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Now, World Cup jigsaw puzzles

In World Cup year, everything revolves around football like a jigsaw puzzle that is trying to cash in on the football fever.

india Updated: Feb 10, 2006 12:06 IST

In World Cup year, everything seems to revolve around football in this German city and a jigsaw puzzle manufacturer has devised a board game to cash in on the football fever.

Ravensburger, in cooperation with sporting goods manufacturer Adidas, has been allowed to use the design of the World Cup ball on its jigsaw-balls.

"We are producing the match ball for 2006," says product manager Siglinde Nowack in Ravensburg, near Stuttgart.

"Football fans can put together the pieces on balls with highlights from the history of the World Cup or with the eight winning squads since 1974," says Siglinde Nowack.

"We are even marketing jigsaws with pictures of German stars like Oliver Kahn or Sebastian Schweinsteiger."

Ravensburger is bringing more than 50 different football jigsaws and games onto the market.

The family firm, which was founded in 1883, is a long-established jigsaw maker. It was a short step to the World Cup jigsaw ball after the company had a big hit with such innovative three-dimensional jigsaws in 2004. Placing the conical pieces together was the idea of a Chinese inventor. Nowack got the patent.

Sales of the three-dimensional jigsaw balls, which comprise between 60 and 540 parts, are brisk.

Despite the "gigantic World Cup project" the company will not be neglecting normal jigsaws, Nowack promises. The company wants to ensure its leading position in Europe and to permit expansion, for example in America. The range extends from five-piece wooden jigsaws for small kids to giant jigsaws with 18,000 pieces.

Although the jigsaw ball is made in China, all the other jigsaws are made at the main factory in Ravensburg and the Czech plant at Policka.

Germany is generally seen as a "toy land". The weak economy has not spoilt German taste for fun. Educational toys are especially popular.

"Everything that promises genuine educational value is doing well," says the head of the Nuremberg toy fair, Ernst Kick.

But adults' toys, jigsaws and movement toys are also in demand, and the industry is focusing on electronic and interactive options.

"We'll never do anything connected with violence though," said board chairman Karsten Schmidt.

First Published: Feb 10, 2006 12:00 IST