Categories: FeaturedReviewsToys

GraviTrax Expansions: Which Ones Are Worth Your Money?

Gravitrax Expansions, Image: Sophie Brown

Last summer, my son and I were sent a set of Gravitrax toys for review and ended up loving this elaborate and creative toy. Today, we’re still playing with it regularly and have been taking a look at six of the latest GraviTrax expansions now available to make your GraviTrax system even more impressive than ever before.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links.

What Is GraviTrax?

GraviTrax is a next-generation marble run building system. You can read my original review of the system from 2018 here on GeekMom, but to recap, a Gravitrax track is built from hexagonal pieces that slot into a large cardboard grid that gives the system exceptional stability. The GraviTrax system uses plastic curves connected by thin rails that are raised by towers created from stacks of other pieces. These tower pieces come in thick and thin heights and can be stacked in any order to give lots of flexibility in how tall you build each tower. The GraviTrax expansions are various stunt pieces that increase the complexity and interest of the tracks—and that’s why we’re here today.

The New GraviTrax Expansions

Ravensburger sent my ten-year-old son and me six of the latest GraviTrax expansions to try out. We rated them over four different features as follows:

Easy to Incorporate: How easy is it to actually use this expansion in a GraviTrax course?

Fun: Is it fun to play with?

Consistency: How consistently did each expansion do what it was supposed to do? For this, we used each piece 10 times in an identical setup and recorded how often it worked correctly.

Value for Money: Is the expansion worth the cost?

Remember that in order to use any of these expansions, you’ll first need a Gravitrax Starter Set.

Gravitrax Volcano, Image: Sophie Brown

Volcano

What Does It Do?

The Volcano expansion releases three marbles when a button is pressed, either by a person or by a previously released marble rolling into it. This means it can either be used as a starting piece or to set off additional marbles in the middle of a track without the need for human intervention.

What’s in the Box?

  • One Volcano Piece
  • One Long Rail
  • Two Medium Rails
  • Three Short Rails
  • Instructions and Example Layout Sheet

Easy to Incorporate: 8/10
The Volcano was one of the easiest GraviTrax expansions to include in our track designs, simply because it can be used to open up entirely new sections, thus helping to create even longer tracks.

Fun: 9/10
Watching the marbles lift out of the Volcano like an unfurling flower when the button is hit is weirdly satisfying.

Consistency: 10/10
Provided the button is pressed firmly enough, it worked perfectly every time.

Value for Money: 9/10
Helps build longer tracks and works consistently, this is probably one of the best expansions available.

Total Score: 36/40

Gravitrax Lifter, Image: Sophie Brown

Lifter

What Does It Do?

The Lifter expansion, as might be obvious from the name, lifts marbles vertically to three different levels depending on how many pieces you use to build it. It needs to be manually operated each time by a button and can send marbles in different directions at the top.

What’s in the Box?

  • One Lift Piece (in Four Separate Parts)
  • Seven Silver Marbles
  • One Transparent Level
  • Eight Large Height Hexagons
  • Four Small Height Hexagons
  • One Long Rail
  • Two Medium Rails
  • Three Short Rails
  • Instructions and Example Layout Sheet

Easy to Incorporate: 9/10
It needs to be used in a multilayer track but is very flexible because it can be built in different configurations. It’s also helpful for bringing marbles back up a level (or three), which is very useful for helping to make longer tracks.

Fun: 9/10
My son really loves using the Lifter, which surprised me somewhat as I thought he would be annoyed at having to manually operate it each time. He enjoys seeing how the lifting mechanism works.

Consistency: 10/10
The Lifter worked perfectly every time we used it, although you need to remember to operate it manually, unlike most of the other expansions featured here.

Value for Money: 8/10
While the Lifter is almost twice the price of all the other GraviTrax expansions, you get a lot more in the box including a useful level piece and stackers to add height.

Total Score: 36/40

Gravitrax TipTube, Image: Sophie Brown

TipTube

What Does It Do?

The TipTube expansion stacks three marbles inside itself then tips them out at a 45-degree angle from the direction they approached and at a fractionally lower level.

What’s in the Box?

  • One TipTube Piece (in Two Parts)
  • One Silver Marble
  • One Long Rail
  • Two Medium Rails
  • Three Short Rails
  • Instructions and Example Layout Sheet

Easy to Incorporate: 9/10
The TipTube is great for creating a sharp direction change that is difficult to achieve with the standard plastic curves.

Fun: 9/10
It’s not the most visually-thrilling expansion, but it is fun to watch when it finally tips over.

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Consistency: 10/10
The TipTube worked perfectly every time, but it does need three marbles to run down to it before it will operate.

Value for Money: 9/10

Total Score: 37/40

Gravitrax Trampoline, Image: Sophie Brown

Trampoline

What Does It Do?

Marbles drop down onto the Trampoline expansion and are bounced to another section of track which may be slightly higher up. If you can get it to work. This is by far the least consistent and most difficult of the GraviTrax expansions to work with.

What’s in the Box?

  • Two Trampoline Pieces
  • Two Angled Pieces (for Controlling Direction of Bounce)

Easy to Incorporate: 4/10
This was by far the hardest to set up and even when we thought we had it positioned just right, it would frequently fail with no warning—especially when multiple marbles bounced off it in quick succession.

Fun: 6/10
This one is great when it works well but getting to that point is highly frustrating, even for adults, and younger kids will almost certainly give up on it before the fun can start.

Consistency: 5/10
When it’s set up perfectly, using one of the example tracks from the instructions, we could achieve 8/10. However, this thing is so finicky that building your own track designs with it is incredibly hard, and we quickly found that this expansion was staying in its box far more often than it was coming out.

Value for Money: 3/10
It’s fun but too inconsistent. You’ll be better off with something else unless you’re looking to complete the set. This GraviTrax expansion also has by far the least amount of stuff in the box with no bonus parts beyond the trampoline itself.

Total Score: 18/40

Gravitrax Flip, Image: Sophie Brown

Flip

What Does It Do?

The Flip expansion flips marble up to a higher level and back in the same direction they came from. It’s kind of hard to explain in writing, so it’s probably best if you watch the video below.

What’s in the Box?

  • One Flip Piece
  • One Long Rail
  • Two Medium Rails
  • Three Short Rails

Easy to Incorporate: 5/10
The Flip was tricky to work with because it needs to be positioned beside an upper level with the marble approach below it. This makes it very hard to access it when things go wrong.

Fun: 8/10
The Flip is a lot of fun to watch. I think it was probably my favorite of all the GraviTrax expansions so far.

Consistency: 9/10
I was surprised with the consistency here, simply because of how energetic this expansion is. I expected the marbles to go flying off all over the place, but they went where they were supposed to the vast majority of the time.

Value for Money: 7/10
The difficulty in incorporating the Flip impacts its score here because it makes it less likely to be used in track building, but it’s high fun and consistency make it a good expansion otherwise.

Total Score: 29/40

Gravitrax Scoop, Image: Sophie Brown

Scoop

What Does It Do?

The Scoop expansion scoops the ball up and flips it over to the next section, carrying on in the same direction.

What’s in the Box?

  • One Scoop Piece (in seven pieces – this is the only expansion that requires significant construction before first use)
  • Two Silver Marbles
  • One Long Rail
  • Two Medium Rails
  • Three Short Rails

Easy to Incorporate: 9/10
As it simply carries a marble along in the same direction it came from with no level shifts, this is one of the easiest GraviTrax expansions to incorporate.

Fun: 8/10
The Scoop is great for making an otherwise dull piece of straight track into something much more interesting to watch.

Consistency: 10/10
Despite its enthusiasm, the Scoop is remarkably consistent and worked perfectly every time we tried it.

Value for Money: 9/10
While not the most thrilling of all the GraviTrax expansions we tried, this one does a good job of adding interest to dull parts of a track.

Total Score: 36/40

Which GraviTrax Expansions Should I Buy?

Every GraviTrax expansion has its pros and cons and each one will undoubtedly add fun and interest to your track construction. That being said, after all our tests, I came out with a clear favorite. For me, even though it didn’t gain the highest score, the Lifter expansion is the pack I would recommend if you were to purchase just one. Why? That content list. The Lifter expansion comes with so much more than all the others which means you will get a whole lot more use out of it.

Of course, the Lifter expansion also costs about double the amount of the others, which is an obvious negative. For those looking for a cheaper expansion option, the TipTube expansion is our top choice and scored an impressive 37/40 in our challenge. It works as close to flawlessly as possible, includes several bonus pieces (plus an extra marble which is always a valuable asset), is easy to work into your track designs, and is fun to watch, making it an ideal expansion at a low price.

The one expansion I would advise avoiding is the Trampoline. Scoring just 18/40 in our challenge, it was inconsistent, hard to use, and included the least amount of bonus pieces which made it poor value for money. While it looks cool and is probably the most fun to watch when it actually works, it’s just not worth your money in my opinion unless you’re looking for a complete set of all the expansions.

Our GraviTrax set is one of the few toys that get consistent use in our house. It can be built and rebuilt in endless ways and is structurally sound enough to handle rough play from a bunch of boisterous ten-year-olds experimenting to cause as much mayhem and noise as possible. I love seeing my son and his friends clustered around my dining table figuring out how to make the most interesting tracks—even if that does lead to occasional arguments.

GraviTrax is a toy I love and will recommend again and again, and these expansions will serve to make it even better.

GeekMom received these toys for review purposes.

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This post was last modified on December 5, 2019 7:33 pm

View Comments

  • Hi there,
    We just purchased the Gravitrax Obstacle Set as a gift for our son. I was wondering about buying some expansion packs to go with it BUT I noticed on all the expansion boxes it reads “Only playable with the Starter Pack”. Do you know if the "Obstacle Set" is considered a "Starter Pack"?

  • This was great, thank you so much for helping me choose my son's christmas gifts! :-) Now we have played with the starter kit, volcano, lifter and catapult and immediately feel the need for more basic pieces to build bigger tracks. I am a little bit confused over which one to choose of "Expansion building" and "Expansion trax". Or will we need both for balance..? Have you tried them?

  • I have all the sets and am over 50 years old. Wished they had this when I was a kid. I use it myself and do youtube videos and also have gotten my 9 year old nephews into it. There are currently, as of January 2021, several starter sets, including the original starter set, the obstacle set, and the pro vertical set. The only real reason you need these sets is because you get a starter piece that you don't get anywhere else (although you could use a catch piece or the volcano expansion to start your marbles) and you get more base plates, level plates, height tiles, track, rail tiles and marbles than you could get any other way. After having a starting set, you usually want to expand and build larger marble runs. Gravitrax has many expansions right now. There are fun expansions that are single pieces or several pieces grouped together that perform what I call a trick (examples are tunnels, bridges, trampoline, zipline, looping, tip tube, spiral, transfer, mixer and splitter). These pieces are just fun in various ways and add interest to your track layouts. Then there are expansions that are more functional and provide acceleration vertically or horizontally. These pieces are important for larger layouts as Gravitrax works 98% on gravity and these pieces can lift marbles back up to higher points on your layout, which of course means the marble gets to come down again (examples include magnetic cannons, hammer, flip, scoop, jumper, and lift). Then there are expansions that add more height, track and rail tiles or level tiles. Important because you can never have enough height tiles. What goes up or starts up must come down and the higher you start the longer your marble run can be without using as many acceleration expansions.
    My advice for younger beginners is a starter set which has 1 magnetic cannon in both starter or obstacle set. The jumper or scoop expansion set is very simple and a must have for lifting the marbles up to another level as well as additional magnetic cannons. Trax expansions add additional height tiles, track and rails. After that it is just a matter of preference for what you want to do.
    Just a side note Target put its $130 obstacle set on clearance January 18, 2021 and it is currently selling for 38.99 (grab them while you can, even if you have it or another starter already beacuse you immediately double your height tiles and track pieces, along with the 6 trick and acceleration expansions that come in the set.

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