The Magic of CUBORO Marble Runs: A Toy You’ll All Love

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CUBORO marble runs have captivated people of all ages for decades with their intricate designs, endless possibilities, and satisfying marble rolling sounds. Whether you’re a child or even an adult, there’s something undeniably fascinating about watching a tiny marble wind its way through a maze of blocks, ramps, and channels.

We’ve had CUBORO in our home for over three months, and I know it is a toy that will stick around for a long time. Our family’s children and adults enjoy creating runs together (or by themselves). It’s a fantastic and fun way to explore three-dimensional space together. Their gorgeous design makes them great to be part of the decor, inviting anyone to pick the blocks up and create something new with them.

I wanted to share our experience, why we like it so much, and the creative possibilities it offers. We’ll also examine the educational and developmental benefits of playing with CUBORO marble runs, from enhancing spatial reasoning skills to promoting problem-solving and critical thinking.

Whether you’re a fan of puzzles or games or simply searching for a fun way to exercise your brain, CUBORO Marble runs offer a unique and engaging experience that captivates and challenges you. So, let’s dive in and discover the world of CUBORO marble runs!

In this blog post:

*Disclosure: I only recommend products I would use myself, and all opinions expressed here are our own. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you; when you buy through the links, we may earn a small commission. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks!


CUBORO marble runs originated in Bern, Switzerland, in the 1970s, when Matthias Etter, a schoolteacher and artist, inspired by his activities as a social education worker at a special needs school, developed the essential CUBORO elements as a teaching aid for his students, after trying out many prototypes. The blocks were made of high-quality beechwood and featured grooves and channels that could be arranged in various configurations to create marble mazes. The name “CUBORO” comes from the words “CUBO” (Italian for “cube”) and “RO” (short for “roll”), although it can also spell “CUB” and “ORO”, which translates to “golden cube”. 

“Children and adults alike are challenged to think visually while training their ability to think logically through play.” – Matthias Etter.

The first CUBORO sets were sold in Switzerland in 1985, and since then, they have become increasingly popular worldwide. Over the years, CUBORO sets have evolved to incorporate new elements and challenges, such as magnets, duo channels, speed ramps, and the kick. Today, several different CUBORO sets are available, each with its unique design and challenges (I’ll dive into them later).

In addition to their popularity as a toy, CUBORO marble runs have also been used in educational settings to teach children about physics, geometry, and spatial reasoning. More than 30 years after the first prototype was created, neuroscientists verified that CUBORO could be used as a primary learning aid for children and adults. The toy has even been used in occupational therapy and rehabilitation to help people develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.

Despite their apparently simple design, CUBORO marble runs continue to captivate and challenge people of all ages. Their Swiss heritage and commitment to quality ensure that they will continue to be beloved toys for generations to come.

The design of CUBORO marble runs 

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The essential components of CUBORO marble runs include wooden blocks, channels, and cubes with holes. These blocks are designed to be arranged in various configurations, creating an intricate maze for the marbles to navigate, from surface courses to complex tunnel systems. Because the blocks are made of high-quality beech wood, they are both durable and aesthetically pleasing. 

CUBORO sets offer endless possibilities for creativity, logical thinking, and experimentation, with different blocks and configurations providing a range of challenges for players to solve. For example, some CUBORO extra sets include trampolines that require precise positioning to jump gaps and elements. In contrast, others have curve tunnels that need players to think strategically and plan their route ahead.

Today, the CUBORO marble run system offers a remarkable collection of over 100 interchangeable and compatible elements, allowing for infinite possibilities when constructing captivating marble runs.

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One of the unique features of CUBORO marble runs is the emphasis on creativity and experimentation. There are no rules or instructions for building a CUBORO marble run, so that players can design and construct their unique configurations. So this allows for endless possibilities and hours of play and encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and spatial reasoning skills.

Why do we like playing with CUBORO?

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Playing with CUBORO marble runs offers a range of educational and developmental benefits. Here are a few of the key benefits that I like most:

  1. Spatial Reasoning: CUBORO marble runs require players to visualize how the marbles will travel through the maze of blocks and channels, which helps develop spatial reasoning skills. This involves the ability to mentally manipulate objects and understand their spatial relationships, an essential skill for various activities, from navigating a new city to solving complex mathematical problems.
  2. Problem-Solving: Designing and constructing a successful CUBORO marble run requires players to think creatively and solve problems. This involves identifying the most efficient and effective way for the marbles to travel through the maze and adjusting the design as needed. So the process encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are valuable in various academic and professional settings. 
  3. Creativity: CUBORO marble runs offer endless possibilities for creative design and experimentation. Players can combine different blocks and channels to create unique and challenging configurations, stimulating their imagination and encouraging creative thinking.
  4. Precision: Unlike other types of blocks and games that might perfectly fit thanks to their shape or by using magnets, the CUBORO marble run relies on the precise positioning of its blocks. If it is not exact, the marble might not go smoothly down and get stuck in some tunnel. Movement of marbles may also slightly move the blocks, which means we must review the marble run often as little shifts may happen, and it may block or slow down a future marble from going smoothly. This attention to detail is critical for CUBORO marble runs.

In addition to these educational and developmental benefits, CUBORO marble runs can also be used in therapeutic and occupational therapy settings. For example, occupational therapists may use CUBORO sets to help patients develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while also providing a fun and engaging activity. CUBORO marble runs have also been used to help children with special needs build their spatial reasoning skills and improve their cognitive abilities. They were actually developed initially with that end in mind.

CUBORO marble runs offer a range of benefits that make them an ideal toy for children and adults alike. So whether you’re looking to stimulate your creativity, develop problem-solving skills, or simply have fun, CUBORO marble runs are a great choice.

The different CUBORO sets

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In 2021, CUBORO redesigned its product range to be more comprehensive to the public. CUBORO now offers several sets of marble runs, each with its unique design and set of challenges. Here are a few of the most popular sets from them:

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  • CUBORO Standard 16/32/50: This is the original CUBORO set, featuring the classic beechwood blocks and channels that can be arranged in various configurations. The CUBORO Standard has the central CUBORO elements. Of all the sets, the most basic comes with 16 pieces, allowing for building different combinations and providing hours of fun and creative play. The Standard 32 and 50 sets contain multiples of the same elements to create more varied and longer courses. The sets come with five marbles and are recommended for ages five and up (although my 4-year-old already enjoys playing with it – he loves puzzles).
  • CUBORO Junior (called the Cugolino initially): This set is the ideal entry point to the CUBORO world for little ones. This set comes with 40 elements and six marbles. It has rails, cubes, pillars, and other parts you can combine with different CUBORO sets. This set is ideal for little ones (they recommend it for 3-year-olds and older) because the runs are more visible (no tunnels here), making it easier for their little minds to grasp and create effective marble runs.

Then, you have Extra sets to combine with your Standard set and make the experience more thrilling:

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  • MAGNET: Ideal for creating magical bridges. It comes with 12 elements and three marbles. It contains the classic shapes 11, 12, GM, and GCM with magnets, enabling them to be used as part of floating bridges. They recommend it for ages three and up.
  • JUMP: This one is very cool to watch because it makes marbles bounce on unique trampolines to avoid gaps and obstacles along the course. It comes with 12 elements and three marbles. This one is a bit more complex, so they recommend it for five years old and up.
  • SPEED: If your little one (or you) wants to speed things up, this is the extra set ideal for you. The particular elements in this set help the marbles gain speed through steeper slopes. It comes with 16 pieces and five marbles; they recommend it for ages six and up.
  • TUNNEL: This extra set allows you to create curving tunnels like hidden passages inside the cubes. It has 16 elements and five marbles; they recommend it for ages seven and up.
  • SUB: The elements in this set are half the height of a standard cube, so it helps create intermediate levels in the marble run. If you stack them together, two SUB elements make additional cubes with three functions. It comes with 12 pieces and three marbles, and they recommend for ages seven and up.
  • KICK: I loved seeing it at the Nuremberg Toy Fair! This set is an upward kick. When the marble has completed the course, the KICK hammer can push it back up to the start so it can go down the course again. You have to manually set the hammer again for it to kick the marble once more at the top of the run. It’s WOW. The set has eight elements and five marbles and is recommended for ages above eight.
  • DUO: This extra set is to create a two-lane course. Marbles switch between parallel lanes, which makes it ideal for races. The set has 16 elements and five marbles; they recommend it for ages eight and up.
  • TRICK: This Extra set is for even trickier courses because it makes marbles change directions and take different routes for more than one outcome. The set comes with 16 elements and five marbles.
  • PRO: Finally, this is the most complex set of all. Each block has up to 3 functions, and the possibilities are endless. Someday we’ll get to this level, but we need to try the others first 😉 .

No matter which Extra CUBORO set you choose, you’ll surely enjoy the engaging and satisfying experience of constructing and navigating intricate marble mazes. Each set offers a range of challenges and configurations, making them ideal for players of all ages and skill levels.

The Book

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In February 2023, CUBORO launched a book featuring design ideas and inspiration for constructing complex and intricate marble runs. The book is designed to provide players with various configurations and challenges to try out, as well as step-by-step instructions and diagrams for constructing each design. My daughter loves picking one randomly and putting it together. It shows us the possibilities we had yet to think about and gives us new ideas for other original creations.

The book is divided by sets and into different levels of complexity, from beginner to advanced, making it easy for players to find a design that matches their skill level and their set. The book also provides tips and tricks for constructing the most efficient and effective marble runs, ensuring that the marbles navigate the maze smoothly and without any interruptions.

By providing inspiration and guidance for designing new and challenging marble runs, the Cuboro book encourages players to continue experimenting and pushing the limits of what is possible with this timeless toy. Whether you’re a seasoned Cuboro player or a beginner looking to get started, the Cuboro book will provide hours of fun and engaging play.

Our Standard 50 creations

We’ve been having a fantastic time building with our CUBORO Standard 50 set, and we’re thrilled to share some of our favorite designs with you. Each of these creations showcases the endless possibilities and the sheer fun that can be derived from these ingenious marble runs.

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Our first design perfectly illustrates the simplicity and complexity that CUBORO offers. Watch as the marble navigates through the maze of blocks, demonstrating the gravity-defying feats possible with a little creativity. Blocks should be seamlessly positioned to let the marble reach the end. The children learn by seeing the marble stop on the way, and correct the positioning of blocks for a seamless run.

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This design shows off the three-dimensional aspect of CUBORO. We’ve built upwards, creating a towering masterpiece that is as much a piece of art as a functional marble run.

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Here, we took advantage of the different shapes in the set to create a track that makes for an unpredictable, exciting marble journey. This one is a big hit with the kids.

Below you can see some more designs we’ve built.

We hope these images spark some inspiration for your own CUBORO creations. Whether you’re aiming for simplicity or complexity, remember that the only limit is your imagination. Happy building!

My CUBORO challenges

Inspired by the building Challenges I found inside the CUBORO book (you should check it out), I created these CUBORO challenges for us to do at home. They are straightforward and can be an ice-breaker and starting point for building together. You must only place cubes on the shaded squares of the grid. You can have as many cubes as you like on each other. There are many possible combinations, and I hope these five challenges will be fun for you to play.

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I have also included a grid that you can color in for fun to make your own challenges! Get creative and challenge your siblings, parents, grandparents, or friends. How many combinations can you come up with?

Where to buy?

You can find CUBORO on Amazon or in toy shops around the world. However, I have only found it in some online shops in Spain, so I suggest you search for your country in their “Where to buy” section on the CUBORO website. 

In Spain, you can buy it from “Jugar i Jugar”. They have a brilliantly curated selection of toys that you’ll fall in love with.

Discover the Joys of CUBORO Marble Runs for yourself!

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CUBORO marble runs are a beloved toy at home that offers endless possibilities for creativity, problem-solving, and spatial reasoning skills. From their Swiss heritage and commitment to quality to the range of sets and configurations available, CUBORO marble runs offer a unique and engaging experience for players of all ages and skill levels. 

Playing with CUBORO marble runs can help develop a range of skills, from fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination to critical thinking and creative problem-solving. They can even be used in therapeutic and occupational therapy settings to aid in cognitive and physical development.

If you haven’t tried CUBORO marble runs for yourself, we encourage you to do so. Whether you’re looking to stimulate your creativity, develop your problem-solving skills, or have fun, CUBORO marble runs are a great choice. So start building your own marble mazes, and discover the joys of CUBORO marble runs for yourself!

Happy playing!

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Updated on: April 10, 2024

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