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The holidays are approaching and you have heard about these magical magnetic building blocks that kids play with for hours. Maybe your kids play with them at school or maybe you have a friend who sings their praises. So you start poking around and, wow, there are several choices! While similar in concepts, there are 3 main types of magnetic building blocks that are all a bit different: Magna-Tiles, Magformers and Tegu. Here is a quick rundown of Magna-Tiles vs Magformers vs Tegu and, of course, what price points you should be looking for and where to find the best bang for your buck!
Magna-Tiles have traditionally been the leading magnetic tile brand (but that’s changing, check out our alternatives here). These are clear, solid plastic tiles, with magnets around the edges. These are the most stable and easiest to use magnetic blocks available. They are pricey, $120 retail for 100 tiles. 100 tiles is enough for 1 child to play well with. But, if your kids are as enthralled by these as mine are, you’ll grab more down the road. I recommend Magna-Tiles for children 2+, though most toddlers in the 18 month range, will be able to start playing with them. They are alot of fun and are great for developing fine motor skills! My kids have built towers from the floor to the ceiling. They like to fill their buildings with marbles and random toys. The only challenge my kids have had with them is that they are a bit difficult to play with with other toys. The buildings are enclosed, so you can’t really use them like a house for creative play, and if you put too much stuff in them, they topple. That aside, they have been a well-loved toy in our home and we have definitely gotten our money’s worth. The challenge I had was the price, $1.20/tile is pricey. They are sold by Valtech (the manufacturer) on Amazon, and through several retailers. They are highly price controlled, which means it’s tough to find a Magna-Tiles sale. Getting them at a discount is often luck of the draw and through using store wide promos. Many smaller local toy stores also carry them (and often have coupons). The first thing you will want to consider is the size of the set you are looking at. As mentioned, they are $1.20/tile in the 100 piece set (the largest set currently made). Target & Barnes and Noble carry 74 piece sets for $99.99, so $1.35/tile, BUT both of these stores often have promos bringing the price way down. In addition, Jet.com also carries the 100 piece set. There are also off-brand versions of Magna-Tiles that are just as good, if not better now! For a comparison of the top competing brands, click here! Here are the current “best deals” out there on Magna-Tiles:
- Zulily: Recently Magna-Tiles Sales have been popping up on Zulily. Not a huge savings, but from time to time, Zulily will have various $10 off promos, which make them even cheaper. You can follow Zulily promos in our Facebook Group and you can check to see if they are currently available here.
- Jet.com: Jet has a unique pricing structure. You get discounts for multiple items from the same shipper, discounts for paying with debit vs credit and discounts for waiving returns. In addition, for new customers there is a promo code SAVE15 that will give you 15% off your first 3 orders and free shipping over $35. Since Jet often price matches Amazon, that promo code can be very valuable! If you are buying more than one set, Jet and are a new customer, Jet is often the way to go. For example, two 100-Piece Sets with the above mentioned discounts for multiple items, debit card and waived returns, come down to about $110/set (this can vary based on your location and the retailer). Add the SAVE15 code and they come down to around $93.50/set ($0.935/tile).
Magformers are open plastic tiles with magnets around the edges. When looking at Magna-Tiles vs Magformers, Magformers have more shapes available than Magna-Tiles AND they have tons of cool specialty set options (lights, sound, motion, even remote controlled). In my opinion, the specialty sets give Magformers more flexibility and longevity. But due to the complexity of some of these sets, I recommend Magformers for kids over 5. That doesn’t mean that younger kids won’t enjoy them (I hear from plenty of moms with younger kids that love them), but younger kids will have a hard time fully using these sets. There are often much better deals on Magformers. As a rule of thumb, I don’t pay more than $1/piece for basic Magformer sets and $1.25-$1.50/piece for specialty sets. That said, you can often find them for as low as $0.80/piece, making it much easier to build your collection. Magformers are widely found at Amazon, Zulily, Target & Kohl’s (always cross check Kohl’s prices with Amazon, their retail mark up is pretty significant, so the savings is not always what it appears to be. For Veteran’s Day, they typically have a great stacking deal for 30% (Cardholders only) and $10 off $25, this can make the smaller sets a great deal). As the Holidays approach, both Amazon and Target typically have a day long deal on these as well). I always post current promos in our Facebook Group, Kidz Steals & Deals, you can join here! Below are some current Magformers sets we like available on Amazon.
Tegu are wooden blocks that have magnets sealed inside. They are made in Honduras from renewable hardwood, painted or dyed in natural non-toxic finished. One of the things I love about Tegu is that they are committed to the Honduran community in which they have built their factory. You can even visit the factory if you find yourself in Honduras! I am always willing to pay more for natural products from companies with a social compass. But that’s just one reason why Tegu is my favorite of our building toys. In our house, Tegu inspires open play. My kids build garages for their cars, forts for the Ninja Turtles and castles for their princesses. The wooden blocks create an open play structure and there is plenty of room for creativity. Tegu effectively draws all three of my kids together, despite the age gaps between my oldest and younger kid. The only drawback to Tegu is that there is a learning curve. Unlike the tiles, the blocks have polarity, so you can’t stick every block together from any direction. All of the blocks works together, but if you line up opposite poles, they repel. While I bought the Tegu when the younger kids were 2 & 3, they did not play independently with them until they were closer to 4. We now have a couple hundred blocks and all the specialty sets (Yup, I love these… and I have a need to have.them.all). They also have pocket packs and smaller sets that are great for the car, plane trips or in the diaper bag for restaurants. Tegu pops up on various flash sale sites (like Zulily), but the best deals tend to be on Amazon. They have sales from time to time and there is generally a Deal of the Day before Black Friday with great prices! At retail, they are nearly $2.50/block, but with a good deal they often drop to around $1.50/block. I always post Tegu deals as they come up in our Facebook Group, Kidz Steals & Deals, you can join here! Since there aren’t any screaming deals at the moment, here are some of my favorite sets from Amazon.
Hope that helps you decide on Magna-Tiles vs Magformers! If you’ve landed on tiles, don’t forget to check out our review of alternatives here! Happy to answer any questions!