Team Green is a Hong Kong based company that produces environmentally friendly and safe products. They have an impressive range of puzzles called Jigzle, made with plywood (thick paper models are also available), which will sure bring back memories from when you were younger and building those 3D plastic models.
I will be reviewing two of the company's wooden models, a Biplane and the Himeji Castle, both quite complex models with lots of pieces, especially the castle. I'll start by describing the Biplane, then continuing with the Himeji Castle.
The Biplane comes in a recyclable paper envelope - another proof of how environmental conscious the company is - and inside you'll find three wooden panels with all the pieces neatly arranged and pre-cut for your convenience. This process requires a somewhat careful approach, as many of the pieces are small and fragile, and you may end up breaking them if you don't push them out gently. Thinking of that possibility, the manufacturer made sure to include a few spare parts, the ones that are most likely to break in the assembly process.
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There are a total of 50 different pieces (not counting identical pairs), and assembling them took me approximately one hour. The instructions are very easy to follow, with detailed depictions of every major step in the assembly process. Each piece has a different number assigned to it, which makes your task quite pleasurable and enjoyable - like painting by numbers. The difficulty level is 3/5.
After you have finished your model, it makes for a great decorative object in a shelf or a desk. The propeller in the Biplane actually works if you spin it. The finished model measures about 18.1cm x 22.9cm x 11.5cm (7.12" x 9" x 4.52").
Compared to the Himeji Castle assembly, the Biplane was a walk in the park. If you thought building a biplane would be tricky, wait until you build something this large with a whopping 240 different pieces (including identical series of pieces, the number ascends to 300+), which took me about 6/7 hours to build, in three different sessions. The difficulty level for the castle is 5/5, the highest in the manufacturer scale.
You might be wondering, how accurate is the model of the Himeji Castle when compared with the real thing. Well, I've never visited Japan, so I can't say with 100% certainty, but from what I gathered from several photos of the castle, I found it's actually pretty close in configuration from the real castle, considering it's just a wooden model.
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The pieces come packaged in a sliding paper folder, the same material as the Biplane's package, and inside, the pre-cut pieces are presented in eight panels. Actually, the first panel doesn't have any pre-cut pieces to push out. This one will be used as the base for your castle. When complete, the castle will measure 28cm x 22cm x 21cm (11" x 8.66" x 8.27").
With a project this size, it's understandable that you feel a bit overwhelmed at first. However, like the Biplane, the instructions are very well made and will make you feel confident as you progress further into the assembling of the castle.
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I have a pretty good collection of 3D models and I'm not a newbie on this kind of puzzles, but I've never built something as complex as the Himeji Castle model. Usually, all the models I have took between 1 and 2 hours to complete, which is a far cry from the 6/7 hours of assembly time for the castle.
Most pieces are close together (in number) in clusters and are easy to find, but there are a few that are scattered around in different panels. The reason was simply to save space on the panels and have an optimal usage of wood without wasting too much materials. When you push the pieces out of the panels, it is best to keep them laid out in the same configuration as seen from the instructions, for convenience. Sometimes it did took me a while to find a specific piece, especially in the first part of assembly, when most pieces were still unused, but after a while it got easier and easier to find them.
The assembly process is divided in two main parts: The first keeps you responsible for building the perimeter walls around the wooden panel and far side stories; the second part lets you build the higher stories, which will fit nicely with the rest of the model when all is finished. No glue is necessary for the assembly, but you can still use it in some parts, as in some cases the pieces may feel a bit loose, but won't actually fall off.
A nice finishing touch that you might find interesting is to paint the completed model. Painting before assembly would be impractical, though, since the paint could make the joints thicker or make the pieces swell, thus rendering it impossible to assemble. Since I don't have any painting skills, I better leave it with its natural look, which is rather nice, as well.
The two 3D models by Team Green were quite a joy to build. These puzzles are very fun and easy to do, even if you've never attempted to build 3D models before. While it took me a while to build them, especially the castle, I found the experience quite rewarding. To see the final model completed is indeed a great feeling, after so much time building it.
Availability: You can explore the Green Team website at GreenTaNet.com, and find all kinds of models. With animals, buildings and other interesting objects, I'm sure you'll find something to like here.
Gallery (Assembly Process):
Gallery (Assembly Process):