Blog Archives

Crazy Toys and Games We Played – Puzzles for Fans of Toys Bulletin

We were excited and pleased to find that “White Mountain Puzzles” had released two jigsaw puzzles that featured great toys and games from days long ago. The first is “Crazy Toys,” featuring toys, mostly dolls, that were favorites many years ago, and the second is “Games We Played,” highlighting many of the most famous board games of all time.

 

“Crazy Toys” and “Games We Played” each contain 1,000 puzzle pieces, and every piece fits nicely into place without trying to push, pound or reshape them.  The finished puzzles each measure 24” x 30”, and are suitable for framing if desired...

Posted in Board Games, Puzzle

Puzzle Pouch – A Handy Traveling Jigsaw Puzzle

Geotoys, headquarted in Neenah, Wisconsin, was founded six years ago by Bob Galinsky, who has created a full line of children’s educational products that revolve around the world of geography.

 

One of the new releases for 2012 from Geotoys is the “Puzzle Pouch.”  The “Puzzle Pouch” starts with a handy zippered case that measures about 7” in diameter.  Inside the case, is a 36-piece jigsaw puzzle of North America.  A photo of the puzzle decorates both sides of the case, and a paper copy is also included inside.


The puzzle pieces are sturdy and of a good size for little hands, each measuring 1.5” square.  The “Puzzle Pouch” is recommended for kids ages 3 years old and up, but the younger children will likely require some adult help along the way. The completed puzzle measures 9” x 9”...

Posted in Board Games, Puzzle

Underwater World Puzzleball – 40 pc Children’s Version from Ravensburger

The Puzzleball is not new, but Ravensburger has taken the concept of puzzleballs, many of which contain hundreds of pieces, and reduced that number down to a very low 24 and 40 pieces.  This children's line of puzzleballs is designed especially for youngsters ages 4 years old and up.  We are reviewing one of the 40 piece puzzleballs called "Underwater World."

When you open the box, you find 40 curved plastic puzzle pieces, 2 round plastic frames and what Ravensburger calls an assembly aid, which is actually a dome to assist in the assembly process.  In addition, there is a very useful set of illustrated instructions which contain no written text.  You just follow the pictures...
Posted in Board Games, Puzzle

Awkward Family Photos – A New Line of Puzzles

"All Things Equal, Inc." may be best known for its best selling games, including "Loaded Questions," "The Greatest Day Ever," and "Awkward Family Photos."  Toys Bulletin previously reviewed the latter two games back in 2011( see Aug-13 and Aug-24), and now we are excited to get a chance to review a new line of jigsaw puzzles based on some very "Awkward Family Photos."

There are currently four different puzzles available, each numbering an "awkward" 999 pieces.  The
puzzle photos are wildly funny pictures of family pets, vacation time, the holidays and siblings.  There are multiple photos on each, all contained within a 27" x 19" puzzle size.  The pieces are sealed in a plastic bag, each measuring about an inch in length...

Posted in Board Games, Puzzle

Dowdle Folk Art – Time to revisit one of our favorites

Back on 9 March 2011, we reviewed a line of puzzles released by "Dowdle Folk Art." The reader response to that review has been astounding. So, we thought we should take a closer look at another "Dowdle" jigsaw puzzle.

"Dowdle" has created not only a successful line of puzzles containing 300-1,000 pieces, they have also a complete line of puzzles that feature just 50-100 pieces. This group of puzzles is intended for youngsters tackling their first puzzle, or even for our seniors, who may no longer want the challenge of a larger puzzle size.

Despite the fewer pieces, the smaller puzzles still measure 16" x 20" when completed. The individual pieces are simply larger, easier to handle and, of course, have the same quality feel that "Dowdle" is known for throughout its entire line.

We chose the 100 piece "Under the Sea" puzzle. We tested it separately with a group of youngsters, who were not overly enthused about tackling a puzzle and a group of elderly who thought their puzzle days were well behind them.

The kids ranged in age from 5 to 8 years old. We set up the pieces right side up on a standard card table and simply asked them to see if they could get things started. We hinted that pieces with straight edges would be a good starting point. Suddenly, it became a competition to see who could find the next piece. The race was on, and with only 100 pieces, the puzzle was finished in less than an hour. There was a visible sense of pride and several of the kids wanted to take a picture of the puzzle before they left. Maybe some of these kids will be asking for puzzles as gifts instead of the latest video game.

Next, we tested the same puzzle with a group of four seniors, each of whom was older than 75 years old. They all agreed that they had done such puzzles when they were younger, but couldn't see well enough, or lacked the energy to do them anymore. We asked them to each sit around a standard card table in a folding chair, and again set up the pieces right side up on the tabletop. We also explained that there were only 100 puzzle pieces, and that each piece was much larger, more colorful and sturdier in their hand than they might remember from days long ago. They only smiled, but began to gently move the pieces around, taking turns looking at the completed puzzle picture on both the box and the included photo. They knew how to proceed and wanted no help.

Although they appeared to be working in slow motion, they did complete the puzzle. There was a great deal of laughter and even some side conversations about aquariums (remember the puzzle was entitled "Under the Sea"), but when the puzzle was assembled they all shook each others hands and hugged one another. There was a sense of accomplishment in their eyes. It was fun to be there to see it firsthand.

The "Under the Sea" puzzle not only comes in the 100 piece version, but in an even smaller 50 piece version, yet the smaller size retains the same finished 16" x 20" size and shape. Again, "Toys Bulletin" highly recommends the "Dowdle" brand of jigsaw puzzles. You can find the "Under the Sea" puzzle, along with many other puzzles in the 50-100 piece range for $17.00-$20.00 at Amazon.com.

-- RJ Cullen
Posted in Board Games, Puzzle

Puzzle Pyramid from Ravensburger – A True Three Dimensional Challenge





Our completed puzzle


Ravensburger Spieleverlag, the Company, was founded in the 19th century and today continues to be one of the leading makers of books, games and other hobby products. They also have an especially strong presence in the puzzle industry.

We at Toys Bulletin love puzzles of all types, and have long wanted to look at a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle. Rather than a flat puzzle containing hundreds of cardboard pieces, Ravensburger has created a Puzzle Pyramid. We were excited to take on the challenge. The version we chose was called "Spirit of the Sea," featuring a beautiful underwater setting. The Puzzle Pyramid included 240 pieces, with the finished puzzle containing 4 triangular sides and a square bottom side, forming a perfect pyramid.

The first thing we noticed about the Puzzle Pyramid was that each piece was made of plastic, rather than the standard cardboard material. Many of the pieces included a crease down the back allowing the piece to be bended, which was a hint that the piece was needed on the corners or sides of the pyramid.
We also quickly discovered that the Ravensburger folks had included not only the expected puzzle image on one side of each piece, but had also added numbers to the back of every puzzle piece from number 1 through number 240. This allowed the puzzle to be completed in two different ways. The first method was to simply attempt to complete the puzzle the usual way, that being from a picture including each of the 5 distinct sides. A second method was to use the numbers on the back of each piece to complete the puzzle. Ravensburger supplied a photo of the location of each piece by puzzle number, which made it easier to find adjoining pieces.

Our focus group and staff used a combination of both methods and was able to complete the puzzle in approximately 2-3 hours. To get a variety of opinions and better gauge the completion time, we had individuals each work on it separately for 30 minutes or so. Once completed, the bottom portion of the Puzzle Pyramid was about a 6" square, and each of the remaining sides measured 5 1/2" high.

The consensus was unanimous in agreeing that the Puzzle Pyramid was both innovative and fun. It was unique and challenging, and it deservedly earned our Gold Rating. It can be purchased at Amazon.com for $20.99, and is well worth the investment. Ravensburger also offers several other versions of the Puzzle Pyramid, including African and Egyptian landscapes and even an Avatar (movie) edition. We have included a photo of our actual completed Puzzle Pyramid as well, so you can see the final product.

-- RJ Cullen
*Gold Rating*
Posted in Board Games, Puzzle

Dowdle Folk Art – They Make Amazing Puzzles

I first discovered “Dowdle” jigsaw puzzles while browsing the book aisle at our local Costco store. They had packaged one of their 500 piece puzzles with a more kid friendly 100 piece puzzle.We bought the two puzzles and soon discovered these were a very special line of puzzles. 41Uz4EDyEsL._SL110_First of all, the photos were magnificent, with bright colors, many showcasing large cities and famous landmarks. The puzzle pieces were also of a higher quality chipboard, and they provided a nice photo poster inside the box of the finished product.  That meant you could refer to the photo, instead of the box, while working on the puzzle.  I found that to be a very handy feature. The packaging was also first-class, including a magnetic closure so the box was easy to open.  The pieces are in a plastic bag, like most puzzles, but “Dowdle” also provides an additional zip-lock bag to store the pieces, once the puzzle has been completed.  I have never seen so much attention to small details. Dowdle was represented at the recent New York Toy Fair, where I discovered they also have calendars, framing kits, fine art, art magnets, gift bags and even greeting cards.  The puzzles range from 50 pieces to 1,000 pieces. I just completed a 500 piece puzzle of the Las Vegas strip. Take a look at the “Dowdle” Folk Art line of puzzles at Amazon.com. Choose a “Dowdle” and you will not regret it.– RJ Cullen
Posted in Puzzle








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