Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Flying Jigsaw Puzzle®

Keep your eyes open this Fall. I've just signed a promotional jigsaw puzzle deal with the startup airline Suth'N'Air. The airline competes directly with low fare carriers like Southwest and JetBlue. The southern-styled airline's discount tickets feature unique perks like shiatsu neck massagers in each seat, southern snack favorites like cornbread and boiled peanuts and, and flight attendants who sing folk songs accompanied by guitar on flights longer than an hour.

Suth'N'Air will begin operations with promotions centered around the US Thanksgiving Holiday in November. To kick off their new routes, they will be dropping 75,000 of our latest creation, "The Flying Jigsaw Puzzle®" over key metropolitan centers along the airline's many routes. The first edition of these will be styled after wild turkeys, as a tribute to the pioneer spirit of Early America. The jigsaw puzzles are being assembled in Shenzhen Province right now and will feature a hunter's call so that they will make a "gobbagobbagobba" sound as they glide to a gentle landing over Louisville, Nashville, Decatur, and other cities.

If you hear this sound, be sure to look up, for though the 3D Jigsaw Turkeys are 100% biodegradable, each carries a coupon for a free companion ticket aboard the new airline. Passengers who fly around the Thanksgiving Holiday will be treated to the fantastic sight of the promotional puzzle releases and will additionally receive their own Flying Gobbler puzzle to assemble on tray back tables during their flight.

Additional in-flight entertainment on the airline's opening days will feature Disney's Song of the South, a movie which hasn't been released in more than 25 years but features the unforgettable "Zippety doo dah" song. Southern hospitality is the theme with iced tea and lemonade always available. Jack Daniels Country Cocktails are available at extra cost.

Check back here for travel deals around early November and I'll be sure to post a picture of the new "Flying Jigsaw Puzzles" as soon as I get them. Save room for pie!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thanks to Wal-Mart

Yesterday I was handed some good news for the world of jigsaw puzzles (especially my contributions to that world). Wal-Mart has ordered an assortment of one of my puzzle series. Since I only make puzzles with a concept behind them, this really supports this 'specialty jigsaw puzzle' category and gets it in front of a lot of new people. Incidentally, this will be the second puzzle of mine that will debut this year on Wal-Mart shelves. Right now I can't say much more than this, but I will post information here when they've shipped. Maybe they'll post an entry on the Wal-Mart Blog too...but I doubt it.

It has been a struggle to get puzzles that have more than just a picture into the mass market stores like Wal-Mart. I hope that these programs will validate this whole category. It'd make jigsaw puzzles a lot more interesting.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sometimes, you just don't feel like writing about Jigsaw Puzzles

As this is one of my few public forums, I'm including here a bit of troubling personal news. It will be brief. On Saturday, my good friend Darren Chiacchia was injured competing at the Red Hills Horse Trials near Tallahassee. Darren is a Bronze medal winner at the 20004 Olymics, a public fixture both here in the Buffalo area and in Ocala, Florida, and a dear friend to me, my wife, my sister, and countless others. He was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital where he remains unconscious and in critical condition.

Thoughts, prayers, and general good will sent his way are greatly appreciated. More information can be found online and this is his website which has updates to his progress.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Guess what? I won another award!

I haven't posted anything for a while...busy, you know? Still, I'm returning to blogdom to tell the world about a new toy award that I've won. Dr Toy reviews toys, games, and puzzles. I knew that one of my items (the Connect'em puzzles) had won a Dr Toy award in some category, but couldn't remember what it was. So, I visited the site and what did I see? Well, not only was the Connect'ems listed but right next to it was another award for the Beatles edition of my PuzziSphere jigsaw! This spherical puzzle features artwork from the Beatles Anthology album covers. Other editions feature Elvis, a globe and soccer art. It's a cool puzzle and one that makes a free-standing sphere. Both the Connect'em Series and the PuzziSphere are produced under license (from me!) by The Canadian Group, who makes a great line of puzzles under the brand Sure Lox. Their Circles series, which features unique circular pieces also picked up a Dr Toy mention.

Anyway, thanks go to Stevanne Auerbach, the woman who calls herself Dr Toy. She recognizes innovative ideas like these and rewards them with her unique and I believe independent accolades. Her annual "Smart Play/Smart Toys" guide is a great gift giving resource, especially if you need to buy Christmas and birthday gifts for kids (even if some of those kids are adults!).

It's funny about jigsaw puzzles. Mostly, they don't get nominated for awards, considered for awards, and certainly don't win awards. I mention this mostly as a curiosity, but I guess I must be doing something right. I'm going to do an article on toy awards some day. Anyway, hope to get back to my regular blogging schedule soon - sure beats working!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Deviant Jigsaw Puzzle Project

I'm not sure who'll be interested in this, but I thought it was neat. I can't even really figure out who's responsible for it all, but the idea is as follows...A surrealist artist had the idea of creating a perpetual jigsaw puzzle. Each piece would be illustrated by a different artist, with the stipulation that it must blend into the surrounding pieces.

So, a call went out to artists to create the pieces of this puzzle. I get the idea that the response must have been less than overwhelming, but still the end result and the individual pieces are worth a look. It's a bizarre quilt of interlocking puzzle pieces. I wish it had more of them.

If you're adventurous, check out The Jigsaw Puzzle Project at Deviant Art.com

Great Jigsaw Puzzle Songs

Years ago, I was charged with developing a playlist of songs that were related to jigsaw puzzles. The idea was that we wanted to have our music-on-hold all relate to puzzles. Well, the project was too hard at the time, but I did develop a neat list of songs that have jigsaw puzzles, pieces,
or other vague puzzle references in them. Of course, I lost that list, so what follows is basically from memory. So, look through your own collections and see if you have any of these and of course feel free to add your own.
  • Howard Jones - No one is to Blame - "...last piece of the puzzle but you just can't make it fit."
  • Jim Croce - Bad Bad Leroy Brown - "Leroy looked like a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces gone"
  • Faith No More - Falling to pieces - " And the pieces of my puzzle keep crumblin' away But I know, there's a picture beneath"
  • Patsy Cline - I Fall to Pieces
  • The Chelmars - Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Peter and Gordon - I go to Pieces
  • Dave Clark Five - Bits and Pieces
  • Rolling Stones - Jigsaw Puzzle
  • Fleetwood Mac - Jigsaw Puzzle Blues
  • Action Action - Four Piece Jigsaw Puzzle
Any great jigsaw puzzle deserves a great theme song, right?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Online Jigsaw Puzzles

Well, I'm not ready to report on Toy Fair. But, here's a little blurb about online jigsaw puzzles.

There's a certain magic about a jigsaw puzzle. It's something about turning the pieces over and over in your hand, looking for matching patterns, the edge pieces, and the snap when you put it in the right spot.

So why do people like online jigsaw puzzles? I'm not criticizing...well, I actually am, sort of. Because I don't get it. I've done a couple and luckily they had mercifully few pieces. They don't have that snap (or maybe I just had my computer's volume off). They don't have that magic. You don't have to rotate them, turn them over to the front...nothing. Why not just have the computer solve it for you, too?! In fact, they'll do that as well.

Still, as I say all this, I notice that there are groups on Yahoo and Google devoted just to these very activities. There are web sites featuring online puzzles of varying sophistication. You can make your own jigsaws with digital pictures of your kids or pets or the even cuter kids or pets of others. They'll have a puzzle of the day, let you email puzzles to friends, there's a Facebook application, on and on. I mean, I guess people really like them. National Geographic has a pretty good one on their website. It's pretty cool and the pictures are great of course. Would I go back again and again? Well, no probably not.

I shouldn't complain - I suppose that anything raising awareness and interest in jigsaw puzzles is a good thing, especially for me. I wonder though if technology has gone too far. I mean, what's next, replacing printed newsletters with pithy online journals written by self-declared experts? Let's hope not.