It's not an exaggeration to say that puzzles are a boon for the eyes and the mind, in today's digital age. They're an antidote to the day's monotony, one that's often spent looking at screens and scrolling through social media. If you've been meaning to unplug and unwind in the company of friends or family, do it with a box of jigsaw puzzle or an incredibly challenging building kit.
We're talking about brain teasers for grown-ups, meaning they're complex and, at times, can be frustrating. The larger the number of puzzle pieces, the more complicated the process gets.
"The biggest difference between puzzles for kids and adults is the size. If you've ever seen a 1,000-piece puzzle, it's usually for teens, but you also get 2,000 and up, which can be very difficult - more so when the sizes become smaller. Kids have puzzles that are larger and easier to detect," explained Celeste Haridas, social media manager at Unwind Specialty Boardgame Cafe in Dubai, home to over 800 table-top and card games.
Haridas, a puzzle-collector herself, calls these teasers a stress buster for adults. She said: "[The solving process] takes you out of the digital world, and it's especially enjoyable for those who like a challenge. But, make sure to start slow with a 500-piece kit and then increase your intensity, or else it can get frustrating when you don't get it right."
There's a large variety of adult game sets to choose from. If jigsaw puzzles aren't your cup of tea, maybe a building kit would fit the bill, instead. Some contain pieces so minuscule that they need to be handled with tweezers, says Haridas. The finished product can be a palm-sized metallic animal or a one-metre-long framed puzzle.
"Always go for a subject you're interested in - something you'd like to keep as a showpiece. It could be an animal you like, a TV show or your favourite vintage car - things that are meaningful to you so that you don't get bored," advised Haridas.
Our game expert also urges buyers to invest in an appropriate-sized frame, if they plan on showcasing their finished work.
With the help of Haridas' recommendations, we've curated a list of puzzles and building kits for grown-ups below. Want more viral games to shop? Visit Amazon's Internet Trending page. Get a Prime subscription to save on delivery fee.
1. Best Overall: Fascinations Metal Earth Harry Potter Golden Snitch 3D Metal Model Kit
A fantastic building kit to start with would be a 3D model you can readily display. Haridas' love for the Harry Potter universe introduced her to a metal model of the Golden Snitch, a winged sphere used in the game of Quidditch. She built her puzzle gingerly with the included tweezers, labelling it as very difficult. You get metal sheets, from which parts need to be clipped and twisted to pass through tabs and holes. It doesn't need glue or any other adhesive. The model can be built in one sitting, but reviewers say it requires a lot of patience. You might have to look past the instructions, too.
2. Best LEGO Set: LEGO Ideas Vincent van Gogh The Starry Night Building Kit (2,316 Pieces)
Any LEGO enthusiast would have had their eyes set on this incredible piece of kit. One of the more difficult and popular models, says Haridas, is the LEGO edition of Vincent van Gogh's The Starry Night painting. Specially designed for adults, and in collaboration with the US-based Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the puzzle is a labyrinth of 2,316 LEGO pieces. They come together to mimic the unique brushstrokes over the iconic swirling clouds and rolling hills. An extended arm puts the painter himself on display, his mini figurine painting the sky on a mini easel. Several buyers say it's gone on the wall immediately after completion.
Bonus: Save 10 per cent with the promo code 'TOYS10' on checkout. Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh42.75 for 12 months with select banks.
3. Best for Fans: LEGO Ideas Central Perk Building Kit (1,070 Pieces)
Do you have a comfort TV show? A building kit inspired by your favourite series will not only keep you engaged, but win you a fond reminder of a lifetime. According to Haridas, one such famous LEGO kit is the Central Perk cafe set from the American sitcom Friends. Its attention to detail, with mini figurines of the cast members and decor, makes for an excellent collectible. Reviewers call the 1,070-piece kit a delight to build, as they watched the iconic coffee shop come to life. You can also find LEGO kits for The Office and Seinfeld.
4. Best for Beginners: Cloudberries Gradient (2,000 Pieces)
If this is your first foray into adult jigsaw puzzles, try the Cloudberries' Gradient kit. It sits between easy and hard difficulty levels. The 2,000 pieces make up an ambiguous colour-changing gradient, but it's also a clue to the bigger picture in and of itself. Each piece feels thick and is of high quality, making a satisfying click when two lock together. They're made from sustainably sourced cardboard that has a matte finish and coloured with vibrant vegetable-based ink. Buyers complete the kit in a matter of hours and find the finished product beautiful to look at.
5. Best for Seasoned Solvers: Clementoni Collection Pirates Battle (6,000 Pieces)
Hike up the rookie numbers and tackle a massive 6,000-piece jigsaw puzzle. This pirate-themed kit by Clementoni can take you months to finish, and also requires a sizeable floor space since it measures 118cm in width. Puzzle enthusiasts in the reviews call it a challenging but not an impossible feat. The printed colours take into account the dark and light areas, so each piece is distinguishable from the others. They also love that the pieces arrive in a tossed bag, which makes the entire process even more difficult.
6. Best Engineering Kit: LEGO Technic McLaren Formula 1 Race Car Model Building Kit (1,432 Pieces)
If you really want to get down to the nitty gritty of building a model, you'll want to look into engineering kits. The LEGO Technic range is a great place to start. Our pick is the McLaren Formula One race car kit, which is a detailed replica of the original 2022 model. It features real parts from the car, such as V6 cylinder engine with moving pistons, steering, suspension and differential. Once done, the large model is ready to be displayed, measuring 65cm long and 13cm high. Fans of Formula One leave five stars on the detailed building kit and are surprised at how big the final result is.
Bonus: Save 10 per cent with the promo code 'TOYS10' on checkout. Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh46 for 12 months with select banks.
7. Best Do-It-Yourself Kit: Rolife DIY Miniature House Kit, Carol's Fruit Shop
Ever thought about building your own kit from scratch? Take on this do-it-yourself project to de-stress for a few minutes at the end of your day. Carol's Fruit Shop involves painting, stitching, folding, assembling and more, to reach completion. Small LED lights inside the shop really drive home the diorama experience. Though you're given visual instructions, reviewers say they can customise the colours and fabric to their liking, to give it a personal touch. And don't let the bulb wiring discourage you, as it's less complicated than it seems, say buyers.
Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.