Review: Halloween Barn Dance by Randy Wollenmann, Vermont Christmas Company 9.25/10
Publisher: Vermont Christmas Company (US), published 2017
Title: “Halloween Barn Dance” by Randy Wollenmann, 1000 pieces
Finished size: 30″ x 24″
OUR RATING: 9.25/10
Last week I posted my “Top 13 for Halloween list”. At the top of my list was this puzzle, “Halloween Barn Dance”. I’m a fan of Randy Wollenman’s hand-painted holiday scenes, especially his Halloween and Christmas images. Last year I reviewed “Halloween Town” and loved it and this year “Halloween Barn Dance” is a brand new image in 1000 pieces and scored just as well. Let’s check it out.
The Vermont Christmas Company box is rectangular and has a solid, sturdy top (above). The packaging design is very basic on the tops and sides. The artist name is not given on the front of the box.
The bottom of the back is plain white.
All four sides of the box are different. Two sides have a photo of the puzzle, the puzzle name, the artist’s name, piece count and dimensions. Missing is the Vermont Christmas Company logo, which I like to have on the side for easy reference when shelving. One side has has a little information about the company provided in three languages.
My one beef against this box is that only the long sides include a photo of the puzzle and the puzzle name in English. You would not be able to shelve this puzzle with a short side out, which is exactly how I shelve my puzzles. It is nice to see Vermont Christmas Company now features Randy Wollenmann’s name on the sides.
Here’s a close-up of the English verbage on the box side.
The box contains the bag of puzzle pieces and a promo flyer for Vermont Christmas Company. The flyer shows a few of their other puzzles.
Overall I’ve given the box 8/10.
The Image: 10/10
I love Halloween puzzles and I love Randy Wollenmann, so I was happy to see this new release for 2017. This image has some dynamic colors with the purples, reds, and orange, and lots of detail going on. As usual, I really like Randy’s painterly style. It’s cartoony but not too kiddie.
There’s also plenty of Halloween in this image, with the scarecrows, handkerchief ghosts in the trees, cutout ghosts in the foreground, the kids in costume, pumpkins, fall leaves, and the Harvest dance going on in the background. It’s an ideal holiday image though perhaps a touch on the dark side tonally.
This image gets a full 10 score.
(Click on any of the images in this review for a closer look.)
Puzzle Quality: (8/10)
Here’s my brand comparison for Vermont Christmas Company. When I did the brand comparison, I liked VCC well enough to add them to my list of brands I am comfortable buying anytime I like an image. Since then I’ve done quite a few of their puzzles and have found the quality consistently good.
The cut on this puzzle was a bit different than the puzzle I reviewed for the brand comparison. That puzzle was a “semi-random” cut whereas “Halloween Barn dance” is a bit more of a grid cut–but not exactly! (As you can see in the image below.) Not all corners line up and some sides are wavy and more extreme.There was a good variety of piece shapes. I liked the cut and enjoyed assembling the puzzle.
Another important issue for me is the thickness of the pieces, and VCC pieces, while not super thick visually, are hard and solid, not bendable or frayed. The image was firmly bonded and not going anywhere. There was no image lift and a small amount of puzzle dust. I also like the flat finish–the cut blends in nicely in the final puzzle. The pieces are glossy and there is some glare under overhead lights.
The interlock has normal snugness, neither super tight nor super loose. Pieces will fall apart when you move them or pick them up, so you have to use care. But the fit wasn’t so loose that nudging things made them fall apart. Overall, I’ve given the quality an 8. Again, henceforth I will not hesitate to buy another VCC puzzle if I love the image. It’s always nice to have more options! And VCC is one of the few companies to do a lot of both Halloween and Christmas images.
I really enjoyed assembling this puzzle. I’d put it in the easy difficulty range, though not as super easy as some puzzles. I took 3 evenings to work on it, about average for a 1000 piece puzzle.
I assembled the border first and then the lightest purple and blue windows, and then the Halloween Barn Dance sign, which was very easy to pick out. The blue on the scarecrow’s jeans sort of came along for the ride with the blue windows and ditto on the gold in the barn doors since it was close to the tan on the Halloween sign.
On the second day I began with the house, which includes both lighter and darker purple walls. The two scarecrows got pieced together. The green plaid shirt is particularly easy to find as are the clothes on the little cowboy and cowgirl in the middle of the image. I also did the red barn, which is easy due to the unique color. I had additional time so I worked on pulling all the pumpkin pieces and then assembling them. This is a little trickier since there are lots of pumpkin pieces and many different pumpkins. But by the end, that had filled in the bottom portion of the puzzle. At this point what remains for “the end” was the darks in the center of the puzzle and the leaves/tree in the sky.
I began the third session by doing the handkerchief ghosts in the trees. These guys do a nice job of breaking up the random gold leaf pattern in the upper left.
The rest of the leaves aren’t too difficult to fill in since the background behind the leaves changes color across the top of the picture from tree, to the sky, to the gray rooftop.
There’s a darker area in the middle of the puzzle between the barn and the foreground which got filled in at the end.
Overall, I’ve rated assembly a full 10 since I really enjoyed it. There’s a lot of detail in the image and tons of Halloween goodness to discover.
I don’t add bonus points very often, but I did add one for this puzzle. This puzzle is at the top of my Halloween top 13 list, and I’m awarding the bonus point for being ‘best of category’ in Halloween puzzles.
I had a lot of fun assembling this gorgeous Halloween-themed puzzle by Randy Wollenmann. I love the bright purples, red, and oranges, and there’s lots of fun detail to discover. The Vermont Christmas Company quality is good with hard, solid pieces. The cut is mostly a grid cut, but not all edges line up and some sides have wavy and diagonal edges. This gave the puzzle a unique personality, and I enjoyed working it. This puzzle is in the easy to moderate difficulty range. It’s the best of the 2016 Halloween season!
Where to find:
Click below to see the puzzle on Puzzle Warehouse.