Review: “Pieces of History: Vikings” by Rob Derks, Jumbo — 9.25/10
Publisher: Jumbo (Netherlands), published Jan 2014
Title: “Pieces of History: Vikings” by Rob Derks, Jumbo, 1000 pieces
OUR RATING: 9.25/10
Box Quality: (8/10)
The Jumbo boxes are very sturdy and well-made. The graphic design is appealing. I love the way they pull out characters from the scene to feature on the box. The “Pieces of History” series (there are now five) all have similar brown boxes, which makes the entire set look good on the shelf.
The back is a standard Jumbo back in multiple languages (click on the image below for a version large enough to read).
The sides all feature the Jumbo logo, the piece count, an image, and the name of the puzzle. The puzzle dimension and a bar code are on one side. The name of the artist, Rob Derks, is only shown small on one side in a copyright notice. Since this series is entirely Rob’s, it would have been nice for his name to be featured on the front of the box. It would have been nice to have the release year on the box as well.
Inside the box is a bag with the puzzle pieces and nothing else.
This box scores pretty well, though not as highly as boxes with extra goodies inside like a certificate, poster, or mini catalog.
The Image: 10/10
Vikings are hot these days, thanks to the TV series on the History channel. If you’re a fan of viking lore–or simply a fan of cartoon puzzles, like I am–you’ll love this Rob Derks puzzle.
The “Pieces of History” series by Jumbo has had five releases so far — Stone Age, Vikings, The Romans,The Castle, and Pirates. All are “busy” cartoon images. Like Jan Van Haasteren puzzles, these cartoon puzzles show a scene with a myriad of crazy characters, many of them engaged in some sort of momentary crisis or watching said crisis with befuddlement or amusement.
These comic images are painstakingly created just to be puzzles. From the first line drawings to the final coloring, the quality is excellent. You can read more about the process of making these images in my Rob Derks interview.
Needless to say, I love this image and all the “Pieces of History” puzzles. I appreciate the fact that this image was commission specifically to be a puzzle and isn’t simply another licensed sunflower painting (or something similar) from an art licensing catalog. There are certainly plenty of beautiful puzzles like that, but these uniquely commissioned puzzles hold a special place of excellence to me. The quality of the art is perfect and the image makes the puzzle so fun to assemble. I’ll talk more about that below.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (9/10)
You can see our Jumbo brand comparison here. In sum, Jumbo is an very high-quality brand. The pieces feel thick and sturdy. Like Gibsons, they’re a bit waxy to the touch, which I really like. The surface is non-glare and the image reproduction is perfect., as you can see from the detail close-ups below. This puzzle just FEELS substantial as you work it. The cut is a grid cut, like almost all European brands. But there’s a nice variety of piece shapes and a sure, tight fit. I never had any problem with a piece appearing to fit where it really didn’t. And there was no puzzle dust and no missing or damaged pieces.
Like most “busy” cartoon puzzles, this puzzle is of medium difficulty. There are some areas (like the wooden huts, boats, blue sky, and trees) which can be assembled by pattern alone. But much of the image requires you to look at the box lid for reference. There are so many small characters that are ‘sort of’ alike (but not really) that you need to look at the reference image to find them and put them in the right spot. As you build up these areas of characters you can start connecting grouped pieces together.
The snow wasn’t an issue in this puzzle. There’s always a bit of a colorful costume, or tree, or building, or distinguishable rock that tips you off about where the snow pieces go. I found this image was really an ideal blend of easier areas with the check-the-box-lid character areas. Rob Derks has been working at JVH Studios for awhile and he’s clearly learned from the master about how to best make an image for puzzles!
Full marks for assembly experience.
Above: All the little characters have unique costumes, so it’s easy to identify them on the box lid
Above: The red and white on the shields and flag were easy to assemble
Additional close-up details:
If you’re a fan of vikings–or of cartoon puzzles–you’ll love this brilliant puzzle by Jumbo and Rob Derks. The Jumbo quality is always excellent. The busy cartoon scene is full of quirky characters, and the image is nicely balanced between easy-to-assemble areas like the sky, boats, trees, and huts, and detailed areas which require reference to the box lid. There are a lot of barbaric laughs to uncover as you put the pieces of history together. Highly recommended.
Where to find:
For the next three days you can grab this puzzle for 20% off the retail price. Click the icon below or here for the sales page.