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My Puzzle Review of 2023: The Tradition Continues

Hi fellow puzzle friends! My yearly tradition of reporting on puzzles I completed in the previous year continues… So here you have a review of the 7 puzzles I finished in 2023.

It’s not many, as I like to puzzle only in my free time and I’m an active traveler as well. Time for puzzle solving comes only when I’m at home, and for weeks at a time. 

Maybe one day I’ll try the miniature puzzles that are travel-friendly. But the thought of losing a tiny piece in the crack of an airplane seat puts me off.  😅

If you’re interested in past editions of this yearly overview, you can see a review of puzzles I finished in 2022, in 2021, and in 2020. 2020 marked the year when I really got into puzzles again and started this jigsaw puzzle blog. The ‘special’ period in history (the ‘C’ word) helped make that happen.

But let’s get to it – below you have an overview of various puzzle brands and motifs that I finished last year:

January: Funny Dog Portraits by Trefl

1,000 pieces

This is a puzzle I got for Christmas. It’s a cheerful one of dogs milliseconds before they catch a ball. I loved this jigsaw puzzle!

The bright alternating colors made the puzzling a breeze and I was able to examine each dog breed’s facial details. 😁

Trefl puzzles of 1,000 pieces are of great quality, with the pieces being sturdy and clearly cut. I have only words of praise for this puzzle!

Check out this Trefl puzzle on Amazon.

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a dog puzzle
Look at the cute dogs!

January: Deer by an unknown brand

150 pieces

I used to wonder about wooden puzzles and then I got one for Christmas. It was beautiful to touch, the little wooden pieces so intricate and soothingly rustling in between the fingers…

I was looking forward to solving this deer head!

And then the sobering came… I must admit I didn’t enjoy this puzzle much. The pieces interlock well, but it’s such a difference from classic paper puzzles. The wooden pieces would move all the time and placing each piece was quite a task.

I don’t know if it’s like this with all wooden puzzles but it’ll take a few years until I try another one. It may not be my thing at all.

This particular puzzle was store-bought and didn’t have any manufacturer info on it. 

However, if you’re intrigued and love the design, I found a similar one on Amazon:

See the wooden puzzle on Amazon.

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a wooden puzzle
This was an interesting experience 🙂

February: Physical Map of the World by Trefl

1,000 pieces

If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I love traveling. And it’s not just about beautiful scenic puzzles; I love a good world map puzzle too! So this one was a treat.

Even though physical maps are harder to solve than e.g. political ones, I loved diving into the topography details of the world. And plus, all the meridians and parallels make it easier to complete the large blue sections of the world oceans.

Unlike with most puzzles, here I completed the blue sections first. 😁

Overall, this world map jigsaw puzzle by Trefl was one of my favorites! Currently, it’s back in the box, but I look forward to solving it again one day.

Check out the world map puzzle on Amazon.

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a world map jigsaw puzzle
One of my faves

March: The Guiding Light by Schmidt

1,000 pieces

Artist: Thomas Kinkade

Panoramic puzzles are quite special and this one was no exception. I enjoyed its subdued colors and slightly hazy lines and details, as is usual with Thomas Kinkade puzzles. The artist typically has Disney puzzles in his portfolio; this one stands out of the line.

The puzzle was of high quality, the sturdy pieces interlocked well and it was a pretty quick job. What more can you ask for! 🙂

It’s an older puzzle design and I got it second-hand. If you have some puzzlers in your community, swapping them is a great way to acquire different puzzle designs at minimum cost.

This puzzle is not available on Amazon. 

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a jigsaw puzzle featuring a lighthouse
An oldie but a goodie

June: Soirée à Paris by Clementoni

1,000 pieces

That also applies to this Clementoni puzzle. It’s an older design, which I got out of a puzzle swap. 

Still, since both Schmidt and Clementoni (and Ravensburger, of course) puzzle brands all produce jigsaws of high quality, solving an older one is just as joyful. Except you’re not tearing any plastic foil when unwrapping it. 😁

I must admit the blue section was hard and took me a while to finish. I just had to go piece by piece, based on shape. 

This panoramic puzzle still seems to be available on Amazon, see it here.

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a puzzle featuring Paris
Challenging blue sections…

I didn’t get any puzzling done in the summer because I spent it traveling extensively. So the time for puzzles came again only in October:

October: Mountain Mayhem! by Wasgij

1,000 pieces

I can’t speak highly enough of Wasgij puzzles. They’re just so much fun!

If you don’t know the concept, it’s about solving an image that’s not on the box. Rather, it’s either the next scene, like in this case, after a major mayhem happened. 😄

Other Wasgij motifs include the scene viewed on the opposite side, etc. I may write a standalone post just on Wasgij puzzles because they’re so special!

Unfortunately, in order not to spoil the magic, I can’t show you photos of the finished puzzle. It would take away half of the fun!

Wasgij puzzles are always beautiful and sturdy and the picture tends to be pretty busy. I like them a lot but usually do only about one per year.

See this Wasgij puzzle on Amazon.

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a mystery jigsaw puzzle
Wasgij puzzles are so much fun!

November: NYC Christmas by Ravensburger

1,000 pieces

Artist: Steve Klein

I had my eyes on this Christmas puzzle for quite a while and eventually gave in. Solving a beautiful Christmas-themed jigsaw in late November is a great way to get into the holiday mood.

This image by the artist Steve Klein was pretty, even though a little dark. I still enjoyed putting it together on long fall evenings.

The puzzle features New York’s Rockefeller Center’s The Rink. To me, it’s the most iconic New York winter spot, ever since Home Alone 2.

It was the only Ravensburger puzzle waiting for my in my puzzle stack so I was itching to solve it. And the brand didn’t disappoint. With each sturdy piece perfectly cut, it’s just a pure joy to put together. As I’m writing this, I think I’ll need to get another Ravensburger puzzle soon, they’re my favorite!

Check this New York Christmas puzzle on Amazon. 

A collage of three images showing puzzle progress on a Christmas puzzle
Getting into Christmas mood with a Christmas puzzle

Actually, in November, we also visited family for Thanksgiving. We stayed at a beach house and solved two or three puzzles of 550 pieces that were left there for guests to enjoy. All were by the NC company Heritage Puzzles and pretty sturdy despite having racked up years in being solved over and over.

The seashell one is available on Amazon.

A collage of three images showing different jigsaw puzzles
Some leisure puzzling with family at a beach house in North Carolina

Okay, and that’s it for 2023. We’ll see how the next year goes in terms of puzzling. I no longer set any puzzle goals and just enjoy puzzling spontaneously and in my free time. I still have to limit myself too – when there’s an unfinished puzzle on the dining table, it tends to be always on my mind. 😁 

And how about you? What was your favorite puzzle of last year?

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Holding a stack of jigsaw puzzles reviewed in the past year

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