This week I’m taking a look at the brand D-Toys from Romania. I did a brand comparison on them over a year ago, but apparently the puzzle that I evaluated was not reflective of their main puzzle line. I agreed to take another look, so this week I’ll be reviewing two of their puzzles and doing a new brand comparison evaluation on the weekend.
Box Quality: (8/10)
The box is rectangular, solid, and sturdy. The packaging design is decent with a black background that complements the “faux horror” theme of the puzzle. Unlike “Snow White“, the puzzle box doesn’t show a difficulty rating on the front . The “Cartoon Collection” series logo is prominent, but there is no artist name. Via email, I was led to understand the cartoon images are created by in house artists and that is why no artist name is credited. So you won’t see this image anywhere else.
As I mentioned in my “Snow White” review, the higher quality D-Toys puzzles have a sticker on the front that says “wide variety of piece shapes”. You can see the sticker below. The puzzles with this sticker have thicker pieces and more variety in the piece shapes (6 shapes vs 2). So if you’re in a store–look for the sticker! As for ordering online–D-Toys tells me there were not many of the 2-shape puzzles made, and most puzzles in the US at this time should have the higher quality, 6 shapes sticker. So you should be safe ordering online. However, if in doubt, check for the sticker when your puzzle arrives before you tear off the shrink wrap.
The bottom of the back is mostly blank with some generic information. It’s too bad they didn’t do a special back to showcase the “Cartoon Collection” the way they did the “Classic Tales” collection on the “Snow White” puzzle box. The manufacture date (2015 in this case) is shown in a small copyright notice on the back.
The sides are quite attractive and dramatic with the black and red. I like the way they have pulled out characters from the image. Three of the sides have an enough visual information to be able to identify the image and piece count. Only the long sides have the “D-Toys” logo, which I would have liked on a short side also since I shelve puzzles short side out. The puzzle name and artist name do not appear on the sides.
The box contains nothing except the bag of puzzle pieces. However, the bag is a little nicer than usual. It has a ziplock top so the bag is reusable. Also, there’s no puzzle dust at all visible in the bag. The pieces are fully separated and there’s no damage to them. [Note: The bag below is from “Snow White”, but the “Transylvania” bag looked the same.]
Overall, there are some pluses and minuses on this box. I’ve given it an 8 score.
The Image: 10/10
I review a lot of cartoon puzzles for this blog because they’re one of my favorite types of puzzles. I love all sorts of cartoon puzzles–Heye, Jan Van Haasteren, Mike Jupp, and Ruyer. So when I first saw the cartoon puzzle line from D-Toys, I was very interested in it. I bought a few about a year ago and wasn’t impressed with their quality (see that review here). That was disappointing since I love the images. However, I’ve since learned that I’d gotten a lower-quality “2 piece shapes” edition, which is not their standard puzzle release. I’m happy to say that this newer “Transylvania” puzzle is much better and makes me excited, once again, about D-Toys “Cartoon Collection” line.
“Transylvania” is my favorite because I love spooky themes like this one. It reminds me a little of Loup’s “Castle of Horror” (see my review). This scene imagines Dracula’s castle as a schlocky tourist attraction. Human tourists snap photos and watch the antics of rather silly vampires who are hanging around, cooking food, or putting on a show. The art style is good–lots of detail and color with a slightly softer more airbrushed feeling. (Click on the image below to get a closer look.)
The image is really nicely laid out for a puzzle. There are distinct areas — the blue sky, the castle, and the green grassy area and tan road in front of the castle. This really helps break up the image and makes it more fun to assemble. The colors are really vibrant too–the bright blues in the sky and the orange-red of the castle roof.
This cartoon image is well thought out and executed, and the horror spoof theme gets two thumbs up from me. Further, it’s an image developed by D-Toys that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ve given this image a full 10 score.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (8/10)
As I mentioned in my “Snow White” review, the quality of the D-Toys puzzles that come with the “wide variety of shapes” sticker is much better than the early one I tested. The quality is quite decent and on par with Euro brands like Educa and Clementoni (though not as thick or seamless as Jumbo and Ravensburger).
This is a grid-cut puzzle that has six different piece shapes and each individual piece is fairly unique. I never had a problem telling if a piece really fit or not. The pieces are also decently thick and on a nice blue cardboard. I’ll get more into that in my brand comparison this weekend.
Piece size is standard-to-small. They’re smaller than Ravensburger but about the same size as Heye or Gibsons. The fit is normal in tightness. It’s neither particularly tight nor loose. You have to use care when moving assembled pieces or they will fall apart, but the puzzle doesn’t disintegrate with a ‘nudge’ the way some loose-fit brands do. The image reproduction is excellent, as you can see below. The surface has a light gloss. The final finish is fairly flat and seamless. The image is strongly bonded to the cardboard and there is no trace of image lift, even after separating badly joined pieces.
Overall I’ve given quality an 8 score. Based on the two puzzles I did this week, I wouldn’t hesitate to buy another D-Toys if I really liked the image.
I’d rate this puzzle easy to moderate. Most “busy cartoon” puzzles are harder than this one, but the way this puzzle is laid out with the different background colors made it easy and fun to put together. It took me only two sessions, which is pretty fast for a 1000 piece puzzle.
I assembled the border first. Then I ended up getting nearly half the puzzle done in the first session! Weirdly, it was almost exactly “half” vertically, which is usual. Normally I do bits and pieces all around the puzzle, but in this case the different color areas are arranged vertically.
I first did the blue sky. It’s well designed with mountains, the “moon” area, various figures that break up the space, and different areas of dark and light blue. It was fun to do and not monotonous at all. Next I moved on to the red roofs. I’d put the red roof pieces in a separate sorting tray so it was easy to slide them onto my Jigboard and piece them together. And then the cream-colored castle walls also come together quickly. Before I knew it the top half of the puzzle was done.
The red roof has various textures, from smooth to pebbled, some darker and some lighter, so it’s not hard to assemble.
The cream-colored castle walls have lots of details that break it up — windows, wooden beans, a row of peach stones, and figures hanging around the walls.
I finished the puzzle on the second day. The lower half of the puzzle has a couple of different backgrounds as well. There’s the green grass and the tan road. So you can look at a piece and tell roughly where it goes. I referred to the box a few times, but not as much as I usually do with a busy cartoon puzzle.
I enjoyed looking at each figure as I put the puzzle together and having a chuckle here and there. The art is uniformly good throughout and each figure in the puzzle is unique.
I’m happy to give assembly a high 9 score.
“Transylvania” from D-Toys is a fun and easy cartoon puzzle to assemble. The different areas of blue sky, red roofs, cream castle, tan road, and green grass make this puzzle go together very quickly. The artwork is a lot of fun with dozens of characters, each with a unique costume and pose. Human tourists snap photos and watch the antics at the Transylvanian tourist attraction–loaded with rather silly vampires hanging around, cooking food, or putting on a show. The D-Toys quality on this puzzle is good with sturdy pieces, six different piece shapes (in a grid cut), and a nice flat finish. If you like cartoon puzzles, the D-Toys “Cartoon Classics” line is worth a try. Recommended.
Where to find:
This puzzle is 15% off for the next three days (til 10/25/16). Click below to see the puzzle on Puzzle Warehouse.