MARBLE RUN REVIEW
Best for Small
Excellent for independent play, small footprint, great price point.
Mfr. Recommended Age: 5 Years+
Total score: 77 points
Components: Average (46 points)
Ease of build: Excellent (100 points)
Engagement: Excellent (81 points)
Repeat Play Value: Excellent (88 points)
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Excellent free design potential
15 Pieces + 4 Marbles
Tumble Trax comes with 16 magnetic foam pieces to build a run on a magnetized surface.
While on the surface the pieces don't appear to have much variety to them, the ability to tilt them in different directions gives each one multiple functions.
One of the foam pieces is designed to catch the marble at the end of the run, and it works well so long as it's positioned correctly relative to the previous piece (which only happened sometimes when positioned by our littlest testers). The set also includes four plastic "marbles" that snap together.
A thin piece of plastic covers the front of the foam pieces to keep the marbles from rolling off during a run, but the plastic started detaching from the foam at the corners of the pieces fairly quickly.
Ease of Build: Excellent
Tumble Trax is an extremely high performer when it comes to the ability of little testers to assemble the run independently. The magnets stick very well to a refrigerator and dishwasher. They're powerful enough that the pieces don't slide around, but not so strong as to prevent little hands from easily moving the pieces.
The building instructions include great pictures, and the colors and patterns on the pieces make them easy to distinguish from one another.
This run has the best free building and independent play potential of any of the runs we tested. The ball moves through the run in an intuitive way that allows little builders to design their own runs with minimal frustration. The fact that the pieces don't actually interlock makes it easy for kiddos to tweak their designs (or dive in for a complete overhaul) without adult assistance.
The set includes 10 activity cards, each of which includes a suggested run. The cards also include challenges (i.e., "How far away can you move the goal while still catching the marble?"), which increase the interest factor of the run.
Tumble Trax doesn't have the great variety of pieces of the Marble Genius set, but the fact that it's magnetized allows little builders to experiment with the angle of the pieces and the drop distances. The marbles sometimes fly off the run or get stuck, depending on the positioning of the pieces, though given how easy it is to tweak the run, our littlest testers actually enjoyed the trial-and-error of repositioning the pieces to make the run work better.
Repeat Play Value: Excellent
Our testers returned to this set often to run a marble through the existing run or design an entirely new structure. It's extremely minimal footprint (no clutter on the floor!) also makes it easy to leave out, and so easy for littles to return to.
Tumble Trax has a unique design that's perfect for small spaces. The set doesn't have a ton of piece variety (and the quality of the components could use a boost), but the easily maneuverable components make it conducive to independent play and free design. An excellent birthday party gift.