The art of a good puzzle depends on two things – OK, maybe three: the graphics, the cut of the pieces, and the quality of the construction (of pieces and box). Classic American Fire Trucks is exemplary of all the above, and of the kinds of puzzles you can almost always expect from The Great American Puzzle Factory collection.
Classic American Fire Trucks is, first of all, shaped like a fire truck. This is cute. What’s even cuter about the fire truck shape is that the borders of the puzzle (you know, the part of the puzzle you generally do first, because they’re the easiest to find) are irregular. So, to find an edge piece, you frequently discover yourself turning it in every possible direction before you finally find the fit. Then the pieces seem to be somewhat deviously cut – often ending, as if on purpose, just at the edge of a line that you had hoped would prove instrumental in helping you find the piece it’s connected to. And sometimes, a space you’d be absolutely sure can only be completed by a piece with a straightish edge turns out to need a curvey-edged piece.
Then there’s the image – a brightly colored collage of eleven different fire trucks, each beautifully rendered and intricately detailed – in itself a kind of puzzle. And the box, which includes information about all the trucks in the illustration – adds yet another level of interest and engagement.
It’s not a puzzle for little kids. It’s significantly challenging, visually and intellectually absorbing, and often deeply satisfying. All 730 pieces of it.