Playchoice's ultimate activity book collection Download activity book

SmartMax Rods Start Try Me magnetic rods reviewed

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  November 15, 2022

A play theme in your mailbox every month?

Fun play tips, activity books and more, with the first email being our free mini-guide "educational toys"

We will only use your email address for this newsletter and respect your privacy

I enjoy writing these articles for my readers, you guys. I don't accept payment for writing reviews, my opinion on products is my own, but if you find my recommendations helpful and you end up buying something through one of the links I may be able to receive a commission on that. More information

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

The SmartMax magnetic Rods Start Try Me are incredibly fun toys that consist of magnetic rods and balls to connect them.

It is really aimed at children from 1 year old. The parts are very large so that little fingers can grasp them.

Smartmax magnetic toys with balls and bars

Your little one can 'stick' the rods and balls together to create the nicest figures. It's simple, because children don't have to deal with complicated click mechanisms.

Best magnetic rods to build with
SmartMax Rods Start Try Me
Product image
9.1
Toy score
Magnet
4.6
Replayable
4.4
Build
4.9
Best for
  • Sturdy magnets click easily
  • Large shapes suitable for small children
Less good
  • Difficult to make shapes with
  • Ball system shoots slides easily

Let's look at the specs first:

A play theme in your mailbox every month?

Fun play tips, activity books and more, with the first email being our free mini-guide "educational toys"

We will only use your email address for this newsletter and respect your privacy

Specifications

  • Material: Plastic
  • Color: Multi
  • Vote yes
  • Educational objective: Spatial insight, Creative thinking, Combining
  • Number of parts: 42

What is Smartmax Start Try Me?

Smartmax is a system of bars and balls aimed at children from 1 year. The bars contain magnets, the balls are made of metal but not magnetic.

This system allows the rods to click on each other and on the balls to create beautiful 2D and 3D constructions.

There are straight rods and rods with a bend so that you can also bring two sides together.

The rods are not flexible so bends can only be made by using the curved rods or by building a rod at an angle on a ball.

Lees meer: these are 12 of the best magnetic toy sets we've found

What age is Smartmax for?

Smartmax Try Me is from 1 year, but at that age they can't do much with it of course. A toddler can already grab a rod and experience how it is that one of the balls "sticks".

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:

Smartmax start try combining me with safari animals

But you can also combine them well with other magnetic toys. Stick-O also fits.

The toy is extremely safe and therefore suitable for children from 1 year, despite the fact that it has magnets.

Best magnetic rods to build with

SmartMaxRods Start Try Me

Clicking these together is a lot easier than the tiles from Magformers. This makes the toy really suitable from 1 year old as SmartMax says.

Product image

It's a lot of fun building, but I also found out that making figures is very difficult.

The system with the rods and balls works well, but if you don't anchor a ball between two rods, it easily slips away.

This way your creation collapses right away. For example, you cannot make the dog from the example and then walk with it, that is not possible.

The slightest gust of wind will make him collapse.

Geometric shapes such as a cube connected on each side with one of the bars are very sturdy.

It is not that the magnets come loose, but rather that they slide around the ball, causing it to collapse.

That means that little ones may not yet be able to express their creativity or play with it as they would like.

Also, some rods repel others because they contain negative and positive magnets. For example, Stick-O's system has rotating magnets in it so that each rod clicks onto each other.

It is really very educational and a nice first step into the world of magnetic toys. I would recommend these for children between 1 and 4.

From the age of 4, it is better to buy other magnet toys so that they can continue with them for a while.

Smartmax rods alternatives

Magformers

Best overall magnetic toy

MagformersBasic Set Line

Toddlers love to discover what you can do with it while playing, but also at a later age there are much more difficult things to build.

Product image

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.

Clicking these elements together is a lot easier than the Basic Set from Magformers (reviewed here) and this makes the toys really suitable from 1 year as SmartMax says.

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

Best Magnetic Toy Animals for Toddlers

SmartMaxMy First Safari Animals

Suitable from 1 year old to discover the magic of magnets in a safe and super fun way while playing with their favorite animals.

Product image

Being for babies these Smartmax safari animals (reviewed here) the best, but if your child is a bit older I would recommend buying them together with the starter set from Smartmax.

With the Starter Set you can create structures and learn about spatial awareness and creative STEM play. The animals are very nice, but in the end you can only do one thing with them. A group of animals.

However, they are very nice for babies because they are soft and safe toys that they can suck on. With 1 year they can make their first animal creations and get to know magnet toys.

Conclusion

Smartmax is a very nice first set to get to know magnetic toys. Perfectly suited for a 1 to 3 year old. After that, I recommend moving towards other magnetic toys.

Always something to do for the holidays or rainy day?

Play Choice now has the ultimate activity book collection, with over 60 pages of fun coloring pages and educational puzzles.

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.