Puzzle Brand Comparison – Master Pieces

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

SUMMARY:

Score:  54 out of 70 possible

The Master Pieces brand has excellent packaging, a nice selection of images, decent puzzle cut, and good image reproduction.  I find their puzzle piece thickness a bit thinner in feel than my highest ranking brands, and the fit isn’t tight enough to move pieces around without them falling apart.  For thick pieces and tight fit Bits and Pieces, Sunsout, and Springbok are better of the US brands.  Image reproduction can be very good, but may be fuzzy for certain puzzles.

1. BOX  — 10/10

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?

Master Pieces does some very creative package design. They tend to do a unique package for each of their various branded lines, and they’re very good.  The example below is from the “Cat-Ology” series by artist Geoff Tristam. These boxes are small (8″x8″x2.5″) and very thick and sturdy.  They’re very similar to the Buffalo Games boxes (which I also like), and are much sturdier than Sunsout, Bits and Pieces, and Springbok boxes.

Square boxes for their “Cat-Ology” line:

 

jigsawjungle_catologybox

Back:

It varies from series to series, but often the back has a special design the describes the puzzle image and artist.  The back of the Cat-Ology box, for example, has information on artist Geoffrey Tristram plus images of other puzzles in the series. Nice!

jigsawjungle_catologybox2

Side:

All four sides have the puzzle series, piece size, and Master Pieces logo for easy reference so you can stack your collection however you like.  The boxes don’t take up a lot of room and look quite nice on the shelf.

jigsawjungle_catologybox3

In sum, this is a very nice box.  But Master Pieces also does other ‘fancy boxes’ for different series they carry.

Suitcase puzzles with a travel theme:

MPaustralia_suitcase

Book-shaped boxes for their book illustration series:

master3

Long, Narrow boxes for “The Great Outdoors” series:

master6

 

2. INSIDE THE BOX  — 7/10

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?

Inside the box contains nothing but the bag of puzzle pieces.  Buffalo Games, by comparison, which uses the same small 8″x8″ boxes, provides a larger poster of the puzzle image in the box but Master Pieces does not.

masterpieces

The puzzle is in a thick plastic bag. Puzzle dust is low to none. The pieces are full separated and there are no hanging chads or trouble with the image lifting off corners.

masterpieces23

3. PIECE THICKNESS — 7/10

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 Master Pieces puzzle pieces don’t quite live up to the promise of their nice boxes for me.  They just don’t feel quite as solid/chunky as other US brands Bits and Pieces, Sunsout, and Springbok, or the best Euro brands Ravensburger and Gibson. They feel a bit ‘light’, more so than is indicated in the photos below.

MasterPieces_1 MasterPieces_2

 

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 Master Pieces pieces are not on a grid and have a good variety of shapes.

Masterpieces_FurryF_WorkingPups_CU1_SM

In size they are about the same as Sunsout–bigger than Ravensburger but not as large as White Mountain.

comparison-1

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?

The interlocking fit is good, but the puzzle isn’t tight so that you can move pieces without them separating, as you can do with many of the higher quality puzzle brands. Along with the sense of thinness to the puzzle pieces, there’s an overall slight fragility to the puzzle as a whole. You have to move things with care and watch the edges as you lean over the puzzle.  However, I never had any difficulty with being confused as to whether a piece fit somewhere or not.  As you can see in the example below, the piece shapes are unique enough that they won’t go just anywhere.

Masterpieces_FurryF_WorkingPups_CU2_SM

 

6. IMAGE REPRODUCTION — 7/10

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 sharp and colorful.  The texture on the puzzle is glossy, which can make the surface reflective in hard light.

Masterpieces_FurryF_WorkingPups_SM

 

Note that the puzzle “Working Pups” (750 pieces, Jenny Newland) has a fairly sharp reproduction. However, the other puzzle I looked at “Cat-Ology: Hemingway” (1000 pieces, Geoffrey Tristram), the image is somewhat fuzzy and out of focus on the pieces (whereas it’s very sharp on the box lid), so I knocked this category down for that.  I’ll be reviewing the Cat-Ology puzzle soon.

7.  IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS — 8/10

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

Master Pieces carries a wide range of puzzles.  They have the travel series in suitcases, Buried Blueprints, Cat-Ology puzzles from Geoff Tristram, painted panorama landscapes by artists like Kim Norlien and Christian Lassen, Josephine Wall puzzles, Norman Rockwell, nostalgia, animal puzzles by Jenny Newland (“Furry Friends” and “Playful Paws” series), wildlife puzzles, high-color collage type puzzles, and more.

See their website here.

SUMMARY:

Score:  54 out of 70 possible

The Master Pieces brand has excellent packaging, a nice selection of images, decent puzzle cut, and good image reproduction.  I find their puzzle piece thickness a bit thinner in feel than my highest ranking brands, and the fit isn’t tight enough to move pieces around without them falling apart.  For thick pieces and tight fit Bits and Pieces, Sunsout, and Springbok are better of the US brands.  Image reproduction can be very good, but may be fuzzy for certain puzzles.

JJ

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