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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Learn & Grow vs Connetix: Which Magnetic Tile Brand is Best?

Are you wanting to add some awesome open ended magnetic tiles to your playroom or classroom, but you don't know which brand is best? Don't worry I've done the hard work for you and compared some of the leading magnetic tile brands so you can make an informed choice about which set is perfect for you. In this post I'll compare the size, strength, quality and value for money of Connetix and Learn & Grow magnetic tiles

connetix and learn and grow tiles side by side

Magnetic tiles are what I call a unicorn toy, because quite frankly they tick all of the boxes. They're a completely open ended resource, they can become anything your child imagines and there's no wrong way to play with them. You can stack them, create with them, count them, colour sort them and use them on multiple surfaces, along with many other play ideas

They're also a stem toy, so they help teach children science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts through play. While playing children will be using their fine and gross motor skills, improving hand/eye co-ordination, hypothesising and problem solving as well as exploring many other developmental skills. And perhaps the best benefit of all, for those who have multiple children, is that they're great for children of all ages, toddlers, preschoolers and school kids all love getting creative with magnetic tiles.

Magnetic tiles are not a new concept when it comes to toys, many brands have been available overseas for the past few years, however aside from ordering overseas products, there hasn't been much choice when it comes to magnetic tiles here in Australia. What's really exciting is that Learn & Grow and Connetix are both Australian based magnetic tile brands, bringing more options to us here locally in Oz. Both companies are also family run businesses and the women at the helm of both brands are qualified in early childhood, so they know all the ins and outs of childhood development and the fundamental benefits of play, and keep this at the forefront when designing new products.



CONNETIX MAGNETIC TILES


Connetix magnetic tiles were launched in July 2019 by two Australian families who came together to create a stronger, more scratch resistant and transparent magnetic tile than the other brands that were already available on the market. Since their debut in 2019 Connetix have quickly become one of the most popular magnetic tile brands worldwide.

connetix 62pc and 100pc packaging from above
connetix 92pc ball run expansion pack
new connetix 212pc mega pack including hexagons and car bases

Connetix tiles are currently available in many countries all over the world in a 62pc set, 100pc set, 40pc expansion pack24pc car pack, base platesa magnetic ball run and a massive new 212pc mega pack which contains tiles in all colours, new hexagons and car bases in new colours. Other exciting new products are due to be released in the future. Connetix also have free letter and number magnetic tile templates available here.

LEARN & GROW MAGNETIC TILES


Learn & Grow magnetic tiles were launched in July 2020 by Learn & Grow Toys, a family run Australian business. Learn & Grow are quickly gaining popularity within the Australian market as one of the leading magnetic tile brands alongside Connetix. Their popularity has been widely driven by the introduction of their magnetic ball run, the first of it's kind released in Australia.

learn & grow magnetic tile packaging
learn & grow magnetic ball run

Learn & Grow are currently available in Australia in a 64pc set, 110pc set and ball run expansion pack. Base plates and car packs are scheduled to be released later in the year. Learn & Grow don't currently have international stockists, however they can be shipped overseas from The Creative Toy Shop.



CONNETIX VS LEARN & GROW MAGNETIC TILES


A lot of different factors go into every purchase decision we make as parents {or teachers}. Each individual will weigh certain product features higher than others, which is why I've put together a comprehensive guide of all the features and benefits of both Learn & Grow and Connetix magnetic tiles to help you decide which brand is best for your home or classroom.

which magnetic tile brand is better? Connetix or learn and grow?


TILE SURFACE DESIGN


What makes Learn & Grow and Connetix stand out from many other magnetic tile brands is that they've both developed innovative tile designs, which focus on limiting the amount of surface scratches they'll receive during play. All magnetic tiles will eventually develop surface scratches over time, it's an inevitable consequence of play, especially if they're being used on hard surfaces like tiles or wood. While scratches can't be completely eliminated, both of these clever surface designs aim to minimise the opportunities for scratches on the tile face, prolonging the aesthetic of each tile.

connetix and learn and grow magnetic tiles bevelled and inset surface designs.

Connetix tiles have a unique bevelled design where the tile surface is concave into a central point, which means the tile surface itself isn't level with the edge so it has less chance of being scratched. Learn & Grow tiles have an inset design so the main surface face is recessed by a few millimetres from the edge reducing the chance of the surface being scratched. Both brands of tiles do still get some surface scratches, especially since my girls like to knock them down on our tiles, however they both have significantly less scratches than our Kmart tiles that have a completely flat tile surface.



MAGNET SIZE & STRENGTH


Learn & Grow and Connetix magnets are the same size and comparable in strength {in fact they may even be the same brand of magnets, but I'm not 100% sure on that}. When the tiles are lined up it can appear to the naked eye that there is the slightest variation in length due to each individual magnet casing being a mm or so bigger than the magnet itself {which allows for the tiniest bit of movement inside the compartment}. I got out my tape measure to double check and both brands magnets are exactly the same size {21mm x 4mm}.

connetix and learn & grow magnet size comparison

STRUCTURAL INTEGRITY & SAFETY


Both Learn & Grow and Connetix magnetic tiles are made from non-toxic food grade ABS plastic that is BPA and Phthalate free. The magnetic tiles from both brands are made using ultrasonic plastic welding for added durability and strength. Ultrasonic welding joins thermoplastics by using high frequency mechanical motions to create heat, which causes localised melting and welds the plastic together by creating a strong molecular bond. Ultrasonic welding provides an extremely strong hold without affecting the integrity of the product and without the need for solvents or glue. Both brands also use rivets in the corners of the magnetic tiles for added safety.

Learn & Grow use internal bracing for added strength within each tile, whereas Connetix use a bevelled design instead of bracing {on the majority of their tiles}. The bevelled design means both sides of the magnetic tile slope inward to a central point which provides strength within the tile, forgoing the need for additional bracing.




MAGNETIC TILE SHAPES


The individual size of the magnetic tiles in each set are the same. There are however slight variations in the window tiles and hollow squares {as shown below}. The Connetix windows have square cut outs whereas the Learn & Grow windows have octagon cut outs. The Learn & Grow hollow squares also have a slightly thicker edge so the opening is smaller than the Connetix tile. Learn & Grow also don't have any fence tiles in any of their sets.

learn and grow and connetix hollow and window tile comparison

The number of magnetic tiles in each set is slightly different, Connetix sets have 100 & 62 pieces whereas Learn & Grow have 110 & 64 pieces. The amount of each shape of tile in the large and standard sets of each brand varies as well. On a cost/tile breakdown they are both similarly priced, with only a few cents per tile difference depending on the pack.

The Learn & Grow 110 pack has slightly more square, equilateral triangle, right angle triangle, isosceles triangle, rectangle and window tiles. It also has a car base included, however it doesn't have any fence pieces whereas the Connetix 100 pack comes with 6 fences. Both packs come with the same number of large squares and hollow squares.

connetix vs learn & grow magnetic tiles large pack comparison

The Learn & Grow 64 pack has slightly more tiles than the Connetix 62 piece set, however once again the number and type of tiles included varies between each pack. Learn & Grow have more small squares and isosceles triangles, however they have less right angled triangles and large squares. The other main difference is that Connetix come with four hollow squares and Learn & Grow doesn't include any, and Learn & Grow include four small rectangles while Connetix doesn't include any. Both sets contain the same number of equilateral triangles and window tiles.

62 64 piece magnetic tile set comparison


TRANSPARENCY & COLOUR REFRACTIONS


Both Connetix and Learn & Grow tiles are transparent, however due to the bevelled design of Connetix tiles they appear completely transparent when looking through the tiles, whereas Learn & Grow tiles do have internal bracing visible. Learn & Grow tiles do seem to have a slightly more vibrant colour and a clear glass like finish compared to our Connetix {our Connetix have been played with for four months longer than our Learn & Grow tiles, so this may be a contributing factor}.

connetix and learn and grow magnetic tile tower comparison

magnetic tile comparison


Both brands have beautiful bright colour refractions when placed in direct sunlight. Although the Connetix have no visible bracing, the concave slope lines of the tiles are visible in the refractions.





COMPATIBILITY  WITH OTHER MAGNETIC TILES


Learn & Grow and Connetix tiles can be used interchangeably with each other as they're the same size and style of magnets. They can also be used with all other block style magnetic tile sets on the market including Playmags, Picasso Tiles, Magna Tiles and Kmart block magnetic tiles. They're not compatible with Magformers or Earth Tiles.


connetix and learn and grow feature and benefits comparison table



LEARN & GROW VS CONNETIX CAR BASES


Both Connetix and Learn & Grow have magnetic car bases available. At this point in time the Learn & Grow car bases cannot be purchased separately, however one comes included in the 110 tile pack. The Connetix car bases are available separately in the car pack which includes 2 car bases and 22 magnetic tiles or as part of the 212pc mega pack which includes 2 purple car bases. Connetix car bases in the car pack currently only come in red and in the 212pc mega pack come in purple, Learn & Grow car bases are currently only available in green.

connetix and learn and grow magnetic cars

TRANSPARENCY


The car bases are just as transparent as the normal magnetic tiles for each brand. Once again the Learn & Grow do appear to be slightly clearer than Connetix, however they do have more internal bracing visible.
connetix vs learn & grow magnetic car bases

WHEELS


Learn & Grow car wheels are standard plain plastic wheels, whereas the Connetix wheels are shrink wrapped with rubber giving them a proper tyre tread and feel.

connetix vs learn & grow car tyre comparison

CAR SIZE & COMPATIBILITY


The Connetix and Learn & Grow car bases are the exact same length, width and height. Although the car bases are the same size, the connecting loop holes and nodules are slightly different. The Connetix hole and nodule are both smaller than Learn & Grow. In addition to this the Connetix nodule faces up from the base of the car, whereas the Learn & Grow nodule comes down from the top of the car. They are however still compatible, but only when the Learn & Grow car base hole is connected onto the Connetix car base {see image below}.

connetix and learn and grow magnetic car bases




CONNETIX BALL RUN VS LEARN & GROW BALL RUN


Both Learn & Grow and Connetix now have their own ball run expansion packs which can be used with existing magnetic tile sets to create magnetic ball runs. As with their normal tiles, both brands are interchangeable so the Connetix ball run can be used with Learn & Grow magnetic tiles and the Learn & Grow ball run can be used with Connetix magnetic tiles. Both ball runs will also be compatible with Playmags, Picasso Tiles and Magna Tiles.

LEARN & GROW MAGNETIC BALL RUN


The Learn & Grow magnetic ball run pieces are all coloured to create multicoloured rainbow ball runs matching the colours of the Learn & Grow tiles. The Learn & Grow ball run is an 84 piece set which includes:
  • 32 Squares
  • 10 U shapes
  • 10 corners
  • 10 short straights
  • 6 long straights
  • 10 slides
  • 2 super bowls
  • 1 wave
  • 3 balls
  • Instruction booklet

learn and grow magnetic ball run set up

Learn & Grow ball runs can be purchased from The Creative Toy Shop, Growing Kind and other online stores. Find a full list of stockists here.

CONNETIX MAGNETIC BALL RUN


The Connetix ball run pack has just launched in November 2020 and the fundamental difference is that all of the ball run pieces are clear. While this means they don't blend in with the other tile colours, it does allow children to see the ball zooming through the ball run a lot clearer. The Connetix ball run also comes with a few more pieces and has stair pieces and Y split tube pieces. The Connetix ball run is a 92 piece set and comes with:
  • 36 x Connecting squares
  • 6 x Wooden Balls
  • 2 x Y Shape Split Tubes
  • 2 x Long Stairs
  • 2 x S Bend Tubes
  • 8 x U Shaped Tubes (180 degree bend)
  • 8 x Slide Tubes
  • 12 x Right Angle Tubes (90 degree bend)
  • 6 x Long Straight Tubes
  • 8 x Short Straight Tubes
  • 2 x Bowls
  • Idea Booklet

connetix ball run with clear pieces


SO, WHICH MAGNETIC TILE BRAND IS BETTER?


Learn & Grow and Connetix magnetic tiles are comparable in size, strength, durability, quality and price {cost/tile is only a few cents difference between each brand depending which pack you're buying}. What it really comes down to is the following questions and which you value more.

  • How many pieces do you want per pack? 
  • Are you happy with visible internal bracing? 
  • Do you prefer to get car bases included in a set or a separate pack?
  • Do you want cars with realistic wheels, or are you happy with plain wheels?
  • Do you want fence tiles?
  • Do you want a marble run with coloured or clear pieces?
  • Do you want stair or Y split tubes in your ball run? 

What I can say is that in our household they both get lots of love and magnetic tiles are by far the most played with toys out of everything we own, for both my 3yr old and 7yr old. The girls happily play with both brands interchangeably and don't appear to gravitate towards one brand over the other.

It's also important to note that one set will never be enough. While it's a smart idea to buy one set to start out with to make sure your kids will be interested in magnetic tiles, you'll quickly realise the more tiles the better. We have a 110pc Learn & Grow set, 100pc Connetix set, 62pc Connetix set and a Connetix car pack and the girls would still love more tiles.

magnetic tile tower house


WHERE TO BUY CONNETIX AND LEARN & GROW MAGNETIC TILES


Connetix and Learn & Grow are both Australian brands, however they can be shipped internationally from certain stores. Connetix are available from www.connetixtiles.com and ship almost worldwide {check locations on their website}. They're also available in Australia from Growing KindEntropy Toys and a number of other online toy stores, educational suppliers and therapy services. For a full list of stockists click here.

Learn & Grow magnetic tiles can be purchased within Australia and internationally from The Creative Toy Shop. They're also available in Australia at Growing Kind and a growing list of online toy stores. For a full list of stockists click here.

MAGNETIC TILE PLAY IDEAS



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Disclosure - We were kindly gifted a set of Learn & Grow tiles for the purpose of a comparison review {we already owned Connetix tiles}. All opinions are our own based on our experience using each brand of magnetic tiles. While we did not receive monetary compensation for this review, there are some affiliate links within this post which means I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you, should you make a purchase.

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