This page is part of our Puzzle Brand Comparison. You can find the overview page here.
Cobble Hill has had a brand overhaul, and they asked me to review a new puzzle and update the brand comparison. Also, the previous brand comparison hadn’t been updated since I devised the more rigorous chart system. So let’s see how the new system, and new puzzle, changed Cobble Hill’s ranking. They went from a 56 to a 65.
Here we go….
Cobble Hill is a quality Canadian puzzle brand with sturdy, well-designed boxes that include a small poster, decent puzzle piece thickness, a random piece cut with good variety, and excellent image reproduction. They specialize in scenic landscape, wildlife, nostalgic, and collage puzzles and well as some cartoon and illustrated scenes. Recommended as a quality brand.
I’ve highlighted the changes in the new puzzle style in bold.
PUZZLE REVIEWED: “Dog Gallery” by Gretchen Kish Serrano, published 2018
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?
Cobble Hill has traditional rectangular boxes similar in shape and size to Ravensburger and Jumbo. Their new boxes are still 10″ x 14″. The boxes are sturdy, both top and bottom, with a lovely linen finish. They have a consistent, attractive packaging design with their cream and green borders. Boxes are shrink wrapped.
The front of the box has a nice design that focuses on the puzzle image, piece count, and company logo. The name of the puzzle and artist are not mentioned on the front but are on the side. The box has a linen finish, just like it used to, but the colors were bright and vivid and matched the puzzle, unlike the older boxes which could be more muted in tone. Notice that the company logo covers part of the image, but this is now solved with the inclusion of a poster in the box.
The back of the box has a generic message about the company and is the same as the old boxes. It’s nicer than a blank back, but some specific info on the puzzle and/or artist or series would have been better.
The sides of the box are very good. The name of the puzzle and artist, piece count, small puzzle image, and company logo are on all four sides giving you four options for shelving. Shelving the puzzle vertically with the logo on top looks nice on the shelf with a set of Cobble Hill puzzles.
Final Score: I dinged points for a generic bottom and for not having the year of production on the box. All other points were good.
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?
The box contains the puzzle pieces in a bag and a small poster of the image, which is a new addition. The poster is the same size as the bottom of the box. It’s no larger that the box front, but it does remove the Cobble Hill logo, so you can see the part of the puzzle image that was under the log on the box. It’s also nice to have if two or more people are working on the puzzle at the same time. The back of the poster is blank.
The back of the poster is blank.
The puzzle bag is sturdy and fairly standard. The pieces were fully separated and in good condition. There was no image lift or bent pieces. There was minimal puzzle dust, pieces were well separated, and there was no image lift at all. There was, however, a fair amount of puzzle dust.
Final score: I removed one point for puzzle dust and added one for the included poster.
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 pieces feel good as you work the puzzle and have a pleasing thickness. You can see in the comparison below that the pieces are almost as thick (but not fully) as Ravensburger. There was no damage to the pieces and it didn’t feel like it would be easy to damage them either, so the puzzle should hold up well over many assemblies..
Final Score: I subtracted one point for the pieces not quite being as thick and nice as the German brand Ravensburger. Otherwise the pieces scored well.
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 new Cobble Hill pieces are more random cut than previously. Most of them are of average size, closest to the Gibson pieces in the photo below.
Notice in the image below, that due to the more random cut, some pieces are smaller, such as the two-knob small piece at the dog’s front paws below.
I like the new piece cut and shapes. Some pieces are close to grid-cut in shape and some get considerably more wild. It’s a nice mix that adds interest to assembly. Due to the wide variety, I never thought a piece went where it didn’t belong.
The border of the puzzle is closer to a grid cut with one long, flat side, which makes it easy to find the border pieces.
Final Score: I deducted one point for the few pieces in the puzzle which are considerably smaller than Ravensburger, though it didn’t bother me and I liked the variety. Overall, it’s a high 9 score.
5. PIECE FIT– 7/10
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?
I didn’t have any confusion about whether or not a piece fit. There is a good interlock between pieces, tighter than many brands (such as Heye and Buffalo), but not as super tight as some other brands (Springbok, Sunsout). I was able to move groups of pieces without them falling apart. I’d say the change to a more random cut makes the puzzle tighter, which is good.
The end result is fairly seamless, as you can see in the photos below. I would consider the fit average-to-tight.
Final Score: Nothing deducted or added here.
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 in this puzzle are rich and bright and felt very “true”. The whites were white and the colors natural. The image was very crisp without any fuzziness or blurring, as you can see in the close-up below. The linen finish is the same as it used to be, but I liked it originally and I still like it. It has a nice feeling in your hand and prevents glare.
Final Score: Nothing subtracted, and I added one for the linen finish.
7. IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS — 7/10
Does the brand have a wide variety of fun images and good artists?
In my first brand comparison, I wrote that Cobble Hill disappointed me a bit in image selection. At that time, most of their images were either wildlife/scenic landscapes or collages. These are still their heavy hitters, but they have added some cartoon puzzles, cat/dog images, and more illustrated scenes. Some of their nostalgia images still feel a bit “dime a dozen” to me, but they are probably good, reliable sellers. I still think their bird images are some of the best in the business, and they usually have at least a few more exciting images. I love all the images I show below. These are “Butterfly Garden” (1000 pieces), “Fall Birds” (1000 peices), and “Sugar Skull Cookies” (1000 pieces). Click to get a closer view.
As a Canadian puzzle company, they do carry some Canadian artists and landscapes you won’t see elsewhere. They also do attractive children’s puzzles and family puzzles which have a variety of large and small pieces. They seem to be aiming to offer something for everyone, and that’s not a bad thing.
Final Score: I found their catalog good but somewhat average, neither inspiring any negative points or an abundance of positive points. Overall score is 9.
Cobble Hill is a quality Canadian puzzle brand with sturdy, well-designed boxes, decent puzzle piece thickness, a random piece cut with good variety, a fairly snug fit, and excellent image reproduction. They specialize in scenic landscape, wildlife, nostalgic, and collage puzzles. They offer children’s puzzles, family style puzzles, and adult puzzles. Recommended as a quality brand.