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.

41 thoughts on “Puzzle Brand Comparison — Buffalo Games

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  1. 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.

  2. 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:)

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. Just finished our first Buffalo puzzle, a Wysocki, in three days of leisure. Great picture, smooth cutting, no dust, green manufacture and a bunch of other good things. However, the piece-fits-but-is-wrong problem was frustrating in common-color areas. First time I’ve encountered this problem. An old trick is to take two or three surrounding pieces out with the questionable piece and turn them over. If it’s not a fit, the discrepancy will be readily apparent. This solved a number of out-of-order border pieces for me.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!!

  5. Have worked a ton of puzzles over the years, and have always stuck to brands like Springbok and Bits and Pieces. Ran across a 2000 piece Buffalo puzzle, Grandmas Craft Cottage and liked the look, thought I’d give it a try and now I feel the need to comment.

    Graphic is good, clear and as represented on the box. I like that they have a poster inside the box for help with placement, especially since it’s such a big puzzle.

    The pieces are smallish (about the size of a quarter), and that’s fine, but I am getting tired of needing a second set of reading glasses and a magnifying glass to decide if a piece fits in a particular space or not. Even with their grid, pieces are shaped similar enough that they can be placed in the wrong spot. Several times, I’ve spent time working around a group of pieces that I thought fit, only to find that it was in the wrong place, and by moving one or two pieces out of the way, a whole grouping moved.

    I hate to give up on a puzzle, especially after 25 or more hours, but it’s getting tedious and rather than being an enjoyable couple hours of relaxation, I end up frustrated.

    thanks for your time and effort on this site, I will definitely make sure I read your reviews prior to purchasing a brand I’m not familiar with in the future.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. I am an avid puzzler and am trying to do a Buffalo puzzle for the first time, Rosie the Riveter. I am frustrated by the fact that multiple pieces seem to fit in multiple places. I have not even managed to do the border yet. Has anyone else experienced this and does anyone have any tips?

    1. If the border has lots of the same color, I could see the problem. You might forgot the border for a bit and do another section of the puzzle that’s easier, then fill the border in as you come to it. That will give you more surrounding pieces to check the fit against. I use that technique on shaped puzzles, but it can be helpful with a puzzle where the border is monotone and especially hard.

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