Publikované dňa: 08.11.2021
Author: Łukasz Juszczak (Lukasz) Poland
Almost every puzzle lover must have heard about two German jigsaw puzzle manufacturers: Ravensburger and Schmidt.
I will prepare a review of Schmidt brand for some other time, but today I would like to stop at Ravensburger and tell you about a picture that is an illustration to one of the most popular books for children and teenagers of recent years. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince puzzles. But first, let me present you, at least in a few words, the history of the company that has become one of the leaders on the European jigsaw puzzle market.
The brand started with board games. In 1883, Otto Robert Maier signed his first contract with the author of the game (‘Journey Around the World’ – sounds familiar?), which he released a year later. In 1964 the company started to manufacture jigsaw puzzles and it is most recognizable for it to this day. For many of us Ravensburger logo equals good quality. Is it because of the German precision or maybe some sentiments?
Typical. That’s the word that first came to my mind when I grabbed the Harry Potter puzzle box. Typical size, typical arrangement of the picture. Although the Anatolian puzzle box was slightly smaller in size.
‘I don't mean to be rude—' he began, in a tone that threatened rudeness in every syllable.*
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince puzzles are under license which had to be mentioned on the box. The top contains the picture (around 7 x 10 inch) and some other more or less useful information like the logo of Ravensburger and the Wizarding World Harry Potter, information about the production technology, and the sign ‘Ravensburger Puzzle Orginal Ravensburger Quality’ (as if it was really so important to put it on the front cover of the box instead of the bigger picture for example)
The sides of the box are also typical. The picture, number of elements, logos, dimensions, catalogue number, and the title. In five different foreign languages. No Polish language though.
‘Yet, sadly, accidental rudeness occurs alarmingly often,’ Dumbledore finished the sentence gravely.*
The back of the box contains typical (!) information about the brand’s 100-year tradition of puzzle manufacture and its high quality. It also informs us how marvellous fun we’re about to have. The back print is general, although I wish it had more interesting facts about the particular Harry Potter part.
Oh and I’ve got a riddle for you! I wrote at the beginning of this entry that the company started to manufacture jigsaw puzzles in 1964…and they claim that they manufacture puzzles since 1891… The charms of marketing?
Let’s see what’s inside the box. A plastic bag and Harry Potter in 1,000 pieces. Typical? Let me just clarify that ‘typical’ means ‘OK’, ‘good’. There’s nothing wrong with Ravensburger’s jigsaw being typical. The quality of the cardboard and the print is very good. The box is solid, aesthetic, the printed layer is plain. No objections except for the wasted space on the front top.
There is one thing I don’t like about Ravensburger’s jigsaw. The characteristic blue dust inside the plastic bag. It’s everywhere. Imagine how much of it there was when I was doing 5,000 piece puzzle about the Ancient Rome. And it’s just another typical feature of this brand.
The quality is more than just dustiness. Let’s talk about the thickness, cutting, and the print.
The elements form a typical net in a shape of a rectangle with 1-3 tabs. This allows to sort the elements by both colours and shapes which is why Ravensburger is so popular among Puzzle Maniacs. Unfortunately the uncut elements happen. However, I didn’t find any examples of delamination and broken tabs. The elements are also thicker than, for example, Trefl puzzles.
The print is clear and the colours are well reproduced which made me really happy because my previous experience with this brand and the colour reproduction printed on puzzle pieces was rather disappointing. Also, the print is plain so it will reflect light. And the last thing – the elements fit rather loosely so there is no option we can move the whole picture between places.
I must admit I am a muggle. I have listened the audiobooks and seen the films, but I’m definitely a Tolkien or Lewis, rather than Hogwarts, enthusiast. There was no need to force me to do this jigsaw, though. On the contrary. I consider this series to be one of the most interesting when it comes to puzzles with Harry Potter. They doesn’t scare me away like those with collages from movie scenes. I do not know who the author of the picture is, because it was not mentioned on the box, but he neatly combined the atmosphere of book covers by weaving into them the faces of actors known from the film. Chapeau bas for that!
The jigsaw is vertically oriented which you need to have in mind when organizing your workplace. It is not such big inconvenience though, as they only take 19 x 27 inch.
I didn’t have any trouble sorting the elements as the picture has many characteristic areas. Green background, yellow frame, books, potions, and the characters. Only the green background was a bit of a problem for me and it was also a little tiring. It took me more time than I expected. The rest was easy and, what’s more, quite pleasant.
I have already mentioned in one of my last blog entries that I often listen to audiobooks while doing jigsaw puzzles. I believe this is a perfect opportunity to immerse yourself into the magical world of J.K. Rowling books. If you are interested, there is a great Polish edition of Harry Potter, which is read by our famous actor Piotr Fronczewski.
There is one more adventure connected with these puzzles, which is unfortunately, unpleasant. After I finished the picture, it turned out that one element is missing. It hasn’t happened to me for many years and I didn’t expect it from the puzzles of this brand. I waited for a few days hoping the missing piece would be found somehow, I looked for it everywhere without success. Unfortunately, in the case of such small editions like 1,000 elements, the manufacturer doesn’t provide for the procedure of sending the missing element. So the only thing left for me to do was to believe that some pixies or a niffler had taken it.
Ravensburger is a powerful brand which is recognizable, diverse, solid, and not afraid to experiment. Check their offer and you will find jigsaw puzzles for every age group. Landscapes, painting, literature and movie themes. They have gradient puzzles, single-colour Krypt series, 3D puzzles, Exit series. It is also possible to break records with Ravensburger because some of their patterns are on the list of the 10 biggest puzzle in the world.
It’s been in the early 90s since I have first got to know Ravensburger jigsaw puzzles. The first puzzle box I got was used and brought from Germany. For me it is always a sentimental journey, however, a lot has changed about the brand and the jigsaw puzzles itself for the last 30 years. Some of the changes were good and some not.
On the one hand, we get a solid product: a good-quality box, well-made puzzles, a variety of patterns. On the other hand, we can’t help the feeling that the product is being mass-manufactured. There is no pinch of ‘magic’ that would make us feel spoiled by the manufacturer, like some extra information about the pattern itself, or perfect puzzle quality. The only pinch we actually get is a pinch of blue dust.
Am I going to reach for another Ravensburger puzzle box after I have named so many drawbacks? Certainly. I’d love to try Krypt or Exit series. On my to do list there are also XXL puzzles, which are perfect for those adults who have poor eyesight or problems with grasping small objects. I believe Ravensburger is a good brand to start an adventure with jigsaw puzzles. It has an endless portfolio.
Except for the episode with the missing element, I find my adventure with ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ 1,000 elements very pleasant. And of course, I will definitely write down my thoughts on the "drama" of missing elements in another blog entry.
Meanwhile, I encourage you to take a look at the Ravensburger offer.
*The quotes are from the book by J.K. Rowling ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’