Spanish Educa is a brand that I usually avoid, because the cut is not precise enough and I often get false fits (I saw this expression for pieces fitting where they don’t belong in a FB puzzle group, and immediately adopted it). Educa is considered by many to be a premium brand, but for me, the false fits are usually a dealbreaker. That said, I have some Educa puzzles that I really like, and this was also fun and just the right amount of challenging (if the black areas had been larger, it would have been a very different story).
The only artist credited on the box is Viktor Shvaiko, but the background (top half) is actually from a poster by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, so they might have mentioned him, too. I’ve actually done that poster as a mini puzzle.
This was one of the easiest puzzles I’ve done in a long while. Picking out the pieces for the various condiments was easy, and at the end, there were few pieces left with only the dark background colour. Great fun!
Trefl is a Polish brand that is currently trying out some new things.They now have wooden puzzles, as well as cardboard puzzles with whimsies. This is a puzzle with a fairly wild random cut and no straight edges. It was definitely more challenging than a normal puzzle with the same piece count, but I liked it. The finished puzzle is as big as a usual 1000-piece puzzle.
The image is fantastic, of course, but this was one of the newer Eurographics with all the pieces the same basic shape (two tabs opposite, two holes opposite). Eurographics has production in Europe as well, and they still have the true random cut that I associate with the brand. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to know what the cut is like before buying, especially if there is no image of the full box. I’ve also read that people have had issues with really bad fits lately, but this was was otherwise fine, just the boring cut I don’t like.
An early Picasso from 1901, when the artist was only 20 years old. I’m afraid I’m not a fan of his later style, but I like this. The original, French, title is L’enfant au Pigeon.
I’ve written about some of this before, but I think now is a good opportunity to summarize all I’ve learned about the Ricordi Arte and Art Stones brands. Most of my information comes from various Facebook groups, but I’m fairly confident it is correct. For some things, I have personal experience (for quality and availability, mostly).
Ricordi Arte is an Italian brand that mostly does fine art puzzles. The puzzles themselves are glorious. The colours are vibrant (but usually not oversaturated) and the cut is a basic grid cut, but very precise. If you have a large area of the same colour, this is the cut you want. All in all, excellent quality.
Art Stones is (was?) the budget line of Ricordi Arte. Many vendors used to list Art Stones puzzles as Ricordi Arte, but there is no indication of the connection on the box. Sometimes Art Stones puzzles are of inferior quality (but still OK), and sometimes they’re just as good as Ricordi Arte puzzles (this was one of the good ones, but I’ve had one with extra pieces, for example). I also love the Art Stones boxes, because they are just big enough to hold the pieces.
While the puzzles are great, the company is, unfortunately, not. Apparently, they are rude and unprofessional, and most vendors have stopped carrying their puzzles because they’re a nightmare to deal with. They still have a website that you can order from (https://www.ricordi.info/), but I can’t recommend using that, obviously. I do, however, buy practically every Ricordi Arte & Art Stones puzzle I come across, unless I hate the image or it’s too expensive. Sadly, none of the vendors I buy from carry these puzzles anymore. It’s tragic that they can make such great puzzles and then fail completely at the business end of things.
This was my first puzzle from the Abandoned series, and I loved it! Some of images look like they may be a bit too dark, but this was perfect. It remained interesting to the end, and was just the right amount of challenging (which is to say, not all that difficult). Great puzzle, and fun idea for a series. I’ve said before that I would love to do more horror themed puzzles, but I find most of them too dark (understandable, of course). This series definitely has a horror vibe, and I can definitely see this a setting for a Stephen King story 🙂
I love the image, but unfortunately, the quality was the worst I’ve seen from Tactic. The pieces are all of the basic shape with two tabs opposite, which I find boring. I wouldn’t have bought the puzzle if I’d known. Also, the fit was not good, in a few cases I had to use force to get pieces into their correct spaces. Very annoying. This puzzle is part of the Tactic Vintage Posters series, and they’ve released several sets in the series. The first was travel ads for Finland, and those were OK (I’ve only done one, still have four more to do), and then there’s the Art Deco set with at least this, one with New York and one with Italy. I have the New York one, and that seems to be the same as this. Bummer. On the bright side, the last set, from which I have two (Ancient Egypt and Space), seems to be all right. At least they have a good mix of piece shapes. It’s always annoying when you can’t trust a brand, and I find it especially unfortunate with Tactic, because it’s a Finnish brand, and I would love to suppport a local producer.
Some pieces ended up in my Roomba, and one of them was damaged:
For a while, I thought it was from a different puzzle 🙂 I’ve fished plenty of pieces out of my Roomba, but I’ve never seen one so damaged before.