As another hobby to consider (to give your eyes much needed rest from all the blue light of video games) is jigsaw puzzles. I got into puzzles once again as my friend introduced me to the Wentworth wooden puzzles. I was so impressed with these puzzles because of the quality and the satisfying tactile feel when you put the pieces together, that I wanted to order some myself.
Upon visiting Wentworth's online site, my heart sank as the puzzles were rather pricey, though at $50 for a 250-piece puzzle, the cost/time is actually reasonable, as long as you do the puzzle a couple of times. Since I'm very slow, it takes about 2 hours, so if you do the puzzle 2 or 3 times, it's cheaper than going to the movies. So I thought of getting one, but then the shipping charges were astronomical, since it's shipping from the UK. However, I found out later that Wentworth often has free shipping to US! But not realizing that at the time, I decided to see if there are US manufacturers which will have lower shipping costs.
Therefore, I did more research and stumbled upon the ridiculous Stave puzzles (Barbara Bush-endorsed) at average price of $1000 (perhaps even $2000 as some are $15K), so this brand will not be reviewed. I then fell upon the much more affordable and reasonable Architect and Liberty puzzles.
I find that they are all equal to each other, so the puzzle manufacturer that is best for you is based really on your preferences and what you're looking for. I'll outline the differences between the three, in alphabetical order.
Artifact puzzles is the most creative of not just the pictures offered, but the many interesting puzzle shapes. I don't find the tired, drab images of known paintings, and boring, uninspired nature scenes, as compelling as the fantastical pictures including monsters, cartoon characters, and so forth that Artifact offers.
Although Artifact pieces are the most loose fitting of the three, the irregularly irregular pieces are significantly more bizarre and odd than the other brands, and therefore quite compelling. It's interesting to see how these weird pieces fit together, often leading to a lot of "Ah ha" moments. They're coming out with the new Ecru line which offers tighter fitting pieces with no glare design, but it's more costly of course. Further, the designs aren't as whimsical or fantastic as their regular line, so I have a feeling that I'd prefer the regular over the upcoming Ecru. Picture for me tends to be most important.
|Artifact's Mechanical Griffin|
The image quality on Artifact and Wentworth is better than Liberty in the sense that the images seem like it's actually painted on the wooden pieces. One of the Liberty puzzle pieces had a small peel, that can be glued, so I don't find this a deal breaker.
If interested in Artifact, I would recommend the Griffin that comes with a clever surprise (spoilers avoided here).
All the Artifact puzzles I own are so completely different from each other (I have 4!). Other customers also noticed that any time you get a puzzle from Artifact, it's a whole new experience.
As for the Liberty Puzzle, it has the same thickness as Artifact (6.35 mm), but the fit of the pieces are tighter, so in that sense the pieces are better quality than Artifact's regular line, only marred by the fact that a piece may (or may not) have some peeling (it seems like this would be a rare occurrence), unlike Artifact and Wentworth.
Liberty does have a lot of whimsy pieces, not as much as the Artifact, but more so than the
|Liberty's and Wentworth's An Exuberant Success|
The Wentworth is made of considerably thinner wood than Artifact and Liberty, less than half the thickness (3 mm versus 6.35 mm). The thicker wood feels more luxurious, but because the Wentworth pieces are thinner, it's the best fitting of the three. The sensation of putting the pieces together in a satisfying click, so it has the most pleasant sensory experience out of all three. There are whimsy pieces, but nowhere near as much as Artifact and Liberty, and more regular-shaped pieces than even the Liberty.
Wentworth includes a rather lovely felt bag to hold the pieces within its sturdy box. Sadly, Artifact and Liberty don't.
If you prefer unique pictures, and thicker, peculiar, odd and whimsical pieces, I'd recommend Artifact. If you prefer an equally thick cut with better fit, and you don't mind more regularly irregular shaped pieces, than I'd chose Artifact's Ecru line or Liberty. Finally, if you want that tactile, satisfying click feel with nice bag, and don't mind less creative shapes, then Wentworth is the puzzle for you.
If none of these issues matter to you, I'd recommend ordering the designs that you find the most pleasing, because you can't go wrong with any of these puzzle manufacturers. They all cost around the same price, and Wentworth frequently has sales where shipping is free to the US.
For all three manufacturers, prices are cheaper ordering online at their websites:
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