Some of us GeekMom writers are huge fans of GraviTrax (and other types of marble run sets). GeekMom Sophie has reviewed some really fun GraviTrax add-ons (here and here), and I’ve reviewed GraviTrax PRO offerings, including the Vertical starter set and expansion.
But now it’s time to add some power, control, and additional functionality with GraviTrax Power. I got to try out the GraviTrax Power Starter Set Launch. My initial hope was that the set would include something akin to the GraviTrax Lifter accessory, but that is reserved for the larger GraviTrax Power Starter Set XXL set (more on that set later).
The added power to the GraviTrax Power Starter Set Launch comes in the form of a remote control and two other powered pieces. The first powered piece is the Starter piece, where you can put all of your waiting marbles. The piece will hold onto them until you press a button on the remote or press down on the piece, and then it will release a marble down the track. The second powered piece, the Trigger, is one where, when a marble runs through it and if the colors match on the two powered pieces (more on that later), it, too, releases a marble from the Starter piece.
It’s obvious that these powered pieces are set up for more than is what is included in the Launch set. Each of the powered pieces has four color modes: off, red, blue, and green. When you set the piece to a certain color, you can press that same color on the remote to activate it. For the two pieces in this set, they need to have the same color showing for the Trigger piece to release another marble from the Starter piece.
Other than that, the GraviTrax Power Starter Set Launch is similar to earlier starter sets. It includes some risers that allow for height, including a plastic platform to give a broader surface to work on higher up.
Instructions and Sample Builds
This starter set does come with instructions, which are well done. The almost-wordless instructions work across languages and reading levels. The first several pages teach you how all the pieces go together and how the powered pieces work. A few of the diagrams take some reasoning to figure out, but once you get your hands on everything, it does become clear.
Then there are instructions for some sample builds—that I highly recommend building, since they teach you how everything goes together without you having to design anything. There is one easy build, two medium builds, and three more difficult builds. These will get you started right out of the box, and give you some experience to base your custom builds on going forward.
You can change the color codes of the powered elements by pushing their light. It will cycle among the three colors and the off position. Then you press the corresponding colored button on the remote when you want to activate that element. The lights will blink on the element when the battery is running low, and they will auto-shut off after 10 minutes of no use.
If all you have is this starter set, you do not need more than one color on the remote and the powered pieces. But GraviTrax offers so many add-on accessories that you will probably want to add more powered pieces to your set. In that case, the extra colors will add some real interactivity to the set.
Batteries are unfortunately not included, and the powered elements for the Launch set need a total of 4 AAA batteries.
Is It Amazing? Yes, It’s Amazing
As with earlier GraviTrax sets, this one is thoughtfully designed and tons of fun. According to the box, kids from 8 to 99 can enjoy this set (sorry, you centenarians), which I think is about right. You can enjoy building according to the instructions, or you can go out on your own and make larger and more complicated sets. Especially if you have any other starter or expansion sets that you can combine with this one since the GraviTrax Power sets can be combined with any of the GraviTrax sets, including the original GraviTrax and the GraviTrax Pro sets.
If you want more of a complete set that you likely may never have to add on to, check out the GraviTrax Power Starter Set XXL set. Here are the differences between the sets:
GraviTrax Power Starter Set Launch
Retail Price: $89.99 on sale
Batteries: 4 AAA (not included)
Powered Pieces (that take the batteries): Starter, Trigger, Remote
Base and Platform Pieces: 4 base pieces, 1 large platform
Total Pieces: 124
GraviTrax Power Starter Set XXL
Retail Price: $329.99
Batteries: 11 AAA (not included)
Powered Pieces (that take the batteries): Starter, Trigger, Switch, Elevator, Lever, Remote
Base and Platform Pieces: 4 base pieces, 1 large platform, 1 small platform
Total Pieces: 142
Other differences for the XXL set is that it comes with a lot more specialized pieces, adding significant interest to the marble run path. Those, plus the Elevator and Lever, would be the big selling points to me if your budget can handle the larger XXL price tag.
The information for both sets states that when a marble lands in the Finish piece, a new marble will automatically launch, but I did not find this to be the case, and the Finish piece isn’t powered itself; there are no batteries inside. A new marble will launch when a marble goes through the Trigger piece, however.
If you want to build elaborate runs but need some inspiration to get started, do check out the GraviTrax website. The GraviTrax Academy has printable challenges and printable diplomas for fun with your kids. You can also view the GraviTrax gallery to see what other builders have come up with. The website also has a ton of tutorials about how to use specific pieces or for basic or advanced track layouts.
Where to Buy
The GraviTrax Power Starter Set Launch is available for $89.99 exclusively at Target. The GraviTrax Power Starter Set XXL set is available for $329.99 at Amazon, where you can also check out a number of other sets and accessories. Both are new sets in Ravensburger’s fabulous GraviTrax line that will appeal to kids of all ages (well, 8 and up). Start with any of the GraviTrax starter sets, and then add on special accessories or expansions as you decide what kinds of builds you prefer. (You can read my GraviTrax Pro review here for more details on those sets.) I’ve been a huge fan of Ravensburger products since I was a kid; you can always count on them for making things of quality, and the GraviTrax Power sets are no exception.
Note: I received a sample for review purposes.