How do we create a puzzle?
A peek into Jumbo’s puzzle production: from first draft to the factory and the warehouse.
Jumbo puzzles are made from photographs, paintings or drawings. A lot of the photos are sourced from photo stock agencies. These agencies have a huge collection of photographs, contributed by many different photographers. We sometimes get permission to use paintings that are currently exhibited, but very often we commission paintings for our exclusive use. This gives us the opportunity to have the best puzzle images (not always the same as the best pictures). And we have drawings – particularly in the children’s puzzles. These are often drawings from licensed products – like Disney or Peppa Pig – and instantly recognizable from television and films. In the adult section we commission artists to draw images for us – probably the best known are Graham Thompson and Jan van Haasteren.
Title and number
Each selected image receives a title and an article number so that it becomes a unique puzzle in the collection. The title is also translated into the languages of the countries where the puzzle is issued. For example, a puzzle titled "The Zoo" is called in Dutch "De Dierentuin".
Jan van Haasteren
Jan has been drawing Jumbo puzzles for years and together they invent new subjects for his puzzles in which a lot of great and funny things can happen. Think of a wedding, an airport or a zoo. Jan then creates a huge illustration of the chosen subject, full of funny details with more people than you would ever expect to see in a puzzle! Jan draws about 3 puzzle images per year for Jumbo there are about 30 puzzles in the current range, and over 100 Jan van Haasteren puzzles in all.
Graham has been drawing wonderfully humorous puzzles for Jumbo for many years, so when we started Wasgij he was the obvious choice to draw these special jigsaws for us. With over 50 Wasgij and many comic jigsaws, Graham has a huge fan base of puzzlers.
First in pencil, then in ink
Both Jan and Graham start by making a pencil drawing of the chosen subject. These are looked at and approved by a number of people before the drawing is inked in and coloured by the artist.
The drawings and paintings are photographed and stored digitally. A first proof of each image is printed so that the colours can be checked against the originals.
Packaging for the puzzles is designed ‘in house’. We use different styles for the different groups of puzzles – e.g. Falcon de luxe, Jan van Haasteren, Wasgij, Jumbo, and Disney – making them easily recognisable in shops. Again, a first proof is run for checking.
Puzzle images and packaging are printed onto paper and stored in the warehouse until needed.
The Dutch Game Factory
Jumbo’s factory is located in Medemblik. Its full name is the Dutch Game Factory (but known as NSF) and all our puzzles and most of our games are made there. When it’s time to produce a puzzle the artwork is collected from the warehouse.
The printed drawings are glued onto blue cardboard. These glued sheets are left to dry for about three days.
Meanwhile, the white boxes and lids are custom made by a special machine. When the cardboard sheets have dried properly, they go to the punching machine. Each size/shape of puzzle has its own punching knife, which cuts the card-backed images into the familiar interlocking shapes.
When the puzzles come out of the punching machine they are still whole and not broken, so it looks as if the puzzle already has been made. The punched sheets are stacked on pallets and put back into the warehouse until the puzzles will be produced.
All items collected
When the day comes to produce the puzzle, the boxes, lids, printed artwork and the punched cardboard sheets are transported to the production lines.
The puzzle sheets go to a selection of machines and conveyor belts where the boxes are filled. The production line starts with an employee who puts the cardboard sheets into a puzzle breaking machine. This breaks the sheet into the individual pieces and puts them in a bag.
A clever puzzle bag
The plastic bag is sealed so that no pieces can be lost, however t he plastic bag contains very small holes so that excess air and dust can get out of the bag.
The printed artwork with the puzzle image, the title, the number of pieces and the Jumbo logo are automatically wrapped around the box lids and glued into place. The other artwork – usually showing information about that or other puzzles, is wrapped around the box base.
The boxes slowly move on a conveyor belt. Our staff out the bags of puzzle pieces into the box. Sometimes a leaflet showing other Jumbo puzzles is added, and all the boxes have a Jumbo warranty added. Eventually, the lid is put onto the box. Finally the filled box goes through a tunnel where it’s wrapped in a plastic film.
Automatically, six or twelve puzzle boxes are stacked in a brown cardboard box, called the outer carton. This outer carton is then sealed by a machine and an article number is added so we know what's in the box. The cartons then go into the warehouse, until they are ordered by one of our customers.
The warehouse is completely filled with puzzles. At the beginning of the year less but as the year progresses it becomes increasingly crowded. The whole year Jumbo is working on stock for the month December because of Sinterklaas (Dutch Holiday) and Christmas. This means that in the Fall Jumbo has more than one million puzzles in stock.
Jumbo’s puzzle collection must be continuously renewed to be able to keep it fresh and popular with our customers. Old puzzles are taken out of the collection and new ones are introduced every year. Jumbo has many different puzzles in the collection. Our puzzle range is so extensive that not all puzzles are sold in every store.