Interview Siglinde Nowack

The Great Challenge with Tiny Cardboard Pieces

The biggest Ravensburger puzzle covers 14 square meters, weighs 20 kilos and is made up of exactly 40,320 pieces. The box is so gigantic that a child could hide in it.

The image is a hand-drawn collage of the world’s favorite Disney film scenes. So it’s not an ordinary puzzle.

Siglinde Nowack, international product manager at Ravensburger, talks about the special aspects of choosing the image and the puzzle fans who are prepared to face the challenge of assembling the puzzle.

Ms. Nowack, how did Ravensburger get the idea of producing the biggest puzzle in the world?

Siglinde Nowack: “As market leader for puzzles in Europe, every few years we set ourselves the challenge of breaking the current world record - with an even bigger puzzle, which we then market internationally.”

Hence the internationally known Disney images. Are these photographed film scenes?

Siglinde Nowack: “No, it wouldn’t have worked that way. All ten images plus the film strips that curl around each picture are hand-painted. They were illustrated specifically for this puzzle by an artist authorized by Disney. This originality can also be seen, for example, in the Mickey Mouse symbols hidden somewhere in each scene.”

What is the technical challenge in series production?

Siglinde Nowack: “This definitely has to be the size and format of the puzzle. It doesn’t fit on any standard machine and there is no punching tool for it. Which is why we divided the puzzle into ten segments. But in order to make a perfect single picture from these, we had to adapt the entire production process. From the precision fit of the puzzle pieces and color fidelity at the edges to development of the folding carton, to fit all the puzzle bags. We needed a lot of good ideas, our technical expertise and a great deal of handcrafting.”

An industry giant such as your company would hardly be short of experience. What is most crucial?

Siglinde Nowack: “Our expertise in manufacturing puzzles. Starting with the specialists who draw the puzzle piece shapes for the punching tool through to production of the tools, which need to be bent by hand – each one is unique.”

14 square meters of puzzle won’t fit into just any living room. How and where can people do the world record-breaking puzzle?

Siglinde Nowack: “The 40,000 puzzle is packed as ten individual images, each with 4,032 pieces. This means that you can do the puzzle bag by bag and then at the end put the pieces together to make the whole. Or you can join in completing the puzzles at one of the big gaming events in the coming months. For instance at “Ravensburg at play”, at the Leipzig Model-Hobby-Game trade fair, at SPIEL’16 in Essen, on the Spielwies’n in Munich or at the South German Game Fair in Stuttgart, according to the motto: Puzzles link pieces and people!"

Are there people who manage to complete it?

Siglinde Nowack: “There certainly are! In principle, anyone can complete it if they have plenty of patience and staying power. Usually, these are ambitious puzzle fans. These giant puzzles are also frequently completed by puzzle groups.”

How long would someone need for 40,000 individual pieces?

Siglinde Nowack: “It depends on how experienced the puzzle fan is … If you do the puzzle for two hours every day and use a few days of your holiday, you can finish it in one year. We calculated 600 hours, equal to about 25 days of non-stop puzzle-piecing.”

Who does these puzzles? Are there people who buy them?

Siglinde Nowack: “Of course there are. On the one hand, these are Disney fans from all over the world, but there are also individuals, children, families or groups, who have lots of fun doing puzzles as a joint project. We have deliberately chosen the image to arouse emotion when people see it. As a result, every generation discovers Disney scenes from their childhood, perhaps “Bambi”, “The Little Mermaid” or “The Lion King”. And all those many tiny details just make doing the puzzle fun.”

How much does the biggest puzzle in the world cost and where can I buy it?

Siglinde Nowack: “It costs about 400 euros and you can buy it in Europe, the USA and Asia, altogether in about 100 countries around the world.”