in the close-up below.

buffalo_maxadirondacks

I’ve ranked them pretty highly in this category because they do have a wide variety of shapes even if they’re not as unusual as some brands (Springbok, House of Puzzles).

5. PIECE FIT– 8/10

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?

The piece fit is good.  I never had any difficulty determining if a piece went someplace or not, and they interlock with a satisfying snugness. The end result is fairly seamless.

buffalo_maxadirondacks_CU1_SM

The fit is not as tight as Springbok or Bits and Pieces, though, if you like those brands. The pieces don’t hang together if you lift them far, but they hang together sufficiently to be moved around during assembly with care.

buffalo-1

 

6. IMAGE REPRODUCTION — 8/10

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

The image reproduction is good with strong colors and good resolution.  There is a semi-gloss finish on the pieces which makes capturing the final image with a camera a bit washed out, but in person, the colors are excellent.

buffalo_maxadirondacks

You can see in the detailed close-up above that the fine details like lettering are not blurry.

On the down side, this puzzle has reproduced a bit dark, especially compared to the image on their website.  You can see from the two images below, that the image has gotten darker in the puzzle print, particularly in the bottom 3rd of the puzzle and the cat’s fur. So I’ve deducted some for that.

079346170746-MaxInTheADK-PUZ

buffalo_maxadirondacks_SM

7.  IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS — 7/10

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

Buffalo Games carries Charles Wysocki Americana puzzles, Hautman Brothers nature and bird puzzles, and Coke licensed images.  They have a good collection of each of these, so if they’re your cup of tea you will be a happy camper. They also have a ‘Vivid Collection’, which is high-color art such as a school of fish or an array of hot air balloons, and an “Escapes” collection of landscape paintings. I do like that they are arranging their puzzles into branded series (like “Escapes” and “Holiday Collection”).  They also have a photo collage series and various assorted odds-and-ends.  They have 300. 500, 750, 1000. and a few 2000 piece puzzles, which are nice to see.  Their puzzles are all rectangular. Overall, their selection still feels a bit limited to me if you’re not into Wysocki or Hartman Brothers. But what they offer is of good quality and it seems they are expanding.

See their website here.

SUMMARY:  Scored 57/70

A US puzzle brand with small, nicely designed boxes, a green philosophy, and good quality puzzles. Their pieces are on the small side, in a standard grid design but with lots of variation in shape. They specialize in Charles Wysocki images, Hartman Brothers nature prints, photo moasiac puzzles, and landscape paintings. They’re prized competitively at $14.99 for a 1000 piece puzzle.  Buffalo Games Website.

27 responses to Puzzle Brand Comparison — Buffalo Games

  1. Tammy Canada says:

    I purchased a puzzle on 7/27/15 to dp with my grandson. Several pieces were not there. Very disappointing!

    • EDB says:

      I’ve found several with missing and poorly fitting pieces. I wanted to do one (the 4000 piece castle); spent three days sorting and organizing only to find edge pieces missing.So I bought it over again, and that one had the pieces split, bent, and crushed. I had to glue them back together and some ended up with crease marks. The size doesn’t match the box and the larger sizes (4000) don’t give an accurate piece count, so you can’t count ahead of time to see whether you have all the pieces, and with ill-fitting edges, you can’t tell whether you’re missing a piece or it’s just sloppy fit before wasting your time. I’m giving up on this brand.

      • Hi, EDB. Thanks for posting about your experience. I haven’t had any issues with this brand, but I’ve only done a few. I just did a new one, 2000 piece “In Grandpa’s Shed” and it was awesome. No missing pieces or loose fit. If you did open a box to find pieces split, bent, and crushed, I suggest you contact Buffalo Games and they will likely send you replacement. That’s just not right.

    • Debra Johnson says:

      I just purchased 2 Buffalo puzzles and both had extra pieces AND missing pieces. The company will send you new ones if you go to their site and put in the correct info. Save the box for this. Still, it drove me NUTS when I had to count all the pieces 5 times to make sure I could tell them exactly how many pieces there were. Part of the border was missing, and that’s when I caught on 😦

      • Jane says:

        I review Buffalo Games puzzles frequently. In fact, I just reviewed Cat Tales. I have never had an issue with missing pieces. However, that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen if there was a glitch in production QA. I’d recommend not writing them off. They’re one of my favorite brands.

        By the way, sometimes on the border there will be a piece that does’t *look* like a border piece because it sort of comes to a point where it fits between two other border pieces. If I can’t complete a border entirely, I generally just move on to doing the rest of the puzzle and I’ll find that piece later. Not saying that’s what happened in this case–just a tip!

      • Dave says:

        Counting pieces is a waste of time. A 1,000 piece puzzle can vary 15 or 20 pieces. This has to do with the way the puzzle is manufactured. I have yet to find a puzzle that is dead on with the count and I have done hundreds of them.
        Buffalo is one of the better puzzle makers and I have done multiple puzzles from them. I have never gotten extra pieces from them, but on occasion I have been short one or two pieces. To be honest though, I think being short a piece is usually the fault of the the person putting the puzzle together. I have a separate table for doing puzzles and I keep a tight control on all of the pieces, but even then a piece can fall on the floor or get caught up and lost in things that are brought to the puzzle table. Again, I am not a novice at putting puzzles together and have done over two hundred puzzles in the last two years.
        Buffalo puzzles include a large picture of the puzzle and that is a great help in constructing the puzzle. Especially, when you have a small piece, intricate puzzle to do.
        I buy from many individual puzzle vendors and Buffalo rates for me in the top two.
        Hope this helps.

  2. jnsmld56 says:

    Buffalo Games is my favorite brand. I have about a dozen of them and have never had a missing piece. I love the poster included in the box, and the images are great, particularly the Charles Wysocki cat series. My only issue with this brand was getting the correct puzzle sent when I ordered directly off of their website, so I buy them in the store or from another website. Their customer service was very nice when I did have an issue. I actually like this brand better than Ravensburger, Sunsout or any other.

    • Thanks for your feedback. I just finished another one, a 2000 piece Buffalo Games (In Grandpa’s Shed) and loved it. I’ll be reviewing it soon.

      • Candy says:

        Do you know if Buffalo Games is the only brand that includes the poster inside for you to look at while putting it together? I really like those posters when I get stumped.
        Thanks.

  3. Kirstin says:

    I’ve had 3 of this brand with missing pieces now. One was a replacement that they sent me for the original that had a missing piece! Unfortunately, the two puzzles were cut slightly off so pieces from one puzzle didn’t fit the other, so I still have incomplete puzzles.

  4. Andrew says:

    I got Buffalo MC Escher self portrait for Christmas. I was working on it for 6 weeks. There comes a point when you realize there has got to be a piece missing. Today I counted the pieces twice and came up with 1026 pieces for a 1000 piece puzzle. WTF. I am VERY disappointed. It looked like it would be a cool puzzle.

    • Hi, Andrew. It’s not unusual for a 1000 piece puzzle to be “around” 1000 pieces rather than 1000 on the nose. If you have counted 1026 pieces you don’t know if you have a piece missing until you finish it. But if you’re not enjoying it, I’d say start something else.

      I’ve done a lot of Buffalo Games puzzles and never had a missing piece, for what it’s worth.

      • Debra Johnson says:

        Jigsaw Junkie, You kind of know something is off if you begin by putting the border together and much of it is missing. We went through EVERY piece to try and get the border done, but no go. Ended up with 2 puzzles that had extra pieces, but there WERE pieces missing. I reordered them, but there is nothing more frustrating than working on a puzzle for hours/days/weeks only to find pieces missing. 2 years since you wrote this, so you think Buffalo may have gone downhill?

  5. Patty says:

    we just finshed our second Buffalo puzzle. first was 2000 piece and it had 10 missing pieces got a replacement but who wants to pick through a 2000 pieces? we just finished our second 1000 piece and at the very end we were missing 1 piece. wwe found a brand we really like no missing pieces.

  6. I have done all the buffalo Wysocki puzzles that they offered. At least 20 to 25 puzzles. Only once was a piece missing. To be perfectly honest, I may have misplaced it. I scrupulously monitor all pieces at all times. It is very easy to drop or miss a piece. I believe that most people who report missing pieces have actually lost them themselves. I say this because I am an avid puzzle builder and know how much energy I put into monitoring my puzzles.
    I have found it helps to have a dedicated area to do your puzzles.

  7. David Busken says:

    Working on a Buffalo puzzle now big taboo I spilled some juice on some pieces and the image slide off and the paper eliminated. Not impressed. I bought this particular puzzle because the picture on the back gave the impression the pieces were thicker and they are not. Thanks good site. Wish I found it earlier.
    David

    • Hi, David — I’ve had that happen a few times with spilled coffee or soup. There’s nothing more deadly to puzzle pieces than liquid. Yeah, the image/top just comes right off. Happened to me with Heye and Ravensburger too. I’m glad you like the site.

  8. Nikole says:

    I have had about 4 issues with this brand. The designs are very beautiful but I’ve bought 4 separate puzzles and they all had missing pieces. The last 2 puzzles had 2 missing pieces and 2 duplicates. The other 2 puzzles had 6+ missing boarder pieces. I absolutely love puzzles and find it very satisfying to put the last piece in, but when your continuously missing pieces, it’s very disappointing and a waste of money, really.

  9. Kim says:

    Love the site. I am just getting in to puzzles and was looking for reviews to see which brands to avoid. I purchased Freedom’s Promise and I despise it. It has been taking me 2-3 days to do a 1000 piece puzzle, this has been on my table two weeks! It is very dark, hard to tell which pieces go together. Several times I have been stuck because a piece was in the wrong spot even though it seemed to fit on two or three sides. Very frustrating so I keep leaving it but I refuse to quit lol. I like to be challenged but you should be able to tell if a piece fits in the right spot. I even had an edge piece wrong on the bottom and because it is all dark, it took forever to go through and find where it was connected wrong. I just want it done so I can do something that is more fun and is actually relaxing. I am sad though because there were a few Buffalo puzzles I wanted but I am scared to get another after this. I having been trying to purchase a couple of each brand so I can see what I like, the Titanic by Trefl is up next:)

    • Jane says:

      Hi, Kim. Sorry to hear about Freedom’s Promise. Some darker images can be very frustrating to work. Try to pick one with bright colors to at least have an easy time before tackling something hard again! 🙂 I have done many Buffalo and not had issues with fit, but I tend to go for the colorful ones.

      • Kim says:

        Hi Jane, I find the colourful ones too easy 🙂 I do those with my 8 year old and separate the colours so he has a bunch of mini puzzles to do yet feels like he did a 1000 piece one himself(I never realized how many train puzzles one can find if they look lol). I tend to lean towards ones with lots of grass/sky/water but this one the pieces you can’t tell if they fit. I have had my face right up to it and swore the piece went there to find out it didn’t. Maybe it is a one time thing as a lot of people seem to like these. I really want to try Grandpa’s Potting Shed though so maybe once I forget how traumatized I am by this one lol.

  10. Jane says:

    If you prefer to do dark puzzles, then all I can suggest is that daylight is better than overhead light for really seeing the fit. Grandpa’s Potting Shed is very bright. I didn’t have any trouble with it.

  11. Tou says:

    Hello I want to find a frame for buffalo puzzle of 1000 pieces. Do you know where I can buy?

  12. Amy says:

    Just came across this site after buying two junky puzzles off of eBay and determined not to get a third. Thanks for compiling all of this great information!!

  13. Ed says:

    I have done almost all of Buffalo Games 2000 piece puzzles and have been thoroughly satisfied with the quality and customer service. I count them as America’s premier puzzle manufacturer. I as well have a separate table especially for my obsession. I have yet to lose a piece because I do keep a tight rein on my area. If one or perhaps two pieces were missing I would have no choice but first blame operator error. In only one instance have I ever been missing pieces not due to operator or a dog chewing an inadvertent dropped piece (one instance. Live and learn). I had a Buffalo Games puzzle missing 7 pieces and yes very frustrating. However when I contacted customer service they immediately sent a replacement, no questions asked. As a former printer I note the excellence of color matching between the box, the puzzle and the poster. First rate. This is my go to American brand. As I have mentioned in other areas my only criticism is their frequency of new images with a 2000 count.

  14. Robin says:

    I just finished a Buffalo Games and was very satisfied with the sturdiness of the pieces, none missing. Hadn’t bought this brand since 15 years ago, so the piece size had changed. It was a surprise to see a small box with no wasted space, which I think is nice as it doesn’t give loose pieces too much chance to get locked together. The lid was glued, wish they had shrink wrap. Image was great. I bought a bright cheery picture and had a very fun time putting it together. Piece fit is not loose, which is a pet peeve of mine; better than Ravensburger in my opinion.

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