The quickest way to take any set of blocks into a simple ball-run kit is to add a track for the ball to run down. With a track and some blocks for elevation, you’re ready to begin building runs. There are a number of sets that look similar in stock images. This is a quick rundown of some of the most common sets, their advantages and drawbacks.
1. The Grimms Wooden Toys Building Boards are our favorite for ball run tracks. At 7cm wide, and in graduated lengths aligning with the base of the rainbow arches, they accommodate a ball that isn’t always running straight, and give pretty good length.
2. Grimms Color Rally Charts: at 4cm x 8cm x 1cm these work well to give slight height adjustments, and because they have square edges, they stand easily on edge or on end. On end they are excellent for domino runs, and on edge they can help guide a marble to keep it on track.
3. Grimms Leonardo Sticks: these are 1/3 cm thick, 18cm long and 2cm wide, these, laid flat on a building board, make good edges for small marbles, but are too narrow to be an effective track.
4. Gluckskafer slats: this set comes in two sizes. The pieces I have shown are the large set. The smaller set has the same sizes pieces, but fewer of them (not to be confused with the jenga-shaped set which has smaller pieces). All of the pieces in this set are 4cm wide 1cm thick, and they range in length from 4-20 centimeters in 5cm increments. The lengths align with the pieces in the Grimms Large Stepped Pyramid. These can be used for ball track when the marble is running along a solid surface (wall, wobblel, etc) but in a free-standing run they are better for making subtle height change adjustments. With chamfered edges, they can be balanced on edge, but they’re not as steady as the color rally charts.
5 + 6: these pieces are from #5 1001 nights (warm colors), and the #6 Grimms Romanesque (cooler colors): at 2cm thick and in a range of lengths, they also make sturdy bumpers to keep balls on track
7. this is an old set from Grimms that isn’t made anymore. It’s similar to rally charts, but the pieces come in a range of lengths and are 3 instead of 4 cm wide. I’ve included them because I use them sometimes in the ball runs we post on Instagram, but ultimately, even if you have the opportunity to get these, I’d opt for the Color Rally charts first—outside of ball runs, we reach for those much more frequently.
The relative thicknesses and lengths of these sets 1-6 (same numbers as above):
Two shares to give a little more context. This ball run puts most of the parts above to use. The towers show of 3 of the discussed sets, From Left to right, this is the Gluckskafer slats (set 4), (xl color charts, not in this article), Color rally charts (set 2), and the retired set (set 7)