MagnaTiles V's Playmags - what's the difference and which one to buy!
We think magnetic tiles are a fantastic learning toy for young builders. They are a fun way to play with shapes, help your child progress from 2D to 3D construction and feed enthusiastic imaginations. They also help to develop a wonderful range of skills: maths, science, spatial relationships, problem solving and tactile skills. We own two different brands in our houses: MagnaTiles and Playmags. So the obvious thing to do was to organise a Five Little Stars playdate and compare the results!
Our Review of MagnaTiles and Playmags
From Amazon UK:
- The MagnaTiles 100 tile set is currently £99.99.
- A Playmags 100 set is normally £109.99 (but at the time if writing it is on sale for £69.98).
If the big prices put you off, here are some cheaper options if you want to start small and build up...
- A Playmags Starter set of 60 pieces is normally £67.99.
- MagnaTiles don't have a "starter set" so the nearest equivalent would be the 48 Piece deluxe set at £59.99.
MagnaTiles and Playmags are both advertised as being suitable from 3+. But from our experience, they seem to be safe for slightly younger children too with supervision of course (because the edges can be a little sharp). Kate's 20-month-old daughter enjoys constructing in her own way (and deconstructing too!).
*It should be noted that if a tile was to break, the internal magnets could be dangerous if ingested.
At first glance the individual tiles seem to be identical. The patterns on the plastic are a little different but this creates no functional difference.
Image and Quality:
Both tiles sets that we chose are made of clear and bright coloured plastic. You can get non-translucent tiles (in block colours) but we preferred these. The surface on both types of tiles scratches easily, but this does not affect play at all, and you have to look at them closely in the light to notice. MagnaTiles advertise themselves as being "unbreakable" which is a big shout for a children's toy. However, so far, we have remarked how durable both brands are despite being thrown about in normal play on our hard floors. No breakages yet!
What do you get?
The MagnaTiles box of 100 contains:
50 Small squares
4 Large squares
15 Isosceles triangles
11 Right-angle triangles
20 Equilateral triangles
The Playmags box of 100 includes:
32 Small squares
4 Large squares
8 Long triangles
12 Equilateral triangles
1 Car base
15 windows & 13 window inserts ("click-ins")
Note: the main difference between the two brands, in terms of their contents, are the "click ins" which are not available in the MagnaTiles range. These are little alphabet squares which pop inside the window shapes. Alison thinks they are "nice-to-have" but not essential. She also found them a little difficult to use but Kate was impressed with the concept.
** As a bonus we discovered the different products work together, so you could actually mix and match between Playmags and Magnatiles! **
We think they are the same strength, but noticed that MagnaTiles are a tiny bit lighter in weight because the magnet size is a teeny bit smaller. This may make a difference with big structures (we checked with our engineer husbands - how handy - and they really didn't think it would make much difference at all!). We note that the Playmags box says "made with new supermags, twice as strong" so we are wondering if some of the negative elements of some reviews on line are now actually out of date... we think this must be so, the difference is negligible.
A negative for both brands - most of their sets come in small cardboard boxes which are not a durable or practical long term solution. You have to perform origami like skills to get them to all fit back in the box, and who has the time or patience for that every time they are played with - which will be a lot!
** Playmags have recently addressed this problem with the introduction of a bonus storage bag with their 100 piece set but this doesn't come with all of them.
The Playmags set already includes some extra pieces as mentioned above. You can also buy fence shapes and dome pieces.
MagnaTiles offer different options too: you can get a "deluxe set" which has the usual tiles but also includes a magnetic door, a wheeled piece, and specially-shaped pieces with curves or holes; and you can get smaller sets with different pieces in the, too, including for example, a polygons set.
According to the boxes, perhaps unsurprisingly, both MagnaTiles and Playmags are made in China. Magnatiles has addresses in Japan and America, and Playmags in America and the UK.
The differences between these two types of magnet tiles are almost undetecable. As we tidied up the 2 boxes of muddled tiles - we really had to inspect each one to know which box to put them back in (and have still ended up with a couple of each other's!).
So purely on price alone, based on the usual RRP, there is nothing really in it. But if you find some on sale, like the Playmags currently are, then they would come out on top for value for money.
Best of all, which ever you choose (and we would urge you to get some) they are a loved construction toy by our children aged from 20 months to 5 years. And we don't see their appeal fading anytime soon.
Kate & Alison x
Testing and opinion teamwork, written by Kate, photos by Alison.
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