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Chit-chat from Imaginatorium Shop
Blog entry for July 2017
Recent months have seen big changes in the world of Japanese puzzle manufacturers...
Apollo brand integrated into Epoch
Apollo was a well-established toy company before they started producing puzzles, and they continue with a line of puzzles and other toys for young children. In 2011 they became a subsidiary of Epoch, and over the intervening period most of the smaller puzzles from Epoch have been sold under the Apollo brand. But now the jigsaw puzzle division is being absorbed into the Epoch brand, so the Apollo name will gradually disappear.
No more Road brand puzzles
Road was the most elusive of our manufacturers. The name goes back a long way, and until around the time Imaginatorium Shop opened its virtual doors (in 2002), these puzzles were produced by a company called Sunlike. Shortly afterwards, the brand was transferred to a company called Kezuka, who have carried on producing almost exactly the same range for nearly 15 years. They never had a website, never appeared at the toy show, and last produced a printed catalog (undated) in about 2011. And now it seems they are gone, or at least there will be no more Road brand puzzles.
Although the range was limited, it included some of the most beautiful scenic puzzles, and an exquisite golden flowers and birds screen (in 1000 and 2000 pieces; we still have a few left). But there is good news too! Three of the Road range of traditional images by contemporary artist Hakuga have just been rereleased by Appleone...
New manufacturer: Cuties
Perhaps even more obscure than Road is the Cuties brand: a company with a somewhat odd range of puzzles, and even odder range of other products. But the chief attraction is a large number of ukiyo-e prints, including a complete set of 300-piece puzzles of Hiroshige's 53 stations of the Tōkaidō (the old road up the east side of Japan). We'll be adding these progressively from now on...
"A kind of blog..." My sporadic comments, mostly topical, on shop matters. (Brian Chandler)