Puzzle Brand Comparison – New York Puzzle Company

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

POSTED: 2/3/2016

New York Puzzle Company website

SUMMARY: 58 points, B Grade

New York Puzzle Company specializes in vintage magazine covers, and they are best of breed in that area. They have sturdy space-saving boxes, thick puzzle pieces, a non-grid cut with lots of variety of piece shapes, and good image reproduction. Cons: The images on their boxes are a little on the small side and partially obscured, there is some puzzle dust, the piece fit is loose requiring care when moving assembled pieces, and the piece cut is very visible in the final finished puzzle.

 

1. BOX  —  6/10

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 New York Puzzle Company boxes are attractive and quite sturdy. They are smaller than many puzzle boxes, which is nice for shelving but also makes for a smaller reference picture since the puzzle doesn’t include a poster. The 1000 piece box below is 8″ x 10″ x 2 1/4″.

Front:

The front of the box is simple and modern and the focus is on the puzzle image. It’s a very attractive box. I really like that the image name and artist name are on the front. One downside of the design is that the black box that says “Jigsaw Puzzle 1000 pieces” covers part of the image. Since the box top is the only reference you get to the puzzle image, that’s rather annoying. While assembling this puzzle, I really missed being able to see the details that were hidden under that box.

NYPuzzCo_boxfront

Side:

All four sides of the box have the New York Puzzle Company logo, a picture of the puzzle, the piece count, and final puzzle dimensions. The New Yorker logo appears on one long side. The year the image was copyrighted is on one side in small print (1945) but not the year the puzzle was manufactured. Generally, it’s an attractive box on the shelf, but I would have liked to have seen “The New Yorker” (as a series branding) on a short side too (in case you shelve it short side out), and the title of the puzzle and artist on both a short and long side instead of just the image. The name of the artist (Ilonka Karasr) is on one side in the fine print copyright info.

NYPuzzCo_Sides

Back:

NYPuzzCo_Bac

The back of the box is blank white.

Final Score for the Box Exterior:

To summarize, I really like the compact size of the box, the sturdiness and feeling of quality, and the general design. I think it would be wonderful if they’d include a small poster like Buffalo Games does or at least remove the black box on the cover that obscures a bit of the image. The other data I’d like to see on the box is basically cosmetic.

NYPC_Box_Score

 

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?

The box came with the bag of puzzle pieces and nothing else.

NYPuzzCo_boxinside

 

In the puzzle bag, the pieces were completely separated, with no hanging chads or need to rip pieces apart. The image top is firmly adhered to the pieces with no lifting and no damage. There was noticeable puzzle dust in the bag.

NYPuzzCo_dust2

And this was more obvious when I dumped the bag out onto the cover of my jigboard.

NYPuzzCo_dust3

FINAL SCORE:

This box is pretty basic, as you can see, and did have some puzzle dust to contend with. However, the puzzle pieces themselves were in good condition and there were no missing or extra pieces.

NYPC_BoxInside_Score

3. PIECE THICKNESS:  10/10

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?

We use Ravensburger as our ‘benchmark brand’ for good quality thickness in puzzles, and New York Puzzle Company had no trouble going head to head with them, as you can see below. It’s apparent as soon as you pick up the bag of puzzle pieces that they are nice, sturdy pieces. That’s always an excellent sign! The pieces also feel quite dense and had nice clean edges with no fraying.

NYPuzzCo_thickness

 

 

FINAL SCORE:

Full marks for puzzle thickness.

NYPC_PuzzThickness_Score

4. PIECE SIZE AND SHAPE:  10/10

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

New York Puzzle Company, like many American manufacturers, has a variable, non-grid cut.  As you can see in the close-up below, there’s a large variety of shapes and piece corners don’t necessarily line-up. Personally, I prefer more creative non-grid cuts like this (similar brands are Springbok, House of Puzzles, Sunsout, and Bits and Pieces), so this definitely works for me.

NYPuzzCo_FarmCalendar_CU7web

 

The piece size is about the same size as Ravensburger as you can see below. Neither too small nor way oversized. Since the cut was so variable, there are smaller pieces, but none of the pieces felt alarmingly small.

NYPuzzCo_piecesize

FINAL SCORE:

Full marks for this category as well!

NYPC_PuzzShape_Score

5. PIECE FIT:  6/10

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 found the piece fit to be loose with this sample puzzle. It was quite difficult to move connected pieces without having them fall apart, as you can see below (you can click for a larger image). When the puzzle was done, I tried to nudge it a bit on my jigboard to take photos, and instead of shifting the puzzle, the side just crumpled up under my light push and fell apart.

Overall, during assembly, I could deal with this looser feeling and it didn’t ruin the puzzle for me, but I did find myself wishing it had a tighter fit (more like Springbok or Sunsout). There were a few times when I wasn’t sure if a piece really went somewhere or not, because it was so easy to lift the knob right out of the hole.  There was not that ‘click in place’ satisfaction of brands like Ravensburger, Jumbo, Springbok, etc.

NYPuzzCo_loosefit

When you’re not trying to move the assembled pieces about, though, the fit looks snug and attractive. See the image below.

NYPuzzCo_WIP

On the good side, because of the highly variable piece cut, I never thought a piece went where it really didn’t go, which can be a problem with some grid-cut brands like Gibsons.

Final Finish:

Another detraction for me is the final finish of the assembled puzzle. Perhaps because of the looser cut, the piece shapes are highly visible when assembled, as you can see in the image below. This would really be a negative if you hoped to glue or frame the puzzle for the wall. The effect is probably exacerbated in this sample puzzle because the artwork is quite impressionistic, but I feel like the high visibility of the cut makes the final image hard to see and appreciate.

NYPuzzCo_FarmCalendar_mainweb

NYPuzzCo_FarmCalendar_CU5web

FINAL SCORE:

Despite the nice, thick pieces and impressive non-grid piece cut, the sample puzzle lost a bit of ground due to a loose fit and very visible seams when done.

NYPC_PuzzFit_Score

 

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?. 

It’s difficult to judge this category with the sample puzzle, because the original image has a softer and less detailed style. I would say the image reproduction is a little too soft, though I often see that with puzzles that use vintage images, such as old greeting cards or posters. Those images are just not as high-res as modern images and it’s just the vintage deal. So I’m not going to detract anything for that. The colors are very good and there were no issues with the alignment of the image on the puzzle top.

The puzzle does have a glossy finish which, while it feels nice in your hand, lends itself to glare from light sources.

NYPuzzCo_FarmCalendar_CU3web

NYPuzzCo_FarmCalendar_CU4web

FINAL SCORE:

NYPC_ImageRepro_Score

7. IMAGE VARIETY:  10/10

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

3-in-one_NYPC

Above: “Saturday Afternoon” General Motors vintage ad 1000 pieces, “Jim Golden: Camping Equipment” 1000 pieces, The New Yorker cover with “Main Street New York” by Beatrice Tobias 1000 pieces. (click for a closer view)

New York Puzzle Company is known for their vintage magazine covers. They have lots of them and they’re quite nice. There have vintage covers from magazines like The New Yorker, Field & Stream, Harper’s Bazaar, Outdoors, etc. They also have vintage ads. They now have a few collage style puzzles and maps too.  You can see their full line on their website.

I would rank them very highly in the vintage category. Some of the covers they’ve repro’d could also pass in the Americana, Primitive, and Fine Art categories (but with all the magazine verbage on them). For example, the Outdoor Life covers are very Norman Rockwell-esque. They are just starting to branch out into other areas with their collage puzzles and maps and those aren’t especially unique (yet).

Specifically, I’m grading their current catalog per their website as of 2/3/2016. There are a number of puzzles I would immediately buy, but not 10 or more (one of our ranking criteria). I removed one point for their catalog currently being fairly narrow in offering as, really, it’s basically vintage images. On the other hand, if you like vintage magazine covers, NYPC is best of breed and has done a great job of selecting puzzle-worthy covers, so they earned back the point.

FINAL SCORE:

NYPC_ImageVariety_Score

WHERE TO FIND:

Widely available in the US including on their own website, amazon, puzzlewarehouse.com, etc. In the UK, the ones listed on amazon.co.uk all appear to be from the same reseller (M&E Store-UK) who is really gouging the prices. The best bet if you live outside the US is probably ebay or perhaps the New York Puzzle Company website, because they appear to ship internationally.

SUMMARY: 58 points

New York Puzzle Company specializes in vintage magazine covers, and they are best of breed in that area. They have sturdy space-saving boxes, thick puzzle pieces, a non-grid cut with lots of variety of piece shapes, and good image reproduction. Cons: The images on their boxes are a little on the small side and partially obscured, there is some puzzle dust, the piece fit is loose requiring care when moving assembled pieces, and the piece cut is very visible in the final finished puzzle.

YOU CAN DOWNLOAD OUR NYPC ASSESSMENT AS A PDF HERE

JJ