This content may contain links to products and services. Please assume all such links are affiliate links which may result in me earning a commission (at no extra cost to you).
Purchasing some magnetic tiles or building blocks for your child is a great way to encourage some independent play and creative thinking. There are a number of different products available on the market, including Magna-Tiles and Playmags. In this article let’s compare the two to see which is the right option for your family.
At first glance, Magna-Tiles and Playmags are similar in size, but Playmags offers a wider variety of shapes. Also, Magna-Tiles are more expensive but the quality of the plastic face is better, so they are likely to last longer and not scratch as easily. Let’s look at both products in more detail.
What are Magna Tiles?
Magna Tiles are a magnetic construction set consisting of different coloured magnet blocks. They are designed for young children and can help develop a whole range of skills such as:
- Recognizing different colours.
- Improving fine motor skills.
- Creative play and design.
- Mathematical thinking.
- Hand eye coordination.
- and many others…
There are no instructions for Magna-Tiles, as this encourages children to use imaginative play to create any object they like and have fun in the process.
Magna-Tiles 32 Piece Set
Do they break easily?
Magna-Tiles have a special Union Jack shape at the centre of each magnetic building block, with metal rivets on the outside. This makes them very durable and strong, so they should last for years.
Are Magna Tiles safe to use?
They are BPA and phthalate free and made from food-grade ABS plastic.
Who are they made by?
Magna-Tiles are made by the firm Valtech.
What size are they?
Each piece has a 3” x 3” large square shape.
How do Magna-Tiles work?
You can put Magna-Tiles together in so many combinations but they work using strong magnets. When they are connected properly you will hear a “click” as the magnets help to pull the pieces together. These stronger magnets make it a lot easier for children to build sizable structures, so they don’t collapse so easily.
What age are Magna Tiles suitable for?
Magna-Tiles are suitable for young children aged 3 or more.
What other products are similar to Magna Tiles?
If you’re interested in other magnetic plastic tiles and building blocks, you might want to look at Picasso Tiles, Magformers and Connetix.
What other tiles are compatible with Magna Tiles?
As Magna-Tiles were one of the first magnetic tiles on the market, other rival products are compatible. This includes Picasso Tiles, Connetix and Playmags.
Why are they quite expensive?
Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. Magna-Tiles are one of the most well-known and established brands for producing magnetic tiles, which makes them a bit more expensive. Although at first glance they look similar to other products, Magna-Tiles are well made, more durable and more resistant to scratch marks.
Are Magna Tiles better than Picasso tiles and other brands?
It depends what you mean by better. The higher cost means they are compatible with most other products, the strength of the magnets is very good which makes it easier to build larger structures and the build quality of the tile is very good.
Pros and cons of Magna-Tiles
Here are the strengths and weaknesses of Magna-Tiles
- Build quality. You should find Magna-Tiles stand the test of time so you can use them for many years. They are tough, durable and don’t break easily.
- Magnet strength. Magna-Tiles have a pair of magnets on each side 3” side. This gives them a lot of strength and makes it easier for children to connect the magnetic building tiles together.
- Compatibility. Aside from Magformers, Magna-Tiles should work with most other brands.
- Storage. You can put all the tiles together quite easily and store them in a convenient place.
- Cost. Magna-Tiles aren’t cheap and they cost around $1 a tile! (depending on the size of the set) If you are on a budget you might want to consider another product. On the other hand, if you decide to purchase them, you know you are buying a quality item that your kids will love and use for many years.
What are Playmags?
Playmags are a set of magnetic tiles for younger kids to use their imagination through creative play. They can also improve a child’s math, geometry and problem solving skills. You can purchase a number of different sets including:
- 100 piece set
- 150 piece set
- 32 piece Junior set
- 60 piece set
- And other options aswell.
38 Piece Playmags Set
What age are they suitable for?
Like Magna-Tiles, Playmags are only suitable for children who are older than 3.
Are they safe to use?
All the tiles are safe to use and non-toxic.
Pros and cons of Playmags
Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of Playmags magnetic tiles.
- Well priced. Playmags tiles are ideal if you don’t want to pay top dollar for a set of magnetic tiles. They are certainly affordable for most families.
- Variety of shapes. Your child will get quite a lot of different tiles to play with if you purchase a set of Playmags tiles. Furthermore, you can get little ‘clickins’ like windows and letters to make your design more interesting (they aren’t magnetic though).
- Compatibility. You should find Playmags tiles work with other sets if your child wants to add some variety to their designs.
- Storage. There might be a lot of pieces, but in general Playmags tiles are fairly easy to store. You even get a bag to keep them in.
- Quality. Although the quality is good enough, the pieces just feel a little cheaper (compared to Magna-Tiles anyway). Over time, they probably won’t last quite as long and they’ll pick up marks a bit easier. Having said that, providing you look after them and store them correctly, it shouldn’t be much of an issue.
What is the difference between Magna Tiles and Playmags?
Here is a brief overview of the main differences between the two types of magnetic tiles.
WINNER – Playmags
Playmags are considerable cheaper than Magna-Tiles. A Magna-Tiles set can cost almost $2 a tile for a smaller set, and just over $1 for a larger set. Playmags are only around $0.50 a tile.
WINNER – Magna-Tiles
There’s not much in this to be honest but the finish on the Magna-Tiles pieces are just a little tougher. This makes them a bit more durable and less prone to scratch marks compared to Playmags pieces.
Choice of shapes
In a standard Playmags set, you will usually get a wider variety of shapes to use than Magna-Tiles. If we compare a like-for-like 100 piece set, the Playmags one will contain a mixture of triangles, squares, rectangles, window squares, where as Magna-Tiles will just contain a couple of variations of squares and triangles. Of course, it could be argued that by having a fewer variety of shapes to use with Magna-Tiles, this leads to kids being more creative in their designs.
Magna-Tiles 100 Piece Set
Playmags 100 Piece Set
On the other hand, Magna-Tiles do have a greater range of products to buy. You can usually find glow in the dark tiles, stair pieces etc. But all these add-ons will cost you.
WINNER – Magna-Tiles
Although Playmags have improved the strength of their design in recent years, Magna-Tiles are still a little better. The magnets are just a bit stronger which is useful for building larger constructions. There’s also the build quality to consider. Magna-Tiles have a better finish on the tiles and have a sleeker appearance.
Can Playmags be used with Magna Tiles?
Yes, Playmags are compatible with Magna Tiles. In fact, most magnetic tiles are compatible with each other (apart from Magformers)
Magna Tiles vs Playmags – What should you buy?
Both options are fine to be honest, but it depends what you want from a magnetic tile. Magna-Tiles are arguably the best quality pieces on the market, but this comes at a price. Also, you should find most other brands have magnetic tiles that are compatible with Magna-Tiles. Playmags, on the other hand, are cheaper and they have a good variety of shapes to keep your child entertained. You can’t really go wrong with either product.
At the end of the day magnetic tiles are a great way to improve your child’s fine motor skills, creativity and problem-solving abilities. Buy a set and let your child have some fun!
If you want to purchase some magnetic tiles, Connetix, Magna-Tiles and Picasso Tiles are some other brands you might want to consider.
Unfortunately Magformers are the exception. They use a unique design and different type of magnet (circular style) which means they don’t mix with Magna-Tiles (and other magnetic building tiles for that matter).
Graham is a father of two who founded Dadometer to share his parenting journey with other moms and dads.