If you Google SmartMax toys, you’ll likely come across how many awards this Belgian brand has won, and how many cool sets of these magnetic play sets you can get.
I first got a set about five years ago when they were quite new to the country. Despite sharing a name with my son, Max, he didn’t really take to the toys as much as I would have liked, since I absolutely loved constructing the balls and magnets of his set. In hindsight, the set was likely too young for him, but I’m glad I held onto it anyway as my toddler daughter loves it – she started playing with it from around 14 months, much younger than he was.
How they work
Each SmartMax set consists of balls and bars, which have a magnetic north and south pole. The cold colours, green, blue, purple and white have their north poles directed outwards. The warm colours, red, orange, yellow and pink have their south poles directed outwards. The balls are attracted by all bars, and more than 20 bars can be connected to one ball. The magnets of the long bars are stronger than those of the short bars. Long bars can lift more weight or make stronger connections.
The long pieces make it easy for kids to manipulate, and the balls and pieces are suitable for younger kids as the parts are too big to be swallowed. There’s an assembly guide in each box, but there’s no reason for kids to stick to the rules – there’s lots of opportunity for building one’s own thing, and just playing around with the pieces.
Aside from providing fun, which I think should obviously be the starting point of any toy, SmartMax says that their sets also stimulate hand-eye coordination, logical thinking, colour recognition, form recognition, counting, creativity and imagination.
The sets are available online at Takealot and Loot, and from stores Toy Zone and Toy Adventure. They start at around R220 each, and pieces from other sets can be mixed and matched.