The 2017 New York Toy Fair!

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The 114th New York Toy Fair was this past weekend, and I joined several fellow puzzlers from Penny Dell Puzzles on an excursion to the Javits Center to check out everything the toy, puzzle, and game industries are bringing to the table in the coming year.

In short, it was fantastic. Dozens and dozens of companies, from the titans of the industry to small outfits utilizing the crowdfunding model to get their feet in the door, were there to show off their creations.

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Although it’s a four-day event and we were only attending that Saturday, I suspect you could spend all four days exploring the complex and still miss out on some incredible stuff.

Like a giant singing LEGO Batman made of LEGOs.

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But I digress.

My chums and I were on a mission: to check out what puzzle and game companies were bringing to market in 2017. After picking up our ID badges, maps, and guides to the Fair, we dove right in.

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We started off in the Launchpad section, a place where first-time and developing exhibitors from all over the world could introduce themselves to press, buyers, and other reps in the toy industry.

I’m a huge fan of seeing what newcomers have cooked up — hence how often I’m on Kickstarter and other crowdfunding sites — and the Launchpad was loaded with intriguing puzzles and games.

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For instance, the team at Floss & Rock focused on puzzling for kids, with balance, pattern matching, and memory games, while the crew at Brixies put their own spin on the LEGO model with specialized pieces designed for making intricate models of animals, famous landmarks, and more.

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From there, we ventured into the Puzzles and Games section, and we were immediately awash in every style of puzzling and gaming imaginable.

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Vintage puzzles were represented, with deluxe versions of Clue and Scrabble on display, as well as retro metal brain teasers and mazes from Meridian Point.

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The folks at Orbet International were pushing the boundaries of what you can do with Rubik’s-style Twisty puzzles, and the team at Twizmo! Games put a Boggle-inspired spin on Rubik with their letter-filled take on the classic cube.

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From dice games to deduction games, from puzzles that fit in your pocket to ones that require the entire dining room table, seemingly every form of puzzling and gaming you can think of was under one roof.

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3-D jigsaw puzzles were well-represented by models like this one of Hogwarts in all its glory by Wrebbet 3D Puzzles

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… as well as wooden models like this Eiffel Tower from IncrediBuilds

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… not to mention this elaborate display celebrating 25 years of building fun with K’nex.

And, naturally, you couldn’t help but run into some familiar faces at the Toy Fair.

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Looney Labs was out in force, with their Loonacy, Mad Libs, and Looney Pyramids brands on display.

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And not only were they touting their latest edition of Fluxx — Math Fluxx, review coming soon! — but they’ll be celebrating 21 years of Fluxx games with Drinking Fluxx later this year!

(Plus, when I inquired about the Better With Bacon expansion pack to their Just Desserts game, an actual doctor told me to eat all the bacon I want. Now THAT’S how you hook someone.)

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The team from Bananagrams also had a strong showing at Toy Fair, with the company’s line having grown to letter-tile sets in seven different languages! Between that, their inflatable Bananagrams banana balloon, and their terrific tote bags, the Bananagrams brand was everywhere!

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All in all, the event was an absolute blast. The future of puzzles and games has never been brighter, and we here at PuzzleNation look forward to being a big part of that promising future.

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[A LEGO model of the Javits Center.]

You can check out our full gallery of photos from the event on Facebook by clicking here, and be sure to come back Thursday for a closer look at some of the puzzles and games that really caught our attention at this year’s New York Toy Fair!


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It’s Follow-Up Friday: Mother’s Day Answers edition!

Welcome to Follow-Up Friday!

By this time, you know the drill. Follow-Up Friday is a chance for us to revisit the subjects of previous posts and bring the PuzzleNation audience up to speed on all things puzzly.

And today, I’ll be posting the answers to our Mother’s Day Unscramblers puzzle!

On Sunday, in honor of the many puzzle-loving moms in the audience, I created a twofold challenge. First, you had to unscramble the names of 12 famous sitcom mothers, and then you had to match them with their respective TV shows.

So, without further ado and hullabaloo, here are the answers!

1. Marion Cunningham — H. Happy Days
2. Samantha Stephens — D. Bewitched
3. Morticia Addams — B. The Addams Family
4. Jill Taylor — L. Home Improvement
5. Peggy Bundy — G. Married… With Children
6. Sophia Petrillo — K. The Golden Girls
7. Claire Dunphy — J. Modern Family
8. Florida Evans — E. Good Times
9. Maggie Seaver — F. Growing Pains
10. Thelma Harper — A. Mama’s Family
11. Harriette Winslow — I. Family Matters
12. Jane Jetson — C. The Jetsons

How did you do? Are you a Mother’s Day puzzle master, or did you sitcom this one out?

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation App Review: Puppy Sanctuary

Welcome to our fourth edition of PuzzleNation App Reviews! Today we continue our quest to explore the world of puzzly games and apps for your tablet or smartphone!

Our resident App player and puzzle fiend Sherri has another intriguing game for us today, so without further ado, let’s dive into her review of Puppy Sanctuary for the iPad and iPhone!


If you enjoy cute and adorable puppies, then Puppy Sanctuary is the game for you. It is a match-3 iOS game (in the vein of Candy Crush) that is much more than a simple match-3 game.

Puppy Island has been invaded! Your mission, should you accept it, is to rescue the trapped puppies and keep them safe and happy in your sanctuary. This is an incredible game, seeming so simple yet surprisingly complex. It starts off as a match-3 game and morphs into something much more interactive.

You can play the game in a relaxed or timed mode. To rescue the puppies, you have to remove all of the red tiles from the game board by making matches of 3 or more tiles.

You can swap tiles in any direction, and you create power-ups when you make matches of 4 or more. The longer the match, the stronger the power-up. In these levels, your matches fill an energy meter that, once full, you use to blast a large chunk of tiles. Once the red tiles are gone, the puppy is rescued and placed in your sanctuary.

There is more to do in this game than just rescuing puppies. You have gem levels where you earn gems to spend in the sanctuary store and you earn special gifts. In these levels, you match the gems in groups of 3 or more in order to drop the gifts to the bottom of the board.

This game also has hidden object levels, where you earn food, water, and other stores for your puppies. You can also find hidden gems in these levels. Yet another level type is the bubble shooter. In these levels, you must stop an alien from creating a puppy trap. If you have a ball you can’t use, you can shoot the alien!

The levels get progressively more complex as you progress in the game, so the game boards don’t get stale. Also, once you have saved puppies, your saved puppies keep the trapped puppy company at the bottom of the board. You can even interact with the pups, and they will do tricks!

All that makes for a great game and I haven’t even gotten to the sanctuary part of the yet!

Once you have saved some puppies, they get placed in a sanctuary where it’s your goal to keep them happy. With the gems you accumulate, you can buy toys and decorations for them. The decorations get placed in the sanctuary, and you use the toys to interact with the pups. Tapping on each puppy will bring up its profile and heart meter. A full heart meter makes for a very happy puppy.

There is just so much to do in this game that I cannot see how one can get bored playing. The game map is awesome. Each variety of level has an icon, so you can see what level is coming, and each level provides a preview. There is just so much more to see and do with this game. I just cannot recommend this game more.

Ratings for Puppy Sanctuary:

  • Enjoyability: 5/5 — I loved this game. The puppies are absolutely adorable, and there are a good variety of game types.
  • How well puzzles are incorporated: 4/5 — With the variety of game styles and challenges, this is much more than a match-3 game.
  • Graphics: 4/5 — The puppies are distinctive and have their own personalities, and the game boards are eye-catching and interactive.
  • Gameplay: 5/5 — There is so much to do in this game and one shouldn’t get bored.

Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on TwitterPinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation Product Reviews: Loonacy

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Looney Labs is a game company with a creative model everyone can get behind: high replay value through wildly interactive, adaptable game play. Perhaps best known for their card game Fluxx, Looney Labs games are designed for portability, packing a lot of punch into smaller, more efficient packaging.

Their latest release is Loonacy, a pattern-matching card game that requires quick reflexes, a quicker eye, and no small amount of strategy.

In Loonacy, players compete to drop all of the cards in their hand by dropping them one-at-a-time into various piles by matching one of two symbols on the card. For instance, if you’ve got a card with a cookie and a brain on it, you can drop that card onto a pile with a cookie on top or a brain on top.

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You can try to strategize by arranging cards into your hand by symbol or possible chains — brain/cookie, cookie/ship, ship/puppy — but you have to play each card individually before you can drop the next card. And since everyone is racing to empty their hands at the same time, it can rapidly become a very chaotic playing experience.

(And in your enthusiasm, you’ll probably end up bending a few cards. Hey, it happens.)

But there is an element of strategy to the gameplay. If you have multiple cards with a cookie, you’ll want to play the card where the other symbol doesn’t help your opponents. (For instance, if there’s already a brain symbol showing and no one can play on it, play the cookie/brain card.)

That way, you can play your second (and hopefully, your third) cookie cards in a row and decrease the number of cards in your hand in a hurry. Of course, if someone drops their card on top of that cookie card, your strategy might go right out the window.

But that’s part of the fun. Loonacy tests observation, reflexes, and decision-making skill, all in the matter of a few minutes per game.

While it’s light on the puzzling, it’s high in charm, replay factor, and style. The sheer number of potential images to match makes this far more interesting than the average card game or pattern-matching challenge.

Looney Labs has a winner on their hands with Loonacy. I suspect it’ll be a big hit on Saturday during our International TableTop Day celebrations at home.

[Click here to check out our reviews of several other Looney Labs products!]


Thanks for visiting PuzzleNation Blog today! You can share your pictures with us on Instagram, friend us on Facebook, check us out on Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr, and be sure to check out the growing library of PuzzleNation apps and games!

PuzzleNation App Reviews: Glyph Quest

Welcome to the latest edition of PuzzleNation Reviews! Today will be the first installment of a new review series: PuzzleNation App Reviews! That’s right, we’re delving into the world of games and apps for your tablet or smartphone!

Not only that, but we’re also introducing a new member of the PuzzleNation Crew. Please welcome our resident App player and puzzle fiend, Sherri!

Sherri will be giving you the lowdown on puzzle games and apps of all sorts, including both new and well-known games. So, without further ado, let’s explore Sherri’s first PuzzleNation App Review: Glyph Quest!


Glyph Quest is an iOS game app that combines elements of a fantasy role-playing game with a simple matching game.

I am a big RPG fan, so this game sounded right up my alley. I found it to be really very enjoyable, a terrific way to pass the time and much more than simply matching items. The simple 2D animation is cute and has a retro feel to it. You are able to choose your own character, a male or female spellcaster, and as that character, you go on quests to defeat monsters simply by matching 2 or more glyphs.

However, the game isn’t quite that easy. The glyphs represent six elements: earth, air, fire, water, dark, and light. There is some strategy involved. Making chains of matches, i.e. matching earth glyphs more than two times in a row, increases the power of the earth spell, but if you cast an air spell (its opposite) after an earth chain, that air spell is much more powerful! You also have to pay attention to the monsters you fight, as some are resistant to certain types of spells but weakened by others.

Beyond the matching element is the RPG element. Your character levels up as he or she defeats monsters and completes quests. You also have a health meter that you need to keep an eye on. Your spells get upgraded the more you use them, and you can use the money you earn from the quests to make upgrades to your knapsack, among other things. With the sack you have the ability to carry health potions and some offensive weapons.

This is a really cute and fun game. It is a great way to pass time when you want something that will engage your brain but won’t overtax it.

Ratings for Glyph Quest:

  • Enjoyability: 4/5
  • How well puzzles are incorporated: 4/5
  • Graphics: 2/5 (for the retro feel; the graphics aren’t great but fit the retro feel)
  • Gameplay: 3/5 (it can get a bit repetitive but there is enough variety with the monsters to keep it fresh)

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