Friday, 27 June 2014

Ravensburger 3d puzzle review : Empire State Building

Ravensburger recently sent us through one of their 3d puzzles to review. We've already got the Big Ben 3d puzzle - click through to read our review of that one - so we were really excited to receive the Empire State Building to add to our collection. (You can also see Galina's review of the Taj Mahal 3d puzzle over on her Chez Maximka blog.)

Inside the box are 216 plastic puzzle pieces in two bags, along with some plastic structural supports and embellishments, such as the antenna spire, that are an integral part of the monument.

What sets these 3d puzzles apart from regular puzzles are the hinged corner pieces which you need to bend into place. If you don't push hard enough, you won't get a clean right angle and the whole shape of the tower will be askew, which is a problem when trying to pop on the rigid plastic inserts. But if you press too hard, you can break them, which undermines the solidity of the whole structure.

The pieces are also numbered with an arrow showing you where the next piece needs to be attached.

This makes it much easier to assemble, especially if you take time to lay out the pieces in groups of tens before you start. In this puzzle, there are regular intersecting puzzle pieces but also little square holes to clip certain sections into.

We actually had great difficulty keeping it all together because the various sections had an annoying habit of springing apart when you try to push in the next section. Unlike the Big Ben tower which is a straight up-down tower, the Empire State Building has lots of extra bits, with side sections or weirdly shaped corner pillars, which made it all  more difficult. Because I couldn't get the sections to fit snugly together and stay clipped in place, this made it impossible to keep the plastic support pieces in place, so the whole thing is quite fragile.

On our first attempt, I had a go with Sophie for about an hour and completed the first two sections, then, as I forced the hinged corners of the second part together, I totally smashed the lower level to pieces. That was the end of that attempt and I decided to take it to school to let the kids have a go. Two girls spent 4 hours trying to put it together and were left equally frustrated when they kept breaking bits apart as they tried to work their way up. Knowing that the deadline was looming for the review, I decided to have another go and very nearly succeeded. There are about 10 pieces left to fit in place but I gave up for now because I kept breaking lower sections when trying to fit them in and I know I'll break the whole thing and get annoyed if I don't take a break and come back to it with a clear head !

It's a great resemblance to the real Empire State Building and you do feel a real sense of achievement when you (almost) finish it, but for this one, you need an awful lot of patience and time. If you tend to lose your temper quickly, this isn't the best project for you - I'd try one of the other puzzle monuments in the series ! I still failed to keep the clip-on sections in place however hard I tried, which was frustrating. It's a shame because I didn't have any of these issues with the Big Ben one, which slotted together easily and stays in place with no problems whatsoever, even when moving it around Sophie's bedroom. I still love the idea though so I hope Ravensburger will find a way of tweaking the design so it holds its shape better and clips together more securely.

star rating : 3.5/5

RRP : £19.99

Disclosure : We received the product in order to write an honest review.

Other reviews you may be interested in :


  1. So frustrating when it breaks. Thankfully Taj Mahal wasn't difficult, though it also took quite a while to build it. Thank you for linking up!

  2. I'm jigsaw mad, sadly I'm the type that buys them to keep forever so I have boxes taking over the house! I've not branched out to the 3D puzzles but I have been curious about them, I love this one!

    Sharon xx
    Beauty, Miscellany

  3. sounds like a bit of a nightmare, I enjoy jigsaws but I think this would be a bit much for me

  4. Looks great when its finished - but does sound pretty hard to do!


  5. Thanks for the review, as I would love this puzzle. As it reminds me of a visit there with friends / colleagues some years ago. You mention difficulty in securing the pieces of model together. Hopefully designer and manufacturer will improve on that aspect. As I admit I and others would find it frustrating and disappointing if this occurred whilst building the model.

    Rachel Craig