Website: www.houseofpuzzles.co.uk Location: Invergordon, Scotland
Release schedule: New collections in February and July. Christmas puzzle released in September.
Piece Sizes Offered: 1000, Big 500, Big 250
OUR REVIEW: 9/10
One of our favorite brands due to good quality puzzles with unusual piece shapes that are unique in the market and offer that little extra challenge. Beautiful art images with bright colors, lots of detail, and a British flavor.
OUR TOP PICKS:
Find the Differences No 6: By the Canal (Ray Cresswell artist, 1000 pieces) — Nice, very British landscape with bright colors and a touch of whimsies. The Find the Differences concept (the puzzle image has 15 small changes from the image on the box) is fun too.
Plum Jam (Ray Cresswell artist, 1000 pieces) — A lovely rural image with bright colors and high detail.
Unexpected Guest, Limited Edition Christmas puzzle 2013 (Tracy Hall artist, 1000 pieces) — Christmas shaped pieces add to the fun of this puzzle. With tons of colors and patterns, it’s a race to the finish.
PIECE QUALITY & STYLE:
Quality: about 8/10. The cardboard is not as heavy as Gibson or Jumbo, but it is better than many American brands and good enough. The colors are bright and lovely and it has a bit of a nice ‘soft wax’ finish. Downsides: lots of puzzle dust in the bag and some pieces, maybe 1% of the puzzle, are not fully separated. A little care and a sharp knife (or a tug) will finish the job, but one does get ‘paper chads’ floating in some holes which need to be pulled out in order to fit it to the next piece. These are minor issues in relation to the things we love about this brand and don’t detract from the enjoyment.
What sets House of Puzzles apart is their unusual piece shapes. As you can see from the close-up below, some pieces have standard shapes, some are very usual–for example with no holes or knobs–and some are a mix of standard shape and unusual edges in order to fit the two piece types together. While putting together the puzzle, this means an area might “fall apart” as you try to move it around, but a little care will set it right again. Once you have built in the area around the non-interlocking pieces the entire thing fits tight. What a nice change-up from the same old same old. In a word: we love it.
The House of Puzzles releases their new puzzles in “collections” such as the Ardmair Collection. These aren’t truly ‘series’ but simply a way to group together one set of puzzles for release.
“Limited Edition Christmas” series (1000 and 500 pieces)
Every year, the House of Puzzles puts out a limited edition Christmas puzzle. These are released in September in both the 1000 and 500 piece size.
2013 “Unexpected Guest” (Tracy Hall) 2012 “Me Too Santa” (Tracy Hall) 2011 “Christmas Shopping” (Ray Cresswell)
Check our Christmas Puzzles page for all puzzles in this series.
“Find The Differences” series (1000 pieces)
In the Find the Differences series the puzzle you put together has 15 changes from the image on the box lid. Changes include a items becoming a different color, objects being added or subtracted or reversed, etc. This is a simple idea but it’s quite fun to work because you have to keep in mind things will change from the box lid image and be on your toes. It’s also fun when the puzzle is completed and you can go over the image and make sure you’ve spotted all the changes.
There were 6 puzzles in this series as of Feb 2014.
Find the Differences No 6: By The Canal Find the Difference No 3: In The Snow Find the Differences No 5: Festive Market
“RNLI” series (1000 pieces)
HOP has done 2 puzzles which support the purchase of RNLI lifeboats for search and rescue. These are very nice puzzles and a worthy cause.
“Recuse!” (Keith Stapleton) “For Those In Peril” (Keith Stapleton)
“Four Seasons” (1000) “Pennies to Spend” (1000) “Roll Out The Barrel” (1000)
“Land Girls” (1000) “Summer Breeze” (250XL) “Golden Oldies” (1000)
“This Little Pig” (1000) “Five Minutes of Peace” (250XL) “Robins Nest” (1000)
“Country Show” (500XL) “Ice Skating” (500XL) “Market Day” (250XL)
Beryl & Graham Peters (Collages):
“Pastoral” (500XL) “Beside the Seaside” (500XL) “Five A Day” (250XL)
“Dad’s Shed” (1000) “Grandma’s Attic” (1000) Limited Ed. Xmas #3: “Secret Santa” (1000, 500)
In the UK: You can find the HOP puzzles on amazon.co.uk offered from various marketplace vendors but these vendors mostly ship only domestically.
Outside the UK: Shipping gets costly, but you can get the puzzles from brightideasgiftshop.com. You can also try ebay, where there are usually a few sellers who ship worldwide. NOTE: As of Sept 2014, you can also find HOP puzzles on amazon.com for a reasonable price.