Rainbow stackers are delightful—they are art on the shelf, and anything from scenery to props to fancy balancing acts in play. And there are sooo many options out there—beautiful options in etsy shops, the classic Grimm’s, and some wonderful other options.
Ultimately, when it comes to picking a rainbow, I don’t think there’s a Wrong choice, but there are things worth considering. Perhaps first and foremost—what is its primary roll in your home: is it art that the kids can touch? Is it a toy with a specific functionality? Are there colors that suit your home better than others? What kind of play do you envision?
We’re lucky to have a flock of rainbows, and we’ve learned a bit about how they play along the way.
I’ve brought together seven different rainbows in this stack. From bottom to top: Grimms 12-piece, Myers Natural 12-piece, Grimms 10-piece, Ocamora 6-piece, Grimms Medium (6-piece), Myers Natural 6-piece, Grimms Mini (6-piece). Please note: Ocamora also makes a 9 and 12 piece rainbows, but I don’t have these available for comparison. Right off the bat you can spot some notable differences, and each affects how the piece plays.
Grimms Wooden Toys, a German company, makes what might be the most well-known rainbow on the market.
Ocamora, from Spain, is known for its jewel-tone hues and precise cuts.
Myers Natural, from the United States, may be best-known for their “hidden rainbow” with color only on the inside of each arch.
If you know you only want one Rainbow stacker, then a big rainbow (9+ arches) will give you the most flexibility through the years. For a very young child, you can start by providing only the inner few arches, and slowly add to it as they are ready for more pieces. Grimms has two rainbows in this category the 12 and 10-piece rainbows. These are cut on the same scale, so that the 10 inner arches of the 12-piece are the same size as the 10-piece rainbows.
If you have more than one large Grimms rainbow, you may be able to swap the arches back and forth between them, but because Grimms rainbows are all cut by hand—free-hand—the arches are not machine-precise thicknesses. This can be a beauty or a frustration, depending on your perspective, but it’s worth knowing.
The width and height of the Myers 12-piece rainbow are very nearly the same as the Grimms 12-piece rainbow, but Myers are not quite as deep.
The Myers and Grimms rainbows are close enough in size that you can use the Grimms semi-circles with the Myers Rainbow. The edges overhang a little, but ultimately this makes stacking more straightforward for younger builders.
Shopping for a 6 piece rainbow? Grimms has 2 sizes of 6-piece stackers, and unfortunately the names aren’t always consistent from one shop to the next. Be sure to read the measurements to know what you’re getting. Myers also makes a 6-piece rainbow, and then there is the very generously sized Ocamora 6-piece.
The Ocamora 6-piece rainbow is significantly larger than either of the other two. The Grimms and Myers are nearly the same size. The little 6-piece mini is a cute and tiny little handful, but the smallest piece is a choking hazard. It’s a lot of fun! But for kids 3+ for sure
One thing that caught me off-guard when I first got our medium (6 piece) Grimms rainbow is that the arches are not as deep as those of the 10 and 12 piece rainbows. When one arch from each rainbow is nested its much easier to see the differences, all shown next to a 4cm cube for scale. For this illustration I picked arch sizes that would nest cleanly for the picture, not necessarily the largest from each rainbow.
The way a rainbow is cut significantly affects the way the arches nest when it is restacked after play. The Grimms rainbows are cut with the narrowest gap between arches. When the pieces are each turned as they originally sat, this can be aesthetically pleasing, but it can also be a challenge when the hand-cut pieces don’t fit back together as smoothly as you were expecting. The Myers Rainbows have bigger gaps between the arches, and this ensures that no matter how you stack them, they always lie smooth. Ocamorra seems to split the difference between the two (narrower gaps, but still stacks both ways—super cool, but you can see it in the price tag too).
Some people are bothered by the way some Grimms rainbows cannot stack flat when you turn the arches every-which-way, others love the directionality of it. I roll both ways. Sometimes when I’m tidying, I relish the ease of the precisely cut stackers, other times I enjoy the directionality of the Grimms. There’s no wrong answer here—it’s mostly a matter of knowing what suits you best. If sitting flat no matter which way you turn it is critical for you, Myers or Ocamora is the way to go.
When learning about a new rainbow maker, a common question is “is it stackable?”. What does it mean for a rainbow to be stackable? Typically, people are referring to whether or not you can do fancy balancing tricks. Grimms Rainbows are well known for being highly stackable. They have a grippy texture, and the arches are cut so that the innermost pieces have a narrow base. The Ocamora rainbows have an excellent texture for stacks, but the base of the inner pieces is wider. While you can do fancy balance stacks, they aren’t quite as conducive to it as a Grimms Rainbow. The Myers rainbows have a smoother texture than the Grimms or Ocamora making them harder to use in elaborate stacks, but that same smooth texture makes their colors pick up light beautifully.
There’s another side to “stackable”—take a look at these Grimms, Myers and Ocamora stacked on edge. For this kind of stacking, it matters that the rainbows are cut straight—that the top of the arches are not thinner or thicker than the bottom. In this, Grimms varies most and Myers has the most consistent track-record in my experience. When you’re just stacking one or two arches, most will stack, but as you get higher, the little differences add up quickly. Note—I’ve only played with this one Ocamora rainbow and it stacks sideways beautifully, but with such limited experience I want to be cautious not to overpromise.
With any of these, you really can’t go wrong, and I’m not sure you could get me to pick a favorite—we use rainbows daily, and in so many different ways. I’d be loath to relinquish any of them. Can you have too many? Only if you don’t enjoy them (and, the good thing is they have excellent resale value if you find you over-collect!).
Please! If you have any questions, cool brands that I’ve missed, or insights to share, please leave a comment!