Disclosure: This product was sent to us free of charge for the purpose of this review. However, as per my PR Info page, this review represents our honest opinion of the product. This post may contain affiliate links.
Age Range: 8 years+
Manufacturer’s Description: With the GraviTrax interactive track system, you can design and build your own race tracks and experiment with gravity, magnetism and kinetics to propel your gravity sphere to the finish. With a variety of tiles, levels, tracks and features you can control the speed of each gravity sphere. The open-ended building concept offers endless possibilities to design a different track every time you play. Add speed and flair to your tracks with expansion sets and action accessories. Experience the power of gravity with GraviTrax.
Review: As soon as I first saw GraviTrax back in January at the Toy Fair, I knew that this was a product my family would all love. James and the girls love to play with marble runs, and GraviTrax is the ultimate marble run, with all sorts of fancy tricks.
GraviTrax is really quite addictive to play with, too. The box hasn’t found a home in our living room yet as it is always out ready to play, and we’ve had it for weeks now.
The Starter Set is brilliant value. You get so much in the box for your money, and it is much better than any other marble run we’ve had in the past, too. You get over 110 building components and 6 balls (or ‘gravity spheres’), which you can combine in different ways to make all sorts of tracks.
In the starter set, you get: instructions booklet, construction plan & task booklet, 4 base plates, 2 transparent levels, 6 balls, 40 large height tiles, 12 small height tiles, 21 curves, 3 junctions, 2 switches, 1 3-in-1 block, 1 vortex, 1 launch pad, 1 magnetic cannon, 3 long plastic tracks, 6 medium plastic tracks, 9 short plastic tracks, 1 finish line, 4 basic tiles, inserts for basic tiles: 2 catchers, 1 freefall, 1 splash, 1 landing.
GraviTrax works on a hexagonal layout, with cardboard base plates that fit together to make the foundation of your track – it’s basically like a big jigsaw, which is Ravensburger’s usual great quality. The different 6cm sized tiles then slot perfectly into hexagonal holes in the base, and you can raise tiles up using the height pieces, as well as using the transparent levels to create whole areas of raised track.
Plastic rails connect the tiles to one another, so the marble can travel around corners with the tiles, and along straights with the rails. Marbles begin at the launch pad, which has space for up to three balls headed in different directions – you just push down on the top to release the balls and they race off down the tracks. Some of the tiles combine tracks, some of them split them, and so on.
The construction plan & task booklet has a bunch of different track ideas for you to try, ranging from simple tracks to start with to complex ones that have balls going all over the place. The second half of the booklet is filled with challenges; track designs with pieces missing so you have to fill in the blanks and figure out what heights, rails or tiles you need. There are also some ‘races’ for you to build, and see which ball wins.
We were also sent three expansion packs; a Magnetic Cannon, a Catapult, and a Hammer. The starter set also includes a cannon, so that gave us two to build tracks with.
The Magnetic Cannon comes with three balls and the cannon tile, and can be used to ‘speed up’ your ball – though it really stops the ball and sends another shooting off from the other side of the cannon. You can load it with two or three balls depending on how fast you want it to go. It’s really useful when building tracks for sending your ball back uphill to extend your track.
The Catapult uses an elastic band to store energy, and scoops up your ball and fires it across your track. It comes with four balls to weigh it down, and plenty of spare elastic bands in case you have one snap. It is pretty simple to put together, following the instructions provided. The trickiest bit of using the catapult is getting the landing spot just right, especially when you’re building it on a wonky floor/rug!
The Hammer tile adds momentum to your ball, by bashing it along the track. Again, it’s simple to put together following the instructions, and this one comes with three medium and three short pieces of straight plastic rail. This expansion tile is brilliant for giving your ball that last little push to get to the end of your track.
There are more expansion packs available to buy, too; Looping which lets you do a loop-the-loop, Trax which includes various tiles and rails, and Building which includes plates, levels and a variety of tiles. We’ve actually already added the Looping expansion to our collection, and it works ok – just as long as your ball has enough speed.
Overall we have been super impressed with GraviTrax. It is a fantastic mix of fun and problem solving. It’s fantastic for STEM learning – you have to think about gravity, magnetism, kinetic energy and potential energy. If something doesn’t quite work, you just rearrange your tiles and pieces until you can get it right. We have built so many tracks; almost all of the tracks in the book, and many of our own invention, too.
To help you plan your tracks, there is a GraviTrax app for android and iOS, which lets you create virtual tracks and test them out, before following the instructions to build them in reality. It tells you how many of each part you’ll need to build your track, and includes all the different types of tiles and expansion pieces available.
I’ve already bought a second starter pack for James for Christmas, since it is such a good price at the moment, and will let him build absolutely huge tracks!
We give GraviTrax five stars and a firm place at the top of our recommended Christmas top toys list!