What Determines the Price of Puzzles?
7 Key Features to Consider Before Making a Purchase
Have you ever wondered why some puzzles cost $15 while others cost $200? It can be tough to tell whether a manufacturer is just trying to cash in or if the higher price is justified. Without knowing the details, it's easy to end up disappointed with your purchase. To ensure that your puzzle brings you joy rather than frustration, we've compiled a list of 7 important factors to consider before buying a puzzle.
Feature 1. Materia
Plywood, Wood, HDF, or Chipboard — Which Is the Best for Puzzle Making?
Choosing the right material for a puzzle can make a significant difference in the overall quality of the puzzle. While approximately 80% of all wooden puzzles on the market are made of plywood, which is glued together in layers, this material has many disadvantages, including knots in the blanks, uneven grinding, splintering pieces, and the use of toxic glue.
A fragment of the "Elusive Colibri" puzzle
At UNIDRAGON, we use HDF — a high-density, modern wood material that is incredibly resistant to damage, moisture, and temperature changes. We love and use it for its stable quality, uniformity, and eco-friendliness, as it contains no glue. Thanks to HDF's unique properties, we can create bizarre and unique shapes for our puzzle pieces that are smooth, strong, and long-lasting.
Moreover, our puzzles have a pleasant wood smell and feel.
A fragment of the "Bruegel's Tower of Babel" puzzle, The Art of Puzzle series
When purchasing a puzzle "made of wood," check with the manufacturer about the material used. Puzzle pieces are typically not made of solid wood because it is expensive and challenging. Each piece of solid wood differs in color and texture, which can blur the picture and ruin the illustration's overall impression.
Feature 2: Printing
Sticker or Wood Printing — What's the Best Option for Your Puzzle?
When it comes to printing puzzle patterns, most manufacturers print them on paper and then glue them onto the finished wood block. This approach is cheaper, as it is easier to print on paper than directly on wood. It also allows for less careful processing of the wood. However, this method has significant drawbacks. Over time, the paper can peel off, and the pattern can fade due to exposure to sunlight. If a piece gets wet, the puzzle can become ruined.
At UNIDRAGON, we use ultraviolet (UV) printing technology to apply the illustration directly to the wood. The resulting paint layer is incredibly resistant to moisture, abrasions, and sunlight. Although UV printing is more complicated and less common, it produces high-quality results with exceptional image detail and color depth. UV printing is eco-friendly, as it does not involve any toxic substances or fumes in the ink or glue between the material and the illustration.
Our puzzles can be safely assembled under the scorching sun and hung in front of a window without any worry about the illustration fading over time.
Feature 3. Illustrations
Draw from scratch or buy from stock?
You may have noticed that some puzzles are created using popular images found on the internet and are very similar to each other. At UNIDRAGON, we believe that custom illustrations are essential for creating unique and engaging puzzles. This is not just because it is more interesting but also because it helps to develop the puzzle industry by offering customers something new and unusual.
Our designers create images specifically for puzzles. They work closely with technologists to ensure that the images are fascinating to look at and fun to assemble. The illustrations are slightly asymmetrical, customized to certain pieces, and include special colors, gradients, and patterns. This is painstaking work that involves collaboration between an artist and a technologist. For example, it took 100 hours to draw the Mandala Overarching Opposites puzzle!
The “Mandala Inexhaustible Abundance” puzzle
But this is what makes our puzzles so interesting and exciting. With unique illustrations, our puzzles offer a sense of adventure and discovery that you cannot get from a puzzle that uses a stock image.
Feature 4. Packaging
Wood, plywood, plastic or cardboard?
While the contents of a puzzle may be the most important part, packaging can also play a crucial role, especially if you plan to give it as a gift or add it to your collection. Cardboard is prone to wear and tear, while plywood can be rough and leave splinters. Plastic boxes may not look very impressive, and zip bags can be inconvenient for storage.
So we decided to pack UNIDRAGON puzzles in a wooden box. We have preserved the natural color of the wood to create a stylish, sophisticated atmosphere. The box's lid is voluminous and features a bright illustration that complements the puzzle's pattern, recessed slightly into the lid to provide a helpful assembly hint. If a puzzle has lacquered shiny elements, they will be repeated on the lid with precision. Inside the box, the puzzle pieces are carefully wrapped in textured tracing paper or burlap, and "stands" are attached to the lid for vertical placement.
Package of The Art of Puzzle series
In our premium ART series, we take packaging to the next level by including a mini-easel with a copy of the painting and wrapping everything in a spectacular craft paper painted with sketches of artists. Such packaging makes an impressive gift that can be given without wrapping paper, just a ribbon. Moreover, the wooden box looks great on a shelf and is an ideal storage solution for the puzzle.
Overall, we believe that packaging is an essential component of a high-quality puzzle, and our wooden boxes are an example of how thoughtful packaging can elevate the entire experience.
Feature 5. Puzzle cut
Creating from Scratch or Following a Pattern?
Unlike traditional cardboard puzzles, wooden puzzles feature intricate, curly, and complex pieces that create a unique experience for puzzle enthusiasts. These pieces, known as "cuts," can be downloaded from the internet and applied to any illustration, which is a cheaper option.
However, at UNIDRAGON, we believe that the cut is a crucial factor that determines the complexity, fascination, and overall experience of a puzzle, and we spare no effort to create the perfect cut for each puzzle.
A fragment of the cut of the puzzle "Van Gogh's Starry Night”, The Art of Puzzle series
Our illustrators and technologists work together to design an individual cut for each puzzle. This ensures that even if you purchase a puzzle with the same illustration but in different sizes, you'll get a completely different puzzle.
Throughout the design process, we test the pieces repeatedly to ensure that they are easy to assemble, stay together, do not break off, and complement each other harmoniously in the whole picture. Moreover, no two identical elements can be found in one puzzle, which enhances the challenge and excitement of solving it.
We believe that custom cuts are essential for creating a unique and memorable puzzle experience. It's the pieces that help us create entire stories within the puzzle, with their own plots, characters, and atmosphere. So, when you choose a UNIDRAGON puzzle, you can be sure that every piece is designed to deliver the best possible puzzle experience.
Feature 6. Cutting accuracy
Does 0.03 or 0.06 cm Really Matter?
Wooden puzzles are created by cutting a wooden blank into pieces using a laser machine. Although the machines used for this process are generally standard, the devil is in the details.
The difference between a 0.03 and 0.06 cm laser ray may seem minimal and barely noticeable, but it can significantly impact the quality of the puzzle. A thinner laser ray allows more masterful cutting of even the most complex and tortuous pieces, resulting in pieces that fit together precisely with smaller gaps and slits. The puzzle looks more solid and seamless. Thinner laser rays also leave less residue on the wood, avoid burning the paint along the contour and prevent damage to the illustration. Additionally, they ensure even and smooth edges for each piece without a ribbed surface.
At UNIDRAGON, we take cutting accuracy seriously. Our technologists work on the cutting pattern of each puzzle, ensuring that all pieces are flawless and cut according to their unique scheme.
Feature 7. Know-how, Innovations, and Collaborations — Pushing Boundaries in the Puzzle World
While many puzzle manufacturers are out there, creating something truly unique is difficult. At UNIDRAGON, we're constantly experimenting and developing new ideas to push the boundaries of the puzzle world. We're dedicated to providing the highest quality of printing, materials, illustration, and cutting standards, ensuring that every puzzle we produce is a gift to be cherished and remembered for a long time.
Our team constantly strives for innovation, so we developed the ART series of 1000-piece puzzles with a voluminous surface that repeats the movement of the artist's brush. We conducted over 100 tests and invented several printing techniques to achieve this effect.
Three-dimensional print of the “Van Gogh's Starry Night” puzzle, The Art of Puzzle series
We also created puzzles with unique lacquered pieces, like the Magnetic Octopus and the Mandala Tree of Life. Some pieces shine in the light, delicately shimmering and completely transforming the entire illustration, breathing life into it.
Our Mandala Puzzles, which come with a colorful spinner invented by our team, are another example of our dedication to innovation.
Spinner from the Mandala series
And, of course, there's our favorite QUEZZLE — a combination of a puzzle and a board game that we developed with the famous Japanese design studio IC4DESIGN. We launched a campaign on Kickstarter to produce it. QUEZZLE won several prestigious international design awards, including the NYX Awards 2022 and the Three x Three International Illustrator Awards 2022, and was shortlisted for the influential Art Directors Club competition in design and creativity.
Puzzle + Quest = Quezzle
These innovations are a testament to the hard work and creativity of our development department, designers, technologists, and illustrators. Our mission is to bring the puzzle world into a new orbit and show that wooden puzzles are the most amazing hobby ever!