Puzzle Brand Comparison — Cobble Hill (Updated)

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

UPDATED 5/19/2018

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….

SUMMARY:  65/70

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.

Front:

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.

 

Back:

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.

 

Sides:

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..

CobbleHill

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.

comparison-1

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.

YOU CAN BROWSE THEIR ENTIRE SELECTION ON PUZZLE WAREHOUSE HERE.

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.

SUMMARY:  65/70

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.

YOU CAN BROWSE THEIR ENTIRE SELECTION ON PUZZLE WAREHOUSE HERE.

23 responses to Puzzle Brand Comparison — Cobble Hill (Updated)

  1. Horse N. Buggy says:

    I’m in the middle of completing a Coble Hill puzzle purchased from Barnes and Noble. I’d be curious to know if where you buy the puzzle makes a difference in the packaging or quality. The image on my Coble Hill puzzle is a collage of Nancy Drew mystery novels. It’s 1,000 pieces. I found it to be completely different quality than you describe here. The box is nicely done, but it’s small (I assume that B&N wants it to take up less shelf space). I use very weak reading glasses in regular life but for this puzzle I had to get a magnifying glass because the image on the box is so small. That strategy works, it just slows me down. There’s a TON of puzzle dust with this one – to the point where I’m blowing my nose constantly while working on the puzzle. The pieces are very oddly shaped, not grid like at all. In fact, if this puzzle didn’t have a white border around the edge, I don’t know that I would have been able to pull out all the edge pieces on the first sorting. I firmly believe that the only reason I’m continuing to work on this puzzle (because of the odd shaped pieces and how loosely they fit together) is because it’s a collage so it’s like I have thirty mini-puzzles which are ultimately solvable.

    • Thanks for your feedback on that puzzle. I have that one, but haven’t put it together yet. The box I have is their regular rectangular box size. Personally, I like odd shaped pieces (not grid cut) but it can take some getting used to if you are used to grid cut puzzles.

      • Horse N. Buggy says:

        Are there any brands that use oddly shaped pieces where the pieces really lock together tightly? I haven’t found one but I’m relatively new at this. Or, rather, I just picked it back up after having done a few puzzles in high school.

  2. Patsy says:

    Love your informative and fun posts. I too, am a puzzle junkie and have very specific likes and dislikes. I got the cobble hill teacups 1000 piece a few years ago, when I first started puzzling and it was just too hard for me. I gave up. I didn’t like the linen texture either because I wanted the colors to be more vibrant. I am much better now and dying to try the Mount Rushmore comic one. It looks like fun. Thanks again!

    • Hi, Patsy — thanks for your post. I’m glad you found us! Let us know what you think if you do Mount Rushmore.

  3. Kathleen says:

    The newer Eurographics puzzles have random shaped pieces and a fairly tight fit. Cobble Hill can be challenging because their pieces are REALLY ODDLY SHAPED. Sometimes it is difficult finding the edge pieces due to the strange shapes. P.S. If you order Cobble Hill online there is chance you will get a small box. I don’t like these because I agree that they are hard to see. If the box is small, a poster should be included which C.H. doesn’t. Hope this helps!!

    • Thanks for sharing your thought Kathleen! I’ve never gotten a small Cobble Hill box. Something to be aware of!

  4. Louise says:

    Just finished Verticalville by Springbok 1977. Wanted to know the difference between that and Cobblehill. Will give Cobblehill a try.

  5. PuzzleBum says:

    I recently bought a Cobble Hill 1000 piece puzzle and was disappointed to discover the quality wasn’t what it used to be. While the image finish was very good the cardboard was different from the nice blue board they used to use. There were many incomplete cuts which forced me to carefully rip apart the joined pieces. Rather than the back of the pieces bring nice and smooth like a Ravensberger the edges were raised along the cuts. The pieces had a lot of variety in size and shape which is great and offers more challenge but it was very easy to get wrong pieces joined together in areas where the color was the same. I compared this puzzle with an older Cobble Hill puzzle I had bought years ago. It was made in Canada , the piece shape was more conventional and the cardboard appeared more premium. Cobble Hill now makes their puzzles in the USA and as mentioned the quality is just not the same. I won’t be buying another. Too bad…. They have some really nice designs.

  6. PuzzleBum says:

    Update: I shared my feedback with Cobble Hill and received this reply:
    “We are addressing this issue with new machines that have recently been put in place for our 1000 piece puzzles. It won’t resolve any issues with existing inventory, but it does make a huge improvement moving forward. We use several different templates to cut our puzzles, so luckily the problem is not seen throughout our inventory, but on occasion, errors like this can happen. We apologize for the disappointment and recognize the importance of resolving this problem.”
    I appreciate that this company seems to take quality control seriously and listens to their customers and in light of that will give their puzzles another try.

  7. Janyne Stevens says:

    I am on my fifth CH puzzle now, getting ready to complete it tonight. I too am having problems with incomplete cuts, with the edges kind of rolled over on the back, rather than being flat. I also encountered several pieces where the image was peeling up at the edges on the Boucat puzzle. The last two puzzles were full of puzzle dust as well. I have only completed CH puzzles so far, but have purchased several other brands…Sunsout, White Mtn, and will try one of those next to gauge the difference. So glad I found this group of people!

  8. June Kemp says:

    I never thought I would be providing negative feedback on a Cobble Hill puzzle as I have loved them over the years. The latest one I bought is the Butterflies 1000 piece and I was very disappointed in the quality. The pieces are very small, thin and poorly cut. The die cut produced pieces that do not stay together and make it very difficult to move two connected pieces around. Taking the puzzle apart was very easy as the pieces were such a loose fit to start with. I was very thankful that I had not purchased the puzzle as a gift for someone else as I would have been embarrassed at the poor quality.

  9. Kathleen says:

    Cobble Hill has greatly improved their quality and seem genuinely concerned about producing a superior product. They are also including a poster in their boxes. I recently completed “Blue Flowers” and was very impressed with the superb quality of the product. Keep up the great work C.H.!!

  10. Richard Harlan says:

    I am working on the 1000 piece Cobble Hill puzzle entitled “Library Cat.” Not only is it missing a number of pieces, it has included many pieces from a different puzzle. This is really garbage and they should be ashamed of themselves for selling this. Very disappointed.

  11. Natalie says:

    I am currently trying to finish a CH puzzle called The Passage” It is so random cut that I have been tempted to fold it up and trash it. But because I love puzzles and have never done that before, in my 75 years, could someone offer the KEY to completion. This is a second-hand puzzle, and I could be missing pieces, which makes it more difficult, but that has never stopped me yet.

  12. Sara says:

    Since this review was written at least some of Cobble Hill’s puzzles are random cut like Sunsout or Springbok. One box side says “Random Cut Puzzle”, so if you’re shopping in person you can tell what you are getting, which is nice.

    • Jane says:

      I plan to review a new Cobble Hill next week and update the brand comparison for them. So stay tuned!

  13. Chris says:

    Great updated review! I have completed a couple of Cobble Hill family puzzles with my grandkids this year and we all enjoyed working on them even the kids, that don’t normally like puzzles. The quality and themes were just right!

  14. donna says:

    What is the difference between Cobble Hill and Jack Pine? I am currently working on “Ragdolls” and it is the worst. The pieces DO NOT stay together!!!! If you barely move them they fall apart.Not happy with the quality of this puzzle!!!!!

    • Robin says:

      I did a Jack Pine ‘teacups’ the other day. It was the BEST puzzle I have ever done to date. Better fit than Sunsout, you could lift it by the corner and almost twirl it like a pizza if you wanted. Glossy finish, and odd cut. But gee, why this brand only has a few is a mystery. The pieces are thinner, but the fit was utterly fantastic. I hope their others are like that. I wrote to Cobble Hill the other day and they said if the box has a linen finish, so does the puzzle and that all their puzzles are like this. For your problem, I had the same situation with their ‘Backyard Blues’ puzzle, but I think it is older. From this review, looks like you may want to try the newer kind with the poster before totally giving up.

  15. Adam says:

    Nice Review Jane. I appreciate your honesty when reviewing brands in your blog. Cobble Hill puzzles are one of my go-to’s now and for many of the reasons you described.

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