Review: “Father’s Christmas Train” by Susan Brabeau, Sunsout – 8.25/10

"Father's Christmas Train" is a cute Americana painting by Susan Brabeau that's been made into a 500 piece puzzle by Sunsout. At the heart of the painting is a dad having a grand time playing with trains while his disinterested son reads a book. The cozy living room is decorated for Christmas and there's a definite nostalgia vibe to the image. The Sunsout quality is very good, with sturdy pieces and a fun random piece cut. I like that you can move around a set of joined pieces without them falling apart. This is an easy puzzle that you can do in a single setting and would be good for kids and seniors. Recommended.

Review: “Christmas Chaos” by Francois Ruyer, Piatnik – 9/10

"Christmas Chaos" by Francois Ruyer is a fun but moderately challenging Christmas cartoon puzzle. The artwork is beautifully executed with tons of color and detail. The repeating elements of similar-looking elves and gift boxes scattered throughout the image are tricky, but there are some anchoring elements such as the windows, fireplace, toys, and Christmas tree, which help fill in much of the design. I found myself referring to the box lid often to figure out which piece of elf went where. The Piatnik quality is very good with thick, sturdy pieces, a grid cut, a fairly tight fit, and a nice matte finish. If you like a little more challenge, Christmas puzzles, or cartoon puzzles, this is highly recommended.

Tis the Season: A Christmas Top Ten List

And now for my top picks in Christmas puzzles this year.... My criteria was: a) it can be any puzzle still in print, b) it must be available for US distribution at Puzzle Warehouse, c) I want to cover a range of piece count, brands, and art styles in my list, and d) even though it's a "top ten" list I can have as many as I want! Okay. Let's get started.

Review: “A Girl’s Stocking” by Liz Goodrick Dillon, Sunsout – 9.25/10

I loved shaped puzzles. There aren't that many released each year, so I treasure the good ones when they come along. This stocking-shaped Christmas puzzle is really delightful. The curved border is fun to work with and the image is filled with bright colors and patterns that keep you moving from one object to the other without wanting to stop. I love the quiet scene by the Christmas tree and the soft, painterly art style. The Sunsout quality is excellent too, with sturdy pieces and a fun random piece cut. Highly recommended.

Review: “Christmas Village” by Nicky Boehme, Buffalo Games – 8.5/10

"Christmas Village" is a lovely holiday puzzle from artist Nicky Boehme and Buffalo Games that's easy to assemble. The beautiful and nostagic wintery scene is from an oil painting, and it brings back wonderful memories of Christmas's past. Buffalo Games's quality is very good with sturdy pieces and a well-designed box. The puzzle has a grid cut with a nice variety of piece shapes including a few zig-zag shaped pieces. The panoramic design of this puzzle makes for a nice change from the usual rectangular size. No poster is included in this box, and the box image is a little on the small side, but I didn't have too much difficulty with that. Recommended to all fans of Christmas puzzles.

Waddingtons 2016 Christmas Puzzle

I've been checking the web every day for any sightings of the 2016 limited edition Christmas puzzle from Waddingtons. Today it cropped up! Drum roll.... What do you think?  I think it's nice, but it's not my favorite. For the past three years, Waddingtons appears to be using the same artist who creates digital images... Continue Reading →

Review: “Santa on the Roof” by Sergio Botero, Lafayette Puzzle Factory – 8/10

This is a pretty and easy to assemble Christmas puzzle at a bargain price and better-than-bargain quality. The cut away house design gives the puzzle a collage-like effect, with separate areas of color and pattern to assemble. The Lafayette Puzzle Factory quality is decent with pieces that were clean cut and not easily bent. The image is bright and well-bonded to the backing. There was no image lift or damage to the pieces. The cut is a standard grid cut with a good variety of shapes. There was never any confusion about where a piece fit. The illustration style is lovely with nice color and detail throughout the image. This is a recommended addition to your collection of Christmas puzzles.

Review: “Christmas Cuckoo Clock” by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company – 9.25/10

This is a delightful Christmas puzzle with easy-to-medium difficulty. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The image is bright, crisp, and well adhered to the backing. The cut is an semi-random cut with a wide variety of piece shapes. I particularly enjoyed the illustration style with lots of detail throughout the image. Assembly is a nice mix of easy elements, such as the elves and inner clock face, and areas that require a little more thought, such as the gold features of the clock, the snow, and the gradated blue background. It's a very doable puzzle, though, and never frustrating. Highly recommended.

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