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So you’ve decided to take the plunge and get your kids some magnetic tiles. You frequently hear the name Magna-Tiles, but you’re getting sticker shock! At retail, Magna-Tiles are $1.20/tile. There aren’t many sales, but in your searches, you are coming across some other brands. Which begs the question, are Magna-Tiles worth the money? If you are still deciding which type of magnetic blocks you should buy, you may find my earlier post comparing the three main types, Magna-Tiles, Magformers & Tegu. You can find that post here. If you have landed on a tile style magnetic toy, I’m sure you are wondering… Are Magna-Tiles the best? The short answer is not necessarily, here is everything you need to know about the 3 primary Magna-Tiles Alternatives: Playmags, Picasso Tiles, and Magnetic Stick n Stack.
As mentioned above, Magna-Tiles has been the leading magnetic tile brand for years. There’s no denying that, in most cases, your kids will get a lot of play out of them, so you definitely want to be sure to buy a brand that will hold up to play and that has good magnet strength (easier for kids to build and fewer collapses). As you’ll notice from the picture above, they all look similar, some have more creative options.
Over the past year, the Playmags magnet strength has improved considerably. So much so that I would say that they might actually be a bit better than Magna-Tiles, especially considering the variety and flexibility in the sets. From a price standpoint, Playmags have a list price of $59.99 for 118 pieces (so $0.51/tile). They are typically the most competitively priced, so the boost in quality is nice! They also have a lot of cool options like click-ins, vehicles and windows & doors. I highly recommend the stabilizer set – it is a great addition to any tile set!
Picasso Tiles are also a good alternative, but tend to be a little pricier than Playmags (promos vary). From a quality standpoint, they are similar in look and feel, the most noticeable difference is that the colors vary a bit. The magnets are as strong as Magna-Tiles. We have both and I do not notice a discernible difference. The key benefit again is cost. If you have multiple kids, you will want at least 100 tiles/per kid, unless you are looking for arguments over the tiles. I think we have about 300 total. Picasso Tiles generally sell for about $64.99 for 100 tiles ($0.64/tile). Compared to $1.20/tile for Magna-Tiles, you have to ask yourself if the Magna-Tiles are that much better. In my opinion, they are not. When cost is a consideration, I recommend Picasso Tiles as a base set. Your kids won’t know the difference. While they sometimes pop up on Zulily, Amazon generally has the best prices. Picasso Tiles also makes a vehicle set (a steal at around $10) and an accessory set with windows and doors (which Magna-Tiles does not currently offer).
Magnetic Stick n Stack are a definite step down. The primary reason is that their magnet strength is not as strong as either Magna-Tiles, Playmags or Picasso Tiles. In addition, they are lighter and the plastic seems thinner. We have accessory sets from both brands and they are fine with a stronger base set, but I would not get them as the primary set. For $7, the increase in quality from Picasso wins. Magnetic Stick n Stack also sells 100 pieces for $69.99. The benefit of Magnetic Stick n Stack is that they do offer a wider variety of pieces. But for me, when buying a main set, that does not outweigh the quality that Picasso and Playmags offer. While I don’t recommend this or other random brands as a main set, they do have some cool and unique accessory sets (which is what we have). It’s a cost effective way to add on to Magna-Tiles, Playmags or Picasso Tiles. Here are some of the accessory sets that we have. Always be sure to scroll down in an item and check the special promotions section. Both brands often have promo codes for additional savings (though the prices bounce around too).
Are Magna-Tiles the best? Or should I go with a Magna-Tiles alternative?
Over the past year, we have seen quite a bit of improvement in Magna-Tile Alternatives. In the past there were seldom sales on Magna-Tiles. Now, we are frequently seeing them on Zulily! Even on sale though, they do not get down to the price level of Playmags and Picasso Tiles. You can get nearly twice as many tiles for the same price as one set of Magna-Tiles and both brands are high quality, with great magnetic strength and more specialty options.