Review: “Father’s Christmas Train” by Susan Brabeau, Sunsout – 8.25/10
Publisher: Sunsout (US), published 2011 (still in print)
Title: “Father’s Christmas Train” by Susan Brabeau, 500 pieces
Finished size: 19″ x 19″
OUR RATING: 8.25/10
Box Quality: (7/10)
The Sunsout boxes are very large and square in shape. They’re oversized compared to most boxes on the market. This takes up more shelf space but also provides a nice big image when you use the box lid for reference. The name of the puzzle, and Susan Brabeau’s name, is prominent on the front.
Three of the sides are the same, showing a tiny image of the puzzle, puzzle name, artist name, piece count, finished size, and Sunsout logo. The fourth side has a bar code. Unfortunately, the year of manufacture isn’t given. From reviews I’ve found online, it appears this puzzle has been in produciton since at least 2011.
The back of the box is plain white and made of a thinner cardboard.
Nothing comes inside the Sunsout box except the bag of puzzle pieces and a very small paper slip with the company url and a short blurb. There was a lot of puzzle dust, so take care to open the puzzle piece bag over a surface that you can easily clean. The pieces were fully separated and undamaged.
The final box score is 7.
The Image: (9/10)
I have done many Susan Brabeau puzzles in the past. I enjoy the whimsy and humor in her Americana images. In fact I interviewed her here.
Therefore, “Father’s Christmas Train” has been on my ‘to do’ list for awhile, biding its time. With the Sunsout promotion at Puzzle Warehouse, it seemed like an excellent time to tackle it.
The image is very cute with lots going on. The central ‘joke’ is Dad playing with the train set (that one presumes was a gift for Junior) while Junior reads a book. Dad is even in a conductor hat and scarf. Around them, a cozy home is decorated for Christmas, offering lots of different patterns, colors, and textures. One of my favorite touches on this puzzle is the train track border in yellow and black. It’s very cute, and makes putting together the border more fun than usual.
I’ve given this image a 9 score.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
This 2011 puzzle has the usual good quality of Sunsout. The pieces are sturdy and fairly random in cut, as you can see in the close-up below. The piece size is above average but not huge. The fit is snug enough to be able to easily moved groups of attached pieces, which I really appreciate. This 2011 puzzle has a tighter fit than the 800 piece “A Girl’s Stocking” (2016) I recently reviewed. But some of that may be the shaped puzzle design.
There is a glossy finish, which can lead to glare under overhead lights at night. I didn’t have much trouble with that in this puzzle though, because there aren’t a lot of dark areas. The image reproduction is good.
I’ve given quality a ‘9’ score.
This 500 piece puzzle was easy to assemble. It took me two sessions, though I could have completed it in one longer session.
First thing to assemble was the border, which in this case is a cute yellow-and-black train tracks design.
The border wasn’t difficult to piece together because the ‘tips’ of each piece that faced the inside of the puzzle were colored with the main design, as you can see below. The pieces weren’t only black and yellow. .
I next pieced together the blues, which included the blue wallpaper and Dad’s outfit. The stripes on the wallpaper are quite different from the boy’s denim blue and dad’s light blue striped shirt and hat.
The rug is also an easy to identify texture, as is the black and white dog.
There are some golden browns in the center of the puzzle that include the fireplace mantle, the stone wall above the fireplace, and the hearth itself.
In the second session, I completed the puzzle. Most of the “house” and “toy” textures are unique and straight forward. The stairs, white chair, grandfather clock, etc., are all easy patterns with strong lines or features.
The last part to be assembled, and the only somewhat tricky part, was the Christmas tree. As is often the case with greenery, the tree needles are a random pattern and that can make it difficult to figure out exactly how to orient a piece and if pieces go together or not. However, there are some unique ornaments on the tree, and by comparing a piece to the cover, you can see approximantely where the ornament goes. I placed these ornament pieces in the empty area where the Christmas tree would go, trying to judge their position within the tree. The rest of the pieces were filled in around them. The gold and red garlands on the tree helped orient the pieces.
I’ve given this puzzle an 8 for assembly. It was pretty straight-forward and easy, and would be a nice single-session puzzle to do while watching Christmas movies or would make a good family puzzle.
“Father’s Christmas Train” is a cute Americana painting by Susan Brabeau that’s been made into a 500 piece puzzle by Sunsout. At the heart of the painting is a dad having a grand time playing with trains while his disinterested son reads a book. The cozy living room is decorated for Christmas and there’s a definite nostalgia vibe to the image. The Sunsout quality is very good, with sturdy pieces and a fun random piece cut. I like that you can move around a set of joined pieces without them falling apart. This is an easy puzzle that you can do in a single setting and would be good for kids and seniors. Recommended.
Where to find:
This puzzle is 25% off through Dec 9, 2016 during ou Sunsout Christmas puzzle sale.