Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Best Magnetic Tile Set

Magnetic tiles are awesome:
  • they keep kids entertained for hours
  • they encourage both solitary play AND group play
  • they are a STEM toy
Wondering what brand of magnetic tiles you should splurge on for that special kid in your life?  Trust me, I know the feeling.  Type in "magnetic tiles" into Amazon and you'll get a crazy amount of results.

I have tried many brands and can help you decide. When I first started trying out different brands, I had the goal in mind that I wanted to find the "perfect" magnetic tile.  Now I realize that there is no perfect brand because everyone has different preferences.

Magnetic tiles are all basically ABS plastic that has been welded or riveted (or both) around magnets.  Most of the sets sold on Amazon conform with all applicable toy standards (contact the seller/company for a double confirmation). 

Appearance-wise, there are two types; smooth and concave. 

I like the completely smooth ones but many people like the concave ones because they minimize scratching.  The lattice work varies among brands.

Here are some of my brand recommendations for each type.  I consider all of these brands as competitively priced.  Their magnetic strength is also similar.

Smooth surface magnetic tile brand recommendations:

Playmags:  This brand has the strongest magnetic power of all the brands that I have tested.  The company has good customer service and the tiles have a 1-year warranty.

ShapeMags Magnetic Stick N Stack:  This brand is one of my favorites because it has so many different sets, especially super cool add-on sets like long tunnel peices and hexi-gates.  They also have recently released sets with Power+ magnets, which are supposed to be super strong, making them strong competition with Playmags (I have not tried any of their new sets yet so cannot confirm).  It is also one of my favorites because every tile is 100% life-time guaranteed.  They have replaced several of my pieces.

Concave surface magnetic tile brand recommendations:

Magnesia Tiles:  This newer brand is unique because it come with play figures.  My kids love this brand.  The company has a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

Brain Power MagTiles:  This newer brand is cool because while it only sells a 65-piece set, this set includes four large squares...so if you buy two sets, then you have 130 pieces, of which 8 are large squares, all for about $70 total.  This is a very competitely priced brand!  It has a 100% money-back guarantee.

Some things to note:

  • In my experience, the car pieces break easily.
  • Plastic clickins/stilemags are not used by my kids very much.
  • The "less is more motto" does not work with magnetic tiles and kids.  You're gonna want MORE...at least 60 tiles per kid.
  • Some brands have been around for awhile and have good company stability (like Playmags, Picasso, ShapeMags...).  But there are a lot of brands that are fairly new so the company could possibly go out of business.  You'll want to keep that in mind if you want a company that offers guarantees.  For instance, two brands that I bought (MagnoMagic and My Little Architect) seem to have gone out of business because they are no longer available from Amazon.
  • No matter what set you get, I must implore you to get the tunnel add-on set from ShapeMags.  Those pieces are hands-down the best for inspiring creativity and getting your kids to play magnetic tiles even longer. ;)
  • I haven't tested MagnaTiles, nor do I intend on recommending this company to readers because they are super expensive and have only a 30-day satisfaction guarantee (which only applies to sets bought directly from their website).
I hope this post has helped you.  Happy Magnetic Tile Shopping!!!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Smith's Clicklist Tips and Solutions for Frustrating Computer Problems

I had another Smith's Clicklist adventure today.  There were a few "bumps in the road" with this order and I am still learning how to get my order submitted faster, but I am still happy with Smith's Clicklist.

I love being able to shop Smith's super-duper great sales, use coupons, and not even have to step foot into the store.  I feel like a valued customer and I'm saving a lot of time and energy (a big plus for this pregnant mama).  Check out this table full of food...all for a grand total of $105.48 and I'm just a casual couponer these days.
Smith's Clicklist Haul for $105.48
There's a lot of food in that picture, including five pizzas, eight pounds of meat, 12 boxes of cereal, and a Bountiful Basket's worth of produce! :)

I learned some more things that I would like to share with you.

Items missing on Smith's Clicklist online database:  This week Smith's was having a killer deal on Goldfish Crackers (89 cents a package...booyaa!).  But when I typed in Goldfish into the search bar, the only thing that came up was goldfish fish food (umm, not what I was looking for...).  So I tried typing in many different options and finally decided to just call Smith's, and the worker had me type in more variations of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Crackers and even type in the UPC code but...NOPE, still not coming up.  Solution:  She told me to put any brand box of crackers in my cart, then click "View Cart", then type into the comment box (next to the "substitutions allowed" box) what I actually wanted.  Random FYI:  The database is showing Goldfish crackers today.

Flavors missing on Smith's Clicklist online database:  For Dreyer's ice cream, the online database selection did not show a lot of flavors that I knew my local Smith's carried..like Mint Chip.  Solution: Put the brand of ice cream you want into your cart, click "View Cart", then type into the comment box the flavor you actually want.

Putting together an online order is taking too much time:  With all the glitches, it took me a lot of time to get my online order put together.  In addition, I was shopping a Buy__Save___ Mix & Match Sale, I had to make sure that I got the right amount in the cart.  Solution:  I figure this is just a time-sucking "learning curve" and that I will be able to get my online shopping cart into order faster and faster.  I had to take some deep breaths and remind myself that I wasn't having to go from aisle to aisle myself and still saving time.  Also, if I was not shopping the sales specifically and just stocking up for the week, there is a "Start My Cart" tab which show items that you personally buy on a regular basis.  Just a few click click clicks, and you are on your way.

Substitutions and Items out of Stock:  So they didn't have a couple of items that I wanted and they made substitutions.  Solutions:  What was great about the substitutions is that the associates knew that I was shopping the Mix&Match sale, and so they made substitutions in a way that I would still be able to get all the needed items to still qualify for the sale.  For example, they gave me two more boxes of Post Shredded Wheat to make up for the two boxes of Post Blueberry Sunrise I ordered that actually weren't part of the Mix&Match sale.  I was totally fine with this.  I would not have been fine with them giving me sugary cereal substitute.  The associates that were serving me were obviously well-trained in how to substitute items and also brought these substitutes to my attention as we went over my order.  So be reasonably flexible!  You can read more about how Smith's does substitutions here.

So...don't give up on learning Smith's Clicklist.  I'm not giving up, even with the learning curve frustrations I've encountered, because the time&energy-saving potential of Smith's Clicklist is just plain awesome.  And don't forget, the service fee is waived for your first three orders.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Why use Smith's Clicklist? Here are 5 reasons!

I've been wanting to try Smith's online grocery pick up service Clicklist for a long time and finally got around to trying it.  I was afraid it would take too long to learn the Clicklist "ropes" and also afraid that I would get ripped off.  But the opposite is true and I'm pretty excited.  If you have been thinking about trying Clicklist, I encourage you to give it a try.  Right now, they are waiving the Clicklist Fee ($4.95) for your first three times using Clicklist.  FYI, I have no problem paying the fee in the future because of the following reasons. :)

 5 reasons to shop Smith's Clicklist

So I got all the above groceries for $39.56 from Smith's but I didn't even have to step foot into the store.  I was able to shop their sales, get my staples, and use coupons too.  I know, that's like a savvy shopping homemakers dream come true.  Read on for all the details.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Why are Magna-Tiles so expensive? 4 things you need to know about Magna-Tiles.

I am NOT including Magna-Tiles in my magnetic tile review series for 4 reasons:
  • Magna-Tiles are expensive (well over a $1.00 per tile)!  You are paying for the brand name because, like most other magnetic tiles, Magna-Tiles are also made of high grade ABS plastic and simple ceramic magnets.
  • Magna-Tiles have only five different magnetic shapes in their 100 piece set.  If you want unique pieces, you need to buy a deluxe or expansion set.
  • Magna-Tiles' customer service is mediocre (You have to buy directly through their website to their 30 day satisfaction guarantee).
  • Magna-Tiles quality has gone downhill.  Apparently, the old Magna-Tiles used to be super strong. and the new-style is much weaker.  See this youtube video called "Magna-Tiles by Valtech: Old-style vs. New-style".  

If the current style of Magna-Tiles could do what the old style could do in that youtube video, then I would be so happy and feel confident in purchasing. (Please note, I know of no other brand of magnetic tiles--except PlayMags for one brief episode that I never could repeat--that can do what this video shows the old style Magna-Tiles doing.)

When I contacted the company about their strength and quality declining, they responded, saying,
“The materials for the product have not changed in 20 years :)”.
The response was a little evasive, if you ask me.

Their materials may not have changed, but their design certainly has.  In 2011, Magna-Tiles added metal rivets to their tiles.  I think the design change resulted in a weaker tile that was just too heavy to perform as it used to.  Or perhaps the magnets had to be weaker to conform to current toy safety standards.

Here is a close-up picture of the old-style versus new-style.
Why don't Magna-Tiles go on sale?
Magna-Tiles has a “Minimum Advertised Price Policy” which means that retailers have to advertise it for a certain company approved price.  If you're waiting for them to go on sale, stop waiting because even if a store is going to put them on sale, they wouldn't be able to advertise the sale price because of their "Minimum Advertised Price Policy".

Where can I get the best deal on Magna-Tiles?
If you are set on buying Magna-Tiles, then I recommend that you get them from Barnes and Noble using the 30% Kids Club coupon.  You would be subject to Barnes & Noble's return policy which is pretty strict ("Returns are accepted within 14 days of the date that you received your order. All returned items must be in their original condition; shrink-wrapped products must be unopened.") OR you could try a Lakeshore Learning store and use one of their store coupons (during Christmas they usually have Buy 1 item Get 1 item 50% OFF store coupons).  OR if you have a Target % OFF coupon/code, you could try buying from Target.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Mega Magnetic Tile Series: Playmags Review

When I first began testing out sets for this magnetic tile review series, I bought this 5-piece stabilizer set from Playmags. It quickly became apparent that the Playmag tiles were super strong and very well built, but I didn't know how to thoroughly show that on my blog with just five tiles. The Playmag company very generously stepped in and sent me two sets to test out. Thanks!

Playmags 100-piece set (with 18 bonus Clickin pieces) are currently on sale and only $57.99 on Amazon. That's only 58 cents per magnetic tile (I am not counting the bonus Clickin pieces in the tile average because they don't contain magnets BUT they are unique addition to this set).  I have followed this brand for a couple of years and the current price is the lowest I have ever seen, so if you are considering this set, don't delay. Amazon prices can change by the hour. This set include the following shapes:

Snippet from Amazon
Read on for more details!