We’ve reviewed our fair share of toys over the last number of years, including one of the most iconic construction toys on the entire planet: LEGO. Yet somehow, a new toy has entered the Roffel household that is like no other, that has captured the imagination of my kids, even weeks after we first opened it up. I’m talking about GraviTrax, a marble track STEM toy from Ravensburger, one that has already taken Europe by storm, and is now invading North America.
Here is a description courtesy of Ravensburger:
“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 concepts 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!”
Courtesy of Ravensburger, we were give the base Starter Set, along with all the currently released expansions.
— Adam Roffel (@AdamRoffel) August 28, 2019
GraviTrax is definitely a flashy toy, and it looks really cool. That being said, not everything that comes packaged with flash and flair delivers on what is most important – the usefulness and playability of the toy. To date, marble track toys haven’t been all that in-depth, ranging from mass produced plastic tubes that carry metal spheres down from the top of the track to the bottom, or homemade wooden sets that function much the same. Never has anyone really attempted to do what Ravensburger has done, and that is what sets GraviTrax apart.
The Roffel boys review tons of toys week-in and week-out, and while the generally enjoy them all – we have a policy not to demo and video toys we don’t enjoy or that we think are cheap in quality – the desire to play with them is quickly replaced by the next new toy that passes into the house. GraviTrax has bucked that trend in a hard way. Since our set was delivered three weeks ago, the kids have been making new and unique tracks day after day, despite new toys sitting on the table waiting to be played with and reviewed.
— Adam Roffel (@AdamRoffel) August 27, 2019
But here is the real secret – GraviTrax isn’t just for kids. Once the house quiets down, my wife and I have also brought the set and expansion upstairs and began creating our own magnificent tracks, complete with loops, cannons, and more. GraviTrax, while stimulating many of the STEM principles we want kids to learn and grow with, is a universal experience, and literally fun for all ages.
When the company claimed you could sit down again and again, with new creations every time, I was fairly skeptical. How different could this marble track be from others? The answer: very. With the included magnetic cannon – which uses the force of the ball, along with magnets, to transfer the energy from the incoming ball to the outgoing ball, which can actually push the ball uphill. For the most part, gravity has been the only factor in marble track toys. You drop the ball at the top, and as per the laws of gravity, it will eventually pass to the bottom. That changes here, in a fun and educational way.
It’s not just the included cannon that can send ball hurling up slopes and onto new levels; other optional expansion track pieces – retailing for 12.99 in Canada – also can move the ball upwards, including the swinging hammer which will knock the ball forward, but also via a launcher accessories that will sling a ball like a catapult to a new area of your track.
Once you put all these unique pieces together, the track possibilities really do become endless. Our family begin to think up the unimaginable, and tried to make it happen – sometimes it would work, and sometimes it wouldn’t. But throughout the entire experience, we always had fun building, even if our creation didn’t work as expected.
Check your retailer for this starter kit and expansion sets! New sets this fall!! pic.twitter.com/JtvdWqBmcf
— Adam Roffel (@AdamRoffel) August 27, 2019
Initially, my kids would complain that the set was ‘broken’ because of how easily the ball could fall off the track, especially when it came to tight turns. While this concept makes sense to a young mind, I knew exactly what the problem was – the kids build wasn’t taking into account simple physics, including the speed of the ball and the degree of the turn. After some quick education on how these things worked, the kids quickly understood the need to perhaps increase the height of the track after using the magnetic cannon, especially if a corner was coming up.
Watching the kids learn as they played was one of the greatest joys for myself personally. This is a fantastic toy, but my kids were learning. Learning how to slow the ball down to make a tight corner, and how to speed the ball up to climb a small hill. Watching their minds work through the various problems was fantastic, and we cannot wait for more tracks in the future.
Ravensburger did set us up with the starter kit and numerous accessories so we could build bigger and better tracks, but we have made additional purchases all on our own – this is how much we believe in this product, not only for the entertainment it provides, but also the educational experience it inevitably evolves into!
GraviTrax has been nominated for awards in Europe, and surely will get some in North America as well. This is our toy of 2019 to date, and with only a few months before the holiday season, it’s likely going to capture that top spot!
We will have more on GraviTrax in the next few weeks, including reviews of the various accessories available now, and all new accessories coming this fall!