Puzzle Brand Comparison — Castorland

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

SUMMARY:

Castorland is a Polish puzzle maker. They have a large and diverse image catalog though it does have something of an old-fashioned feel. They carry more larger puzzles (2000-4000 pieces) than many puzzle companies. The pieces are noticably thinner than brands like Ravensburger and the cut is a grid cut but with a large variety of piece shapes. This brand can have very small sized pieces (the 1500 piece puzzle we tested had small pieces, but the 1000 had normal-sized pieces), so that may an issue for some puzzlers. Otherwise the brand quality is decent.

The puzzle we tested for this brand comparison was “Cloud Nine”, 1500 pieces, by Israeli artist Irinia Karkabi.

1. BOX  — 7/10

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?

The Castorland boxes are bright red/orange and very colorful. They feel sturdy. Their rectangular size is common in Europe. This 1500 piece puzzle had a box size of 10″ x 14″.

Front:

castorland_1

Back:

The back serves as a ‘mini-catalog’ with images of other puzzles in their line. There is no information about this particular puzzle image or artist. It also doesn’t show the other 2 Irinia Karkabi puzzles that were published at the same time.

castorland-2

Side:

All four sides have the puzzle image, company logo, and piece size for easy reference on the shelf. However, no where does it give the puzzle name or artist name. There also is no publication date.

castorland-3

My Rating Calculation:

My subjective rating on the highest possible points for this puzzle box, based on its attractiveness is a 9. The following points have been added/deducted:

Artist and puzzle name is on the front: +1
Box bottom has mini catalog but nothing about this puzzle image or artist: -1
Release year is not on the box: -1
Doesn’t have name of puzzle and artist on 1 side of each length: -1

Total: 7

 

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?

Nothing comes inside the puzzle box except a plastic bag with the puzzle pieces.

castorland-1

There is little to no puzzle dust, the pieces were fully separated. There were no damaged pieces in the box.

castorland-2

My Rating Calculation:

From a possible highest rating of 10, the following points have been added/deducted:

* Nothing is in the box but the puzzle pieces: -2

Total: 8

 

3. PIECE THICKNESS — 8/10

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 pieces feel thin compared to the better puzzle brands, thinner ‘live’ than the close-up below would lead you to expect. But they’re not bendable and are fairly dense.

castorland

My Rating Calculation:

The highest possible rating is 10. The following points have been added/deducted:

Noticably thinner than Ravensburger: -2
Total: 8

4.  PIECE SIZE & SHAPE — 6/10

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

Right out of the box, the first thing I noticed about the 1500 piece puzzle is that the pieces, while still in the bag, looked very small.  And they are, in fact, signifcantly smaller than your average puzzle like Ravensburger. Below is a side-by-side comparison. This picture shows the puzzle pieces are larger than actual size.

castorland

The smallness of the pieces really bothered me at first. As the puzzle went on, I got used to it, but in general, this is a feature of this brand that I don’t care for.

Compare the final size of this 1500 piece puzzle, 27″ x 18.5 “, with a Ravenburger 1500 piece puzzle at 33″ x 23.5”.

ADDED NOTE: After completing this 1500 piece puzzle, I looked inside the 1000 piece Irinia Karkabi that I’d purchased at the same time — the pieces in that puzzle are much larger!  They’re ‘normal’ sized. It turns out the Castorland 1500 piece Irinia Karkabi and the 1000 piece Irinia Karkabi have the same final dimensions — 27″ x 18.5″!  There’s no way to tell, from the outside of the box, or the website, whether you’ll get ‘small pieces’ or ‘normal sized pieces’, so that’s a problem. I’ve deducted for ‘small piece size’.

castordlan-3

Shape:  Castorland has a grid-cut like most European brands. They do have a good number of pieces that are not the basic two-knob, two-hole shape. More than most brands do.  Check out the close-up below.

Castorland_Irina-1500-1_CU3_SM

My Rating Calculation:

The highest possible rating is an 8 because this puzzle cut is a standard grid. The following points have been added/deducted:

Much smaller than Ravensburger: -2

Total: 6

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?

There is no particularly satisfying “oomph” when you connect a piece with Castorland–no snap, push, etc. It simply fits. The finish is pretty seamless and level.  You can move a small group of joined pieces using care. If you try to pick the puzzle up by a corner, it will quickly fall apart. There were a few times when I thought a piece went somewhere it did not, and I only discovered the problem when I found the surrounding pieces.

Castorland_Irina-1500-1_SM

 

My Rating Calculation:

The highest possible rating is an 10. Points were added or subtracted per below:

Pieces can be moved in small groups using care but not easily: -1
You can sometimes think a piece goes where it doesn’t — mild: -1
Total: 8

6. IMAGE REPRODUCTION — 9/10

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 colors are very attractive in this puzzle and reproduced well. The image is a painting, so it doesn’t have precise lines, but the image appears to be as ‘precise’ as the original painting was. The edge of the image was lined up perfectly with the border of the puzzle and matched the box image. Overall, good marks on this category. The only deduction was for some glare reflection at night due to a slightly glossy finish on the puzzle.

Castorland_Irina-1500-1_CU1_SM

My Rating Calculation:

The highest possible rating is an 10. Points were added or subtracted per below:

Glossy/reflective surface – mild: -1
Total: 9

7.  IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS — 8/10

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

castorland3

Above: “Town in the Mountain’s Shadow” 4000 pieces, “Eastern Melody” 1500 pieces, “Broken Silence” 1000 pieces

Castorland carries painted landscapes, fantasy puzzles, fine art, wildlife, floral still life, and photographic puzzles. They have a fairly broad selection and some quite nice images. They also carry more 4000 and 2000 piece puzzles than most other brands, so if you like the large puzzle sizes, check them out.

See their full range here.

My Rating Calculation:

The highest possible rating for their catalog for me us 9 since they do have a large and diverse catalog but they don’t carry any cartoon puzzles or unusual concepts like ‘find the differences’. I generally find their images a bit old-fashioned. Many of the wildlife, scenery, and fine art images are ‘same old same old’. They have some over-licensed images like Anne Geddes. However, they do have a few artists I haven’t seen elsewhere such as Sandra Kuck and Irinia Karkabi.  And some of their painted landscape 4000 piece puzzles are really lovely if you like really big images. I also quite like their floral still lifes.

Points added and subtracted:
Images in catalog are licensed and previously released — some: -1
Images feel old-fashioned, ‘same old’, or generally unappealing — mild: -1
Brand carries one or more outstanding puzzle artists that can’t be found on another brand:+1

Total: 8

WHERE TO FIND:

Castorland is easy to find in the US and UK. In the US, Serious puzzles carries them. You can get a 1500 piece Castorland for $14.95 and if you order over $60 worth of puzzles, shipping is free. In the UK, you can get them on amazon.co.uk.

SUMMARY:

Castorland is a Polish puzzle maker. They have a large and diverse image catalog though it does have something of an old-fashioned feel. They carry more larger puzzles (2000-4000 pieces) than many puzzle companies. The pieces are noticably thinner than brands like Ravensburger and the cut is a grid cut but with a large variety of piece shapes. This brand can have very small sized pieces (the 1500 piece puzzle we tested had small pieces, but the 1000 had normal-sized pieces), so that may an issue for some puzzlers. Otherwise the brand quality is decent.

JJ

5 responses to Puzzle Brand Comparison — Castorland

  1. Kathleen says:

    Just finished our first Castorland puzzle, “Sonata by Firelight”, (1000 pieces) and I was quite pleased. The image is beautiful and pieces are adequate in size and thickness. Although it is standard grid- cut, there is enough variety in the pieces that there never was a question as to fit. Also, NO PUZZLE DUST and no pieces stuck together. I would not hesitate to purchase another by this manufacturer.

  2. Marek says:

    “It turns out the Castorland 1500 piece Irinia Karkabi and the 1000 piece Irinia Karkabi have the same final dimensions — 27″ x 18.5″! There’s no way to tell, from the outside of the box, or the website, whether you’ll get ‘small pieces’ or ‘normal sized pieces’, so that’s a problem (…)”

    Well, the solution for roughly estimating the piece size of grid-based jigsaw puzzles seems pretty straightforward: you just multiply the final dimensions, as if to measure the square area covered by the image, and then divide it by the number of pieces! You get an average size of a piece (or what it would be like if it were a regular rectangle), and you can compare that size to those you prefer. I’ve been using this method before purchasing puzzles to figure out if I will find the pieces OK-sized or too small for my liking.

  3. Billsville Mike says:

    I really like small pieces! I don’t see it as a negative. These aren’t the micro pieces you see in Asia where they are actively competing for “world’s smallest” puzzle, they’re about 25-30 percent smaller than a standard size.

    Castorland pieces are a joy to touch, they have the most silky smooth finish. While thinner than other brands, they are proportionally similar considering the smaller dimensions of the pieces. Their scenic photography puzzles are top notch, but their art puzzles are severely lacking.

    • Thanks for adding some feedback on Castorland. It’s always good to hear from different puzzlers on a brand.

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