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Lianas, seal, ice crystal, cactus and in between the ball rolls through jungle, desert, ocean and ice world – our planet. With GraviTrax Junior, even the youngest can now build marble tracks. How well has Ravensburger succeeded in the new junior ball track?
Free building promotes spatial thinking and motor skills. With the new Junior marble run, the youngest children are introduced to the principle of cause and effect at an early age when studying the rolling behavior of the marble. Previously, only children aged 8 (or 7 at the earliest) could build GraviTrax marble runs. Younger siblings or the children of GraviTrax-enthusiastic parents could actually only watch. When they wanted to build and play, parts of the marble run often collapsed and building with the delicate components was unsuccessful and often led to frustration. The new GraviTrax Junior product line is designed to put an end to this. The components are designed especially for small children’s hands, are larger and less delicate, and the marble run gets a colorful, playful and cute update.
Because with GraviTrax Junior, the little builders not only build a marble run, they also design their marble run creatively with pretty decorative animals, plants and flowers and even some functional components such as tunnels are playfully designed as igloos or stone arches. With GraviTrax Junior, the ball track winds its way through the themed worlds of jungle, ice world, ocean and desert, and the little ones are supposed to be able to build tracks without any help from their parents. That sounds absolutely super, but is it true?
I let my three-year-old daughter build away together with friends ( 3 years, 4 years and 5 years). As a die-hard GraviTrax fan, my experiences with the previous GraviTrax products also flow into the pros and cons and the results of our play test.
Note: The game manufacturer Ravensburger has sent us the starter set My Planet and the Element Trap as review copies. However, this review is unpaid and reflects our honest opinion.
What’s new about this GraviTrax product line is that it’s not just about building tracks, but that you can also decorate them with decorative elements from different theme worlds. So far, there is a Starter Set Jungle (L) and a Starter Set Ice (L), each with 100 components, and also an XXL variant, the Starter Set My Planet with 200 pieces, which includes the themed worlds of Ice World, Ocean, Jungle and Desert. The smallest Starter Set S contains 38 parts purely for building without decorative parts. More information about the different Starter Sets can be found further down in the article.
So far, the GraviTrax Junior components are not compatible with GraviTrax components!
The Jungle and Ice World starter sets contain the identical track parts, only the decorative elements are either Tropics or Ice World. The My Planet starter set does not include a seesaw, but it does include parts from all previously available theme worlds, including Desert and Ocean, which are available separately as expansions.
Each starter set comes with assembly instructions with explanations in picture form. The first times you explain it to the child so and helps and after a while my little one was able to take the pictures alone to help. The instructions are folded into a poster with animals that the child can hang up.
The Starter Set My Planet has a larger package, because it contains twice as many parts as the two Starter Sets L. This is also reflected in the price, the list price of the XXL-Starer Set is twice as high as the other two smaller Starter Sets and is 100€. But the XXL set contains parts from all 4 theme worlds, the other two starter sets only contain parts for the jungle or eternal ice theme. As with the other Starter Sets, the hammer is part of the Ice Starter Set, but the seesaw is not. The target stone is larger than the XXL Starter Set. Super are the tunnel components, which are designed as a tent or igloo and through which the ball rolls.
But what is more worthwhile as a starter set? If you’re unsure whether your child is into construction toys and you’re not a GraviTrax enthusiast yourself, I recommend either the Jungle or Ice Cream Starter Set to get started. They cost half as much and there is enough included for the child to build with variety and for you to find out if it is the new favorite toy. Then you can always add on with expansions and action bricks. From the starter set Start ‘n’ Run I personally advise against, because there are too few components to build varied and lacks any decorative elements. It is more suitable as a supplement as a second starter set with components.
If the parents and big siblings are already fire and flame of GraviTrax (like me), who will be happy with the Starter Set XXL and even more components.
While with the previous GraviTrax (and GraviTrax Pro and GraviTrax Power) there are no separating chambers in the box and all the pieces fly wildly around, the box is divided into 2 chambers and there are cloth bags in which you can clean up the stones wonderfully after playing.
The big difference is that the components are larger (on average 6 cm in diameter) with rounded corners. To facilitate gripping, the surfaces are slightly curved. At a glance, the track parts look like they are made of wood and are very high quality workmanship. They are made of bio-based plastic with wood fibers mixed in. This already looks super good and feels very good in the hands. Also, the balls are larger with a diameter of 2 cm and the paths that run through are more ready.
Another difference is that there are no rails and no switches. The track is built only from components (bridges, straights, curves, slopes) and is thus more stable. However, this also means that the ball can only roll in one direction. Presumably, there will also be no rails in the future, because unlike the previous GraviTrax components are missing the recesses in which you hung the rails.
As usual, the Junior Action pieces provide variety and more speed. They are kept simple but work as usual.
Colorful, creative and still GraviTrax. Ravensburger’s new GraviTrax product line for the little ones was certainly not designed quickly to throw a product for the smallest on the market but is well thought out. The components are made of plastic mixed with wood fibers, are slightly curved and designed to be perfect for children’s hands to grip and feel comfortable. Like all GraviTrax products, there are different starter sets, extensions and action bricks for the Junior variant to combine with each other. This guarantees long-lasting fun – and in the future, new extensions and action bricks will certainly be developed regularly to bring in something new. Building and decorating marble runs will spark enthusiasm for the GraviTrax universe in even the youngest children. Anyone who has already played with their toddler with the previous GraviTrax will be thrilled to know that there are no tracks that kids have their problems with. Instead, there are bricks shaped like bridges or tunnels and lots of decoration for the little ones’ play instincts.
As you read, I and my little one are totally thrilled. But there is one drawback with the new GraviTrax Junior – it is not compatible with the previous GraviTrax. Also, no complex tracks can be built with it – but that’s not the point of it, because when the kids can build more complex, the time has come for GraviTrax. 🙂 If it were up to me, I would also want a turnout. It brings a lot of variety in building and is also easy to build for 3-year-olds.
Overall, GraviTrax Junior is just super great. Both the Jungle and Ice starter sets and the XXL starter set My Planet contain everything the little ones need (for now) for free building, role-playing and decorating. For those who do not yet have a marble run, Junior is highly recommended.
With 3-year-olds, you have to build together a few times until they can manage on their own. Very large tracks are not possible with the starter set alone – but what children from 3-5 years already build large constructs?
The pretty presentation with decorative animals, plants, flowers from the themed worlds of ocean, ice, desert and jungle make the ball track build already for children from 3 years an attractive game. The quality of the components, which fit together super even for small children’s hands, should be emphasized. A highly recommended construction game for the little ones!
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