Tag Archives: difficult puzzles

Amazing Skyline Jigsaw Puzzles from Piatnik

If the first jigsaw puzzle you see from Piatnik’s new Skyline series is New York, you night not be so intimidated. Skylines are a popular theme for travel jigsaw puzzles, and this one fits in nicely and shows just how much variety there is in building size in the Big Apple.

new york city puzzle, nyc jigsaw puzzle

New York Skyview by Piatnik. 1000 pieces.

But the rest of the Skyview series is tough. Vienna, Paris, and Venice are long distance aerial views with teeny, tiny details. Paris and Vienna are even made up of the same color scheme! These puzzles would be a great challenge and are very unique compared to other skyline travel puzzles.

It reminded me of a great artist, Steven Wiltshire, who has been called the Human Camera. He can take a helicopter ride over a city’s skyline and then reproduce the image–by memory–perfectly, down to the smallest details. With no preliminary sketches or preparation minus the helicopter ride, he can proportion the city exactly and remember every building’s relation to other buildings and landmarks. Check out the video proof. It’s stunning and amazing.

New York City Skyline by Steven Wiltshire

So, for the ultimate challenge, channel Wiltshire, and try these extra tough puzzles by studying the image on the box, then refusing to use it as reference for the rest of your puzzling!

vienna, travel puzzles, skyline, challenging jigsaw puzzles

Vienna Skyview by Piatnik. 1000 pieces.

paris jigsaw puzzles, france puzzle

Paris Skyview by Piatnik. 1000 pieces.

italy jigsaw puzzle

Venice Skyview by Piatnik. 1000 pieces.


Meet David, Puzzler Extraordinaire

David of Ajax, Ontario, Canada has completed a BIG project: the 17 x 6 foot 32,000-piece puzzle from Ravensburger.

Double Retrospect by Keith Harring from Ravensburger. 32,000 pieces.

With the help of his wife, Kim, and 6-year-old daughter, Nicole, David was able to complete the massive puzzle in approximately 360 hours over the time span of over a year. He began his project in March of 2012 and finished it just two months ago in July. After some difficulty mounting the puzzle—difficulties which included having to rearrange his basement, fortify the edges of the different sections of the puzzle, visit multiple hardware stores and having trouble getting the puzzle to securely stay in place—David was done.

Now, relaxing after such a mighty task, David took some time to answer a few of our questions.

In our interview, we discussed the challenges of working on and displaying Double Retrospect, as well as get to know David a little bit. A big thanks to David, who was so friendly and amiable in our interview. It was a pleasure to ask him about his puzzle habits!

David and his wife, Kim, and daughter, Nicole, stand in front of the completed masterpiece in their basement, where David has a craft area to work on his puzzles.

Q: How long did it take you to complete Double Retrospect?

A: This puzzle took approximately 360 hours to complete. I started on March 12, 2012 and finished the last pieces on July 27, 2013.
Just preparing the puzzle for display took nearly 20 hours. I estimate that another 10-15 hours were used to take and set up over 3,400 photographs.
Q: Did anyone help you?
My daughter Nicole (now six and a half) helped on several occasions, mostly with the last 10-20 pieces on the many of the cartoons. [She] and my wife, Kim, put the last two white pieces together!
Q: Were there points where you wanted to give up, or were you determined the whole way through?
A: You’ve heard the terms “mental block” and “writer’s block.” I think I suffered “puzzle block.” I hit this point with about 6000 pieces remaining in late June of 2013. I remember thinking “Why am I doing this?” and “I just can’t do this anymore.” So I left the puzzle alone for several days.
When I looked at it again I had this break through: “This is a 6,000 piece puzzle now. Just finish it!” Over the next five and a half weeks, I put the majority of those pieces together.
Could this [puzzle block] have [had] anything to do with the fact that it was summer and I didn’t want to be in the basement? Most likely!
Q: What was the most challenging puzzle you ever completed before this one?
I completed Ravensburger’s 18,000 piece “Tropical Impressions.” The most challenging part were the green border pieces. I struggled and struggled with those pieces because they were so uniform in shape. I would have preferred not to have them at all.

18,000 piece Tropical Impressions puzzle by Ravensburger.

Puzzle Warehouse Note: We do not carry the full 18,000 piece Tropical Impressions puzzle, but we do carry a smaller version.


Q: Do you think you can go back to “normal” sized puzzles after these feats?

David says he enjoys SunsOut’s shaped butterfly puzzles. Here is one we have from artist Lori Schory, an 850 piece shaped puzzle with vibrant colors and imagery.

I work on “normal” size puzzles all the time. I enjoy working on 1,000/1,500/2,000 and 3,000 piece puzzles. Often times, I am working on several smaller puzzles while working on larger ones. I have made gifts of them to family and friends. I enjoy these puzzles because of the variety of cuts they use, and some are even shaped (e.g. Sunsout’s butterfly puzzles).
Q: How did you approach such a large puzzle? Did you spend most of your time sorting?
Just seeing the puzzle packaged the way it was, in one VERY LARGE box, eight bags of pieces and a booklet made me wonder why I purchased such a large puzzle in the first place.

The box alone must be quite large to account for all 32,000 pieces! We include a picture of the box on the product description page to give a visual.

The next step was difficult: mix all the bags together or do it bag by bag? In the end I chose bag by bag because I do not have all that much space in my basement. For many, this is not a true way of doing puzzles but think of all the pieces—especially the white ones!
I spent roughly 1/3 of the time sorting the puzzle pieces: first by colour, then by shade, then by shapes. At one point I had 31 piles of pieces. Dollar stores sell plastic storage containers—some with two compartments—which I began using after the first bag was finished. This really helped storing and organizing the pieces. When I found myself working slowly on the puzzle, I began sorting the next bag. This way, I was “ahead” of the game.
The combination colours, like red/black/blue, did present some difficulty because it meant having to piece together the red/black or blue/black pieces first. Of course the white pieces were “fun” too. Many could be paired, as I discovered after the third bag, especially the centred ones and the offset ones. Then I noticed that some pieces had a very particular knob-shape (by the fourth bag). So sorting the white pieces became easier and easier.
I also discovered (that in the very last bag, for the very last cartoon) a piece having four colours (pink/red/blue/black). Out of 32,256 pieces only one piece had this combination!
Q: What advice would you give to other puzzlers who want to challenge themselves?
The challenge with “Double Retrospect” is to stick with it. Working on a puzzle of this size requires lots of time to sort the pieces. It also has a lot to do with your daily schedule and the mood you’re in. Most of the time I only had 20 or 30 minutes to work. Not much work flow for getting into it: sometimes putting together 5 or 10 pieces, other times up to 50 or 60. Then there were stretches of several days that would go by before I could work on it again. The weekends, when I was lucky enough, I could work for a few hours. This was how I could make some headway. The best weekend I had was in April 2013 when I had 5.5 hours to work. I nearly completed one cartoon!
One point to remember: it will not necessarily be the number of pieces that challenges: it is the overall colour scheme and theme of the puzzle. The green pieces (Tropical Impressions) were more of a challenge than anything I’ve put together.
I have two 1,000 piece puzzles from Piatnik “Wine Corks” (row upon row upon row of … wine corks) and “Coffee” (spilled coffee beans and a scooper). These puzzles combined took me over 30 hours to put together.

Even though this 1000 piece Piatnik puzzle is considerably smaller in size and piece count, David still considers it quite the challenge because of the imagery.

Q: What’s your favorite puzzle that you’ve ever completed? 
I would say my favourite puzzle is Ravensburger’s 9,000 piece “Zodiac.” This was the first really large puzzle (over 5,000 pieces) that I had completed. It is also the first puzzle that I mounted, framed and hung on a wall. It’s featured on the back of my business card. I also dedicated it to my grandparents who are now both deceased.
I have always preferred landscapes to anything else. I do have several puzzles of art work, sci-fi and still life. I prefer mountain landscapes although I do have some picturing beautiful seascapes.

The 5000 piece Zodiac puzzle is dedicated to David’s deceased grandparents and is featured on the back of his business card.

Recently, and now that I will have a large display wall, I am hoping to have a “themed” display going for puzzles: Germany, Italy, France and the rest of Europe, Christian Riesse Lassen, and Josephine Wall. I also started to frame holiday puzzles (Easter and Christmas) and seasonal puzzles such as spring, summer, fall and winter.
Q: Thank you for answering our questions!
Thank you so much for this opportunity. Keith Haring’s “Double Retrospect” was definitely a challenge I won’t soon forget. This has been fun and hope that Ravensburger, Educa, or Clementoni come up with another 32,000 puzzle (hopefully it’ll be a landscape or seascape!)

Challenge Yourself: Puzzles that Push You

Do you feel the need to challenge yourself with your puzzling experience? For those experienced puzzlers, it might be time to try something new—something a little different, something that adds an exciting new component to the hobby you already know and love.

There are many ways that jigsaw puzzle designers have come up with to completely alter the puzzling experience. Sometimes they throw in some extra unneeded pieces, sometimes they give you a different image on the box. Whatever it is, it’ll push your brain even more—and we bet the added challenge will give you even more pleasure once. Well, after you get over the feeling that it’s just impossible, at least:)

These challenging puzzles will be spread out throughout posts over the next week as we write about the benefits of pushing yourself. We’ll try to start with the simpler challenges first, just to give you a taste.

American Native Flowers by Scramble Squares. 9 pieces.

9 pieces seems like a breeze, doesn’t it? Nope! In this puzzle, you must align all the squares so that the pictures match up perfectly in every direction—and there are 95,126,814,720 combinations that are possible for you to try with this 3 x 3 puzzle with four different rotations in each square. You’ll be rotating and replacing the images in the square over and over again as it nearly works, but not quite. Good luck!

3D Magna Puzzle – Planets by Ceaco. 16 magnetic pieces.

The illusion of depth and movement is an added challenge in this 16 piece puzzle. It’ll be tough just to decide where to begin! The bonus to this puzzle is that it comes with a magnetic tray, making it very portable. You can work to piece it together from anywhere!

Library by Ceaco. 42 pieces.

Instead of the shaped puzzle pieces you recognize, this image is made up of 42 sticks which you line up and rearrange inside of a wooden tray. An added challenge? It can make up to two images because it’s double-sided. Better choose the right side to lay your stick!

Spiral of Archimedes by Ceaco. 67 uniquely shaped pieces.

This puzzle was randomly designed, so it doesn’t have to make a lot of sense! Try to piece together these 67 pieces, all of which are uniquely shaped, in order to make a puzzle that has no straight edges and no overlapping images—yikes!

African Oasis by TDC Games. 234 pieces.

I hope your eyesight is good because this puzzle is part of the World’s Smallest Puzzle series. With 234 pieces and a finished size of 4″ x 6″ you’ll want to make sure you never misplace the tweezers that come with this miniscule but challenging puzzle!

Sea Otter Family by Cobble Hill. 400 pieces.

This puzzle’s unique quality isn’t intended to challenge you—instead it’s intended to help make the puzzling experience inclusive! There are small, medium, and large shaped pieces in this Family Puzzle series so that everyone feels like they can help, from the littlest ones to the biggest ones. However, the uniqueness of this may challenge you anyways!

Monarch in Flight by Paper House Productions. 500 pieces.

Completing the edges is a whole new experience with shaped puzzles! Additionally, there are some pieces hidden in here with surprise shapes—butterflies and flower shapes included.

World’s Largest Jigsaw Puzzle on Display at Puzzle Warehouse

Ever wondered what the biggest puzzle ever would look like framed on a wall? Well, we’ve come close – we now have the second largest jigsaw in the world on display at Puzzle Warehouse.

At Puzzle Warehouse, you can now see one of the biggest puzzles in the world.

At 24,000 pieces and over 14 feet long, LIFE: The Great Challenge by Educa is one of the most detailed puzzles you will ever see.

See the FINISHED puzzle at our main store in St. Louis, MO – open 7 days per week. The puzzle was completed by several customers and is now on display down our longest isle – at over 14 feet long!

The 24,000 piece monster was designed by Royce B. McClure. Called “LIFE: The Great Challenge,” this puzzle is full of variety, color, activity, beauty, drama and above all – Life! A lot of the intricate detail won’t be seen until the pieces are put together, rewarding the puzzlers with surprises as they work to complete the challenge. How does one go about designing this type of masterpiece?

When I was asked to design the artwork that would be used for the world’s largest commercially made jigsaw puzzle, I sat down and had a good long think about it. Not whether or not I would do it (of course I would accept the challenge) but how to come up with a design that would do the concept justice…Challenging, but not impossible, lots of detail but still making a satisfying overall picture when completed.” – Royce B. McClure

[EXCITING NEWS] We have also donated this fabulous puzzle to the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York. They will be using the puzzle is a hands-on exhibit starting March 29, 2013 where museum visitors can help put together the puzzle and also play a find-it game with life size posters of the puzzle. See more about the event here.

What’s More Difficult Than an Impossible Puzzle?

We got an email from Rob asking for suggestions for a gift from his wife. He recently purchased an Impossibles puzzle from Great American Puzzle Factory, known to be quite the challenge with no edge pieces and also extra pieces inside the box – but that just wasn’t challenging enough! As I was writing a response, I thought it would be nice to share with everyone. Here is my response…
Wow – if those Impossibles puzzles are not a challenge, it sounds like we need to either go big (like a 3000pc or larger) or try some specialty items.
Here are some suggestions:

Krypt Puzzle

This jigsaw puzzle is all the same color, so it’s all about the shape of the pieces to complete. According to some of our reviews, it takes several hours just to get the edge pieces together. Some say 1 piece an hour is a good pace… It also has a really shiny, metallic surface, so it looks really cool when complete.

Alex Beard Puzzles

The challenge in these is only a little higher than the Impossibles, but customers have told us it’s really challenging because of the way the pieces are cut. The thing that’s cool, though, is that it’s not a standard cut – the pieces are all random shapes and loose fitting, so they don’t snap together like a regular jigsaw.

Murder Mystery Puzzles

These have 2 puzzles in the same bag, mixed together. There is also no puzzle image. I’ve had a lot of fun doing these with friends. One puzzle is a “before” and one is an “after” scene from a crime – you have to solve both puzzles to solve the mystery. We normally have more in stock if you check back in a few weeks there will be more theme selections.
If none of those sound appealing, then it might be time to up the challenge simply by upping the size of the puzzle. Here are all of our large puzzles: http://www.puzzlewarehouse.com/puzzles-by-difficulty-worlds-largest/

A Look at Impossible and Extremely Difficult Puzzles

For the avid puzzlers – we are always looking for a new challenge. For some, increasing the piece count is enough – moving up from standard 1000 piece or 1500 piece puzzles into the giant masterpieces like a 9000 piece Underwater Paradise or even bigger like the world’s largest puzzle at 32,000 pieces. For others, it’s not just about the piece count, but adding some other kind of dimension to the puzzle that makes it more difficult to solve. Today, I’ll take a look at a few specialty puzzles you’ll find at PuzzleWarehouse.com, and why they have the thrill you’re looking for in your next jigsaw.


Most difficult jigsaw puzzle with no edge pieces

Raining Cats and Dogs – an Impossibles with extra pieces and no edges.

Impossible Puzzles

University Games has come up with a few unique obstacles that are sure to throw a wrench into your typical idea of puzzling. Their Impossibles series are puzzles with no edge pieces (which means there is no border to help guide you), and also FIVE extra pieces in the box that don’t fit any other piece. And then, if you do manage to solve the puzzle without a flat edge for a clue, there are also hidden images in the completely puzzle to find within. The puzzles are only 750 pieces – but don’t let the size fool you – aside from the extra pieces and no edges, the images are also very repetitive – with similar colors and objects that make assembling the pieces even harder.

Non-Interlocking Puzzles

Scramble Squares - Classic Cars Puzzle Brainteaser

Scramble Squares – Classic Cars.

Don’t the simplicity fool you – just because these puzzles only have 9 pieces does not mean they won’t be a challenge! The object is to arrange the nine squares into a 3×3 square so that the graphics on the edges match perfectly all the way around to form a complete design in every direction. Scramble Squares slogan? “Can you unscramble the squares without scrambling your brain?” They even have an in-store challenge – if you can solve one in under 5 minutes, you get a free puzzle! Not many do!


Wasgij Puzzles



That’s right – jigsaw spelled backwards, or Wasgij, is a whole new way of puzzling. Created by Jumbo brand puzzles and drawn by artist Graham Thompson, these creative jigsaws are not what you’d expect. The puzzle you put together is not the same as the image you see on the box – in fact, solving the puzzle is part of solving the mystery! To complete the puzzle, you have to imagine what the character on the box image sees, or in come cases, will see! The puzzle art is bright and colorful along with humorous cartoons. Can you imagine yourself as part of the picture and put together what you might be seeing?


For even more specialty puzzle types – like ones that glow in the dark or feature hidden images and creative shapes, visit our website. Have you done one of these types of puzzles – tell us what you thought in the comments below.

Happy Puzzling!

The (new) Largest Jigsaw Puzzle Ever

Previously, the largest jigsaw puzzle in recorded history was made by Educa, called LIFE: The Greatest Puzzle with 24,000 pieces. The puzzle came in four packets, breaking the puzzle art up into four slightly easier to manage sections, which all connect together to create a giant puzzle that is 14 feet long and 5 feet tall. A TRUE puzzle challenge, and certainly not for the faint of heart.

But the folks at Ravensburger wanted to take things up a notch and create a puzzle even larger than LIFE! They have passed up Educa and made Double Retrospect, now the biggest puzzle ever, with 32,256 pieces. This mammoth of a jigsaw puzzle measures an incredible 17 feet x 6 feet!

The art for Ravensburger’s Double Retrospect was created by American Artist Keith Haring (1958-1990). Each of the 32 different images show one of Haring’s quirky illustrations, inspired by the cartooning skills he learned from his father, according to Ravensburger’s website. The puzzle is very colorful and vibrant and each scene will make you smile or chuckle. The limited color palate also makes the puzzle even more challenging because it will be harder to separate the pieces that go in one scene from another.

The puzzle pieces arrive in 8 separate bags inside of a box, and a trolley is also supplied so that you can transport the giant puzzle home. When you open the box, each bag will contain 4,032 pieces – each a sure-fire challenge on their own.

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