Best Magnetic Toys Reviewed: 12 sets for every age
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Magnetic toys can be seen as 'open-ended toys' that stimulate children's own play and imagination.
And the great thing is, you have magnetic toy sets in every age category.
The best magnet toys are these tiles from Magformers because you can really go in all directions with it. This allows your child to build beautiful works of art, which can always be adjusted during the building process.
But there are many more toys than just tiles. For this article I have tested all sets so that we can recommend something for every age.
These are all playsets in a quick overview. Then I'll dive deeper into each of these choices:
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What we discuss in this comprehensive post:
- 1 Magnetic Toys Buying Guide
- 2 Top 12 Magnetic Toys Reviewed
- 2.1 Magformers Basic Set Line
- 2.2 SmartMax Rods Start Try Me
- 2.3 SmartMax My First Safari Animals
- 2.4 Tegu Pocket Pouch
- 2.5 Janod Story Box Train Fire Department
- 2.6 Magformers Police Set
- 2.7 Melissa & Doug Wooden Truck Loading Crane
- 2.8 Quercetti Number Magnets
- 2.9 Spin Master Kinetic Sand
- 2.10 Geomag MagiCube Paw Patrol
- 2.11 Stick-O Fishing Game
- 2.12 Cosmos Magic Of Magnets
- 3 Conclusion
Magnetic Toys Buying Guide
Before I dive into each of these best options, I want to think about how you should choose exactly.
Even now that we've already pretty much narrowed down the selection to some of the most fun and educational sets learning about magnetism, it may still be difficult to determine what is right for your child.
When looking for magnetic toys, these are the most important things to consider:
Is it appropriate for your child's age?
Important for two reasons:
- Not only should your child be able to understand and know how to play with it, it should also be challenging and at the same time be within their current developmental level. In general, I'd advise buying toys whose age range just starts at your child's age so they can enjoy them a little longer (although the Magformers at 3 is very early!)
- You don't want to underestimate parts that are too small, especially for children under 3 years old, because they could swallow it (with magnetic toys even more dangerous than with other types of toys!)
Here you can see for which age each toy set is best suited:
|Age from||Best age||Age to|
Does it suit your child's interests?
Many children like to build, but not all children.
Many magnetic toys are made for fun to build with, and especially for being creative and coming up with structures.
Does your child not like to build or do they not have that much creative talent? Then choose a set where it is clearer what to do with it, such as the magnetic animals or Janod's fire train.
Size and price
Finally, about the size of the set and the price.
Of course you know best what your budget is and it is also important to look at how many pieces and different shapes a toy package has.
The more pieces and shapes, the more they can do with it, that's for sure. But I have noticed that it is often the case that with more pieces they also stay interested longer.
And I don't mean in minutes of playing time, but really in years of playing time.
So take a good look at what you buy and remember that sometimes cheap is also expensive. Buy a set that lasts a long time and remains educationally fun, I always say.
Top 12 Magnetic Toys Reviewed
Magformers Basic Set Line
- Strong magnets that rotate so it always sticks
- Great examples book
- Greatly stimulates spatial insight
- Very hard to build with
- Won't be fun for every kid
The Magformers Basic Set Line has 62 parts (other smaller and larger sets are also available) so that your little one can build endlessly.
The parts are very sturdy and the magnets stick well.
Especially because the magnets can rotate within the plastic casing, a technique that Stick-O magnetic bars also use.
As a result, there is never a tile that does not stick to another, something that other magnet tiles sometimes have.
This set invites you to do something in the Montessori philosophy “Open-ended play” is called, there is an awful lot possible and this requires creativity and perseverance.
I also found it quite challenging in the beginning and it takes some building practice. Still, my 3-year-old son was able to make quite a bit with it, first just sitting on the floor:
This really becomes a very nice set from toddlers with a age of 4-5 that they can work with themselves.
The SmartMax Magnetic Rods Start Try Me are also very nice toys that consist of magnetic rods (and balls)!
This toy contains 30 large elements and an extensive booklet with information and tips for building.
Magnetic rods and balls can be 'stick' together to create the nicest figures. It's simple, because kids don't have to run off with complicated locking mechanisms.
Clicking these elements together is a lot easier than the tiles from Magformers and this makes the toys really suitable from 1 year, as SmartMax says.
At that age they can't do much with it of course, but a toddler can just grab something and experience what it is like for a rod to "stick" to one of the balls, for example.
As a toddler my son didn't have this set, but he did have the Safari animals from SmartMax, which is essentially the same system with big bars (and then soft rubber animal bodies to stick to them) and he LOVED it!
With these metal balls and rods you can build something different every day. In addition, a child trains his or her spatial awareness with the different shapes. The possibilities are limitless!
Plus you can combine them very nicely with other things from SmartMax, such as the Safari animals that I also discuss later.
But you can actually combine them well with other magnetic toys on the list. For example, they also fit on the parts of Stick-O.
The toy is extremely safe and suitable for children from 1 year.
Smartmax vs Magformers
Smartmax is really for younger children. The bars and balls are large and they click together very strongly so that your child of almost any age can at least do something with them.
The Magformers tiles are a lot more fun when your child gets older because you can really build anything with them. From flat shapes such as a rocket to large castles. Plus it's very focused on geometric shapes which also makes them a lot more educational.
Smartmax is somewhat more limited in the shapes you can make with it, but Magformers is still a bit too ambitious for your toddler or toddler.
SmartMax My First Safari Animals
- Nice soft animals, big and easy to grab for the little ones
- Magnets click easily but a little one can also get them loose
- Some magnetic bars repel each other and that can be frustrating
Is your little one crazy about animals? The SmartMax My First Safari Animals are toys that are suitable for children from 1 year.
The toys ensure that kids discover the magic of magnets in a safe and super fun way while playing with their favorite animals.
The parts are extra large and soft and simply click on the bars.
The magnets are strong enough to hold the particles together, but it doesn't take a lot of force to take them apart again.
The toys are therefore completely tailored to children's hands.
You can create six different Safari animals with the set of 18 parts, or create your own animal by combining parts of different animals and at a slightly later age, the animals will probably also be able to participate in many more fantasy games.
My son also really enjoyed running around the house with all the bars on top of each other making sure they didn't fall as the magnets are just strong enough to stick together but you have to balance them properly .
Good for creativity and fine motor skills!
If your child is older than 1 year, I would combine them with the Smartmax Start Set. Otherwise you better buy the Start Set than these animals.
For babies they are very nice on their own.
Tegu pocket pocket
- Wooden blocks with magnets encourage hand feeling and building too
- Soft sleeve makes it easy to carry
- It is a very small set with only a few blocks
- Quite expensive
Compact with a soft cover so you don't lose everything in the children's suitcase, hand luggage or in the car seat. The Tegu pocket pouch is one of my favorite travel toys.
They are strong magnetic blocks with which you can build anything.
From Tegu you have many more sets with all kinds of different types of blocks, wheels and more, but with this pocket pouch you have a handy travel building set.
There are not that many blocks so the possibilities may be a bit limited at a certain point, but you can actually build so much with them.
Tegu has thought very carefully about the shapes of the blocks so that they naturally fit together seamlessly, but can also form a lot of different things.
A really nice set for traveling, for example we took it on the plane in the hand luggage but can also be very nice for in the car. Do that with any other building set!
Tegu blocks vs Magna Tiles
For me, the Tegu blocks are a nice addition to a house with many wooden toys. It's just really, really well made and taking wood and building with it is kind of a natural experience.
The Tegu blocks are very expensive, a lot more expensive than for example Magna Tiles or other magnetic tiles that are made entirely of plastic, plus they really only get fun when you have more of them.
The Tegu pocket pouch is fun for travel, but we don't play with it much because there are also magnet tiles where you get a lot more right away.
If you want to make big builds with Tegu like you can with Magna Tiles or Magformers, then you really need to spend a lot of money on it.
Read all about it the best toy for the plane
Is your son or daughter fascinated by trains? This Janod Story Train Fire Department Magnetic is a beautiful wooden train that you can use to extinguish all fires!
The train has magnetic parts and is made of solid wood. So you can also play separately with the different cars, and can also be endlessly combined with the Story series from Janod.
The toy is suitable for kids from 3 to 8 years old. I also love that it is a wooden toy, just like the Tegu blocks and Melissa & Doug wooden trailer.
It is a train set that fits on almost any brand of train tracks, such as Brio, Bigjigs, Tiny World and many more.
Pretend play is of course great fun and what child doesn't like to put out a fire. There's bound to be an emergency somewhere along the train tracks!
What makes it even more fun is that the ladder is also attached to the train set with a magnet. This way it stays in place but can also be caught when they are at the fire.
Magformers Police Set
- Nice set with police and crook
- Great replayability by combining construction and pretend play
- Quite difficult to put together and especially to keep buildings
- For smaller children, the car can be difficult to play with
Vrrrroem! Are you in time to save the day ?! With this Magformers set you get all the tools you need to build police vehicles and a real desk.
A really nice set on its own that is both educational and fun to play with, and also a nice addition to the basic Magformers set that I named at number 1.
Assemble the cars as shown in the examples or make your own creation in blue, to fight the crooks.
Suitable for children between 3 and 12 years old, but fun between 4 and 8 years old.
This Magformers set is perhaps more fun than the basic set because it is a bit clearer what you can make with it.
Also better suited for the slightly less creative kids as all pieces have a clear purpose, such as:
- a staircase
- roof tiles
- a prison
- a car chassis
Although all these parts can be combined endlessly so that you can still put something of yourself in them and there are really a lot of nice examples already available in the booklet.
Slightly less educational than the basic set but a lot of fun to play with and a lot more fun than, for example, a toy police set which is just a fixed building and a fixed car.
It becomes especially fun when you have more Magformers tiles. This way you can make more combinations and expand the police station and car.
There are indeed 50 pieces in the set, but most of that is accessories. In the end, you can only combine the magnetic tiles in a few ways.
I would therefore recommend starting with the police set with younger children when you know you will soon be buying more, or else purchase the Basic Set.
Melissa & Doug Wooden Truck Loading Crane
- Nice set with cars and trailer
- Good size to play with other cars
- Magnet is very weak and hard to keep the cars on it
- Wooden stop block of the trailer broke off (after angry throwing)
This wooden trailer from Melissa & Doug is great fun to play with. He has a magnetic crane with which he can pick up the supplied cars and put them on the trailer.
It says for three years and up, but our son really enjoyed playing with. He's 2 years old and a little bit, a few months, but it was so frustrating too.
You can pick up cars with the magnetic crane on the truck and they are reasonably fixed in themselves, but you also have to be quite dexterous with that magnet.
If you don't take it easy, the car will fall off, and at his age he couldn't have it so good that it didn't work. Yet we also think it is good for him to learn to deal with it so early so that he will also learn some patience.
But it is indeed really for 3 plus to be able to make full use of it.
Its purpose is actually to hoist them up like that and the semi-trailer (more of that reviewed here) can be attached to the truck, and so the cars can all stand on that trailer.
For me the magnet could have been a bit stronger, but on the other hand, that is also the game I think. In any case, he loves it and really wants to play with it.
We have more magnet toys such as the magnetic blocks and the magnetic animals (also discussed in this article) and they stay in place very well because this is a magnet and the one in the car too.
What is on top of the cars is really just a metal point to hoist them up, but attaching a magnet to another magnet is much easier.
By combining toys, our younger son can also play with them and can drive around without it falling off.
All in all, a very nice toy that they can discover a lot about.
Is it time for your little one to learn the numbers, and do you want to do it in the most fun way possible? The Magnetic figures 26 pieces is the ideal toy!
With this set you get 26 numbers in different colors. The numbers are magnetic and made of plastic. Learn to count and recognize the numbers with this super fun toy set!
There are not only numbers, but also calculation symbols such as plus, minus, divided by, fraction.
This way it can be fun for school children to practice with.
Please note that the parts are designed small and are therefore not suitable for small children who are still inclined to put toys in their mouth.
From 3 years
Best: 3 – 6 years
Until: 8 years
- Material: Sand
- Theme: Arts and crafts, Art
- Play Mode: Solo
- Price at time of writing: €24,99 – $15,76
- Durability: None
- Learning objective: Physical development, Fine motor skills
- Storage: Normal
- Safety components: Non-toxic materials
- Playing Time: Longer (10 – 30 min)
- Gender inclusivity: Gender neutral
Kinetic Sand is often referred to as magnetic sand because it kind of sticks together, but it's not really magnetic. This gives it extra educational value because it feels good and you can model anything with it. Perfect for fine motor skills and creativity.
It feels really weird the first time you hold it, like wet sand but dry and like it should move differently than it does, sliding through your hand. This composition ensures that it does not dry out like clay and has a long life. If you take good care of it, it will last forever. It is also perfect to combine with sandbox toys or dinos or cars, all of which benefit the replayability.
The "magnetic" properties of the sand make it ideal for indoor use as it will not go all over your floor as loose grains, but will stick together more like loose slices or balls of sand. Good for ease of use and play value. In addition, it is perfect for open-ended play.
When you start with magnetic sand I would advise to start with just a basic set like this one from Spin Master, just sand colored and you probably still have a container somewhere where they can play with it.
In any case, I would use a large plate or container with a little raised edges so that it doesn't fly all over the room.
The material is made of non-toxic polymers and is even free of wheat, gluten and casein.
Is it your little toddler's birthday, or do you just want to surprise him or her with new toys? The Geomag MagiCube Paw Patrol Magnetic Blocks is a toy specially designed for the little ones.
This one is only nice to buy when they really just turn 1 so that they can still use it for a while, because with 3 years it is actually no longer fun.
But super suitable and magical for your little one to see how you can combine different blocks to make a nice dog.
Just a bit more fun than just a block tower because the magnetic effect with which they click together is really nice for a toddler, but on the other hand it is only 3 blocks.
They can build and play with the help of the three large magnetic blocks. The blocks (more options here) have a Paw Patrol theme, and the blocks allow you to flip them over and build the most popular characters.
The toy is suitable for toddlers from 1 to 3 years old.
Geomag vs Magformers
Geomag is for a lot younger children than Magformers. For example, Geomag Magicube is fun up to and including a year or 2, max, and Magformers only really become fun at about 4 years old.
If your child is 3, I would already recommend the Magformers or Magna Tiles because you can already help build things until they can do it themselves.
stick-o fishing game
- Fun underwater theme with different ways to make characters
- Good explanation booklet
- Reversible magnets in sticks so it always sticks
- Fishing game doesn't work very well
And then we also have the Stick-O fish set for the little ones among us!
This toy gives children from 18 months the opportunity to play with magnetic construction toys.
The toy set consists of 26 shapes with which your little one can build the nicest characters, all in an underwater theme.
With of course a magnetic rod for good fishing!
The way you can easily create your own animals makes a magnetic fishing game like this a lot more fun than other fishing games I've seen.
These are essentially just wooden rods and some wooden pieces with a magnet in them.
This set really lets your child build an underwater world so that they can also get creative:
If your child is younger than 2 years old, you may want the MagiCube by Geomag (reviewed here) to consider.
It's only 3 blocks so they can't build that much with it, but it's more suitable for 1 to 2 years.
Stick-O vs Smartmax
Stick-O is for smaller children than Smartmax and, in addition to fun building bars and balls, also offers more shapes. As a result, you get less real building material for your money and the quality of the Smartmax magnets is slightly higher.
It's nice, those shapes. Especially for the toddlers and toddlers among us. For example, with the fishing game you also get a fishing rod, but the best are the fins and tails to make fish with.
It's more of a fantasy world than letting go of your creativity on structures like cubes and castles, so to me Smartmax is a much more educational magnet toy.
Magnetic blocks are fun to build, and a bit like discovering what such a magnet feels like. However, Kosmos has a set that your child will really learn from!
They know how to explain magnetism in a playful way, full of games and facts. It's not called "Magic of Magnets" for nothing.
In addition to building a real compass, there are also a number of extra activities that keep learning about magnetism fun.
It's not an overpriced set, although they might get tired of it quickly.
I hope you got a better idea of the best magnetic toys after reading this article.
Children often find magnetic toys very interesting, and therefore enjoy playing with them. There are magnetic toys for every age or stage of development.
For more building and construction toy tips, take a look at my review of the top 4 construction site toy sets for the little construction fanatic.
As a parent, make sure you keep challenging your child with the right toys at the right time.
This gives your child the opportunity to learn skills that are in his or her development. Playing is essential for the healthy development of every child!
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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Speelkeuze.nl is a content marketer, father and loves trying out new toys. As a child he came into contact with everything related to games when his mother started the Tinnen Soldaat in Ede. Now he and his team create helpful blog articles to help loyal readers with fun play ideas.