Review: “Island Life” by Chuck Pinson, Buffalo Games
Publisher: Buffalo Games (US), published 2017
Size: 1000 pieces
Title: “Escapes: Island Life” by Chuck Pinson
Finished size: 26.75″ x 19.75″
OUR RATING: 9/10
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Box Quality: (9/10)
The Buffalo Games boxes are very sturdy and have nice packaging design. The box is small at 8″ x 8″, but it comes with a poster inside so you don’t need to depend on the image on the box lid. The front, which you can see above, has the “Escapes” collection logo, and the Buffalo Games logo. The name of the artist and puzzle are shown in a smaller font on the front.
The back of the box has a generic Buffalo Games back (below).
The sides all have the Escapes logo prominent and large. The puzzle name is shown on two sides. There’s also the Buffalo Games logo, the piece count, and a picture of the image. All sides would work pretty well for shelving side-out. The artist’s name is only shown in a small copyright notice near the bar code. (But it is on the front of the box!)
The box is glued shut on the sides (instead of being shrink wrapped) and the glue has to be cut by inserting a knife down the side. Inside the box the pieces are packed loose (not inside a bag) and there’s also a poster. You can see the poster below. It’s good size, at least twice the size of the image on the box. Also on the poster is a list of the “hidden images” inside the puzzle. They’re kind of fun to look for and give this puzzle a little something extra. The solution to the hidden images is shown below the list. The back of the poster is blank white.
Overall, I’ve given the box an 9/10.
The Image: 9/10
This is my first Chuck Pinson puzzle. You can see at the end of this post that Buffalo Games has several out, and they’re really beautiful images. I was drawn to this tropical scene because of the unusual pink and aqua colors and the amount of detail.
I much prefer painted images to photographs, and this scene has a soft painted style with plenty of detail. There’s a nice mix of textures with the sky, water, grass hut, birds, boats, and vibrant flowers in the foreground. I also particularly like the middle ground with the mix of waterfalls, huts, and foliage.
In addition to simply looking attractive and colorful, there are “hidden images” within this scene like an airplane, mermaid, etc. That adds another nice layer to the picture.
I’ve given the image a 9 score.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (9/10)
You can see my brand page for Buffalo Games here. This 2017 puzzle is fully compatible with the puzzles I reviewed for my brand analysis. The quality is very good. The pieces feel sturdy, the box and contents are undamaged and in great condition, and the artwork reproduction is spot on.
The cut is a standard grid-cut puzzle with a wide variety of piece shapes and even a few ‘zig zag’ sided pieces. I never had a question about whether or not a piece actually fit. The connections are average–neither particularly tight or lose. If you try to move small groups of pieces around they will fall apart unless you’re very careful. Click on the image below to get an enlargement of the piece shapes.
The final surface is fairly flat and seamless. The finish is glossy, which can lead to glare under overhead lights, but that didn’t cause a problem with this puzzle because there aren’t a lot of dark areas. Overall, puzzle quality scores a high 9 out of 10.
My difficulty rating for this puzzle is: Medium. I did it in two evening sessions.
I started with the border of the puzzle, which isn’t too difficult since the color/texture varies around the edge of the puzzle. After the border, the first area I completed was the sky. The pink/yellow sky is not a very large area and the colors are distinct from anything else in the puzzle. The bright blue birds in the sky and mountains filled in easily from there. I had time left over so I started the aqua water. As you can see below, there’s a fairly good swatch of it in the middle between the various buildings and boats. The water is a random pattern, so not super easy to assemble, but I put together small chunks by matching sections of darker, lighter, and white water, and then looked at the box lid to place them in the scene, slowly filling it in.
Let’s look at some detail on these areas.
I finished the puzzle on the second day. First I focused on the cluster of flowers, plants, and birds in the lower right and lower left.
The two large parrots in the lower left are easy to find with the bright blue and yellow colors.
The red boats in the foreground are easy to fill in with the distinctive reds and the stripes on the power boat.
Next, I did the grass hut. The thatch on the roof has a distinctive texture and the vertical lines on the deck help identify those pieces.
There’s a middle ground areas of small huts, foliage and waterfalls. This section is fun and challenging because there are several random patterns with the foliage and white water. I found it helpful to look for windows and rooflines.
The large green palms were one of the last areas assembled, and one of the darker areas in the puzzle, but not too bad.
I’ve given assembly a 9 score. This is a fun puzzle to assemble with lots of bright colors and details to find along the way. I love the fantasy tropical feel of the image. Calgon take me away!
“Island Life” is beautiful tropical fantasy image perfect for those of us with normal lives who want a little escape. The colors are unusual with the pink sky and aqua water. There’s lots of variety and detail in this scene with the grass huts, waterfalls, boaters, dolphins, and flowers. Difficulty is medium–there’s quite a lot of random pattern areas in this scene from the water to the foliage, but no one area like that is large enough to become frustrating. There are “hidden images” in the scene, listed on the poster, which are fun to find once the puzzle is assembled. The Buffalo Games quality is very good with grid cut pieces and a nice box that comes with a poster. Recommended.
Where to find:
Other “Escapes” puzzles by Chuck Pinson at Puzzle Warehouse right now!
Grab them at Puzzle Warehouse by clicking on the images below. Look for our sale starting 9/1!