We're big fans of the Ravensburger 3d puzzles here at The Madhouse - we've already had great fun reviewing The Empire State Building, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, Medieval House and Eiffel Tower By Night - so we were delighted to receive a trio of US monuments to recreate in puzzle form, something that made me particularly happy because they are all places that we saw in real life on our American honeymoon all the way back in 2000. The three new puzzles to add to our collection are Statue of Liberty 3D Puzzle, Empire State Building with Lights 3D Puzzle and Chrysler Building with Lights 3D Puzzle
If you've never made a 3d puzzle before and you're wondering how it works, the puzzle pieces are made of plastic and many of them are hinged. They are also numbered with an arrow showing you where to attach the next piece,which makes construction a lot easier. Your first job is to sift through the pieces and lay them out in numerical order (or at least piles of twenties, thirties, etc).
You also get plastic trimmings and moudings that make each construction easily identifiable, such as the top of the Chrysler building here.
We had an afternoon session making all three of the puzzles and the kids got involved too, both sorting out the pieces into numerical order and helping to put them together.
We started with the Empire State Building, as it was a puzzle that we had made before but without the lights feature. It is quite a tricky architectural shape to recreate because it's not a regular square or rectangle, it's more like an H shape with extra sections added on the sides. Luckily there are plastic support structures to be inserted at various levels to help keep it all together.
We had a couple of issues with pieces snapping - this one split as I folded it along the hinge, but luckily it made no difference once it was put in place.
And the interlocking part snapped off this one which was a bit more problematic, but I got round it by gluing it into place. Both of the pieces that had issues were in the Empire State Building box - I'm starting to think it's a jinxed building/puzzle !
We managed to construct the puzzle almost all the way to the top with no other issues - it stayed firmly in place and didn't keep popping apart, which was a problem we had with the original Empire State Building 3d puzzle that we tried before. However, I totally failed to put together the top section, and when I called in reinforcements from Sophie, she failed too. For the final section, the first three pieces (let's call them 1, 2 and 3) slot together in the middle then you need to switch to the other side, like a mirror reflection, and slot in 4,5,6. This is where the fun started - we couldn't get numbers 7, 8, etc to fit in anywhere, however hard we tried, and when we tried too hard, all we managed to do was break pieces further down the structure. Maybe we were just being rubbish - I'll be interested to see how other bloggers got on - but they could definitely do with adding an extra note in the instruction sheet. It's particularly frustrating as it was only the very last layer that caused a problem - so near and yet so far ! The suggested age range for this puzzle is 12-99, whereas on the other two it's 10-99, so they must know it's slightly trickier.
Putting it to one side, we tackled the other two puzzles, both of which were a dream to put together - no broken pieces, easy to assemble and it all stayed in place perfectly.
The Statue of Liberty puzzle is even easier and would be a perfect 3d puzzle for children to try their hands at because the plinth is the only part that needs constructing and it's a simple square shape. While the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building both contain 216 pieces, the Statue of Liberty only has 108 so it's a simpler and quicker option, while still looking fantastic when it's put together and the statue is put in place.
What makes the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building puzzles extra special is that once they're finished, they have a colour-changing light box that you can place underneath to make the whole structure light up in different colours. This looks really cool but it's hard to really show off in photos, so I thought I'd share Ravensburger's videos to give you a proper idea of how it works.
If you like puzzles and fancy a new challenge, the 3d range is perfect. They're fun to put together (most of the time !) and look so good when they're finished that they can be left out on display as a permanent feature.
RRP : Statue of Liberty - £19.99: Empire State Building - £24.99; Chrysler Building - £24.99
Disclosure : I received the puzzles in order to write an honest review.