As 4D Cityscape president Shaun Sakdinan said at his Toy Fair booth, 4D represents the fourth dimension—spacetime in Einstein’s theory of relativity.
As for the puzzle dimension, 4D Cityscape has applied the principle to its award-winning multi-layer puzzle that is both challenging and educational in exploring the great cities of the world.
Take Saint Petersburg, for example. The 4D Cityscape rendition of the great Russian city recreates its famous skyline, not only in three-dimension using scale-model buildings, but also in the fourth dimension by spanning 300 years of architectural history.
The puzzle includes 64 building replicas that depict the city’s skyline as it appeared as far back as 1703 and through the centuries to 2008 and the completion of the Benoit business center. Iconic structures like the Peter and Paul Fortress and the Summer Palace are included, as are the renowned cathedrals and churches that make up the Saint Petersburg cityscape.
The two-layer puzzle base is a traditional two-dimensional jigsaw puzzle that forms the city’s street layout. While putting it together one learns about Saint Petersburg’s neighborhoods as well as streets.
The horizontal puzzle base complete, the vertical building of Saint Petersburg begins by placing the building and skyscraper replicas in chronological time sequence. This is accomplished by following the enclosed 4D Time Poster, which also cites the completion date of each building.
The finished puzzle measures 24 inches long, 16 inches wide and two inches high.
The other 4D Cityscape puzzles available so far are New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Toronto, London, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Berlin, Sydney and Osaka—and one country, “USA,” featuring national landmarks.
The city puzzles likewise lay out the city via a historical map in the first puzzle layer, then add on a modern day jigsaw map as a second layer. The streets, islands, roads, railways, parks and geography now in place, the third layer involves identifying and placing the city’s building replicas into the map chronologically according to the 4D Time Poster.
The year of the last building placed on the map represents the year the puzzle player is in the puzzle.
Each puzzle has approximately 1,000 pieces, and the history of the city to go with them.
Standing at a display featuring the New York puzzle—4D’s first–Sakdinan noted that the first layer showed a historical map of New York in the 1700s.
“You see what it looked like then,” he said. “The second layer is a modern map of New York built on top of the first, so you see it like it is now. Then the third layer has all the famous buildings in the city, with the Time Poster showing the fourth dimension—from the oldest buildings to the newest: You see how the skyline looked every decade.”
And during “the process of playing,” Sakdinan continued, it becomes a “very conversational puzzle.”
“For example, when you insert the Empire State Building in the ‘30s, if you’ve ever been to that building, it actually brings back memories,” he said. “It’s a conversational piece for fellow puzzlers.”
As if for emphasis, he held up the puzzle’s Javits Center piece.
“There’s something special about having a replica of the Javits Center in your hand while you’re here!” he said.
Meanwhile,4D Cityscape, which won a Parents’ Choice Award last year and was nominated for two 2013 TOTY (Toy of the Year) awards (best innovative toy and best specialty toy), is readying puzzles of Rome, San Francisco and Shanghai for release this year.
Sakdinan says that a “massive licensing” tie-in with a major TV show is also in the works, and further looks to join forces with “anything in pop culture that seeks to create a replica.”
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