Puzzle Brand Comparison — Springbok

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

SUMMARY:

Score: 56 out of 70 possible

Springbok puzzles are unusual for their thick pieces and tight fit, which make it possible to pick up part of, or a whole, jigsaw without it breaking apart. They have unusual piece shapes that are a nice change from the standard puzzle ‘grid’ shapes.  Their image reproduction can be very good, but one of their puzzles we tested was blurry. Their boxes are a bit on the fragile side, and inconsistent in sizing. Their image selection is limited and mostly photo based.

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 Springbok boxes vary in size from puzzle to puzzle, making them a bit difficult to shelve together. They have a nice enough design on the front, focusing on the puzzle image.

Springbok (3)

The sides of the boxes alternate between two designs–one in English with a photo of the puzzle, and one in Spanish without an image.  The English side works find for vertical shelf storage.

Springbok-(1)

The back of the box is completely blank, and also quite thin. We really don’t learn anything about the artist or image on this box.  The box is shrink wrapped.

Springbok (4)

 

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 inside of the box contains the puzzle pieces in a plastic bag, and two small cards — one a warrantey and one a bit of an advert for Sprinkbok.  There’s no info about the puzzle or artist.

springboK-1

Like Bits and Pieces, the bottom of the box is fragile and is actually taped at the corners instead of having a solid bottom.  This seems to be a cost saving measure but it’s rather cheap in feel and the bottom of the box is easily damaged in storage.

springboK-2

The puzzle pieces are in a sealed plastic bag with minimal puzzle dust, pieces still connected, image lift or hanging chads.

springboK-3

 

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?

The Springbok pieces feel thick and sturdy. ‘Chunky’ is a good word–and that’s a good thing!

springbok1

Above: close-up from “Feathered Retreat” by Springbok

Below: the comparison with Ravensburger was done with pieces from “Sew Sweet”, 2009. Those pieces are a bit more frayed than the ones in 2012’s “Feathered Retreat”.

springbok_3 springbok_2

4.  PIECE SIZE & SHAPE – 9/10

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

Springbok pieces have unusual shapes and the puzzle doesn’t form a regular grid pattern. For puzzlers looking for a bit more challenge and variety, this is a good thing. Their pieces are not quite as unusual as House of Puzzles, which includes pieces with no knobs or holes at all, and pieces shaped like stars, etc.  But they’re still quite unusual comparison to traditional brands like Ravensburger and Gibson.

Springbok_FeatheredRetreatbox10

Size:  Springbok pieces are fairly large. You can see in the image below, they’re at least 30% larger than Ravensburger and Gibson. This makes for a large final puzzle. A 1000 piece Ravensburger puzzle is 27″x 20″ whereas a 1000 piece puzzle from Springbok is 30″x 24″.  I quite like working on a slightly larger puzzle for a change, and it makes an impression when it’s done, but it may not fit in standard 1000 piece puzzle boards or frames.

comparison-1

 

5. PIECE FIT– 10/10

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 of the Springbok pieces is the tightest of any puzzle I’ve tried. Whereas Ravensburger pieces go into place with a satisfying ‘snap’, Springbok pieces must actually be pushed down into place. I’m counting this as a very good thing, as you can see by my rating here. I never felt any confusion about whether a piece really fit or not (even in a puzzle with a zillion green pieces, like the one below) because if a piece doesn’t fit you’d really have to force it and it’s obvious.  It’s a nice feeling to push that piece into place, and the resultant tight grip of the puzzle means you can pick up sections of it, or the entire thing when you’re done, and move it about without it falling apart. (Well, you wouldn’t want to hit someone over the head with it, as it would assuredly disintegrate, but barring violence, it hangs together.)

Springbok_FeatheredRetreat2

 

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?

I’m not entirely sure about this. I think the quality of the reproduction may vary from puzzle to puzzle or possibly has improved in recent years. In “Feathered Retreat” (2012), the colors were brilliant. The birds and bird house front were crisp and defined, but various areas of the pine needles and the edge of the birdhouse were blurred. This doesn’t look inherent to the painting. It may have been done in the pine needles in order to provide some texture variation to help the green sections be more workable. In the end, it doesn’t keep the final puzzle from being beautiful. See our review here.

springbok

Another example that’s considerably worse is the 1000 piece puzzle “Sew Sweet” (2009).  Compare the photo of the puzzle image on the box with piece of that same area in the puzzle. The image on the box is crisp and high resolution whereas the detail in the puzzle pieces themselves is very blurry. Below, compare the scissors and lace with the same section on the box lid. No, it’s not my camera. The puzzle pieces really are that blurry!  Since this is an older puzzle than “Feathered Retreat”, it’s possible they have improved the quality or this was just a bad one-off.

springbok2 springbok3 springbok4

Above: The details like the measuring tape have blurry edges and numbers and lines on the puzzle pieces, but are crisp in the box image. 

In this day of high-definition everything, there’s no reason why the puzzle image in “Sew Sweet” should not have been as crisp and clear as the box image. For a collage type puzzle like this, those details are the whole point.  So unfortunately, I had to ding Springbok in this category, though it may not be an issue across their entire line or in the more recent puzzles.

7.  IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS – 6/10

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

Springbok specializes in photo landscape puzzles, and colorful photo collages like candy or colored pencils or yarn.  Their puzzles are all rectangular, though they’ve done round ones in the past. They also carry a few scenic painting puzzles, train puzzles, Coke puzzles, and cutesy ones with snowmen or animals. They don’t have any particularly well-known artists in their line-up. If you’re a fan of photo-realistic puzzles, you’d probably rate their selection higher than I have.

Here’s their website.

SUMMARY:

Score: 56 out of 70 possible

Springbok puzzles are unusual for their thick pieces and tight fit, which make it possible to pick up part of, or a whole, jigsaw without it breaking apart. They have unusual piece shapes that are a nice change from the standard puzzle ‘grid’ shapes.  Their image reproduction can be very good, but one of their puzzles we tested was blurry. Their boxes are a bit on the fragile side, and inconsistent in sizing. Their image selection is limited and mostly photo based.

22 thoughts on “Puzzle Brand Comparison — Springbok

Add yours

  1. Springboks get a 10 from us! No puzzle dust. Vibrant images, great printing, large & uniquely shaped pieces fit perfectly so puzzles can be lifted. One piece fits only one space. Beautiful, woodsy scenes. No warping, no peeling, no image lift. Springbok sent us a giant litho of Garden Stairway. We buy lots of Springboks. A+ from us.

  2. My husband and I have done 96 puzzles in the past 5 years. Of these, we only had three that had a missing piece (or pieces). One was a “bargain” brand and two were Springboks. Of the two Springboks, one was missing four pieces!! I stopped buying them because of this obvious lack of quality control.

    1. I completed 2 Springbok puzzles recently and both were missing one piece. After the 1st puzzle I contacted Springbok and they sent out a new one. I didn’t bother to contact them after the 2nd one. While the pieces are sturdy, I don’t think I will order another.

  3. I enjoy and appreciate your reviews (thank you!), but I have to say I’d give Springbok a much lower rating. I normally do Ravensburger puzzles, or Pomegranate, but was given a 1,000 piece Springbok recently as a present. I found Springbok to be exceptionally disappointing.

    The image was blurry, and smaller than pictured on the box. Many, many pieces were still firmly connected. Even beyond that, the pieces were not cut properly and many had ragged edges. The outer edge of the puzzle was not straight. The pieces differed so wildly in size and shape, from tiny to huge, and with bizarre swoopy shapes, that it felt like doing an easy kids puzzle. I finished it in less than a day.

    Worse, this was the first puzzle I did not enjoy. I had to really force many of the pieces down, and often was not even sure if it fit (in each case it did ultimately belong there, but the join was sufficiently messy that I wasn’t sure initially). By contrast, Ravensburger is a clean good cut and the pieces snap satisfyingly (and unambiguously) into place.

    For me, the force necessary, and the uncertainty, combined with the poor cut and blurry image, mean that I will not buy this brand at any price, and will pass if a friend offers to lend me a Springbok. Lastly, while decent brands supply a resealable ziploc bag for the pieces, Springbok just uses a thin plastic film bag that is garbage the moment you slit it open — completing the Springbok experience by maintaining the same low quality approach throughout. They deserve a very poor grade, and no repeat business.

  4. I wish Springbok had a wider variety of puzzles available, as it is a great brand and unique with its cut style (similar piece shapes can be found from Battle Road Press and Laurel Ink .. great fine art brands although limited only to the 500 piece size). Some of the older Springboks I own have been completed over and over again with little deterioration. I even have one Christmas puzzle that I make every year and pin up on the wall, unglued – there are pin holes on each corner piece and that’s enough.

    The one downside that I see with some of my Springboks comes from the tight fit. I have several with numerous cupped pieces, where the knobs tend to pop up, making the puzzle not sit flat like most other puzzles. Their cardboard seems to differ from most brands. It has a more spongy feel to it with a higher moisture content and I would guess the cardboard expands more than most puzzles when it’s cut, accounting for the tight fit. Generally speaking, brands with a denser, dryer type of cardboard tend to sit much flatter but aren’t tight fitting. There is of course a happy medium which is probably best achieved by Ravensburger.

    1. Mike – we completely agree!! Unless you have a vintage Springbok, the pieces bend and/or fall apart – especially if you assemble and tear apart more than once. The old Springbok pieces practically sucked themselves into the puzzle (if you had the right piece). Yes, they came apart rather easily, but you could take them apart and do them over and over again without any damage to the pieces or the image.
      We have a vintage Springbok puzzle (Florentine?) that is stunning. Other than the aged box, I telly – it looks brand new! Pieces are glossy, and none are broken, torn, bent, or ruffling. The image is truly beautiful – down to the smallest detail.
      You’d think they’d be making things better with all the technology and materials. Sigh…

  5. I don’t buy any other brand besides springbok any more because the piece shapes are most important to me. I don’t like collage types and I’m picky about my subject matter. The difficulty of most landscapes is about right for me. I do wish they had some special artists.

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