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©2018 by Red Jellies.  All rights reserved.

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THE BEST MARBLE RUNS

Bring STEM learning home.

Little engineers flex their spatial reasoning skills and creativity while masterminding marble run construction. That's a lot to love.

We considered 31 models across 22 brands and then tested the seven most promising marble runs.  Here's the scoop on our top picks.
Want to know more about our methods?  Here's why you should trust us. 

MARBLE RUNS OVERVIEW

* If you're considering buying something featured on Red Jellies, click the link we provide and we'll receive a commission on the sale from our retailer partners (no extra charge to you). That helps us focus on the products, so you can focus on the fun.

**Problem with this link? Since we tested the Crazy Happy Ball, the product has gone in and out of stock. If this seems like the right run for you, check out the Hubelino Marble Run. While we haven't put this set through full Red Jellies testing, we did check them out at the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association convention in Philadelphia in June of 2017, and it seemed promising.

THE STANDOUTS

Best for Little

Artists

MindWare

Q-Ba-Maze 2.0

 
Creativity unleashed.

The Fun

  • Great artistry potential

  • Securely interlocking pieces

 

The Frustration

  • Minimal piece variety

 

The most visually stunning of the bunch, the Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 is an innovative take on the traditional marble run with excellent stability. 

MSRP: $39.95

Read full review here.

Best for Small

Spaces

Learning Resources

Tumble Trax

A smaller, less expensive alternative.

 

The Fun

  • Excellent free design potential

  • Independent play

  • Small footprint

  • Great price

 

The Frustration

  • Piece quality

No need to devote several feet of floorspace to your marble run. With magnetized pieces that can stick to a refrigerator, dishwasher, or the like, Tumble Trax packs the engineering challenges of a traditional run into a much smaller footprint. 

MSRP: $24.99 (typical retail $20)

Read full review here.

Top  Pick

Fat Brain Toys

Bamboo Builder

Top-notch craftsmanship.

 

The Fun

  • Exceptional quality

  • Exceptional stability

  • Frustration-free building

The Frustration

  • Limited bells and whistles
     

The Bamboo Builder's sturdy, lightweight pieces earned top-marks for quality. The stable base pieces and well-executed way that the components interlock made it one of the sturdiest runs we tested, which kept little builders' interest high and frustration low. Bonus: It's not bad lookin', either!

 

MSRP: $49.95

Read full review here.

Top  Pick

Hape

Quadrilla Xcellerator

Best for Bigger Kids

The Fun

  • Quality components

  • Engaging run

  • Lots of suggested builds

  • Building potential

The Frustration

  • Stability challenges

  • Does not include marble catcher

 

Exciting runs, quality pieces, nearly a dozen suggested runs. A great bet for little architects who can handle a more challenging build.

MSRP: $149.99 (typical retail $101)

Read full review here.

The Best of the Rest

Our top overall picks, the Fat Brain Toys Bamboo Builder and the Hape Quadrilla Xcellerator, are both of exceptional quality. While the Xcellerator has more bells and whistles, the Bamboo Builder's stability and frustration-free building experience just edged it out to earn our top honors. 

Among the non-traditional marble runs, the Kengadget Crazy Happy Ball fared particularly well for stability. With its Lego Duple-compatible pieces, this was one of our favorite sets for the littlest builders. The Learning Resources Tumble Trax has the smallest footprint of any run we tested and fostered a lot of free design in our testers, though piece quality wasn't ideal. The MindWare Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 doesn't have the same variety of pieces as a traditional marble run, but it was a stable build and the most visually stunning of the bunch.

With their funnels, route deviators, and chutes, the Marble Genius Marble Run and Quercetti Migoga Spinning have by far the most exciting components of any of the runs we tested. Though both had stability challenges, the Marble Genius has more suggested builds and more engaging runs. 

 

Why You Should Trust Us

We conducted the world's most thorough tests of marble runs.

 

OUR MISSION:  You want the best for your kids. We want the best for you. We research the best products on the market so you don't have to.

We spent 35+ hours researching and testing marble runs.

Market Research

Before we decided which models to put through our rigorous testing process, we surveyed the market. We scouted marble runs at toy conventions, examined the holdings at retail stores, and plunged into the deepest depths of online reviews. We carefully considered 31 marble run models across 22 different brands before boiling down the list. We excluded a couple intriguing products, like the ThinkFun Gravity Maze and FoxMind's Maze Racers, as too far afield from typical marble runs for this test. Others didn't make the cut due to quality or stability concerns. We ultimately selected the seven most promising marble runs of varying price, material, popularity, and complexity to test. 

 

Purchase Methodology

We paid retail for all seven models, just like you.

Assessment Criteria

Upon arrival, we unpacked the boxes to examine the materials. We inspected for flaws, chips, cracks, and the like. Then the real fun began. We let our littlest testers, ranging in age from 4 to 6, get their paws on the pieces. Our team spent more than three months constructing multiple runs with all seven marble sets. Our testing team carefully evaluated the fun (and sometimes the frustration) that went into building a run using the seven different sets.

 

Here's how we scored the marble runs:

 

Components (30%)

For each set, we examined the quality of the component pieces, keeping an eye out for cracks, dents, and other signs of wear and tear. We also took note of the number and variety of pieces. We paid particular attention to whether the model included a catcher to keep the marbles from shooting out at the end of the run. We also looked at the number and quality of the marbles included with the set. 

 

Ease of Build (30%)

The less frustrating the building process, the higher the score on this metric. We carefully assessed any stability challenges presented when building, as well as how well the pieces interlocked. We also took into account the clarity of the included directions.

 

Engagement (30%)

Here we focused on the fun and intrigue of the run once built. We were looking for runs that behaved in interesting ways, including cool component parts, like a funnel or spinning wheel. We also examined the number of suggested builds and the potential for free design. Party fouls included runs where the marbles often lose momentum and come to a stop or runs where marbles shoot off at random points.  

Repeat Play Value (10%)

Once the marble run was built and played with, how often did our littlest testers come back to it? We were looking for marble runs that continued to pique the kiddos interest. Bonus points if they were inspired to break it apart and build a new design from the manual or invent one of their own.