Along the way, we found that the best match what you’re looking for in terms of design, complexity, and size. Generally speaking, the hardest puzzles have more pieces, include moving parts, and come with detailed instructions. Keeping all these things in mind, we hand-picked a few that could double as works of art or feats of engineering, with Ukrainian Bridge taking our top spot.
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Table of Contents
As fun as it might be to build a three-foot pirate ship, if it means displacing your family from the dining room table for a month, you might want to consider something smaller. If you’re planning on displaying it, you should also be sure to check that the finished product fits within the space that you have.
While there are some notable exceptions—if a puzzle consists of 100 nearly identical pieces, for example—piece number gives you a pretty good gauge of how long a puzzle might take you. Don’t forget to consider your attention span as well as your tolerance for frustration when considering how complex of a puzzle you’re looking for.
But it sucks to have a half-finished puzzle lying around forever, so consider getting one with instructions to use as a cheat sheet. You always have the option of not looking at it until you’re ready to. Puzzles that come with instructions also tend to be more difficult, which could mean more fun too.
Some people construct puzzles just for the fun of the build and break them down again after. Others prefer to keep their finished pieces on display.
If you’re the type that prefers to display your finished product, it might be worth looking into puzzles that have working lights or moving parts. These extras can make a puzzle a bit more difficult, but it can also make it a much more interesting display.
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Mechanical Models Mechanical Steam Locomotive
A Highly Complex Puzzle With Moving Parts
Build This Architectural Puzzle Without Glue
Crystal Dragon Puzzle
The Finished Piece Works Amazingly as Decor
4D New York City Skyline
Learn About the City as You Build
The Earth 3D Jigsaw Puzzle
Build a Practical, Fully Functioning Globe
Music Box Robot
Best Multi-Functional Wooden Puzzle
3D Pirate Ship
Lights Up With Included LEDs
Tinkerbell Crystal Puzzle
A Crystal Puzzle for Disney Lovers
Hogwarts Astronomy Tower
Complicated and Detailed for Veteran 3D Puzzle Builders
Wooden Robot Hand
Create a Functioning, Working Mechanical Hand
Reviewers were amazed by the detail put into the design of the locomotive and thought it was a joy to build. Even kids found the toy engaging enough to focus on finishing it, without reaching for video games.
This puzzle features unique interlocking pieces that fit together to create a miniature of the famous Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. Each individual piece is sturdy, well constructed, and very unlikely to break. It even comes with a photography booklet from National Geographic, so you can learn about the beautiful city while you build.
Everything is numbered, either on the piece or the template where you take the piece out from, for easy construction. You could also attempt to put it together without the instructions at first and go back to reference it later if necessary. It's highly detailed and will only take 60 to 120 minutes to piece together.
Some reviewers do mention having to glue certain parts together so they wouldn't fall apart. You will also need patience to build it, as the pieces are rather small and specific. But most reviewers were happy with the results, saying it was engaging, fun to learn about the structure of the building, and very detailed.
Critical reviewers thought the puzzle was very difficult to put together, especially because no instructions were included. Most reviewers, however, really love the beautiful dragon design and the challenge level it offered.
According to reviews, the numbers on the pieces for the buildings are very small and hard to see. You may need to find someone with sharp eyes to help. However, other reviewers loved how you were able to learn more about New York and the order of when buildings were built in the city while you created a final, eye-catching masterpiece.
Reviewers also say that the font on the globe is too small and sometimes the images are out of alignment, so it's not great as a reference for a project. But reviewers like how it stays together without glue, is satisfying to build, and is a great size.
According to reviewers, batteries are not included and the ones recommended by the company don't seem to be the correct size. You will need two 357 watch batteries. The music aspect and the design were a huge hit with reviewers and it was fairly easy to assemble.
Some reviewers were frustrated with the assembly, saying the paper was flimsy and actually did need glue to hold together. The battery box and LED lights were also difficult to access. But it's definitely challenging and takes time but looks great once assembled.
One reviewer mentions that the arms and wings were particularly difficult to put on. You will need a lot of patience to put it all together. But if you are willing to take the time to build it, the payoff is wonderful and it makes a great decoration.
Reviewers found the instructions confusing and some also had pieces missing from their pack. It'd quite difficult to assemble, so it's great for those looking for a challenge. Reviewers suggest using cardboard to hold the structure up and not throwing away any pieces - even if the instructions say otherwise.
Reviewers say that the process of using and attaching toothpicks to hold the piece together can be tedious and difficult, which caused a few to lose interest. Others like that it is a functioning hand and a unique design overall.
For puzzles with foam pieces, it might make sense to use pins at the edges rather than glue. This will hold the sides together while giving you some leeway to take it apart in the future.
For other types, it makes more sense to an adhesive. But rather than using a spray adhesive as you would with a 2D puzzle, you’ll get a stronger hold with an adhesive that you apply between each piece. As you’ll be gluing as you go, look for a quick-drying craft glue so that you don’t have to slow your building pace too much.
You never really get too old for toys. They're a fun way to pass the time and you can even enjoy them with your kids or nieces and nephews! Here are a few of our other recommendations.
No. 1: Ukrainian Bridge｜Mechanical Models Mechanical Steam Locomotive
No. 2: CubicFun｜Barcelona City
No. 3: Bepuzzled｜Crystal Dragon Puzzle
No. 4: 4D Cityscape｜4D New York City Skyline
No. 5: Ravensburger｜The Earth 3D Jigsaw Puzzle
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