Wasgij Puzzles: I’m at a Loss for Words
No, not really, that has never happened . . . but if anything could turn me speechless, these puzzles would have a shot at it. They are something else. I had seen the Wasgij puzzles at the Puzzle Warehouse and wondered about them. They looked strange. Being a curious person I investigated. I learned that Wasgij puzzles are produced by Jumbo Games, a Dutch company established in 1853. Wasgij puzzles are made in their Netherlands factory from recycled cardboard and paper.
Wasgij is jigsaw spelled backwards and is pronounced “Woz-gidge.” And these puzzles are backwards. The puzzle on the box is not the puzzle I would be putting together. It would, however, give me a hint about that puzzle.
Wasgij puzzles currently have four collections that ask three different questions. The puzzle you make will answer one of those questions:
- Original Collection – “What are the characters on the box looking at?” The Christmas Collection puzzles are Originals, but with a Christmas theme.
- Destiny Collection – “What will the characters on the box look like in the future?”
- Mystery Collection – “What happens next to the characters on the box?”
So I gathered my courage and ordered one from each collection. My puzzles arrived. . . and so it began.
Being a bit of a history buff I started with Highway Hold-Up! from the Destiny Collection. The puzzle itself would be a version of the hold-up that would occur sometime in the future. I assumed the stagecoach would be replaced by a car, but I didn’t know what would happen to the toll house on the left or the inn on the right. The three bandits didn’t look like typical desperate highwaymen. They looked more like soldiers or aristocrats. So who were they and what would they become in the future? I was anxious to find out.
These puzzles come in very sturdy and beautiful 14.5 x 10.75 inch boxes. Assuming there would be puzzle dust I emptied the pieces into my colander and shook it over the sink. I shook and then shook some more. There was NO puzzle dust. That was a first for me. Never had that happen. I started spreading the pieces over my table. My only criticism at this point was that too many pieces had been wedged together that did not go together. I had to be very careful separating them because the picture was in danger of becoming separated from the cardboard.
The pieces are thick, somewhat “gridish,” but each piece is unique. They have a nice matte finish – no glare. I was impressed right off the bat.
I separated the pieces by color as best I could, then started with the border and got that out of the way. There is so much detail in this picture that if I found two pieces that fit together, I put them together. Even two pieces gave me a better idea of what it was going to become.
I had to be careful if I removed a piece. These pieces fit together tightly – this is nice as the completed puzzle looks more like a picture and less like a puzzle. But it was tricky separating them without bending the pieces or pulling the picture off. It was pretty clear whether a piece fit or not, but I did put several pieces together incorrectly. I also learned that the pieces tended to be vertical or horizontal. If the first piece was horizontal, the one next to it would probably be vertical.
Many times I found myself reaching for the box to find where a particular bit went, only to remember it wasn’t on the box. Not this time! I admit I was tempted to Google for a picture of the solution. But I resisted because that’s the whole point of these puzzles – to figure it out for yourself. And, yes, it felt like being on a road trip without a map, but imagine the feeling of victory when arriving safely at my destination.
Obviously I can’t show you the completed puzzle or tell you what was in the picture. I can’t even hint . . . and it’s killing me. All I can say is that ironic hilarity ensued. I can keep a secret, of course I can.
Catching Wedding Fever! from the Original Collections asks what are they looking at? Everything has gone well. The bride has married the man of her dreams, her dress is beautiful, and the guests are enjoying themselves. It’s time to throw the bouquet. The single ladies are waiting politely to see who is lucky enough to catch it. What has happened that is so shocking? What are they looking at? I hoped it wasn’t another woman claiming to be married to the groom. There are hints on the box. I thought this one was a little short on the humor and whimsy, but still an excellent puzzle.
Live Entertainment! from the Mystery Collection asks what happens next? Protected from the nasty weather outside, the diners are waiting for the live entertainment to start. They’re getting restless and remind the waitress that “Live Entertainment” was promised. Where is it and what will it be? There are hints on the box, but I found this one to be easier than the Highway Hold-Up puzzle. The answer to “What happens next?” is not years in the future. It is immediate, so the walls, window, and drapes are still there. That helped me get started.
This one really made me laugh. Was this the scheduled show? Or something put together at the last minute to say, “You wanted entertainment? You got it.”
These WASGIJ puzzles are a whole different take on puzzling. These are not ordinary puzzles. They transcend ordinary puzzles – beautiful quality, challenging experience, and whimsy served neat. Usually when you finish a puzzle, it’s over. That’s it. Not this time. You get to look at all the little whimsical bits and then enjoy the overall humor of the thing. It just doesn’t get much better than this.
I have seen some reviews online, not at Puzzle Warehouse of course, that rated the WASGIJ puzzle with one star because the puzzle was defective – the puzzle inside was not the puzzle shown on the box. That does leave me speechless and sad because they missed the enjoyment these puzzles offer. I understand these puzzles may not be for everyone. But if you try these puzzles, please understand that the puzzle inside is not supposed to match the picture on the box. It’s something much, much more!
Give these puzzles a chance – you may be frustrated at first, but your victory will be all the sweeter!