Thursday, 29 January 2015


I’m thrilled to have Geoff Tristram on Jigsaw Junkie today! Geoff is an artist and cartoonist who does a few of my favorite puzzle series. He’s the artist behind Ravensburger’s “Best of British” series, their “What If?” series, and “Cat-ology”, published by Masterpieces. I’ll be sharing images of his work throughout this interview.
JJ: Please introduce yourself and tell us where you are from and where you live now.
GT:  My name is Geoff Tristram. I’m a professional artist and cartoonist, and I just completed my 40th year! I live in Wollaston, Stourbridge, England.
JJ: How did you get into drawing cartoon art?
GT: I’ve always loved cartoons, but also I am a ‘serious’ painter. by that, i mean that the paintings are serious. I’m not!
Above: Geoff’s “Best of British” #11 was released fall of 2014.
Above: From “Best of British” #9, “Country Show”. Barking Madleigh. lol.
JJ: What’s your educational background?
GT: I went to grammar school, followed by Wolverhapmpton College of Art, where I achieved a BA(Hons) in illustration and graphic design.
JJ: How did you get into doing art for puzzles?
GT: My first puzzles were called Cat Conundrum, and were done for Past Times. then I moved on to Ravensburger. My American Licensing agent also sells my serious cat art to many puzzle companies, such as Bits and Pieces. Ravensburger are the only firm I produce bespoke paintings for though. [NOTE for non-UKers: ‘bespoke’ means commissioned, custom made.]
Above: Geoff’s first two puzzles were “Cat Conundrum” puzzles published by Past Times. These are no longer in print but pop up on ebay UK every so often.
JJ: How did you come to work with Ravensburger and how long have you worked with them?
GT: I introduced myself to them and they made two cat conundrums, but they preferred my cartoon ideas I think!
Above: Geoff’s first puzzles with Ravensburger, “The Ship’s Cat” and “The Artist’s Cat”, were part of Geoff’s “Cat Conundrum” series of illustrations with built in riddles. “Artist’s Cat” has since been republished by Cobble Hill.
Above: Bits and Pieces published another the “Cat Conundrum” series. This one is called “The Old Curiosity Shop”.
JJ: Do you work on puzzle art full time? From home or in an office?
GT: I work in my home studio in the garden, and I do all manner of artwork, not just puzzles. I’ve done postage stamps, album sleeves, adverts, packaging, book covers, murals for restaurants, cartoons, caricatures, you name it!
Above: Geoff’s “What If: Santa and Rudolph” published fall of 2014.
JJ: Are you exclusive to Ravensburger?
GT: Only for bespoke puzzles. I love Ravensburger, and they’re good to me too!
JJ: Currently, you’re producing a number of puzzles a year in two Ravensburger series “Best of British” and “What If?” Are there any other images you do besides these?
GT: Not many, but I’m just working on a couple of new things for them which I can’t reveal just yet or they’ll kill me!
JJ: Can you tell us about the idea behind the “Best of British” and “What If?” Series?
GT: Yes, “Best of British” is just typically British scenes, such as the supermarket, the high street, whatever. “What If?” was created by me and then Ravensburger took that initial concept and spent a lot of time and money perfecting it and getting the idea and the packaging just right. The What If statement on the box lid changes the scene inside from that of the cover. Fiendishly clever!!
JJ: Tell us how “Cat-Ology” from Masterpieces came about. Can we expect more of those?
GT: Not sure. Lance in the USA deals with all that and I don’t get too involved. I did around 25 cat paintings quite a while back, which were used in England first on plates etc, and then Lance landed the jigsaw contracts afterwards. You might notice that the pictures were designed to work as circles, but I added the corners anyway so as not to restrict future uses!
Nelsen Gershwinb
Above: Two of the “Cat-Ology” puzzles published by Masterpieces, art by Geoff Tristram. You can see more here and here.
JJ: Do you come up with ideas for new puzzle images or do you work with a creative director who does that?
GT: I liaise with the ‘new products’ manager and we come up with an idea between us. There’s often a lot of laughter involved. Then I go away and create the puzzle and the jokes. Sometimes, she’ll suggest a scenario which I can use, or tweak something I’ve done.
JJ: How do you research your images, for example when a cartoon is set in a historical setting or town?
GT: It’s easier now we have the internet. I create a large empty outdoor scene or room on tracing paper, and then draw the people and scenarios individually, just roughly. I cut them out and stick them on the street scene with selotape to see where they fit, and when I’m happy I redraw it all neatly on tracing paper, trace it down onto watercolour board, ink it in, and then colour it with Pantone Tria pens. It takes 2 weeks from start to finish and it’s exhausting.
Above: Geoff’s new Jan 2015 release “What If #11: Elizabeth & Raleigh” certainly required a bit of historical research.
JJ: Are the characters based on people you know? Stock art? Other?
GT: They come from my warped head.
JJ: Do you find it hard sometimes to come up with those ‘funny bits’ or does that come easily to you? Where do you find inspiration?
GT: I always think it’ll never happen, but somehow it always does. Out of desperation cometh inspiration, is my motto! My other one is ‘Impatience is also a Virtue!’
Above: Work in progress for “Best of British #13: The Cricket Match”, new Jan 2015 from Ravensburger.
JJ: Do you assemble jigsaw puzzles yourself? If so, what kind do you like to do?
GT: I never do. I’d rather create them to be honest. Not my kind of hobby. I’ll be shot for that probably.
JJ: That’s okay, Geoff, as long as you keep making them!
JJ: Tell us about other puzzles you’ve done in the past.
GT: My fave is the car boot sale (or trunk sale in American) Best of British. Apart from the cartoons, the cat conundrums are the cleverest. My fave joke is the chap selling seagulls on the beach for a pound each. A kid gives him a pound, and the man points high in the sky and says, ‘That one’s yours’.
Above: Ravensburger “Best of British #5: Car Boot Sale”
Above: Ravensburger “Best of British #6: British Holiday” (2×500 piece puzzles)
JJ: What can we look forward to in the future from Geoff Tristram? Any plans in the works for new series/puzzles?
GT: We’re always discussing new ideas and more cartoon themes for “What If?” and “Best of British”, but I can’t tell you much about new stuff until after it’s launched!
Thank you for the lovely interview, Geoff! We look forward to many, many more Geoff Tristram puzzles in future!

Monday, 26 January 2015

The Puzzle Factory

I have my first jigsaw of the year to complete from Ravensburger.
It’s quite a strange one this time as it’s actually called The Puzzle Factory. The puzzles picture shows what looks like a chaotic bizarre factory with many workers, lots of machinery and puzzle pieces and some rather strange oddities which I very much doubt are in any actual puzzle factory. For a start there is what I consider to be a swimming pool. The pool has a swan swimming around along with a hovercraft and divers.
There’s even a mermaid at the bottom too!
Moving on from the strange pool is what I can only describe as a jigsaw dump/recycle bin which looks very unsafe indeed.
The Puzzle factory is by far the strangest factory I have seen with various areas full of pure chaos and madness. There is lots of small fine details to this jigsaw once completed. Many of them I had to look quite hard to spot them.
The puzzle took me 2 weeks to complete. Whilst being unwell I made a start and got there with a lot of help from others.
It’s a 1000 piece puzzle and the pieces are quite small.
It’s by no means easy and there were times when I felt like chucking the whole thing off my table. I just could not find what bit goes where but eventually got there.
The artwork is by Edmond Davis and there is a leaflet included in the box with a little info about the artist.
I am a firm believer that jigsaw pieces should come with numbers on the back of each one, for those of us who enjoy the easy life ha.
As for cost and purchasing- I’m sure it can be found in many good toy and puzzle shops as with all Ravensburger puzzles and I have found it on AMAZON for just over a tenner £10.75.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Big Hero 6 Ravensburger Puzzle Review

Big Hero 6 is an action-packed comedy-adventure movie by Disney which is also from the team behind Frozen and Wreck-It Ralph. It is about the special bond that develops between Baymax, a plus-sized inflatable robot, and prodigy Hiro Hamada.
big hero 6 ravensburger puzzleThis is a brand new Big Hero 6 100 piece XXL puzzle from Ravensburger. The scene is from the movie featuring characters Hiro Hamada, Baymax, Fred, Go Go Tomago, Honey Lemon & Wasabi. It measures 49.3 cm by 36.2 cm when complete. This is suitable for children aged 6 and above. If you have a big fan of puzzles, I’m sure they will love this action character puzzle.
big hero 6 ravensburger puzzle reviewThis is our third time reviewing Ravensburger puzzles. We had similar Ravensburger puzzles before, with The Muppets and How To Train Your Dragon 2. Again, we are very impressed with the quality of this one. Do check them out on Twitter @RavensburgerPC as they regularly host giveaways!
This group action picture is very attractive and comes with a mix of Japanese and English words. My son did find it tricky to identify the words but luckily, those words are around the corners so didn’t take too long to piece together. The surface comes in a matt finish. The pieces are thick, strong and easy to join up. The only problem is that there are a lot of blue bits coming off the backing which happened in all the puzzle sets it seems. Once the bits are brushed off, it is fine afterwards. The puzzle can be done over and over again and kept safely in its box when not required. We had to disassemble it as we don’t have space to keep it out. It would be great to frame up.
We love doing jigsaw puzzles at home as they are a great work out for the brain and can be beneficial for improving problem solving, motor skills and eye co-ordination for children and adults. We all can’t wait to catch the new movie at the end of January. Not long to go now!
Review by Eileen at ET Speaks from Home

Monday, 12 January 2015

Spiral Designer from Ravensburger

Spiral Designer brings the 1960s spirograph concept into the 21st century! The high-quality plastic discs and frame mean that it's easy to make your own designs, confident the disc will revolve safely inside the frame. The set comes with a variety of discs, so you can create complex, detailed designs. Comes with a high quality plastic frame, 1 large and 4 smaller plastic design discs, cardboard disc, paper and 2 pens.

Available from Amazon 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Colin Thompson's Bizarre Town

This huge 5000 piece puzzle is a step up to accept a big challenge when you have completed the smaller puzzles. A colourful fantastical world, as envisaged by Colin Thompson in this bizarre town puzzle.

The image shows bright and detailed towns in different styles and you can work your way around the town and see what you can discover. A exciting and interesting puzzle for those who would like a challenge and have extra room for a huge puzzle! This would look fantastic once completed, glued and framed. One for real puzzle "professionals" to enjoy and measures 153cm x 101cm when completed.

Its a great puzzle to piece together with family and friends and is a perfect way to relax after a long day or for family fun on a rainy day. Every one of the pieces is unique and fully interlocking and the quality is enhanced by the vast array of shapes made by the handcrafted tools - one of the many ways that Ravensburger shows its passion for excellence.

Friday, 2 January 2015

New Year, New Challenge

This year, why not take on a 32,000 piece puzzle challenge? This stunning view of New York from an elevated balcony window, does not only capture the detail of the city, but also ensures every puzzle piece will keep you fascinated. At 32,256 pieces it is Ravensburger's largest jigsaw puzzle. This breathtaking image was taken as part of the Manhattan Gigapixel Project and is composed of 65 individual images resulting in stunning detail. 

Measuring a staggering 544 x 192cm when complete, means you might have to find an extra special place to display your final masterpiece.

Make 2015 the year of the jigsaw, with a puzzling challenge that is sure to keep you puzzling and puzzling.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Labyrinth board game by Ravensburger

If there is one thing we love to do, that is spend quality time together and enjoy playing board games.

We started off playing Labyrinth, we have never played this game before so instructions had to be read so we all knew what we had to do, first off was getting the board set up.The aim of the game is to work your way through the maze collecting your treasure along the way using the fastest route to get you there.

photo game 4

There is a fun twist to the game, the players can move the maze by changing the maze path, this could make it easier or harder for players to get their treasure, the maze path can be changed by every player just before they move their piece by inserting a maze card to the board, this will then push out a maze card the opposite end for the next player to then add where they wish on their turn, the maze piece can only be added by being pushed on the board from where the 12 yellow arrows are round the edge of the board, the maze piece can not be added to the middle of the board.

photo boys game

1 game board

34 maze cards

24 object cards

4 playing pieces

At the beginning of the game we shuffled the maze cards and then place them face up on the board to create our maze, we had one maze card left over, this was our card used to keep the maze pathway moving before we each took our turn to move round the maze, we then shuffled and dealt out the objects cards amongst us playing, on our turn we each had to pick one of our object cards in our stack without showing it to the other players, we then had to try and get to the square displaying the same picture that is on our card, to do this we had to first insert a maze card to move the maze path, either to make our move easier or it can be used to block the others playing, We then had to search the Labyrinth for our magical objects and characters by tackling the constantly moving maze. Once you have found the object that is on your card you then show the card to the other players and then pick up your next object card and work your way to that, once you have found your objects you leave the card face up next to you, the first player to find all of their objects and characters and return back to the starting square is the winner.

game set up

We had a very enjoyable afternoon playing this game, it made a lovely change to be able to just sit and still have fun quality time together that did not involve lots of walking, transport, TV or gadgets, this game was enjoyed in the comfort of our own home and made lovely afternoon full of fun and laughter. The way the maze keeps changing it kept the excitement going so it made a very exciting afternoon, admittedly we did play this game a few times until we all had a win and each game was different due to the maze constantly changing.

This board game is for ages 8+ you can view the wide range of other games and products from Ravensburger here.