Puzzle Brand Comparison — Puzzlelife

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

SUMMARY:  56/70

Puzzlelife is based in Korea. They carry similar images to Japanese brands like Epoch, AppleOne, and Beverly but are much more reasonably priced for US buyers ($36 shipping included for a 1000 piece Puzzlelife vs $65-85 for Beverly or Epoch) . They use a standard grid cut with enough variety of shapes that a piece never seems to fit where it does not. Their pieces feel ‘thick enough’ and are dense and sturdy. The image reproduction is good, but the glossy finish lends itself to light glare. Each puzzle comes with puzzle glue and a large poster. A recommended brand, particularly if you like Japanese art puzzles.

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 boxes are rectangular and smaller than most European brands (which is a good thing). The size is 12″ x 9″ x 2.25″. Both top and bottom are sturdy. The brand has a consistent white background. The front of the box focuses on the puzzle image.

My main complaint about the box is that nowhere on it, outside or inside, can you learn the name of the puzzle image or artist in English. They do promote their environmental policy in English, but nothing about the puzzle image.

Of course, this is a Korean company, and they are under no obligation to cater to an English-speaking audience, and yet their products are prominent on Amazon US and UK and ebay worldwide. Also, Japanese brands  like Epoch, AppleOne, Yanoman, etc, generally do have the name of the puzzle, artist, and year on the box somewhere in English, albeit in fine print.

Front:

puzzlelife-4

Above: The puzzle we tested is called “Beauty Under the Moon”, 1000 pieces, according to Amazon. Name and artist unknown.

Back:

The back of the box (see below) has general information about what is in the box, and how to assemble and glue a puzzle.

puzzlelife-3

Sides:

The box sides are nicely designed for vertical shelving with the puzzle image, piece count, and Puzzlelife logo very visible on all sides. Again, unfortunately, no side has the name of the puzzle and artist in a Western language, though a number of other words are provided in English.

puzzlelife-5

2. INSIDE THE BOX  — 10/10

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 inside of the box is quite impressive at first glance. First, the bag of puzzle pieces looks sturdy, undamaged, and dust free. There is a frankly huge poster that comes with the puzzle. It compares with the Heye posters. The back of the poster is blank. In addition we have a packet of puzzle glue and a little plastic palette knife for spreading it, and an information card in Korean.

puzzlelife-1

Below is a closer view of some of the items that come in the box.

puzzlelife-2

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?

Puzzlelife pieces are not as thick as Ravensburger or Yanoman (a Japanese brand), but they’re close and certainly ‘thick enough’. They are densely packed, cleanly cut, and feel sturdy in your hand. There was absolutely not piece warping, bent necks, etc. It feels like it would be quite difficult to bend a piece.

puzzlelife-1

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 pieces size seems about the same as Ravensburger but may be a bit smaller. This 1000 piece puzzle has a final size of 41 x 73.5 cm (vs Ravensburger 1000 piece size of 49.7 x 69.9cm).

The piece cut is a standard grid. The pieces are mostly of the two-knob, two-hole shape, though there are some three-hole and three-knob shapes once in a while. More of those would have been nice. Personally, I prefer a non grid cut puzzle (like Sunsout, Springbok, House of Puzzles, or Bits and Pieces), but most European and Japanese brands are grid cut and this is comparable to the high-end norm.

puzzlelife_girlinredhood_CU2_SM

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?

I enjoyed assembling this Puzzlelife puzzle. It felt fairly comparable to a Ravensburger or the Japanese brand I tested, Yanoman, though the pieces are noticeably not as thick as Yanoman. There is enough variety in each piece that you seldom think a piece fits somewhere where it does not. This could have been particularly problematic with this puzzle because of the large areas of blue, grey and red, and it wasn’t.

The Puzzlelife fit looks seamless and tight when it’s assembled, but the fit isn’t tight enough to move groups of pieces around without having them fall apart. See picture below. puzzlelife-1

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 color reproduction on this puzzle was very nice  The lines weren’t all that sharp, but likely that can be attributed to the art style.

puzzlelife_girlinredhood_SM

puzzlelife_girlinredhood_CU1_SM

The surface finish on the pieces is glossy, which looks and feels nice but is unfortunately quite reflective. This puzzle image has a lot of brown and gray, and working on the puzzle in artificial light in the evenings the darks have a tendency to all blend together under the glare of the overhead lights (see picture below). I’ve knocked this category down a bit for that.

puzzlelife-glossy

7.  IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS — 9/10

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

puzzlelife

Above: “Woman Mokdanhwa” 1000 pieces, “Attractions In Rome” 1000 pieces, “The Goddess of the Heavens” 1000 pieces

Puzzlelife has a very nice selection of images. If you like Japanese art, they have many of the traditional Japanese art and Japanese fantasy prints the more expensive Japanese brands specialize in. They also have some cartoon puzzles, photographic scenery, fine art, collages, religious images, and licensed images. Based on my review of this one puzzle, I’d be comfortable buying more of these images from Puzzlelife in the future.

See their current line-up on Amazon US here.

SUMMARY:  56/70

Puzzlelife is based in Korea. They carry similar images to Japanese brands like Epoch, AppleOne, and Beverly but are much more reasonably priced for US buyers ($36 shipping included for a 1000 piece Puzzlelife vs $65-85 for Beverly or Epoch) . They use a standard grid cut with enough variety of shapes that a piece never seems to fit where it does not. Their pieces feel ‘thick enough’ and are dense and sturdy. The image reproduction is good, but the glossy finish lends itself to light glare. Each puzzle comes with puzzle glue and a large poster. A recommended brand, particularly if you like Japanese art puzzles.

JJ

6 responses to Puzzle Brand Comparison — Puzzlelife

  1. By far the cheapest and most reliable source for Japanese puzzles is the Imaginatorium, http://www.imaginatorium.org/shop. Run by Brian Chandler, an Englishman who has lived there since the 80s, he can order any title still in print, and his prices are much lower than the ebay and Amazon sellers.

    • Hi, Mike — thanks for the comment. I did order from that site once and it arrived just fine. I’ll have to try it again.

  2. Miso Kwon says:

    I read your review and it is very interesting. I’m a korean. So I want to let you know about the artist of this puzzles. The artist name is Na-young Woo. She is a korean illustrator.
    And Puzzle life is very common puzzle bland in Korea. Because the products are inexpensive (almost 16~20$ in Korea) and easy to buy.
    Your blog is so fantastic. 🙂 If you don’t mind I want to introduce your blog to Jigsaw puzzle stories(the biggest puzzle community online in Korea)

    • Areiniah says:

      I saw this puzzle on eBay and fell in love with it! I hope I can purchase it soon. I absolutely adore Korean culture, and am aspiring to teach English in Korea upon university graduation. So many of the images are gorgeous, and I love the works of the artist of this puzzle. 🙂

  3. Billsville Mike says:

    There has been a huge explosion of Korean brands available on ebay in the past year or so. I have purchased selected art puzzles from the following brands: Omega; Bien; Blue Castle; Toy & Puzzle; and Chamberart. I have yet to try any of these but my experience with Puzzle Life was very positive, although it doesn’t quite rank as high as the top Japanese brands. I have a 2000 piece Puzzle Life and it includes a poster that is exactly the size of the completed puzzle. I wonder if some people build the puzzle directly over the poster!

  4. Billsville Mike says:

    I also have a 2,014 piece small size puzzle of Jacek Yerka’s ‘Ultima Thule,’ (73.5 x 51 cm) that is made in Korea. It is somewhat ambiguous as to what the brand is, but I believe it is called The Paper.

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  1. […] I’ve been drooling over Japanese puzzles for awhile, but have only bought a few due to the high cost of importing them. I noticed a brand called “Puzzlelife” on ebay and Amazon that had similar images but considerably cheaper prices ($36 with shipping included on Amazon US for a 1000 piece Puzzlelife, vs $65-85 for Japanese brands like Epoch, Beverly, and AppleOne). I decided to check one out. Are Puzzlelife puzzles worth the purchase?  Check out the answer here. […]