Friday, April 22, 2016

Apparently I'm a Blowhard

But before that I'm a puzzler, jigsaw that is.

I just finished a puzzle the other day and had been personally invited by the manufacture to review their product. (OK OK, so it was more like a mass-produced slip of paper tucked inside the box, you know, like the trash you get inside magazines, but it was an invitation and I personally got it. . .)

I'm not usually into that sort of thing, spewing my opinion around about products, but in this case I felt there was a legitimate point or two to be made.

Unfortunately this is the screen I got when I submitted my laborious review.


Now I went back and checked and nowhere did I see any mention about a character limitation prior to completing my thoughtful, highly informative and helpful review. (Go ahead, laugh, I am.)

What is this? Twitter from the old days? Pay by the letter telegrams from the even older days?

Apparently Springbok is more than happy for you to say 'great puzzle!', 'wonderful family fun!', 'best money I ever spent!' but beyond that, well, they're just not interested in hearing from blowhards. . .at least that's my interpretation.

But after all my hard work I decided they were not going to get away with dissing me like that. No, I was going to go ril (That's viral without the vi, and we all know the punch in in the vi.) all over their asses and reach out to my thousands, OK, hundreds, no really, tens, of readers, and spread the word!

So if you know any puzzlers (Yeah right! How many of us would admit to it in the first place?!) help make this happen and pass it on.

Anyway, take this Springbok, and I hope you choke, cough, (Oh hell.) get a tickle in your throat, on it!


 Good but not Perfect

I'm a serious recreational puzzler, but for some reason this is my first Springbok. I like American made puzzles for all the usual reasons, local economy, some level of confidence that the materials used are reasonably safe, etc, but quality is not always a guarantee. 

At 24 X 30 inches, this puzzle is larger than some 1000 piecers which makes for nice big pieces. Unlike some others, most notably Chinese made, but even other American made puzzles, when I first poured this puzzle's pieces out of their bag there was remarkably little paper dust and flake to be dealt with; a nice change. The printing of the image is crisp and the colors even and well defined, (Of course working under good lighting always helps!)

In this closeup note the well defined color, wood grain in the window frame and stonework detail
but the image was slightly cocked when laid on the backer board/registered under the dies which left a narrow band of exposed board on the top corner and cut a narrow triangular sliver off the left side of the image as well as a portion of the licensing and copyright info off the bottom corner. 

Sliced off copyright

Exposed backer board.

 Most notable on the quality control side though was the fact that that the die's used for cutting the puzzle had clearly been used a few too many times.

Now I understand that dies are expensive, but I had an unusually high number of hanging chad (Pieces that didn't separate from each other during processing.) that required some significant tugging to separate (Because like golfers, puzzlers never cheat!) and the bottom edges of the pieces were more crushed and deformed than cut, the result of dull dies.

Viewed from the bottom, the results of worn and dull dies is clearly evident in the crushing and deformation rather than cutting of the pieces.

One of several 'super-pieces' left behind by a broken die

As well as dull, the dies were also starting to break up as evidenced by the handful of 'super-pieces' in my box, where the section of die that was supposed to turn them into two separate interlocking pieces was clearly missing altogether.

Dies wear, dies get replaced. I just so happened to get a puzzle cut near the end of the run for this particular set of dies and it would have been nice if they were replaced a little sooner.

That said, the pieces showed surprisingly little surface damage and still fit together snugly, which means chunks of assembled pieces can be moved and adjusted without the whole thing falling apart which fits my style of puzzling well.

I currently have at least one more Springbok in my stash of unopened puzzles and I'm confident I'll enjoy assembling it as much as I did this one.

End of an insightful and scintillating review.

 Just to be clear, for all those wanabe puzzlers out there, puzzling isn't all fun and games.

Recently my mother visited us for a week (OK, OK, enough with the gasps and shudders and freakouts! Yeah I admit it, I did all those things when I first got the news too, but the reality didn't turn out to be bad at all.) and the jury is still out on if it was with motherly love or a sadistic chuckle, but she brought along a nicely gift-wrapped puzzle for me.

You see that 3000 along the left edge? That's not German for easy and simple!! That's right, this sucker has 3000 little pieces of goodness, (I think I hear the devil chuckling) fun and entertainment in a package big enough to double as a child's bed when the sun goes down. (I'm surprised she didn't have to buy the dang thing it's own seat on the plane!!)

To paraphrase that line from the movie Jaws, 'I think I need a bigger puzzle-board' . . . dunn duu, duun du dun du


  1. You almost had me running out tonight to buy my first puzzle. Then ... I saw your photos of the quality control or lack thereof ... that would send me over the edge and over a 3,000 word reply ... probably not written politically correct.

    So instead I think I may search for the old board game of Strato-Matic Baseball. Yes, I'm sure its probably online play now but there is nothing like keeping score and rolling the dice to see what each player does. If fact it might me more enjoyable playing that game instead of watching my team .. the Cincinnati Reds.

    Still if I could be assured of nice clean cut puzzle pieces, no chaff, even edges, I can see fitting puzzles into my busy schedule of retirement.

    1. It may have sounded bad, but I'm not sure the casual puzzler would have even noticed and it was probably a little pompous of me, a lot like a sommelier trashing box wine when in reality it's exactly the same thing as in the bottle!

      That was my first Springbok puzzle and a few more under my belt will show if it was a fluke or not, but I have had great luck with Cobble Hill, SunsOut, White Mountain (All USA made) and Ravensburger (German) puzzles as far as clean cuts and clear images

      In my opinion, (which is the only one that counts right?) puzzling is a highly underrated activity with some health and wellness benefits to go along with it. Maybe one day I'll write a more in-depth post about puzzling (And I'm sure it will be the best post in the history of all posts so you can stop snoring now!)

      Your mention of Strato-Matic Baseball reminded me of the Mousetrap board game and our old table hockey game, the one where the players could slide forward and back as well as spin, not the wana-be version where all the players could do is spin and you had to play with a marble instead of a miniature puck.

      Ah the days before electronics and cable TV. . .

    2. I've written those mfg names down and will have them with me on my next shopping trip. A fine example where having an iPhone Notes would be nice ... instead they are written on the back of an old receipt.

      Speaking of games, the two we played the most was a basketball game where the floor was not flat, had holes with a mechanism under shoot the ping pong ball into the basket at different distances. The other...electric football field, felt football and players that had small plastic rectangles under them so they could move around the field.