Title: “The Christmas Town”, Artist: Victor McLindon
OUR RATING: 8/10
I’ve been trying to do ALL of the limited edition Christmas puzzles released for 2014 so that I could review them for the blog. It’s not exactly a hardship but it is a bit of a time challenge. This is the 2014 limited edition Christmas puzzle released by WHSmith. You can see their past year releases on our WHSmith Christmas page here.
The WHSmith Christmas boxes are unique and they make a lovely set. They’re very sturdy and the shape is long and rectangular, 15″ x 9″. They also come with a cover slip, which I’ve never seen with a puzzle before. Above you can see the box without the cover slip and below is the box with it. The cover slip shows the artwork in more detail, and the art wraps around to the back of the cover slip.
Here are the sides of the box with the cover slip in place. There’s plenty of information on both a long and short side to be able to shelve the puzzle and see all the important info. I really like that they now have the year quite large on the box. In earlier years they didn’t have this, so shelved with the set, it’s difficult to tell what box is what year. They also have the name of the puzzle and artist, which I quite like to be able to see when the box is shelved.
WHSmith’s Christmas puzzles are always panoramic scenes with quaint English Christmas settings. This scene shows a Christmas fair in a small English village. I don’t love the image as much as I did the 2013 puzzle by Sarah Adams, which was more snowy and rural (see our review here). But this is still a nice Christmasy image. There is a lot of blue sky in this one, though trees break it up a bit.
The puzzle quality is good. The WHSmith puzzles are grid cut, and their pieces are similarly enough shaped that there can sometimes be confusion over whether a piece goes somewhere or not. But I didn’t find that an issue with this puzzle in particular. The artwork seems a little blurry (see photo below), but that could be the style of the painting. I particularly love the gold foil on the puzzle, which is over the window panes and carousel.
I’d rate this puzzle as ‘medium’. There is quite a lot of brick and blue sky, though there are enough color variations to make these areas workable without too much trial and error. I particularly enjoyed the people in the scene. The sky was done last and was not as interesting as the rest of the composition.
Above: The left of the panorama
Above: The center of the panorama
Above: The right of the panorama
If you collect the WHSmith limited edition Christmas puzzles you’ll be happy to add this one to your stock. If you only want to try one, I’d recommend the 2013 puzzle, which is still available.
Where to find:
Unfortunately, these puzzles are only available new from the WHSmith website, which will not ship internationally. (arg) If you’re in the UK, you can find the puzzle here.