This review was written in 2007 and our marble run selection has changed some,

but I think the marble run review will still be useful in choosing the marble run that is best for you!

 I grew up playing with a Discovery Toys marble run. I spent hours building different tracks, and experimenting letting the marbles run down to the bottom. I would roll the marbles back up each piece to the top. I would dump whole handfuls of marbles down at the same time.

I loved my marble run.

Since then I have grown up. I got married. We have a family. And we started a business, selling toys. ( Ah, the perfect thing.

I don't know where my old marble run went, but it doesn't matter because now I have access to almost every toy imaginable. I bet you can't guess what type of toy we have an unhealthy amount of space devoted to in our store? Yep, that's right. Marble Runs.

Since my husband and I are adults who like toys, and since we have 5 children who like toys and can help out... we test almost every toy we start to carry. Actually, we have about one of everything stored away to come out in rotation for our kids (a.k.a. "Quality Control") to "test". We like to measure usability, intrigue, and durability.

Of course we've tried all of the marble runs. I feel well-prepared for a marble run review.

Before we start, let me mention that marble runs are not for children under 3. Marbles can be very dangerous if little children get their hands on them! Please be careful, even with children 3 and over if they are prone to putting objects in their mouths.

Now, let's begin!

Here are the types of marble runs toys we carry (don't say I didn't warn you that it is a ridiculously large selection!)

(Galt) Classic Marble Runs

(Galt) Marble Racer Marble Runs

(Haba) Wooden Marble Runs

(Block-N-Roll) Marble Run Construction System

(Quercetti) Skyrail Roller Coaster

(Quercetti) Marble Runs

(Think-Of-It) Frigits – the Marble Run for your Refrigerator!

The Galt Classic Marble Runs were probably the first type of marble run that we carried. The biggest things that stand out to me about it is that it has a simple design (so suitable for smaller children as well as older) and that the pieces do not snap together tightly as I'd expected. (Be careful not to push too hard or the whole thing might collapse.) All in all, it is a very usable, quite popular marble run.

The Galt Marble Racer Marble Run line came out some years later. It has a special layout, so that every so often the marbles drop into a funnel. The idea is to race two marbles down, and see which one wins. The funnel pieces give both marbles a fair chance of winning. I was surprised at how much our kids enjoyed actually racing the marbles. This was definitely a "winner" at our house.

I have a hard time determining which is my favorite marble run. It is one of the next two, but they come pretty close in comparison for uniqueness and enjoyable playability in my mind. Each one serves a different user group, so at least our customers should be able to tell which they like best... as long as they're not complete marble run nuts like myself!

The Haba Wooden Marble Run line is made of a high-quality birch wood. It is truly an heirloom toy – it will last for generations.

The sets are made up of blocks for building up the run, tunnel pieces, and chute pieces for carrying the marbles. Then there is an extensive line of accessory pieces – things like a sound staircase, domino set, and ski jump! They really add a lot of fun to the whole experience.

The block pieces are unit blocks, so there is no frustration trying to get to just the right height. They stack to equal the height of the next tallest piece. There are plenty of cubes, cylinders, and rectangular pieces to accomplish your ends in building your marble run. One of the best things, is almost no two runs will ever be the same (unless you're following the sample set provided). Creativity runs wild.

The only drawback to the Haba Wooden Marble Run is that since the pieces do not interlock, young children will be prone to unintentionally pushing the pieces out of alignment. Unless they are particularly careful children (we do have one of those!) I wouldn't recommend it until a child is about 5 or 6. Along the same lines, I believe this marble run would hold the interest of an older child as well (over 10) since a lot can go into designing each course.

The Block-N-Roll Marble Construction System is my other favorite. This is another marble run where you have almost complete freedom in designing whatever course fits your fancy. There are ramp pieces, 90 degree turn pieces, straight pieces, duplo-sized building pieces, and several exciting add-ons as well. All of the pieces can be used in any combination, so that, again, no two courses will be the same. It is a very versatile set, with lots of room for creativity. We have put together a collection consisting of at least 4-5 sets. These things are strong enough to build a run to the ceiling if we felt like it!

The drawback to this set is that the interlocking system the blocks employ can lead to sore fingers if you play for too long. The sets are strong, but only because the fit tightly together... and it can be a bit much for my fingers. A pair of light gloves might be in order.

The Quercetti Skyrail Roller Coasters are a totally unique type of marble run. Instead of a usually spiraling system of runs like most of the other marble runs tend to create, the Skyrail Roller Coaster uses long "rail" pieces with intermittent supports to create a roller coaster effect! Even the small set can use up your whole living room! The marbles can run loops, curves, and ups-and-downs, all depending on what run you created.

There is a level of fine tuning each course must go through to get the speed of the marble under control so it will not fly off the rails. This is not a drawback... rather it is just part of the fun. (...and helps make it unique from the other marble runs.)

The Quercetti Marble Run line employs some of the same type of "rail" pieces (though not as long), and puts them into more of a regular "marble run" design. The stacking and building processes are unique to this brand, and my kids have spent a lot of happy time building their own courses. There is one marble run which even includes an elevator lift – which in my opinion adds a lot of appeal to the whole thing. This is another marble run that I wouldn't recommend to the younger children. It is more suitable for the 5 and up crowd.

Both Quercetti lines are very popular, especially as Christmas presents.

We finally come to the Frigits Refrigerator Marble Run. This is another very intriguing marble run. One of my children, especially, loves to play with it time and time again. The chute pieces are interesting and fun to run marbles down. I am impressed with the sturdy build and strong magnetism that keeps the pieces from sliding around the 'fridge when bumped. They also come in pretty, eye-catching colors. A couple of extra add-ons are available.