If you’ve been searching for magnetic tiles and building blocks for your kid, you are probably familiar with these three brands: Magna Tiles vs Picasso Tiles vs Magformers. So what are the main differences between them and which one should you buy?
We take a deep dive into each brand and its different features. We will then give you our recommendation on the best magnetic tiles set based on our research criteria, testing, and feedback from other parents. You can also go directly to the comparison guide or the full product review section.
Our Final Verdict
What Are Magnetic Tiles and Why Are They So Popular?
Magnetic tiles are building and construction toys for kids. They usually come as a set of between 50 to 150 pieces of plastic tiles. Each tile is translucent, has bright colors, and has different geometrical shapes. The biggest difference between magnetic tiles and the traditional building blocks is that magnetic tiles can connect with each other using magnets, therefore, easier to clean and store.
The top brands of magnetic tiles today are Magworld, Playmag, Magna-Tiles, Picasso Tiles, and Magformers.
Magnetic tiles are considered STEM toys for kids and have been generating lots of popularity in the past several years. Kids can use these tiles to create 2D or 3D shapes, structures, or buildings. As open-ended toys, magnetic tiles encourage logical thinking, creativity, and imagination. Additionally, they help strengthen kids’ fine and gross motor skills.
Comparison of Magna Tiles vs Picasso Tiles vs Magformers
In this section, we will take a look at all three brands and compare the key features of their products.
Similarities: All three brands feature magnetic tiles that have basic geometrical shapes: squares, rectangles, trapezoids, isosceles triangles, right-angle triangles, and equilateral triangles. Additionally, all tiles come in various translucent bright colors.
Differences: The first key difference in design is that Magformer Tiles have hollow cutouts whereas Picasso Tiles and Magna Tiles are solid throughout. The hollow design makes the tiles more lightweight and easier for kids to grab. Furthermore, the tiles are more durable and are hard to break even after falling on the ground.
There are two main differences between Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles: 1) Magna Tiles feature a crisscross lattice design on each tile. This design makes the tiles more durable and the final construction more sturdy. 2) Magna Tiles also feature metallic corner rivets.
Similarities: The tiles of all brands measure between 2 to 6 inches. Different block sets come with different combinations of sizes and shapes. For example, the large squares of Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles are 6″ by 6″ and the small squares are 3″ by 3″
Differences: Magformers have difference size standards. That’s also why Magformers tiles are not compatible with Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles.
3. Magnetic Strengthen
Similarities: Magna Tiles, Picasso Tiles, and Magformers connect through magnetics on each side. All you need to do is to snap the pieces together. You have the flexibility to tilt and rotate the angles of the connected pieces.
Differences: Comparing to Magna Tiles, Picasso Tiles and Magformers have stronger magnetic forces. This is critical if your child wants to build a large-sized configuration.
4. Compatibility with Other Brands
Similarities: Both Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles are compatible with each other, as well as other major magnetic systems such as MagWorld and PlayMags.
Differences: Megaformers are not compatible with either Magna Tiles or Picasso Tiles. Even though the magnets make it possible to connect the pieces together, the difference in the sizes and shapes make the connection awkward. However, all different sets of Megaformers are compatible with each other.
5. Quality of Construction
Similarities: The tiles of Magna Tiles, Picasso Tiles, and Magformers are cut with ultrasonic welding machines to ensure precision.
Differences: Unlike Picasso Tiles and Magformers, Magna Tiles feature a crisscross lattice, which makes the construction of each piece stronger. On one hand, it prevents tall constructions from falling apart, on the other hand, these magnetic pieces can better withstand breaking and banging by kids.
Similarities: All three brands are toy manufactures specialize in designing and producing kids’ magnetic tiles that can build and construct various shapes.
Differences: Comparing to Picasso Tiles, and Magformers, Magna-Tiles is the maker of the original magnetic building sets. Owned by ValTech LLC, Magna-Tiles is a US company that’s located in Chicago. The founder Rudy Valenta introduced magnetic tiles from Japan to the US in 1997.
Magformers is also a global leading manufacturer of magnetic children’s toys. Their magnetic toys use a patented “always attracting” magnetic technology. They are also committed to using only safe and high-quality material.
Comparing to Magna-Tiles and Magformers, there is little information about Picasso Tile as a company.
7. Age Range
Similarities: All Magna Tiles, Picasso Tiles, and Magformers are made for kids 3-years and above. The main reason is that these tiles are small toys and may pose a choking hazard for small kids and toddlers.
Similarities: The magnetic tiles of all three brands come in multiple bright colors that are appealing to kids
Differences: Picasso Tiles only has translucent-colored tiles while Magna-Tiles come in both half-transparent and solid colors. Magformer tiles are hollow in the middle and their frames also come in either translucent or solid colors.
Similarities: All the magnetic tiles made by Magna Tiles, Picasso Tiles, and Magformers have rounded edges that are smooth to touch for children.
Similarities: The magnetic tiles of all three brands are made with plastic.
Differences: The difference between Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles is that Magna Tiles are made of 100% non-toxic food-grade ABS plastic. This type of material is free of BPA and Phthalate. They are safer for children, especially kids who still have the habit of putting toys in their mouths. Magformers also use safe and durable BPA-free ABS plastic that is compliant with ASTM, and EN71 standards.
Differences: Magna Tiles are heavier than Picasso Tiles and Magformers. 100 pieces of Manga Tiles weigh 6.16 pounds, 100 pieces of Picasso Tiles weigh 5.51 pounds, while 100 pieces of Magformers weigh only 5 pounds.
Differences: Among all three brands, Magna Tiles is the most expensive one, followed by Magformers. The least expensive option is Picasso Tiles. For 100 pieces of tiles, Magna Tiles cost around $120, Magformers cost around $95, and Picasso Tiles cost around $50.
Which One is The Best: Magna Tiles, Picasso Tiles, or Magformers?
After reviewing all the similarities and differences, what’s the bottom line for you? Here are our recommendations:
- If you worry about the safety of the materials, or your child still loves to bite or chew toys, we recommend that you buy Magna Tiles as they are made with 100% non-toxic plastic. Our top pick is Magna Tiles Metropolis 110 Piece Set.
- If your child loves to build elaborate constructions and large shapes, then we recommend Picasso Tiles because they have better magnetic strengthen and stronger connection. Our top pick is Picasso Tiles 180 Piece Set Deluxe Construction Kit.
- If you already own Magformers tile sets and want to expand on your collection, then we recommend you stay with Magformers because Magna Tiles and Picasso Tiles will not be compatible. Additionally, Magformers are better choices for kids who prefer to follow guidance or structure ideas because Magformers have many free educational resources. Our top pick is Magformers 100-pieces Inspire Set.
Detailed Product Reviews
1. Magna Tiles Metropolis 110 Piece Set
Unlike the standard 32-pieces Magna Tiles block set, the Metropolis 110 Piece Set features a theme of a modern city. In addition to the original five shapes, this block set has eight more new shapes including a spinner, windows, quarter circles, and wagon wheels. Therefore, your child can build many more structures. It also makes pretend-play more fun and realistic. This set is perfect for multiple kids to play together and strengthen their team-building and communication skills.
Being the original magnetic tiles maker in the US, all the tiles are made with safe material that is free from harsh chemicals and toxins such as BPA, lead, and Phthalate. Therefore, you don’t need to worry if your kiddo spends too much time touching these plastic tiles.
Comparing to the traditional Magna Tiles set that costs around $1.5 per piece, this set only costs $1.2 per piece. Therefore, it’s a better bargain. No matter you are introducing magnetic tiles for the first time or trying to expand your current collection, this set brings in diversity and excitement to your kids.
- Number of Pieces: 100
- Number of Shapes: 11 shapes. They are 2 sizes of squares, 3 sizes of triangles, a wheeled chassis, 1 door, 1 rectangular, stairs, 1 quarter circles, 1 spinner, windows, and 1 arch
- Weight: 8 pounds
- Dimension: 3″ x 17.5″ x 14″
2. Picasso Tiles 180 Piece Set Deluxe Construction Kit
This building block set comes with 180 pieces of magnetic tiles. The biggest unique feature about these tiles is that they come with 11 roman numerals, 10 numbers, and alphabets. Therefore, on top of creating shapes and constructions, your child can practice and learn equations, simple math operations, and spelling. It’s a smart way to incorporate math and geometry while playing with toys. That’s also why it’s considered one of the best STEM toys for grade-schoolers.
Another cool feature is that there are two unique tiles that can glow in the dark. But that’s not all, these two tiles can flash in single pulsing light, solid light, and group light. This feature alone will set this Picasso Tiles apart from other block sets. Of course, remember to get CR2032 batteries as they are not included.
In addition to being entertaining to your child, the Picasso Tiles 180 tiles set is a wonderful tool that promotes a child’s logical thinking skills, understanding in spatial relations, and the ability to think out of the box.
Lastly, Picasso Tiles are a cheaper alternative to the big brand Magna Tiles. They also have better magnetic strength so that your child can build large shapes, as well as portable constructions.
- Number of Pieces: 180
- Number of Shapes: 8 shapes. They are 2 sizes of squares, 3 sizes of triangles, a wheeled chassis, and 2 rectangular,
- Weight: 10.78 pounds
- Dimension: 3″ x 17.5″ x 14″
3. Magformers 100-pieces Inspire Set
Why We Love It?
Many people love Magformers because of their hollow design. Compared to Magna Tiles or Picasso Tiles, Magformers tiles are lighter, more natural to grab, and less prone to breaking. This 100-pieces set comes with the most number of shapes – 13 different shapes including 3 types of sectors, 3 types of arches, 4 square inserts, and 1 triangle pyramid.
Another feature that your child will definitely adore is the light-up tile. Unlike Picasso Tiles, the Magformers light-up tile has a built-in rechargeable battery. This toy set also includes a USB charging cord. Since all other tiles are translucent, the light can shine through other pieces in the dark and create a dreamy atmosphere.
Besides the versatile shapes and the LED light feature, this Magformers building block set comes with an educational idea booklet. Your child can follow along with the guidance and examples if she is new to magnetic tiles. Even experienced players can get some inspiration from this instruction booklet.
Even though Magformers are not compatible with Magna Tiles or Picasso Tiles, this toy set is compatible with all other Magformers tiles.
- Number of Pieces: 100
- Number of Shapes: 13 shapes and 3 accessories
- Weight: 5 pounds
- Dimension: 22″ x 3.5″ x 15.25
FAQs about Best Magnetic Tiles
What should I build with magnetic tiles?
As open-ended toys, your child can create any shapes or constructions in both 2D and 3D format. If you are looking for inspiration and ideas, below are some resources you can use:
1. PicassoTiles Idea Book: This booklet features 90 structure ideas for both Picasso Tiles and Magna Tiles
2. Magna-Tiles Idea Gallery: This web page showcases fun and creative ideas by Magna-Tiles customers. Additionally, you can follow Magna-Tiles on social media to get ideas from the community.
3. Magformers Idea Gallery: This web page features more than 30 idea booklets that are free to download. Each booklet showcases multiple constructions and buildings.
Are Picasso Tiles compatible with Magna Tiles?
Yes, all Picasso Tiles block sets are compatible with Magna Tiles. They both are made with plastic and use magnets to join the pieces together. They also have many common shapes and share the same size standards.
Are Magna Tiles and Magformers compatible?
No. Magformers do not work with Magna Tiles. Even though they both are magnetic building blocks, Magformers have different size standards. For example, their small square measures 6.5cm x 6.5cm and Magna Tiles small square measures 7.5cm x 7.5cm.
Why are Magna-Tiles so expensive?
Magna-Tiles are generally more expensive because they have better brand recognition and slightly better quality than the alternatives. However, the difference is so small that it might not warrant such a big price difference.
Are Magnetic Tiles worth it?
The short answer is YES! They are a great open ended toy for kids that will help them be more creative and explore building new shapes and structures. It’s a great way to get them introduced to STEM subjects as well since it deals with building structures and magnetism.
After thorough analysis and comparison, it’s easy to see the pros and cons of these top brands of magnetic tiles. We recommend Magna Tiles as the best magnetic tiles for younger children because of their durable design and child-safe material. We recommend Picasso Tiles as the best magnetic tiles for experienced kids because the stronger magnetic force allows more elaborate constructions. Last but not least, we recommend Magformers as the best magnetic tiles for kids who need more dynamic shapes and accessories, as well as those who already own other Magformers Tile Sets.
Cecilia Yeung is a successful entrepreneur and product researcher. She has a background in psychology and children’s education. As a working mother of two, she loves to write about children’s education and development.