We love building toys at our house. I have been known to say that you can NEVER have too may blocks. So when I discovered Magformers, I must admit I was a little weak in the knees. When I originally saw them in our local edu-fun store, I thought they were awesome but was blown away by how expensive they were. But I couldn’t stop thinking about them, so I did some searching online and was excited to find them somewhat discounted at qvc.com. (I know, I was surprised too!) I bought two sets for Christmas, and they were worth every penny that I spent.
[Update December 2011: Currently, you can’t order Magformers anywhere, including QVC. I’ve done a little research and I can’t seem to figure out why. Maybe a supply issue in manufacturing or some issue with patents? Anyway, I hope that they resolve the issue soon. These really are one of the greatest toys of all time.]
[Update July 2012: Finally an answer! Magformers Official Website states: “Magformers manufacturing was suspended in 2010 because the price of the neodymium magnets tripled. We could no longer produce a toy with a reasonable price. The price of the magnets has fallen somewhat and we are hoping to get back into production late spring of 2012. Check our web site later and hopefully we will have Magformers available for sale again.” Click here to visit their website.]
So what are Magformers?
Magformers are plastic shape outlines that encase VERY strong magnets on each side. (So strong, you want to keep them away from anything that’s sensitive to magnetic forces.) These magnets rotate within the plastic frame, so any two pieces will always connect–you don’t have the same issues with north/south polarity that you do with other kinds of magnetic building toys. Because the frames are sturdy, you can build all kinds of three-dimensional shapes. Because the magnets rotate, you can connect the magnets in two dimensions on the floor and then slowly pull it up to create a three-dimensional shape.
While they do come with a few building suggestions, I love how open-ended this toy is. My kids have discovered all sorts of exciting, impossible-to-name three-dimensional shapes. They’ve also built houses, huge block letters, and flying space ships. This toy is so sturdy, we’ve even built a ball that we can gently toss back and forth to one another.
I personally have learned a great deal of geometry playing with this toy. I’m not one to visualize things well, so as I’ve built two- and three-dimensional shapes, my ability to visualize how geometric shapes work has increased. I can only imagine what my kid’s sponge-like brains are getting. I also love talking about how triangles, squares, and other shapes relate as we play.
Finally, I love how they appeal to all ages. They’re completely safe for babies to chew on, kids of all ages love building with them, and even adults can’t seem to keep their hands off.
As with all the resources that I talk about, I disclose any compensation I receive for reviewing something. Otherwise, it’s just me talking about things that we like in our home.