The Magic Puzzle Company – The Sunny City [Review]

Sunny side up

Location:  at home

Date Played: February 6, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $20

REA Reaction

For our third adventure into The Magic Puzzle Company’s unusual jigsaw puzzles we assembled The Sunny City. This installment had a more muted, mature vibe without the overt playfulness of The Mystic Maze and The Happy Isles. This puzzle felt like it was designed with someone else in mind, and I say that not as judgment, but as a compliment.

Setting aside aesthetics, The Sunny City felt similar to The Happy Isles. Daunting at first glance, these puzzles were cleverly designed such that little details throughout the puzzle made these seemingly similar sections far more approachable than they’d initially appeared… and for me that continued to feel more magical than the actual magical transformations offered by these jigsaw puzzles.

Of the original three puzzles, while this one didn’t speak to me on an emotional level, I can easily imagine folks who would greatly prefer this over the others. Regardless of my sensibilities, I genuinely enjoyed puzzling through The Sunny City. I hope that we see more from The Magic Puzzle Company; I think they are onto something.

Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company – The Sunny City [Review]”

The Magic Puzzle Company – The Happy Isles [Review]

Let’s make some happy little islands.

Location:  at home

Date Played: January 9, 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $20

REA Reaction

The Happy Isles was a work of sublime genius.

In addition to all of the things that The Magic Puzzle company has done right, they achieved something extra in The Happy Isles. The art was intimidating from a jigsaw puzzling standpoint, but the way it was drawn made it feel subtly solvable. Little details gave away so much information. It was brilliant.

Box art for The Magic Puzzle Company's The Happy Isles 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

I highly recommend The Happy Isles. That said, I’d encourage you to solve The Mystic Maze first. They do similarly brilliant things, but I feel confident that The Mystic Maze is the stronger starting place.

When you’re finished with The Mystic Maze, have The Happy Isles waiting for you. Solve them both. They’re great.

Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company – The Happy Isles [Review]”

The Magic Puzzle Company – The Mystic Maze [Review]

A child-like imagination is best imagination.

Location:  at home

Date Played: December 25, 2020

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: about $20

REA Reaction

I’m having a hard time remembering a jigsaw puzzle that I enjoyed more than The Mystic Maze. There’s no snark in these words, I genuinely love jigsaw puzzles.

Box art for The Magic Puzzle Company's The Mystic Maze 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

1,000 pieces can sometimes feel like a slog, and in this instance, that was never the case. The level of detail and variety in The Mystic Maze kept every moment of this puzzling experience fresh from beginning to end… and then again to its second ending.

What I loved most here wasn’t the undeniably high quality of the components or even the magical twist (which was cool); it was the character of this puzzle. I loved the imaginative child that populated each frame with impossible worlds of triumph, excitement, fear, and loss. For me, the best jigsaw puzzles present a highly detailed, emotionally impactful image, and then allow you to experience that world one bit at a time. It’s a special way to take in art, and that was the true magic of The Mystic Maze.

Puzzle closeup of the Mystic Maze
Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company – The Mystic Maze [Review]”

The Magic Puzzle Company [Overview]

It’s not just a puzzle. It’s a transformer.

Location:  at home

Date Played: January, 2021

Team size: we recommend 1-4

Duration: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Price: $20 per puzzle

REA Reaction

I’m loving what The Magic Puzzle Company is doing. As an avid jigsaw puzzler, I am always on the lookout for puzzles that do a little more than simply ask me to assemble the picture. It’s a difficult challenge and we’ve seen mixed execution.

Puzzle closeup of segments of the Mystic Maze.

The Magic Puzzle Company has happened upon something that is really clever and elegant. Nothing in this review will spoil what that is, beyond telling you this:

It’s cool, deliberate, and unique… but it isn’t going to completely melt your brain. We spent a lot of time as we assembled our first Magic Puzzle speculating and fantasizing about what might happen, and it was truly cool, but don’t let hype bring down the moment.

Box art for The Magic Puzzle Company's The Mystic Maze 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

Of the available products from The Magic Puzzle Company, I’d rank them in the following order:

  1. The Mystic Maze (Review)
  2. The Happy Isles (Review)
  3. The Sunny City (Review)

If you only ever do one of these, The Mystic Maze was a knockout of a puzzle.

Who is this for?

  • Jigsaw puzzlers
  • Any experience level

Why play?

  • Beautiful art
  • High quality components
  • The concluding magical twists
Continue reading “The Magic Puzzle Company [Overview]”

Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays [Review]

I’m a stress jigsaw puzzler.

Something bad happens. I do a jigsaw puzzle.

Someone dies. I crack open a jigsaw puzzle.

I found out that we were entering quarantine on account of a global pandemic… well… I had a stack of jigsaw puzzles. In anticipation of a significant increase in my jigsaw puzzling activity, I bought a box of Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays and gave them a try over the past 6 months.

Many jigsaw puzzles later, these are my thoughts.

Puzzle Tray packaging beside a stack of trays.

Reaction

I have seen these trays for years, and always disregarded them as an unnecessary decadence. We’ve always had a humble setup for jigsaw puzzling. (Our only gear has been a large piece of damaged foam-core board that we assemble on so that we can move the puzzle if needed.)

When I saw Hivemind reviewer Tammy McLeod, puzzler extraordinaire and our jigsaw puzzling sensei, using Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays, I thought, “for $10, I’ll give them a shot.”

After a lot of testing I can honestly tell you that they make a difference.

Traditional cardboard jigsaw puzzl pieces in a tray shaped like a blue puzzle piece.

The trays make it much easier to organize our pieces and stay organized. These trays make it easier to look for pieces and pass collections of pieces around the board.

Are they necessary? Absolutely not. My initial assessment of puzzle trays as a decadence was correct.

Am I happy that I have them? That’s a big yes. Their form is designed for their function. They are superior to using the box, laying pieces all over the table, and using kitchen bowls. I love how easily we can stack them and clean up our table when we need it.

If you’re an avid jigsaw puzzler, a $10 set of Ravensburger Sort and Go Jigsaw Puzzle Trays is a decadence, but it’s a worthwhile decadence.

What’s in the Box?

This product is simple. It contains 6 stacking blue trays molded in the shape of puzzle pieces. They measure 7.5″ x 6.5″ x 0.75″.

Analysis

➕ The fact that these trays are 3/4 of an inch deep means that they are far easier to look into and fish around in than the box and its top are. This was incredibly helpful when working on a puzzle that had only slight variations in color, pattern, and texture.

➕ The trays make it easy to pass collections of pieces to other people or move them to another part of the table.

➕ The stacking capability is useful. When it came time to take a break and use the table for working or eating, it was much easier to tidy up without wrecking our puzzle piece organization.

➕/➖ We liked how the trays were shaped like puzzle pieces and interconnected… but the fact that they only connected in a line felt wrong. Functionally, this was an inconsequential detail, but it felt like a missed opportunity.

Puzzle trays only sort of interlocking.

➕ 6 trays feels like enough for us. We don’t go nuts sorting and subdividing, and we don’t generally tackle jigsaw puzzles that exceed 1,000 pieces… because time. That said, if you need more, you can always buy an additional set.

Prices may be higher due to demand.

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