We are often asked the differences between the Connetix, Learn and Grow and Kmart Magnetic Tiles and respective ball run expansion packs.
Learn and Grow vs Connetix
We'll start with the differences between the Connetix and Learn and Grow Magnetic Tiles as there are a lot of similarities between these two brands and a number of subtle differences.
The good news is that Learn and Grow and Connetix are compatible with one another so you don't have to choose only one brand. You can buy both and use them together!
The main differences between Learn and Grow and Connetix are their appearance, contents in their box and the inner magnets in the Learn and Grow larger square tile. We'll discuss these differences in more details later on in the blog, but first, we will chat about what is the same.
The tiles are the same size and thickness and have the same size magnets. This is great because this is essentially what makes them interchangeable. They are made from the same plastic material too.
They are both riveted (see the corners) for extra safety and holds the pieces of plastic together. They both have a raised edges which makes their surface slightly indented and scratch resistant. Given the nature of how children play with the magnetic tiles, they will never be free from scratches and scratches are inevitable, but the design does help mitigate this.
Now onto the differences. Learn and Grow (pictures left above) has visible inner bracing whilst the Connetix (pictured right above) has a beveled design which means they slope inward. Both the bracing and the beveled design give the tiles extra strength but Connetix is more transparent appearance. Connetix are more aesthetically pleasing due to the lack of internal bracing.
Pictured below are the contents in each brand's comparative packs. The main difference between the two is that Learn and Grow include a car in their 110 piece pack, while Connetix do not. However, Connetix have a number of expansion packs including their motion pack which includes two vehicles of similar design to the Learn and Grow car. The Connetix 100 piece pack also includes a fence piece which is not part of the Learn and Grow pack.
Photo cred: Toni from @finding_myself_young. Toni has also written an excellent blog, with more detail on this topic, on her site - linked here.Learn and Grow's larger square (see image below) has inner magnets, whilst Connetix's large square does not have inner magnets. The larger square is the size of of 4 of the smaller squares arranged in a 2 x 2 pattern. I think this is Learn and Grow's unique selling feature and can bring an extra dimension to your build.
Whilst Connetix's larger square doesn't have inner magnets, they do have base plates, which are the size of 16 smaller squares arranged in a 4 x 4 square pattern. These base plates also have inner magnets and are sold as a separate expansion pack.
There are also subtle differences between the cars in the two brands - Learn and Grow's car has smooth wheels while Connetix's car wheel has more realistic treads. The bracing is also slightly different, but I didn't really think the differences in the car was a deal breaker.
Overall, I love both brands equally and struggle to pick one over the other. Learn and Grow's selling point is their additional magnets whilst Connetix are clearer due to the lack of visible internal bracing (and they are just as strong). Connetix also have a wider range available for purchase and are adding more and exciting packs each day.
Learn and Grow / Connetix vs Kmart
Kmart have two types of magnetic tiles. They have "blocks" and "tiles". I'll discuss their blocks first.
The Kmart blocks are more similar to Connetix and Learn and Grow tiles in size and appearance.
Kmart Block Magnetic Tiles
The good news: their blocks are compatible with Learn and Grow and Connetix tiles with some differences:
- Kmart magnets are a lot smaller therefore the builds will be more unstable and will affect the size of the build you are able to make. One would be able to build towers which are the height of a full wall with the Connetix or Learn and Grow tiles which one would not be able to achieve with the Kmart blocks.
- Their pieces are glued together and not riveted so they are easier to break apart which would expose the magnets and would be a potential choking hazard.
- Kmart blocks have a flat surface which means more scratches
- Kmart blocks are "thinner" than the Connetix and Learn and Grow magnetic tiles.
Kmart Tiles are unfortunately not compatible with either the Connetix or Learn and Grow magnetic tiles. They are significantly smaller in size, hollow and their magnet is very small.
We started our magnetic tile collection with these Kmart magnetic tiles and I must be honest, I really liked them. However, after adding a 110 pc Learn and Grow magnetic tile set to our collection, I don't use the Kmart tiles anymore. The hollow tile makes them a bit flimsy and limits the builds you are able to make. We have made towers, race tracks, coin runs, garages, dolls house, colour sorters and more with our Learn and Grow tiles and we couldn't do this with the Kmart tiles.
Ball Run Comparison
I think this is first (and currently my only) "must have" toy for families. Unfortunately you need a selection of magnetic tiles to begin with (probably a set of 62/64 or 100/110 set from either Connetix or Learn and Grow) before you can add the ball run as an expansion pack but it is so worth it.
The ball runs are very similar and I love them both. The differences between the two are as follows:
- Connetix tubes are clear whilst Learn and Grow tubes are colourful.
- Connetix pack contains more pieces and include a split "Y" piece and "stairs" which are not included in the Learn and Grow set. Connetix include 6 balls in their pack whilst Learn and Grow only have 3 balls.
The table below lists the contents in each set.
|Connetix Ball Run Contents||Learn and Grow Ball Run Contents|
|Y Shape Split Tubes||2||0|
|S Bend Tubes (Waves)||2||1|
|U Shaped Tubes (180 degree bend)||8||10|
|Corner Tubes (90 degree bend)||12||10|
|Long Straight Tubes||6||6|
|Short Straight Tubes||8||10|
I've included a couple of images of the Learn and Grow ball run in action. It's so cheerful and happy with all the colourful pieces.
Photo credit for the Learn and Grow Magnetic Tile Ball Run pictures: @thewondersofplay
I have also added a clever little "Y" piece hack from @thevibrantmuma so you can get create a Y-piece from your Learn and Grow Magnetic Ball Run Expansion Pack.
Connetix have also shared these pictures of their ball run in action. I also love their clear tubes as you are able to see the ball as it runs through its course.
The picture below shows their unique stair piece:
I honestly love both Connetix and Learn and Grow and you can't go wrong with either and you can also mix and match between the different packs.
Shop Learn and Grow Toys here.
Shop Connetix here.