Showing posts with label IPP. Show all posts
Showing posts with label IPP. Show all posts

Sunday, August 9, 2020

IPP Puzzles, the good, the bad, and the ugly

I've been attending IPP for the past 9 years.  George has been attending for 19 years.  We have all but a few puzzles from IPP19 onwards and have started to finish off our collection from the earlier IPP's.  Currently we have 1936 puzzles in this collection.  It should be fairly obvious that we haven't had time to play with all of the puzzles, but we have played with a fair few.  The post today will not discuss any specific puzzles, but rather the packaging and displaying of them.  

I'm going to start with the worst of the packaging and work my way to the best.  I believe I am 'qualified' to comment on this as I have opened every one of those 1936 puzzles, removed them from their packaging, and placed them on our IPP wall.  You may not agree with my opinion, and I will take no offense to opinions that differ from mine.  

The absolute worst form of packaging is shrink-wrap that has been sealed and needs cutting open.  This cannot be reclosed after it has been opened.  If the puzzle has a lot of small pieces, they can easily be lost. One is stuck trying to scrounge a bag to repackage the puzzle in.  There is now a rule in place because of my dear lover.  He started using this rubbish and when he was producing puzzles for many, he used it exclusively.  Thank goodness that rule has been added!  But the wrap is good for those giant fractal puzzles that I don't want touched. They hold up nicely for display.

Next up is cling wrap.  Come on people. The only thing cling wrap sticks to the second time around is itself.  It simply doesn't hold up to rewrapping.  So again if the puzzle is played with at IPP...It is another mad hunt for packaging to bring it home.

Rubberbands.  Don't use them.  They simply don't hold up to the test of time.  They get brittle and break if you are lucky.  If not, they stick to the puzzle.  Many of them that have color to them discolor the puzzles we are so eager to get.  Going back through our puzzle collection, I've realized that rubber bands begin to deteriorate after three years.  And don't even get me started on having rubber bands as a part of the puzzle.  

Form fitting cardboard boxes.  Yuck!  They look nice, but are almost impossible to get the puzzle out of the packaging without tearing the box.  

Cardboard boxes with an open round window are better.  But sometimes the pieces fall out that window.  Especially if the puzzle is one of those packing things.  

Cardboard boxes with cellophane windows are a step up.  But be warned, not all gluing is the same. Some of it falls off rather easily.  

The best type of cardboard box is one that has a removable lid or is solid on all sides without any viewing windows.  If a cardboard box is to be used, please err on the side of too large. Put your instruction sheet inside as additional packaging to fill out the space.  I'd rather the puzzle slide around a bit than have to destroy the box to get to the puzzle.  

Next up bags.  Lots of puzzles are placed into a bag of some sort to help keep the puzzles together. As with others, some are good, some are just plain ugly.  

One form of bad packaging is paper envelopes or bags.  We've had a few of these. OK. One was a joke.  A nice wooden box was put into a paper bag because packaging was necessary. Taped paper tears, sealed envelopes can never be closed again. And really, How much protection does an envelope have anyway?

This brings me to ziplock bags.  Great. Easy to open if you use the kind with sliders.  The 'normal' zips?  Not so good.  I'm one of the younger ones, and I find I have problems resealing these things.  How would that work with 80 year old gnarled hands?  And while I'm on the subject of ziplock bags, please quit making them form fitting to the puzzle.  Again, err on the large side.  A form fitting bag has to be torn apart, or if you can get the puzzle out of the bag, it's never going in again.  

There are three other types of bags that have been used to hold IPP puzzles: thin mesh bags, linen/canvas bags, flocked bags.  All three have drawstrings and are easy to open and close.  The worst of the bunch is the thin mesh bags. These often disintegrate in about three to four years.  The linen/canvas bags seem to last forever, but get hard over time.  The flocked bags are great because they are easy to print on, but the flocking comes off after around five years.  Linen/canvas bags and flocked bags are not see through so that becomes a disadvantage to me. 

The 'best' packaging? Plastic boxes.  I kid you not.  More expensive, but well worth the cost.  First we have the clear malleable 'clamshell' packaging.  These can be custom ordered for the size of your puzzle for a few cents each.  Then there are the stronger thicker plastic boxes.  These are often made of HDPE (High density polyethylene). Nice for holding puzzles, terrible for display.  

CD cases are great.  If you have a flat packing puzzle, why not give them a try.  The puzzle stays in the box, and it's perfect for display. 

My last thought on packaging is tape.  DO NOT USE IT.  All tape is not the same.  Scotch brand tape is restickable, but only if you peel it off carefully. Duck tape.  Forgetaboutit.  

Now on to the puzzles themselves.  No, I'm not going to tell you what a good puzzle is, but I will talk about the 'bad' ones.  

1) A puzzle that has been laser cut and the exchanger/producer is too lazy to take off the backing tape.  I don't want to do your job.  Do it yourself. This one infuriates me.  I just got a kickstarter puzzle set in and darned if all four puzzles have to have the backing tape removed.  

2) A puzzle that can only be solved by a computer.  How am I ever to have a chance to solve it?  

3) A puzzle with a piece that must be destroyed to complete the puzzle.  An example would be a puzzle that needs a ballon to be broken in order to solve the puzzle.

4) Magnets inside the puzzle.  Just my opinion.

5) Puzzles that are too tight. If the last piece has to be forced into place, it's not a good one for me.

6) Just another piece....Meaning a puzzle is exchanged, and yet one more piece is sold at the puzzle party the next day and adds another few puzzle challenges to the original.  

7) Puzzles that are too easy.  If I can sit down and solve it within a minute...

8) Puzzles that are without logic. They don't have to be mathematical or the traditional logic type puzzle, they just have to have some sort of order about them.  Not a randomness.  In other words, a puzzle with over 1000 solutions is not a good puzzle. 

9) Jigsaws

These are my thoughts, they stem from opening, unboxing, un-bagging, de-rubber banding or un-taping and displaying 1936 IPP exchange puzzles.  Please share your thoughts with me.  Tell me I'm not completely bonkers.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012


You know, one puzzle I don't have is a Turkey.  I guess I will have to rectify that problem.  Maybe I can go get a puzzle and glue some feathers and a waddle to it.  Now there's an idea, DIY turkey.  Come to think of it, I don't have a cornucopia or any of the other Thanksgiving fixings.

But I do have A LOT to be thankful for this year.  I still have Mr. Man and he's still putting up with my collecting obsession.  Bug is still not into puzzles, but always helps with the crystal puzzle assembly.

I've got some amazing friends who I adore. I get to see SmaZ and his new creations on a regular basis, I meet Uwe for dinner once a fortnight at least.

I get to go on around 5 or 6 puzzle trips a year.  I love IPP and the Guangzhou parties are just a blast.

I get to travel quite a bit for work and I usually manage to make a few puzzle purchases and a side trip to meet a fellow puzzler or two.

I accomplished a dream by mass producing my own puzzle.  (and if my luck holds, it will be at a local attraction in the spring.)

I get to read Allard's and Kevin's and Gabriel's and Jerry's and Brian's  and Neil's and Oli's blogs.  That keeps me looking for puzzles to purchase, and others to drool over.  All of them write so much better than I do, so if you haven't read their posts yet, go do so today!

Oh yes, and I got a few new puzzles this year....a few hundred that is!

Yep.  Life is good.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  I hope you take the time to sit back and think over your puzzle blessings.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Puzzle books/apps-Grabarchuk family puzzles

Every now and again I forget to put a puzzle in my bag but I've always got my iPad or phone with me. How sad that I've become so dependent on technology that I would write that?  What you see here are the games I have downloaded and the books that I have purchased. I'm writing about them because I met the Grabarchuk family at an IPP (I think it was Berlin but as usual can't remember.) and I thought they were very lovely gentlemen.  I purchased a puzzle book at the time on an 'honor system' i.e. I paid and hoped it would get mailed out before the end of the year. As luck would have it, I had the book rather quickly and enjoyed attempting some of the puzzles in it.

Last year, I saw they had posted on Facebook that they were giving away  the Christmas puzzles and I thought why not.  I downloaded it to see what it was all about.  I'm glad I did.  It was good fun and a nice way to get into work.  When Valentines day came along they again posted a free book and I again downloaded it.  Another nice fun bit for the train into work.  I later decided to do an internet search can see what else they had available and found a bunch over on Amazon. I started making purchases because I'm first and foremost addicted to all things puzzling.  But really, this was another attempt to get the bug interested in puzzles. I mean she loves books as much as I do and I thought she might want to have a go at these.  I was pretty pleased when I brought my iPad to Disney one day and she and her cousins spent all the ride wait time playing with the puzzles in the books. I loved it because the beginning of each of the books are easy enough for kids to work out, but become progressively more difficult as you work through the book.  So not only are these good fun for the kids, but I enjoyed them as well.  I don't own a Kindle, but I do have the kindle app on my iPhone and iPad and they work pretty well on both.  Heck, Bug has even downloaded some to her phone to play on the bus.  Can't go wrong when that happens.

As for the games, I've enjoyed them a lot as well. More puzzles, but these are made specially for the iPhone/iPad.  They play a bit nicer and are interactive.  Again, a nice bunch that started out as installing the lite versions then going all out and buying the real ones.  You can see that I still have a few lite's up there, I just haven't gotten around to purchasing the full version of the missing apps yet.  One of these days when I run out of other puzzles to play I will.  Same goes for the missing books.

In the mean time,I highly recommend these to any who are interested in a nice set of graded puzzles.