This page is part of our Puzzle Brand Comparison. You can find the overview page here.
Score: 56 out of 70 possible
The Sunsout boxes are their weak point, being oversized, not very sturdy, and having rather poor design. Fortunately, the puzzles themselves are thick, brightly colored, and with good image reproduction. They carry some fun American artists like Rebecca Barker and Susan Brabeau. They make both shaped puzzles and rectangular puzzles. Their shaped puzzles aren’t as good as Bits and Pieces, but they come in a good second and they do have a wide variety of them.
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 Sunsout boxes are not one of their best features. They’re quite large at 12.5″ x 12.5″. Honestly, this is larger than is necessary and means you end up storing a lot of air on your shelves. (The Bits and Pieces boxes, by comparison, which have similar piece sizes, are 9″ x 9″, Master Pieces and Buffalo Games are 8″x8″ and work just fine.) Each puzzle box has a unique color, which makes the brand less uniform but can make for nice variety on a shelf when stored together. Unfortunately, the boxes are fairly lightweight and fragile, particularly the bottoms. The box design is also amateur in appearance compared to brands like Ravensburger and Gibson in terms of fonts, logos, and layout. Each puzzle has a different font on it, some of them quite childish.
Below: (from “Mommie Makes it Better” by Sunsan Brabeau)
Side of boxes — three sides are similar and 1 side has the barcode and copyright info. The photo of the puzzle is much smaller than it needs to be to fit on the side, meaning it’s difficult to see on the shelf.
Backs: The backs of the Sunsout boxes are blank white, missing an opportunity to tell the consumer more about the artist and image and making teh box less collectible.
2. INSIDE THE BOX — 6/10
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?
There’s nothing inside the box except for the bag of puzzle pieces and a tiny piece of paper with general warranty/website into. 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.
The puzzle bag is sturdy with no puzzle dust or unseparated pieces.
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?
Fortunately, the quality of the puzzle itself is better than that of the box. The pieces feel sturdy and, while a bit thinner than Ravensburger, are comparable to Bits and Pieces. They feel very good when you work a puzzle.
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 piece shapes vary depending on whether the puzzle is shaped or rectangular. Below is an example from “Mommie Makes It Better”, which is 500 pieces in an extra large size (EX Grip). In this case, the pieces are standard grid-pieces, but they do have some funky shapes. They are all, however, 2-knob, 2-hole pieces.
The puzzle below is a shaped puzzle, “Bunnies in the Garden” and it has a wider variety of piece shapes than the puzzle sample from a rectangular “EZ Grip” puzzle shown above.
Size — the piece size for their regular (not extra large EZ Grip pieces) is similar to Bits and Pieces and slightly larger than Ravensburger.
5. PIECE FIT– 9/10
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 pieces fit together well enough, and there isn’t any confusion about whether a piece goes in a specific location or not. The fit is not as seamless as Jumbo or Ravensburger due to some slight ‘hanging chads’ or rough corners where piece separation was not entirely smooth. You can see this in the image below. Not a big deal, but did bump the rating down a bit.
The pieces hold together well when you pick them up.
6. IMAGE REPRODUCTION — 10/10
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 quite good, colorful and sharp. This is important, particularly with ‘painterly’ images such as Susan Brabeau. You can see this in the sample below from “Mommie Makes It Better”.
7. IMAGE VARIETY & ARTISTS – 8/10
Does the brand have a wide variety of fun images and good artists?
Sunsout carries a wide variety of puzzles including shaped puzzles, animal-themed puzzles, country scenes and Americana.
Their shaped puzzles are not as good as Bits and Pieces. They can be over-crowded and a messy mix of photo and painted textures, which doesn’t present a cohesive, quality image. (See “Cardinal’s Public Bath” by Lori Shory as an example.) This is, of course, entirely subjective and others may find that sort of image appealing. I do have a few Sunsout shaped puzzles that I quite like, such as “Garden Bunnies” by Mary Thompson and Japanese Garden by T.C. Chui.
In their rectangular puzzles, they carry some fun artists such as Susan Brabeau, Rebecca Barker, Bob Pettes, Jenny Newland, Kevin Walsh, Mary Thompson, Jack Sorenson, Tom Wood, Terry Doughty, and Joseph Burgess.
They do not have any series.