Pros: Very fun magnetic building toy. Bright, cheerful, educational, and fun!
Cons: None really
My son is crazy about building things. His favorite activity is building with Legos, but with a just-turned 1 year old toddler who loves putting stuff in his mouth we've had to start being much more careful about little toys being left out. When I was shopping for baby's first birthday and saw the new Mega Bloks Magtastik building system on the shelf I knew it would be the perfect toy for my bigger little guy, and I wouldn't have to constantly worry about my littler little guy swallowing them!
The Magtastik Magnetic Wonder System is a new magnetic building toy from Mega Bloks. It is similar in concept to other magnetic toys where you use marbles and stick-pieces to build cool structures, except the Mega Bloks version is HUGE by comparison. Whereas most magnetic building sets use marbles, the Mega Bloks balls are roughly baseball sized (perhaps a little smaller than a baseball but larger than billiard balls).
The "Deluxe" set is the largest set currently offered (another Starter Set is similar but has fewer pieces). The 28 pieces in the deluxe set are:
* 6 colorful metal "balls" in bright, sparkly colors (silver, yellow, red, green, and blue)
* 8 short "stick" pieces. Each stick measures just over 3 inches long and has a magnet embedded in each end. Four are a translucent yellow, red, green, and blue while the other four are a solid yellow, red, green, and blue.
* 4 long "stick" pieces. Each longer stick measures just over 5 inches long and has a magnet in each end. The red and blue sticks are translucent, the yellow and green sticks are solid.
* 1 "base" piece. The bright red base consists of a central magnetic "dent" for holding one of the balls (or one of the sticks for that matter), and has 4 arms radiating out with another "dent" at the end of each arm for a total of 5 magnets. It makes a great base or can be used in the middle of your constructions too.
* 1 set of eyeballs. These are goofy, cute eyes that are good for turning the balls into faces. One eye is larger than the other, making for a friendly-but-confused sort of expression.
* 2 ears/bill pieces - two slightly curved yellow pieces that make great ears or, when placed together, make a good duck-like bill.
* 2 antennae - a green slightly tapered stick with a little yellow ball at the end, these pieces make perfect antennae (although my son also uses them as the business-end of his "ray gun" creations).
* 1 frilly disc - This yellow piece reminds me somewhat of Bozo the Clown's large frilly collar. We've used it as a base too, and my son likes using it on his "spaceships" as a propeller.
* 2 ball-holding bases - these pieces are flat on the bottom with a curve for holding a ball-piece on top. They make good bases for smaller constructions. One is red and the other is green.
* 1 goofy spring - This piece is a large blue wire that spirals up to a point with a red ball on top. It looks a bit like a Christmas tree. I usually use it on top of a creation, but my son also sometimes uses it as a tail.
The set also comes with a little booklet that has good ideas for building structures. It features things that can be built using both the "deluxe" and "starter" sets, which each have some differing pieces, so if you only get 1 set you won't be able to build everything pictured, however there is plenty you can build and it has some great examples to help jumpstart your child's creativity with these sets.
If you go to the Mega Bloks web site the toys are called "Magnetix Jr." rather than "Magtastik". I searched but could not find the reason behind this. We have multiple sets now and wherever I've seen them available for purchase (Target, Toys R Us) they've always been called "Magtastik", however others have reported seeing the "Magnetix Jr" sets at Target, so I really don't know what's up.
So far there are 2 big Magtastik sets available - the Starter Set with 19 pieces and the "Deluxe Set" with 28 pieces. There are also some small animal-figure sets that just come with the pieces to build a particular figure (a dog, a dinosaur, a monkey, etc).
Our Thoughts and Experiences:
These sets are absolutely addictive and our entire family (baby included) has had tons of fun with them. The magnets are quite strong and easy to build with. The pieces are large and easy for my young kids' hands to grasp and manipulate. I love watching my 4 year old get into the building process. When we first started building with the sets we made mostly creatures and buildings, but my son quickly developed a love of building spaceships and creative guns. I'm really not one to encourage my son to play with "guns", but these creations of his are typically pretty cute and cartoon-esque, plus he gives them such creative names ("The Nebulizer", "The Ecto Gun", "The Manta Ray"). My son's spaceships are quite impressive too, and he flies them around the house to show them off to everyone.
Not only do these sets encourage creativity, but they can also be quite educational. My son and I have worked together to create pyramids and cubes, and it is so easy to show a little one how 2-D objects can become 3-D objects with toys like these. It is also a great way to teach little ones about magnets and polarity, because if you try to put two same-poled "stick" pieces together they will oppose each other (and it is always fun to try to stick two opposing magnets together).
I purchased the Deluxe set first and it by itself was a blast. There are enough pieces to build quite large and impressive structures. It was probably a week or two before my son noticed pieces that he didn't have while looking through the little idea booklet, and he started asking us how he could get those too. Because the Deluxe set was such a hit I purchased the Starter set as well, and I can't recommend them both highly enough. The basic building pieces are the same for both sets (the sticks and balls), but the deluxe set has larger pieces and more little add-on pieces.
Unlike our little Magnetix sets (where the magnets sometimes pop out of their casings), the magnets in the Magtastik sets appear to be quite deep-seated and do not come out. Although this set is recommended for children ages 3 and up, we couldn't find any pieces that were small enough for my 1 year old to swallow (they eyes come close, and we did put up the different eyes that came with the Starter set). As my older son builds my toddler sometimes wants to get involved too, and I'm so thankful that I don't have to worry about him as he plays with the large pieces.
My only complaint would be that the box that the sets come in isn't really good for storage, so we purchased a bin to keep them in. Not a big deal, but something to mention. As with any set like this the pieces can get lost (but at least these pieces are big so they're easier to find). Also, once you start building you can get hooked and just keep wanting to add more and more and more sets to your collection...
These magnets are fairly strong and should not be used around magnetically sensitive equipment (computers, pacemakers, etc).
+) The large size is good for little hands
+) Deluxe set comes with lots of pieces
+) Bigger building pieces means bigger creations!
+) Brightly colored
+) Encourages your child's creativity
+) I don't have to worry about my toddler choking on them
+) Very easy to build with, yet very easy to take apart when you're done
+) Doesn't take up much storage space
+) Easily expandable (just buy more sets)
-) Doesn't come with a storage container/bin
-) It is addictive and you'll end up wanting more sets
I cannot say enough wonderful things about these Magtastik sets. They are a lot of fun, are quite educational, and the creations are always colorful and interesting. I highly recommend this set even if you don't have a Lego-eating baby at your house!
Mega Bloks Magtastik (Magnetix Jr) 19 Piece Starter Set
Roseart's Magnetix 70 Piece Building Set