A Broader View's Round Table Puzzles Give Every Kid a Chance to Play
Roger Andresen, founder of A Broader View, is a problem solver. When he thought about how families and friends put together jigsaw puzzles, he realized that at least one person is always working upside down or sideways, craning his neck to see the main picture being assembled. As an engineer, he knew there had to be a better way...
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Creating a Better Puzzle
Inspired by the King Arthur legend, he invented Round Table Puzzles — circular puzzles that features artwork that can be viewed right-side up from any angle — so that everyone gets an equal seat. One child works on a tiger, while across from him, another child works on a bear. Mom and Dad have their animals to work with, too. It's all about perspective, and everyone has a great view and everyone feels like they've got the important pieces.
One puzzle has a variety of dinosaurs. Another, animals in a round. Legendary Landmarks features Big Ben, the Eiffel Tower, and the Statue of Liberty. City Central blends the skylines of key cities of the world. There are 8 different puzzles in all.
The puzzles are geared toward two different age groups. The 500 piece puzzles are ages 8 and up. They retail at $14.95. For kids 4 and up, there are 50-piece puzzles for $12.95. They have thicker pieces so kids can wrap their little fingers around them better. Thicker material also means they'll hold up better in the hands of a 4-year-old.
Giving Back to Specialty
Although big names like Barnes and Noble carry them, A Broader View got its start in smaller, independent stores more than a decade ago. In fact, their puzzles are carried in more than 1,000 specialty stores. Therefore, he's trying to give back to the community that got him started.
On April 1, A Broader View will make those 8 new Round Table puzzles available. They are offering a special to retailers: 25 percent off any purchase.
The puzzles have been welcomed warmly in previews. "We displayed them for the first time at Dallas Fall Toy Preview," he said.
A Broader View began when Andresen read reports that Americans were behind the rest of the world in...well...their knowledge of the rest of the world. They placed second to last in a National Geographic poll. This didn't sit well with Andresen. His father worked for airlines and provided his son with trips to dozens of countries. Children – as well as adults – should know where everything is, and they needed a fun way to learn it.
"Ever since I was a kid, I was always into puzzles and I was always into travel," he said. "I could sit in front of a puzzle for many, many hours."
When he got a Rubik's Cube, that was the goal. "One day, I want to be Dr. Rubik."
He left his job as a fiber optic engineer and in 2001 released the Global Puzzle, with 600 pieces shaped like countries, states and provinces. He also created GeographyZone.com. More than 2 million people from 192 countries have played the free Geography Challenge quiz game. This was followed with other puzzles.
A precursor of the Round Table puzzles were square puzzles where all four sides are equally good starting spots. For some of these, he required the help of a designer. They took stock photos and blended them, altering each pixel so that it would be seamless, and brushing it over with PhotoShop so that it looked like all the animals (even Andresen's pet pug) were gathered together for a group photo. Now, they're looking to license the artwork of established artists like legendary puzzle designer Michael Searle.
Made in America
The production began in Wisconsin. It was moved to China briefly. But then a Massachusetts company was found that provided competitive rates, and didn't have to ship overseas. So, this group of puzzles is American-made.
For someone who traveled to different countries as a teenager, Andresen said he's definitely in a different world now than when he was working as an engineer. It's not a 9-to-5 work day. "Your to-do list doesn't end until you do it," he said. But there's a much better sense of accomplishment. At the end the day, you've made a fun and educational product for kids and grown-ups.
Additionally, the toy community isn't as cutthroat as other industries. He advises others starting out not to go it alone.
"Your so-called competitors should be your allies," he said. Don't be afraid to ask for advice, even if it means explaining your idea a bit. And on the other side, when you've made it, be available to offer advice to someone who is one step behind.
"Without my mentors, I wouldn't know where I'd be," he said.
The company has reached great accomplishments. It's accumulated awards. It's sold more than a million puzzles. Scholastic named the Global Puzzle a top educational resource. There's been coverage in USA Today and CNN. But sometimes, it's the smaller, more personal compliment that feels good.
The other day, he told his doctor that he created puzzles. The doctor told him how he had just bought a puzzle for his kids that has a map of the world, and it was really good. That kind of unsolicited compliment goes a long way.
MSRP: $12.99Age Range: 9 and upSpecialty: Yes (as of 2014)SKU or Item #: 391Gender: Boys And Girls
Introducing the Round Table Puzzles, the new way to do puzzles! These circular puzzles have the top of the image in the center & the bottom of the image around all the edges. Just as the Knights of the Round Table all had an equal seat around the table, everyone has an equal seat around the puzzle. The Kid’s Dinosaur Version, created by famed puzzle designer - Michael Searle, allows one to view this prehistoric moment in time including Dinosaurs of all sizes from the bottom up at every angle. The 50 pieces are large and sturdy to enable kids to easily handle the pieces and the pieces to easily withstand the kids. Jigsaw puzzles are a timeless family tradition, but traditional puzzles present a problem to those working on them—typically only one person (the person building from the bottom of the puzzle) has a normal view of the puzzle image. The Round Table Collection now eliminates this problem. The Kid's Dinosaurs Version of the Round Table Puzzles has united a diverse group of dinosaurs in their prehistoric environment—all captured for this unique moment in time! 50 pieces.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36627 (added 3/6/2014)
MSRP: $14.95Age Range: 5 and upSpecialty: Yes (as of 2014)SKU or Item #: 851941003724Gender: Boys And Girls
Introducing the Round Table Puzzles, the new way to do puzzles! These circular puzzles have the top of the image in the center & the bottom of the image around all the edges. Just as the Knights of the Round Table all had an equal seat around the table, everyone has an equal seat around the puzzle. The Creepy Critters Version, created by famed puzzle designer - Michael Searle, allows one to view some of nature’s smaller animals in all of their magnificent colors in their magnificently-colored habitat from the bottom up at every angle.Jigsaw puzzles are a timeless family tradition, but traditional puzzles present a problem to those working on them—typically only one person (the person building from the bottom of the puzzle) has a normal view of the puzzle image. The Round Table Collection now eliminates this problem. The Creepy Critters Version of the Round Table Puzzles has united a diverse group of nature’s colorful creatures—all living in perfect harmony for this unique moment in time! 500 pieces.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 36626 (added 3/6/2014)
Chris Lundy is a freelance writer and game designer who covered municipal news for several New Jersey newspapers. He's also written comic books and short screenplays. Read more articles by this author
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