- What: Q-BA-MAZE Marble Run Sets
- When: 5 years and up
- Why: Creative, storable, expandable
- Where: Amazon
My kids all love marble runs, whether they see them set up for demonstrations in toy stores or at home. We now have two different sets, and Q-BA-MAZE works much better than the other types.
Q-BA-MAZE comes with square basic building blocks made from various translucent colors. Our set includes red, yellow, green, blue and clear pieces to create different marble runs. You can buy a starter set at several different price points. If your kids love it as much as mine, you can get various expansion sets for future gifting occasions. Sets also come in rainbow colors like pink, purple, orange, and turquoise, as well as warm colors (orange, yellow, and red) and cool colors (blues and greens).
Q-BA-MAZE cube blocks have outlets on the sides or bottom. Some of the blocks have only one outlet on the side, and some have two, for a total of three types of basic building blocks. You slide the outlet rim onto the top of another piece to connect them and start making fun creations. Once you finish, you drop in a marble or four and see what happens. You can make adjustments by switching pieces in and out or adding additional blocks, usually without crashing the entire thing.
We store all our pieces easily in one small storage cube, unlike our other set, which comes with many different sizes pieces that are hard to store and even harder to decipher. We have a few so-called stunt pieces from Q-BA-MAZE but they also fit into the bin for storage.
My only complaint about our set is that the marbles end up under a building block at the bottom. That means we have to lift or tilt our entire creation to get them out and drop them in again. You have to buy the marble catchers to fix this problem. Even though they only cost about $7, I feel like they should come included in the basic sets.
All the pieces use the same type of connection. While it might not be immediately intuitive, and building stable creations can get tricky even for adults, once you figure it out, you don’t need the instructions any more. With our other set, I need the illustrations every single time and I have an engineering degree.
With the tiny silver marbles, I wouldn’t recommend it for a household with kids under three, even though we’ve had our set for more than two years and my youngest just recently turned three. I confiscated the marbles into a small Tupperware type container and stored them up high out of everyone’s reach. We have still managed to lose almost half of them. Luckily each expansion set comes with more marbles, so we have plenty on hand. (Full disclosure: My kids can reach the storage container now and I haven’t bothered to find a new place to store it.)