As we approached age three, one of the top gifts on our list was magnetic building tiles. In looking for a set, I quickly realized there are tons of different brands and options in this category. We had played with Magna Tiles many times at friends and family’s houses. Newer to me were Picasso Tiles, and Connetix (popular across the border in Canada). Since I already did all the comparison work, I thought I would share my findings here. And what we ended up choosing between Magna Tiles vs Picasso Tiles and the other more recent newcomers.
Best Magnetic Tiles Comparison
Magna-Tiles and Connetix Tiles usually run about $1 per tile, while Picasso and Playmag tiles are about half that price. Magformers are also about $1 per tile and are a slightly different shape and type of tile than the others. But I’m including them here in the price.
Magna Tiles Metropolis 110 piece set – $110 ( $1 price per tile). While the entry-level 32 piece set is $1.40 per piece. This set is newer with some house building tiles, vehicles, and some more unique shapes than previous sets offered. It can usually be found at both Target and Amazon.
Magna Tiles MAGHouse 28 piece set – $50 ( $1.78 per tile). This set is one of the most expensive sets from a price per piece perspective. But if you’re looking to buy some time for future toy purchases, this set can be fun for the toddler age. It is also great for kids who love to dollhouses and pretend play as a way to engage with building. Or if you already have some of the older Magnatiles sets and want to add some of the architectural elements without spending another $110 on the Metropolis set!
Magna Tiles DX 48 piece set – $75 ($1.56 per tile). The DX kit is like a happy medium between the most basic set and the most expensive Metropolis set. With this set you’ll get some of the more interesting elements like the car wheels base, some of the doors and large square baseplates and the newer triangle port hole pieces. Spoiler alert: I found this one randomly on sale so we have it in combo with another set.
Picasso Tiles 100 piece set – $50 (50 cents per tile). Simply put, Picasso Tiles 3D magnetic tiles are the biggest bang for your buck. At least for now, in the magnetic tile space. They are half the price of Magna-Tiles. So if price is your main constraint, Picasso Tiles are a great option. The 100 piece set includes: 8 large baseplate squares, 46 small squares, 20 small equilateral triangles, 12 right triangles, 14 tall isosceles triangles.
Connetix Tiles 100 piece set – $96 ($1.13 per tile). Connetix Tiles are an Australian magnetic tile option, and quite popular in Canada as well. Price-wise they compare most closely to Magna-Tiles here in the States. The 100 piece set includes: 6 large baseplate squares, 36 small squares, 12 small equilateral triangles, 12 right triangles, 12 tall isosceles triangles, 4 small rectangles, 6 square windows, 6 hollow squares, and 6 square gates. So a few more unique pieces than the standard shapes. They also sell some ball run options, which is a separate $100 set, but an interesting add-on route.
Playmags Tiles 100 piece set (only 82 buildable) – $60 (82 cents per tile). Playmags Tiles are another newer option to the magnetic tiles market. I consider them a cross between Connetix and Picasso Tiles. But you have to be careful of their tricky marketing. The 100 piece set includes 82 magnetic buildable tiles, not 100: 2 large baseplate squares, 26 small squares, 12 small equilateral triangles, 10 right triangles, 8 tall isosceles triangles, 8 small rectangles, 14 hollow squares, 2 window squares. And then 18 window clickins and ABCs to attach to the pieces. Most kids don’t really care about these click-in pieces and don’t consider them “tiles” to build with. So I would prefer they just called it an 82 piece set with bonus pieces or something.
Winner based on PRICE: Picasso Tiles. Picasso Tiles are the more affordable option. If you are on a budget and/or have slightly older children.
Tiles Set Sizes & Shape Options
Kids quickly scale up the amount of tiles they can use at a time. We’ve found that the small sets (30 pieces etc) can be fun for toddlers. From around 18 months to around 3 years old for one child. However, by around two or three years old (depending on the kid), they need to have around 80-100 pieces to really build and play without being frustrated from not having enough pieces. Which can lead them to quit playing with the item and do something else.
Magna Tiles has come out with a lot of different shapes and building options that are more architectural. This can be a fun STEM option for other types of play and imagination.
After the sheer number of tiles offered, the shapes are another deciding factor. Almost all magnetic tile sets come with the basics now. Including large square (“baseplates”), small squares, small equilateral triangles, right triangles, and tall isosceles triangles. So some added fun are also having things like windows, hollow squares, gates or swinging doors, stairs, wheel chassis, arches etc.
Winner based on SIZE and SHAPE OPTIONS: TIE Magna-Tiles & Picasso Tiles. Magna-Tiles really has a handle on what kids want and are building and playing and it seems like other brands are doing more copying than creating. They always seem to be first! So I would say their Metropolis 110 piece set is the best for size and shape options, and Picasso Tiles’ 180 piece set is a close second based on quantity and having some more unique shapes then their standard sets!
Durability & Safety
Magna Tiles and Playmags seem to be the most sturdily connected. Each corner piece has a little round metal rivet securing the plastic tiles. This means it’s extra protection to guarantee that the tile won’t break apart and the small magnets come out. I’ve never heard of a Magnatile breaking. The Picasso Tiles and Connetix tiles on the other hand don’t have the corner rivets. They are still sturdy tiles, but slightly more easily breakable. Which means the tiny magnets would be loose. If you’re getting these tiles for a younger child (less than three), or have a baby in the house still, I would be more comfortable with the Magna Tiles. Who needs extra stuff to worry about like tiny magnets. Not me!
Some of the sets boast different things like stronger magnets etc. Comparatively, they all seem the same when you also take into account the slight weight difference in designs. The magnets all seem to work as expected.
Winner based on SAFETY & DURABILITY: Magna-Tiles and Playmags.
Visual Look & Feel
Obviously this one is open to interpretation. As we all like different things. Visually, my preference is the Magna Tiles. I think they look sleeker and more see-through and crisp in color and appearance. Even after years of use (they do get scratched though), than the Picasso Tiles or Connetix.
Connetix Tiles have a slightly more opaque or cloudly look like Picasso Tiles. While MagnaTiles and Playmags have a sharper and more transparent look. Of course this depends on your personal preference. I personally, like the visual look of the clear Magna-Tiles.
And all the tiles seem to get scratches since it’s clear plastic and they get built and tumbled and lots of use. It doesn’t detract much from the look or use of them though. Just worth noting, that no matter what you get they’re going to be well-loved.
Winner based on VISUAL LOOK & FEEL: Magna-Tiles is my personal preference, but this one is really open to design preference.
Compatibility with Other Magnetic Blocks
Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles are close enough in size that they are compatible for building together. So you could start with a small Magna Tiles set when you child is very young (if you worry about magnets or tiles breaking) and add on to their sets with the cheaper Picasso Tiles in a couple years. You can fit the tiles together on these two different sets, but the tiles themselves look different and with a huge creation you will start to notice a slight deviation since they are a smidge different size and the magnet placement.
Other Magnetic Building Blocks and Tiles
There are many STEM toys now that fall into the magnetic building blocks category. The two most popular after MagnaTiles Picasso Tiles, Connetix, and Playmags are: Magformers and Tegu Blocks. Magformers look more like bubbly MagnaTiles, while Tegu Blocks are matte colored solid wood with magnets inside.
Are Tegu blocks worth it?
Tegu wooden magnetic building blocks are beautiful and well-made. Yes, they’re cool blocks, but not as a replacement for magnetic tiles. Aesthetically, I think they’re the coolest of all the blocks listed here. But, most kids don’t see them in the same category as MagnaTiles. So if you’re planning to do magnetic tiles AND magnetic blocks, then Tegu are really fun. Tegu blocks are also slightly harder for younger kids to find the right polarized spots so the magnets connect instead of repel.
The good news is Tegu blocks often show up on sale and for Black Friday type deals at 25-30% off!
Tegu Travel Set – 6 Pieces – $20 ($3.33 price per block) or the 8 piece set – $25 ($3.12 per block). We have one of these sets and it makes a great coffee table “fidget” toy and also for airplane travel for toddlers. This also makes a great stocking stuffer or gift from family if they’re wanting to get something fun that will also last.
Tegu Tints 24 Piece Set – $56 ($2.33 price per block). We also have this 24 piece set in combo with a wheels set that I found on a Black Friday deal one year. The wheel set gets the most use.
Magformers 100 Piece Set – $108 ($1.08 per piece). Magformers fall more into the magnetic tile category than blocks. They’re like bubbly and larger Magna-Tiles. They’re also easier for small hands to grab onto with all the cut outs. We don’t own these, but have played with at friends or play spaces. What’s cool about Magformers is how lightweight they are and all the different combinations and shapes you can make with them, like spheres and different towers than magnetic tiles that aren’t hollow. We’ve had a lot of fun with these of other peoples. But since we’ve already gone the Magna-Tile route, we don’t need to have another magnetic tile “system” in our house.
Winner: Magna Tiles vs Picasso Tiles
In conclusion, what are the best magnetic tiles when it comes to choosing between Picasso Tiles vs Magna Tiles vs Connetix vs Playmags? We picked the Magna-Tiles since our kiddo was still under three at the time. I found the Magna-Tiles DX 48 piece set on a great sale and then added on the MAGHouse 28 piece set, which feels like a DIY Metropolis set! However, if he was a couple years older we could have more easily gone with the Picasso Tiles. And if we had a few kids who all wanted to be building at the same time, the Picasso Tiles also would have been our choice for budget reasons.
Best Magnetic Tiles for Toddlers & Preschoolers: Magna-Tiles
Best Magnetic Tiles for Kids (and on a budget): PicassoTiles
So it depends a bit on your family and needs, but I hope this comparison helps you make the decision of which magnetic blocks to invest in for your situation. Happy building!