Published Jun 8, 2022 9:30 AM
Marble run toys are classic games that not only provide fun and excitement for your child, but they also help build STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) and other skills like visual tracking, dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. From wooden constructions to magnetic pieces to glow-in-the-dark marbles, marble runs vary in design and style. You can find marble runs for toddlers 3+ or more challenging options suitable for older kids. Please be mindful that these games can be a choking hazard, so be sure not to leave this game around babies or unattended toddlers. Here are the five best marble runs of 2022 that you can convince your kids are just real-life Minecraft.
How we chose the best marble runs
Unlike consumer electronics, marble runs don’t have a ton of complex electronics or hard specs to compare. We started by taking a wide survey of the available models, then narrowing it down to specific options that promise durability and flexibility. Kids can get bored easily when toys only offer one play pattern, so flexibility is critical in keeping little ones interested.
We also focused on sets made from durable materials because they last longer than their cheaper, flimsy counterparts. We used a combination of personal experience, editorial reviews, user feedback, and feature comparisons to choose the best possible models.
Things to consider before buying one of the best marble runs
Marble toys will list their age restrictions or recommendations. Be sure to look for an age-appropriate toy when shopping for your little one. Marbles are, by their very nature, choking hazards, so these are probably best to avoid for very little ones.
Some marbles are made of glass, while others are made of plastic. You can find magnetic sets, wooden options, and more. Some sets can expand if you buy more pieces to go with them, so if you think the marble run may be a big hit, opt for something you can build on later.
Depending on price point and material, the toy’s durability can vary. Some will be sturdier and some more flimsy—so always read the reviews! For toddlers, you might afford to get something a bit more flimsy, but a wobbly marble run could definitely frustrate older kids.
Price points for marble runs range from ultra-cheap to more expensive, depending on the material, sturdiness, brand, etc. Typically, you can find cheap ones for less than $40 and higher-end models for around $150. As stated before, many sets rely on standard pieces, so you can start with a smaller set and then buy more pieces later to expand if it’s particularly popular in your household.
Best marble runs: Reviews & Recommendations
While comparing features can be useful, we have some specific recommendations for different people. While we’ve broken the picks down into categories, there’s always overlap so peruse all of the options for best marble runs before making a purchase.
Best overall: National Geographic Glowing Marble Run
Why it made the cut: This marble run comes with 50 glow-in-the-dark marbles, 1 UV keychain light, and sturdy construction for fun gaming.
- Ages: 8+
- Dimensions: 17.5 x 7.5 x 13.5 inches
- Batteries: 1 CR2 battery required (included)
- Excellent brand reputation
- 12,000 positive reviews
- High quality
- Glow in the dark
- Black light isn’t impressive
- Glow could be brighter
This glowing run comes with 250 pieces including glowing marbles that look like “galaxies in the dark.” It also comes with a storage pouch and a UV keychain light to make the marbles glow brighter and last longer.
This kit is super high-quality with ample reviews to back it up. You can get great height with stackable towers, and it’s easy to assemble.
One of the only cons is that some say the black light isn’t very bright, but you can keep the marbles under a flashlight or lamp to make it shine even brighter.
Best wooden: Hape Quadrilla Wooden Marble Run Construction
Why it made the cut: Made from high-quality and durable birch wood, this marble run comes with tons of fun features like seesaws, straightaway rails, and three spiral funnels to keep your kids engaged.
- Ages: 4+
- Dimensions: 21.34 x 13.39 x 5.43 inches
- Material: Wood
- High-quality wood, durable
- Non-toxic, FSC-accredited
- Lots of features
- Lots of positive reviews
- Can be wobbly
- Colors could be more distinguishable
This wooden marble run is a high-quality, multifunction construction set that encourages spatial awareness and problem-solving. It offers seven different color blocks made from non-toxic, FSC-accredited birch and rubber wood.
The Quadrilla Vertigo features a mix of spins, drops, seesaws, straightaway rails, and three spiral funnels to keep kids (and curious parents) entertained. Some of the pieces have toggles, which keep the marbles going in unpredictable directions.
The only knock on this was it doesn’t include organizational materials to keep the wooden pieces safe from scratches and dings. The colors could also be more distinguishable from each other. It’s pricey, but given the high quality and natural wood material—a bonus if you’re cutting down on household plastic—it’s worth the premium.
Best plastic: Ravensburger GraviTrax Speed Set
Why it made the cut: Kids 8 and up can enjoy the Speed Set, the deluxe version of the Starter Set plus extra features and accessories like flips, loops, spirals, and cannons.
- Ages: 8+
- Dimensions: 13.5 Inches (H) x 4 Inches (W) x 20.5 Inches (D)
- Batteries: None required
- 6 million sold worldwide
- Excellent brand reputation
- High quality
- 185 pieces
- Could have more base pieces
For kids ages 8 and up, this marble run set features everything from the GraviTrax Starter Set, plus some components from the Bridges and Tunnels expansions and four additional accessories. These accessories include the Magnetic Cannon, Flip, Loop and Spiral. In total, it offers 185 pieces and 10 different track layouts to play with.
The GraviTrax encourages kids to start simple and build, allowing this set to grow with your kid developmentally with more challenging elements. It doesn’t require batteries.
Reviewers love the variety you get in the set, and how positively their kids responded to the game. However, some customers wished there would have been more base pieces for building more towers. Buying more sets will provide more options.
Best magnetic: PicassoTiles Marble Run Magnetic Tiles
Why it made the cut: This colorful magnetic tile marble run and 3-D race track comes with 10 different geometric shapes, including columns, slopes, slides, funnels, and U-turns.
- Ages: 3+
- Dimensions: 16.51 x 13.24 x 5.32 inches
- Material: Steel, Plastic
- Fairly priced
- Good for toddlers
- Can be used with other PicassoTiles sets
- BPA-Free, Lead-Free, Non-Toxic
- Could be sturdier
- Some say need to purchase more than one
Choose from a 40-, 70-, or 150-piece set that comes chock-full of 10 different geometric shapes like columns, slopes, slides, funnels, and U-turns. The steel weighted marbles and a 3-D race track are perfect for building on imagination and STEM skills.
Some reviewers recommend getting at least two sets to really make this product shine. Add marble run tubes to your tiles to help them snap into place for added sturdiness.
It’s fairly priced—depending on the number of pieces, it ranges from under $30 to under $70—and is made from non-toxic, BPA-free, lead-free, and child-safe materials. Note: it can be used with other PicassoTiles products, excluding the mini tiles with the PTG set.
Best budget: WTOR 216Pcs Marble Run
Why it made the cut: This inexpensive and colorful marble run game for kids ages 3 and up comes with 216 pieces made from non-toxic and BPA-free plastic, all under $40.
- Ages: 3+
- Dimensions: 17 x 11.8 x 4 inches
- Material: Plastic
- Simple and straightforward
- Non-toxic, BPA-free plastic
- Great for toddlers
- Not the highest quality
- Marbles are plastic halves you put together
This budget-friendly marble run set comes with 120 pieces of marble run blocks and 96 pieces of DIY plastic marbles for building elaborate, continuous setups. The bright, colorful nature of the pieces will likely do well to keep a little one’s attention.
This is a simple marble run without a ton of frills and features. It can stack 6 feet high and is great for toddlers and little ones (but be sure to keep an eye on them—these pieces can be a choking hazard).
Note that the plastic is BPA-free and non-toxic, but because of the price point, the material isn’t the highest quality. Hot tip: some users recommend constructing your run on a rubber mat—the dining table can make it less sturdy and tip over.
Q: How do you build a marble run?
There are so many ways to build a marble run. The easiest DIY way is to use a cardboard box with cards used as slopes and runways. However, all the products listed in this article make excellent choices for ready-made marble runs!
Q: What was the biggest marble run ever?
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the longest marble run is 6,293.04 ft. across Elgg, Switzerland.
Q: How do you do a slow marble run?
To slow down a marble run, some sort of force must be applied in the opposing direction from where the marble is traveling. For example, if you add a card, bumper, or blockage, you can slow down the marble’s travels.
Final thoughts about the best marble runs
Marble runs are the perfect educational toy that not only entertains and excites your little ones but also helps build valuable skills! Get off the screen and into twists, turns, slides, flips, loops, and spirals with the fun of the best marble runs.