‘San Francisco’ by Genuine Fred

Another puzzle by another brand new to me: Genuine Fred.

This immediately caught my eye on the shelf and I really just bought it on a whim. Then after checking out their website I was like wait! I mean I liiike this one….but you’re telling me I can get a gradient marshmallow puzzle? yes please.

C’mon, it’s only a matter of time before I pull out the credit card for this thing. Sweet.

What a brilliant bit of art to put on a puzzle. But today we’re talking about ‘San Francisco’, a bright bit of art done by The Little Friends of Printmaking.

The box looks great. The image is so eye-catching covering the entire face of the box. Based upon the website and box design it looks like Genuine Fred wants to make the artists themselves as a selling point of their puzzle collection, so it makes total sense that the artwork dominates the cover.

Looking at the sides of the box you can see further how Genuine Fred is placing the artist front and center. The “Fred” logo is fairly small and inconspicuous, while the name of the artist is larger, placed directly next to the art inset and is high contrast with the background.

Back of the box, again, the artists photo jumps right out at you. Excellent, I love seeing the artists getting prime position– it is the artwork itself that draws us into a puzzle, after all.

Overall the design is very well done. The sides are clean and uncluttered with all the relevant info. The back has opportunity to look too busy, but the two-column layout with center-justified text and text break lines make it all quite easy on the eyes. The box itself is very sturdy and has the exposed base style that always looks so good. Same style that Galison uses.

Apparently this is called a partial telescope box. shrug

Whatever it’s called, it always looks so fancy on a puzzle.

The puzzle poster is a really good size. Big enough to be useful but not enormous and annoying. And the zip loc baggie for the pieces is convenient. I’d rather prefer companies didn’t shrink wrap the boxes and then also bag the pieces; but if they’re going to bag the pieces I fully support at least making it a reusable bag.

Now to the pieces.

Essentially zero puzzle dust. The pieces are ribbon cut with a range of innie/outtie combinations. The cut edges are very clean without any fraying or connected pieces. No ridge or distortion on the backs. I found only three pieces with damage.

The piece thickness is fine, but nothing amazing– right in between Eurographics and Buffalo Games. It does have very good compression and adhesive. So despite being slightly thinner than Buffalo Games, I think these pieces will be more durable.

The piece surface is smooth with a satin sheen.

My approach to this puzzle was very straightforward. I just pulled out the edge pieces and flipped over everything else as a group. I didn’t do any color sorting at all up front.

'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle
'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle

So, when I first looked at this puzzle I assumed I would go in and sort by colors, first thing. But when I actually opened it up and started flipping pieces I decided that was going to be wasted time, for two reasons.

The first is that there is really two main color groups here. Blue/green and pink/orange. These two groups are already in high contrast to each other (unlike a gradient or rainbow where sorting by color tone helps you differentiate subtle differences). I’d be taking the time to sort each piece but am I really making it easier to pick out each individual building? Not so much.

The second reason is the size of the features in this puzzle. Most of the features– the bridge, the water, individual buildings, and the sky– are large enough that they can be sorted to themselves as their own pile. But there’s enough individual features that it would be very tedious to sort them up front. I’d be sorting into 20 little piles– and that is simply too many to be efficient, one’s brain cannot hold 20 categories in active memory for quick sorting.

So I just flipped ’em all over and pulled pieces out building by building as I went along. It worked just fine, because the buildings each have a distinct look. I really didn’t have any issues with pulling the wrong pieces or missing pieces that belonged.

The fit of the pieces is good, not too loose. No issues with false fit, just a couple here and there as one gets with most puzzles.

'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle
'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle
'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle
'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle
'San Francisco' 1000-piece puzzle

Final thoughts. Overall quite positive. I think the price is maybe a little high? But maybe not? I don’t know puzzles are in such demand currently it’s hard to adjust in real-time to the effects of covid-prompted puzzle resurgence as well as inflation. This is better piece quality than Galison and Buffalo Games. It can certainly command a higher price than Buffalo Games, and Galison too. But I also think Galison is overpriced. I want to compare it to a 1000 piece Ravensburger, but honestly I can’t even tell what they are priced at anymore. The market for Ravensburgers is insane and prices are all over the place.

Here is something that bugged me a bit that I have never encountered in any of the hundreds of puzzles that I have done. The poster did not match colors of the pieces. I have placed the pieces directly above their matching spot on the poster and you can see that they definitely are not the same colors. It’s not an egregious flaw, but it’s not the most helpful as a puzzle aid if you compare your piece to the poster and it looks like it’s not a match. It was definitely misleading for a bit until I realized the problem.

But, I think overall I’m going to say that I approve. If I’m trying to think of anything really wrong with this puzzle I can’t come up with anything. I mean, the piece thickness isn’t what I would like it to be, but again they feel well-glued and smooth and they don’t have a super shiny finish the causes glare problems. I would classify this as a quality brand, within spitting distance of being premium. They do have a cool line-up of images and again, I love that they are featuring the artists front and center.

Probably marshmallows will show up in a future review at some point.

On the headphones:

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