Jigsaw puzzles from Japan
Epoch 1500 + 400 small piece combination jigsaw puzzles
© JTB photo
This is "Heart Island", in the Great Barrier Reef off north-east Australia. And this is a classic "puzzler's puzzle", selected to be a tough challenge.
Combination of 1500 + 400 small-piece puzzles
Taking the challenge
Of the puzzle manufacturers, Epoch is easily the largest company, being a general toy producer with puzzles as perhaps 20% of total sales. While size sometimes reminds us of dinosaurs, Epoch's general approach is very dynamic — coming out with many new ideas. They were at the forefront of the "small-piece" shift a few years ago, and are currently producing an array of graded puzzles (1-kyu, 2-kyu, and so on as in judo; 1-kyu being the top level).
So what does this icon mean? This is one of the 1-kyu puzzles, selected to be a challenge, and you can see me tackling it on the right. Tip out the pieces, and it looks like an ordinary puzzle, of 2000 smallish pieces, but particularly if you start puzzles the way I do — in the middle, and without looking at the picture — something unexpected happens as the picture emerges.
Ta-da! The completed puzzles...
My opinion? Yes, this was fun to do, and definitely quite a challenge, though the difficulty lies in the image itself, which is clearly chosen to be difficult. Having a part duplicated provides extra clues: once you recognise a colour or texture in one copy, this makes it easier to sort out the other copy. I would definitely recommend trying one of these puzzles for a slight change of tempo — and it might make a good present for an enthusiast friend (unless you can read Japanese, it's not immediately clear from the box what is going on)!
Note that the pieces from the two puzzles are very close in size (within a couple of percent), and varied enough that it is not possible to sort them into two piles before starting.