“We build, but to tear down” – Nikola Tesla
One toy that seems to have permeated all of history from the neanderthals even to our phone-ridden society is the building block.
Everyone as a child can remember building up a tower and knocking it down again. It was an educational tool as much as it was fun, watching your child play with these construction based toys can teach you a lot about their innate thought processes.
Such block play can help your child develop: motor skills, hand-eye coordination, spatial awareness, cognitive flexibility, language skills, creativity and many many more.
A modern renovation of the traditional building block is the magnetic tile, these magnetic tiles are much more complex and dynamic than your average 3D block and encourage your child into a different mind set that exercises critical thinking and foreplanning.
If your child seems to have a lot of prowess with the humble brick, then magnetic tiles can be a good place to move onto and expand their engineering brains.
For children who have a scientific or engineering streak in them, this is a good way to exercise that part of their brain. Using magnetic tiles will help your child conceptualise the harder shapes such as dodecahedron etc, and will create tangible memories for their later education.
Although, as is often the case with choosing toys for your children to play with, rigorous research can be involved to understand if they are safe and ultimately if you are gonna waste your money on a toy that they will use once and never again.
We have done the hard work for you, as being a parent is hard enough. Our guide to magnetic tiles compares two of the biggest brands so you know which best suits your child. Read on to learn more about magnetic tiles.
How Do These Magnetic Tiles Work?
The magnetic tiles are usually made of plastic and come in many different shapes and sizes. Each tile comes in a variety of colours that are made from transparent plastic.
The edges of the tiles have magnetic strips on them which match the side of another shape. This means the tiles will stick together with magnetic force and your child can link them together into large three dimensional structures.
Just look at the pictures of what some kids create online and you will see the endless possibilities of these magnetic tiles.
While wooden blocks are relatively restricted in what shapes they can make, you could even make a ball or curved wall with magnetic tiles if the right mind is on the job.
This means that these tiles are a great toy for children of all ages, even kids above the age of 10 (and maybe even more adults) will have fun assembling their own structures.
In terms of Magna-tiles versus Picasso tiles, they both have the same basic operation – magnets connect each tile together to form a structure. In terms of product design, we feel that safety, pricing, and build design are the main points that a parent will be judging these toys on.
One recognisable difference between Magna tiles and Picasso tiles in their design. While Magna is more robust, Picasso has less internal structure.
Magna tiles have two layers of plastic that are reinforced with a diagonal structure. This means that Magna tiles will break less quickly than Picasso tiles.
Picasso tiles have two layers of plastic but are relatively hollow inside meaning that if your child (or you) step on them they could crack and potentially break bits of plastic off.
These bits of plastic are certainly a hazard if they do occur, standing on them or swallowing them.
Moreover, the Magna tile also has metal rivets in the corners to prevent the two bits of plastic coming apart, Picasso tiles rely on plastic rivets.
If the plastic does come off the small magnets could be exposed and potentially fall out which is choking hazard number one.
The shapes each tile comes in is also different per brand. Picasso tiles hace shapes that include square, equilateral triangle, isosceles triangle. Meanwhile, Magna tiles have all these shapes plus a right angle triangle.
The introduction of a new shape, while it seems small, can actually result in many more different designs as a result of this one shape. Although, with picasso tiles, they have two different sized squares.
In terms of the quality of the magnet, Picasso tiles actually win that battle. Most customers generally found that the Picasso tiles had a stronger magnet than the Magna tiles.
This is important as firstly it can be a safety issue, if your child is creating a large structure that falls down the individual tiles could be a safety issue.
Conversely, customers found that the Magna tiles could go further and carry more weight causing less detachment and falls.
Secondly, the strength of the magnet dictates how crazy these structures can go and stay safely. Although, those that do fall may teach valuable lessons about gravity.
For these reasons we think that Picasso tiles have a better build design that is focussed on robust and rigid tiles that keep the magnets safely hidden.
Although, if you find that magnet quality is important to help your child dream big without fear of the structure detaching, then Picasso tiles are an option.
Both brands use food safe plastics which is good to know if you have teething children around. The main difference in terms of safety comes with the design of each tile which we have already covered.
Picasso tiles are relatively weak in their structural integrity, being bound with glue. Magna tiles are much stronger with a cross hatch reinforcement inside the tile which prevents them from cracking and smashing under pressure.
Metal rivets on the Magna tiles also increase their safety. With the Picasso tiles they could be broken much more easily which would reveal the magnets that are small and thus a choke hazard.
On the other hand, Picasso tiles have been reported to have a much stronger magnet than Magna tiles. THis means that the structures won’t detach and fall down so easily onto your child.
While you can put a price tag on safety and fun, the price may be the biggest comparable element between these two pretty similar products.Comparatively, the Magna tile 100 piece set is a lot more pricey than the Picasso 100 piece set.
For a relatively new family this can be quite the jump for seemingly little reason. We would assume that, due to their higher quality build design, the Picasso tiles would be the more expensive product.
However, it is Magna tiles that are worse quality utilising glue and cheap design, while Picasso is reinforced plastic and uses metal rivets.
The only possible reason for the price increase could be to do with the better quality magnets in Magna tiles.
We struggle to justify the price increase for magna tiles, as they are the lower quality product in general.
The Bottom Line
Magna tiles and Picasso tiles are pretty similar products, they operate exactly the same and use pretty similar materials and magnets.
In terms of design, Picasso is generally better quality and more rigid, while Magna has been reported to have stronger magnets.
The largest point of comparison is their pricing and right now Magna tiles are nearly double the price.
For us, this doesn’t make sense, as Magna tiles are nowhere near double the quality of Picasso tiles. If anything, we feel that the build quality is significantly less in the Magna tile, so justifying this price increase is hard to do.
Our conclusion is that Picasso tiles are generally the better product, their 100 piece set will provide hours of fun for any STEM interested child aged 3+.
While some customers report that Magna tiles have stronger magnets, we can’t find any compelling reason to encourage you to pay for the expensive Magna tiles – in this case price does not equal quality.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Magna Tiles And Picasso Tiles Compatible?
Yes, they are compatible by nature. They utilise magnets at the end of the day so they are compatible with anything else that has the correct magnet. But we can’t imagine a situation where buying two sets across both brands would make sense for you.
How Should I Clean My Magnetic Tiles?
Kids will create a mess with basically any toy you give them, and we can guarantee that they will use these magnetic tiles like dorito chips to scoop food and any other substance they find.
To clean your magnetic tile we would recommend wiping them down with a damp cloth and some soapy water.
Conversely, anti bacterial wipes or baby wipes would do the job. Avoid using the really strong bleach based cleaner as they could potentially corrode the plastic, save them for the big messes.
Are Magnets Dangerous To Children?
Well, yes and no.
If what you mean is magnetic force and attraction dangerous to a child, then no not really. Very high powered magnets could potentially be an issue but these certainly aren’t reserved for magnetic tile toys.
If you mean swallowing a magnet, then yes that will be harmful to your child. This is due to them ingesting something they shouldn’t rather than anything to do specifically with a magnet.
What Are The Benefits Of Using Magnetic Tiles?
Beyond the humble wooden block, magnetic tiles enable your child to build as far as their dream can go. In terms of architectural possibility, these tiles can achieve pretty much anything within reason.
So, the benefits are out of this world, your child’s ability to critically think and assess themselves will be tested as well as their creative capabilities.
These are all perfect for any child who has, or shows, an interest in magnets or STEM subjects generally.
This toy will keep your child’s attention for hours and you don’t have to feel guilty because it’s educational and likely advances many brain functions. For this alone, magnetic tiles are worth your money.