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