Best Toys and Gift Ideas for 12-Year-Old Boys of 2023
Tinkering Supplies – Create a kit for building or tinkering. Or, tuck a couple of these items in a stocking!
Gift Ideas for 10 to 13 Year Old Boys
If you have a boy in your life in the 10 to 13 year old age group, you probably know that they are not the easiest people to shop for! When you’re not quite a kid and not quite a teen, it can be tough to know what to do with yourself. I currently have boys that are 16, 13, 10, and almost 8. We’ve compiled a list of our best suggestions for gifts that boys will love!
Obviously, electronics are big for this age group. For this list, I decided to focus on mostly non-technology related items since it’s probably easy to figure out what video games or devices are on your child’s list!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through the links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no additional cost to you.
This post was originally published in November 2014 and updated in December 2019.
Toys and Collections
Models – When shopping for models, keep in mind that some of them require painting and glue, while others don’t. We’ve had good success with the Maisto Assembly Line models. These models are pre-painted and snap together. My son was happy with it because he was interested in displaying the car, not necessarily in the building process. Some kids may enjoy painting a model, but he didn’t want to mess with it!
Hot Wheels/ Matchbox – Some kids enjoy collecting Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. At this stage, it’s about the makes and models of cars, not about driving them around on the floor. 🙂
Star Wars Collectibles
We love the Star Wars Black Series 6 inch figures. They are so detailed and posable! Amazon’s prices are all over the place since these are sought after by collectors, but the list price is $19.99 for most. I like to pay $15 on sale.
LEGO – Some kids never outgrow LEGO, so this may still be an option. LEGO Technic sets provide more of a building challenge for older kids, although my boys still enjoy regular LEGO sets because of the minifigures. The LEGO Technic sets have moving parts, and some of the sets have gears. I have been impressed at how the mechanisms are similar to real machines!
My boys have also enjoyed the LEGO Speed Champions set, such as this LEGO Speed Champions Corvette Set.
The LEGO Architecture sets are also fun for older kids. Build a detailed model of a real landmark, such as the London Skyline.
I would also love to recommend our book, Genius LEGO Inventions with Bricks You Already Have. This book is perfect for tweens and teens. Every project has moving parts, and there is science and engineering information included throughout the book. Build a candy machine, various robots with moving parts, a working crane, a transforming car, and more!
Even big kids can still play with Nerf! (Hey, even Dad likes Nerf!) The Strongarm Blaster and the Jolt are super fun and a great price. Aidan enjoys designing different types of targets for Nerf. Plastic cups make especially great targets!
Great games for older kids: Clue, Monopoly, Monopoly Empire (own top brands!), Stratego, Risk
Keva Planks – The box says ages 7+, but this building set is even better for ages 9+. My preschool boys like to build with these planks, but older kids can make some really amazing structures! Building requires patience and a steady hand.
We own the Keva Contraptions sets, but there are several other sets as well.
We just recently discovered Gravitrax! This marble run set is really amazing, and fun for older kids. My 16 year old son enjoys setting up different marble courses, even if no one younger is playing with it. It’s very well designed! We recommend the Gravitrax Starter Set.
Skateboard – A good quality skateboard is worth spending a little more money on as the wheels roll soooo much better and the board is easier to control.
My boys enjoy having a longboard because the require less effort for traveling long distances. Longboards don’t work well for skateboard tricks or use at skate parks, but they are great for cruising around the neighborhood. This Magneto Longboard is a great option.
Ping Pong – No space to store a ping pong table? This Franklin table tennis net expands to fit any size table, and then clamps on. We enjoy using our ping pong set on dark winter nights!
Tools and Gadgets
Walkie-Talkies – Get some that are real, not toys, and that have a decent range. My 10 year old loves taking walkie talkies to our homeschool co-op so he can use them with friends.
These walkie-talkies are for kids, but are a good price and have good reviews.
Tool Set – Aidan enjoyed receiving his own tool box last year with a hammer, a wrench, a couple of screw drivers, and a tape measure. This is something that can be added to in the future.
Flashlight – My son’s opinion is that you can never own too many flashlights!
Pocketknife or Multi-Tool – Obviously this is something where you have to know your child and make a decision about what age is best to own a pocketknife. All of our boys have been allowed to get one at age 10.
Aidan’s first pocketknife was this Victorinox Swiss Army Classic. He loooooooves whipping out the scissors to cut tags off items when we’re out, and opening packages for me with the knife! Basically, any excuse to use it is great. Older kids may want to move up to a larger Leatherman Multi-Tool. You can get a nylon sheath for the Leatherman, which would be useful.
This hammer multi-tool is really cool too.
If your son is past the age of losing or breaking things (sigh), he might enjoy owning a quality watch. This Timex Expedition Watch is pretty cool, and a good size for kids this age.
Survivor Dry Box – These waterproof lockable boxes are useful for storing gear on a camping trip, or even just in your bedroom if you happen to share a room with your toddler brother. We may get Aidan one of these for Christmas so that he can safely store his pocket knife and other valuables.
Two years ago, I bought my then 11 year old (child #2) a Canon Rebel T6, which is their entry level DSLR. The current model is now the Canon Rebel T7. These are great cameras! We have found it to be well worth the investment.
Tinkering Supplies – Create a kit for building or tinkering. Or, tuck a couple of these items in a stocking!
- Duct tape
- Zip ties
- PVC pipe cut into different lengths, joints
- Low temp glue gun
- Screws, bolts, nuts
- Nails and boards
- Tin foil
- Rolls of Scotch tape or masking tape
- Drawing paper/sketch book
- Colored pencils – For the serious artist, Prisma Colors are worth every penny!
Kids will love reading The Mysterious Benedict Society series! These books are full of exciting and quirky adventures involving logic, math, crazy machines, and villains to defeat.
This Star Wars Character Encyclopedia is perfect for the Star Wars fan. There are full color photos and loads of facts for just about every character!
Star Wars Folded Flyers is a fun book with paper Star Wars planes to make. One thing to note is that although it says “make 30 paper starfighters,” there are not 30 different designs. There are 6 designs with 5 copies of each. Still, it’s a fun book!
Another fun option: The World Record Paper Airplane Book. The benefit of this one is that you can keep going with your own paper.
Sneaky Uses for Everyday Things is a favorite book at our house! This book is full of projects to make using materials from around the house. We used this book to make plastic out of milk – lots of fun!
Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction shows how to build all kinds of contraptions out of office supplies. This book has some great projects! The catapult pictured on the front cover is a lot of fun. It also has some projects that could potentially be dangerous, so supervision is definitely needed.
Non-Stuff Type Gifts
A lot of guys don’t really need or want a lot of “stuff.” Here are some ideas for experience gifts:
- Drum or Guitar lessons
- Archery lessons
- Art classes
- Tae Kwon Do classes
- Movie Tickets
- Gift Card for Sonic, Starbucks, etc.
- iTunes Card
What gift suggestions can you add to this list?
sarahelisabeth Nov 17, 2014
Useful list! Finding presents for 14 year old boys is also causing me some trouble! The tickets sound like a good idea.
Carolyn E Nov 17, 2014
Thanks for the ideas. added a few to my list for my 12 year old!
Jan Nov 18, 2014
I would love a pocket knife! This are also great gifts for girls too 🙂 I’m a girl, and I would loooooooveeeee a pocket knife 🙂
Katharine wise Nov 21, 2014
Great ideas. When you mentioned duct tape, it reminded me of this website I recently heard great things about which seems to mesh with your family’s interests, too. They are books (or CD) for making period-based weapons and armor out of duct tape. My boys will be getting the Knight version. warfarebyducttape.com
Justice Dec 22, 2014
Justice Dec 22, 2014
catherine Nov 24, 2015
Katherine Mar 17, 2017
Father of 3 boys Dec 2, 2017
My boys love having Nerf wars around the house. I join in. We play you get 3 lives each, if you get hit in the leg its lost and you have to hop around. Only head or torso shots are fatal. Great fun.
For a quieter activity my kids lately have been enjoying “The Amazing Annoyatron”. https://edukits.co/product/the-amazing-annoyatron/ Its a kids coding and electronics toy with 20 projects for the boys to build. They’ve had fun pranking me.
Bruce L Johnson Dec 15, 2017
My sister and brother in law have 4 boys. Number 2 is 13 and is very destructive. One third of his Christmas presents are broken the same day. Is there anything out there that is made to explode without pyrotechnics?
Handey Jul 29, 2018
Wonderful selection of gifts for children to make and recipients to cherish! Thank you so much for sharing these lovely craft projects.
alfombra infantil Sep 12, 2018
here Oct 19, 2018
I appreciate, lead to I found exactly what I used to be looking for.
You have ended my 4 day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have a great day.
Jules Dec 12, 2019
Amazing list – some fantastic ideas there thank you so much! Now I just need one for 5 year old girls!!
Judi S Dec 12, 2019
When my son was that age, he loved anything with sports. Jerseys, t-shirts, equipment, tickets to a game. Don’t forget college teams too not just the pros. Family members would take him to games or pay for his fee to join a team or lessons.
Carol Nov 23, 2020
These are some great ideas and I thank you for them. Some other things I can think of are RC cars/drones (a video drone could be a ton of fun), house shoes/robe, clothes, an Alexa for their room, a trampoline (#1 on my kids’ wish list) a nice quality scooter, lazer tag, and for the gamer types: new iPhone/iPad case, headset, tshirts/hoodies from their favorite YouTuber/Gamer, Xbox, r-bucks or v-bucks gift cards.
I’m mom to four boys and one little girl. Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls is a place to find fun activities that kids will LOVE! We specialize in LEGO building ideas, STEM activities, and play ideas for active kids! Learn More
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Best Toys and Gift Ideas for 12-Year-Old Boys of 2023
Are you stuck for ideas on what to buy a tween? Birthday, Christmas, or just because, choosing a gift for an almost-teenager presents a challenge, as kids of this age are notorious for being unimpressed by our efforts.
We’ve been there and have put our combined experience — and many hours of research, product comparisons, and, of course, shopping — to use. We created this guide to help you find the best toy and gift ideas for 12-year-old boys.
These gifts fit our criteria of being original, practical, durable, and educational — with a focus on STEM learning. But above all, these gift ideas are fun!
If you want a gift that won’t be tossed aside and forgotten in days, check out our top picks.
Our Top Picks
We independently research, assess and evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on the links we provide, we may receive compensation.
- Clear, concise, illustrated manual
- Build over 200 projects
- Easily identifiable component
- Multiple developmental benefits
- Suitable for one to four players
- Very affordable
- Multi-player compatibility
- For indoor and outdoor use
- Doesn’t require vests or ammo
- 122-piece set
- Fun brain game
- Full-color, custom-designed papers
- Five copies of each design
- 60-page book of instructions
- 9.6-inch screen
- Long battery life
- Sleek, portable design
- Includes a 78-page book
- 36 official LEGO Minifigures and props
- Beginner-friendly guide
- Blasts rocket up to 90 feet
- Educational kit
- Detailed instructions
- 5 color options
- 8-hour battery life
- High-quality sound
- 1.5-inch novelty helmets
- Features all 32 NFL teams
- Includes 2 backing boards
Review Methodology: At Mom Loves Best, we understand the importance of finding the perfect gifts for 12-year-old boys. Our comprehensive assessment involves hands-on testing, expert analysis, and data-driven research to measure and compare the performance of various products. We evaluate each gift from a user’s perspective, focusing on key decision-making factors such as entertainment value, educational benefits, and age-appropriateness. Our team of professionals ranks and reviews each product based on our strict criteria and real-life experiences, ensuring that we provide you with the most trustworthy recommendations. We take pride in sharing our findings to help you make an informed decision, identifying what sets each gift apart and discussing design choices that affect the user experience. Trust Mom Loves Best to guide you in selecting the ideal gift for the special 12-year-old boy in your life.
Table of Contents
Best Toys and Gifts for 12-Year-Old Boys of 2023
Here are some great gift and toy ideas for 12-year-old boys.
Technology and Electronics
Boys love their tech toys, whether it’s a gaming console, the latest tablet, an interactive robot, an electronics kit, or something to enhance their music. These toys help them engage their thinking in a fun way.
Snap Circuits Arcade Electronics Kit
Simple Electronics for 12-Year-Old Boys
Introduce your kids to the world of electronics, engineering, and electric circuitry, with this easy-to-use kit. It’s color-coded and snaps together, with no need for any tools. Your boy will be designing his own arcade in no time.
The set includes instructions for over 200 projects, including a three-colored light orb, a programmable word fan, and a dual LED display.
However, if you want to use it right out of the box, you’ll also need to buy three AA batteries.
For my 11-year-old son, this educational toy has been a great way to learn about electricity while having fun. It includes over 20 projects that range from basic to more complex, and it’s durable enough to last for years. My 8-year-old grandson also enjoys working with it and has learned a lot from the hands-on experience. Even as an adult, I find it enjoyable and educational. It has provided hours of entertainment for my kids during cold weather, and I believe it’s a valuable learning tool for their future.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
The Smartest Device
Are you forever retrieving your smartphone or tablet from your 12-year-old? Maybe it’s time to invest in one of their own. This tablet from Samsung has 32GB of internal memory. If you need more memory, you can expand it up to 1TB with a microSD card.
I particularly like that you can set the tablet to kid’s mode. This means you can keep your child safe when they’re playing on the internet and limit their screen time. And with the Galaxy ecosystem experience, you can connect devices easily.
The device comes with free access to Samsung TV Plus, opening up a world of education and entertainment with over 160 channels and videos for all interests.
With 12 hours of battery life, he won’t have to stay near an outlet while playing, and the high-quality front-facing and rear-facing cameras should be fun for everyone.
I’m truly impressed with this Samsung tablet, perfect for my 12-year-old who can’t seem to put down my smartphone. The 32GB internal memory is expandable up to 1TB with a microSD card, and the kid’s mode keeps them safe online while limiting screen time. Plus, the 12-hour battery life and high-quality front and rear cameras make it enjoyable for the whole family.
Sphero R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid
Top Gift for Star Wars Fans
If your recipient is a Star Wars follower, he can have his own R2-D2 to answer his demands. The free Sphero Edu app will let him code and program his robot friend. It has integrated speakers and LED lights and moves just like in the movies.
It can project a holographic simulation of the Star Wars Galaxy and the interiors of some of the battleships. This robot is compatible with iOS and Android, and your 12-year-old will get one full hour of play before the droid needs to be charged.
I’ve been using this droid for a while now and I have some mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it’s a cool toy that looks and sounds just like the real thing, and I had fun using the joystick and path drawing feature on the Star Wars app. However, I was disappointed that it didn’t come with a quickstart guide and had compatibility issues with some of my devices. On the plus side, I enjoyed tinkering with the programming aspect on the Sphero EDU app, but I wish there was a more comprehensive reference guide for the sensors.
Best Toy Lightsabers: Bring the Force to Your Home
Alesis Compact Electronic Drum Kit
Best Gift for Musical Boys
Ask a 12-year-old boy what musical instruments they would most like to play, and undoubtedly the drums will be at the top of their list. This portable electronic set comes with drumsticks, 10 effect sounds, 70 percussion sounds, and 50 play-along songs.
Don’t worry if your boy is new to creating those beats. There’s also a coaching feature on an LCD that teaches you as you go. You can even play games to learn to drum.
We like that this kit is AC-powered, or you can go mobile using six C batteries (not included).
My 12-year-old son has been eager to learn drums, so I got him this portable electronic drum set. He’s been enjoying the 10 effect sounds, 70 percussion sounds, and 50 play-along songs it offers. The coaching feature on the LCD screen has been helpful for him as a beginner, teaching him the basics as he goes. Additionally, he likes playing the games included to improve his drumming skills. The option to go mobile using six C batteries or use AC power has given him flexibility in where he practices.
GameSir Wireless Game Controller
Best Gift for Gamers
This handy, lightweight controller is a valuable gift for kids who play games on Android, iOS, PC, or Nintendo-Switch-compatible devices. The buttons are easy to use and have a good response. The battery lasts hours and is rechargeable with a type-C charger.
We like that this is portable and makes gaming on the go easier — ideal for car journeys. Plus, it has a detachable mobile bracket.
This controller has a great build quality and is comfortable to hold, even for those with larger hands. The extra trigger buttons are useful for various games, and the battery life is impressive. However, connecting the controller can be a bit complicated, as it requires different button combinations for each platform. Some users may experience occasional disconnects and input lag, but overall, it performs well. While it may not be perfect, it’s a solid alternative to more expensive brand-name controllers and works well for casual gaming across multiple platforms.
DEERC D20 Mini Drone
Best Drone Gift for 12-Year-Old Boys
Get your 12-year-old started on the world of drones and photography with this inexpensive and easy-to-use drone from DEERC. This drone has a 720P HD Wi-Fi camera that enables you to instantly share your captured moments with decent photo and video quality.
This is not your ordinary toy. Your son will be amazed to see how this drone can perform stunts aside from capturing videos. It has four barriers to prevent damage in collisions and a one-button control for take-off and landing.
Love this compact drone for its impressive speed and responsiveness. Despite its small size, it handles breezes well and charges quickly with two batteries and charging cables. However, the app for viewing pictures and videos is unreliable, crashing frequently and causing connection issues. Despite these drawbacks, this drone’s durability and performance make it a great choice for beginners and experienced users alike.
Skullcandy Uproar Wireless Headphone
Are you forever telling your 12-year-old to turn their music down or mute the game they’re playing? Why not get them some Bluetooth headphones so you don’t have to?
This set from Skullcandy is lightweight, has soft ear cushions, and comes with a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. The battery lasts up to 10 hours and charges via a USB port.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly headphones with impressive sound quality, these headphones are a great choice. I’ve used them daily for years and they’ve proven to be quite durable, despite some minor wear and tear on the materials over time. The fit can be a bit tight and may become uncomfortable during long periods of use, but the overall performance and lightweight design outweigh this drawback. These headphones are perfect for those who want quality sound without breaking the bank.
Older boys still like playing with toys and games, even though they might not admit it. Choose ones that are age-appropriate, and watch their faces light up. After all, they’re still kids at heart, just a little bit cooler.
Melissa and Doug Suspend Family Game
Fun for the Family
This balancing game is great for playing with friends or family. Take turns hanging rubber-tipped, notched wire pieces from the stand, but be careful. You need a steady hand to keep it from crashing down.
The sculpture will wobble and teeter, tip and shift with each addition. Suitable for one to four players, this award-winning game is made by the much-loved Melissa and Doug company.
My experience with this game has been nothing short of enjoyable and entertaining for the whole family. It can be quite challenging and requires some strategic thinking, making it a great addition to our Friday family game nights. The game is suitable for ages 8 and up, and even our grandma had a blast playing with the kids. We’ve had fun exploring the different variations in the rules and even came up with some of our own.
Klutz Lego Make Your Own Movie Kit
For Budding Directors
Make your own Lego movie with this kit and a smartphone, tablet, or computer. The enclosed guide will walk you through bringing these Lego figures to life, frame by frame, in stop-motion animation. You can make short amusing clips of 10 mini-movies.
Once you’ve mastered these, you can learn more about lighting, camera angles, and sound effects. The award-winning set includes six background settings, six Minifigure heads, and other accessories. The 78-page manual is full of ideas, inspiration, and instructions.
I’m thrilled with this LEGO movie-making kit that pairs perfectly with my smartphone. The included guide taught me how to create stop-motion animations with the six Minifigure heads and various accessories, making my 10 mini-movies truly come to life. The 78-page manual offers valuable tips on lighting, camera angles, and sound effects, as well as providing endless inspiration for my future projects.
Microsoft Xbox Series X Console
Best Console for 12-Year-Old Boys
If you really want to see your boy excited, a gaming console will be a surefire hit. This Xbox starter pack comes with a wireless controller and can play thousands of Xbox games — even those from previous consoles. With this super-fast console, your 12-year-old boy will have great fun playing all his favorite new and old games.
The 1TB drive will hold more games than your boy can play, and the optimized gaming experience will have them feeling like they’re actually in the game.
The console streams 4K Ultra-HD videos from Netflix, Amazon, Disney+, Microsoft Movies and TV, Hulu, and more. Just make sure dad doesn’t sneak it away while your boy is in bed.
Got the Xbox Series X recently and I couldn’t be more impressed. The sleek design and optimal cooling system make it a visually appealing and functional console. The controller is comfortable, responsive, and has a handy share button for capturing gameplay moments. With 4K resolution, 120 frames per second, and incredibly fast load times, the gaming experience is taken to new heights. Although it’s on the pricey side, the Xbox Series X is a must-have for serious gamers seeking a top-notch experience.
Razor Jetts Heel Wheels
Best for Wearable Fun
Whizz along and create sparks as you go with these heel wheels. They fit shoe sizes from youth size 12 to adult size 12. The spark pads at the back are removable and replaceable.
Our boys love that these are quick and easy to put on; just pop your foot in, strap them down, and you’re off.
Great alternative to traditional skates, these are lightweight, cost-effective, and adaptable to various shoe sizes. My 10-year-old son found them challenging yet enjoyable, and after watching some demonstrations on YouTube, he was able to get the hang of it. It’s important to have good balance and coordination, and I’d recommend wearing protective gear on knees and elbows for safety. These are perfect for kids who have outgrown their Heelys, providing a fun and engaging way to exercise and spend time outdoors.
SZJJX Remote Control Car
Favorite All-Terrain RC Vehicle
Boys never grow out of playing with cars, and this one will certainly grab their attention. The four-wheel drive remote control car will work on grass, sand, and rough terrain. It has anti-slip tires, a sturdy, collision-resistant body, and flexible shock absorbers.
The car can reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour as it races around. Boys love the visual aesthetic of the blue body and shock springs.
I recently purchased this RC car and have been using it for about six months. The car itself is enjoyable to use, and the control and tire grip are impressive. However, the batteries that came with the car needed repair within the first week, and their capacity has weakened over time. My six-year-old now thinks the car is too slow, and I’ve had to replace the batteries with higher quality ones for better performance. Additionally, the screw on the battery door stripped easily, and I had to upsize the screw to fix it. The car is fun to play with on various terrains, but the lack of speed control and short battery life are disappointing aspects to consider.
4M Table Top Robot
Most Unique Robotics Toy
Creepy crawlies fascinate boys, and this robot crab is no exception. Kids learn to build it, and once it’s complete, they will have hours of fun watching it. It can scuttle around, do acrobatics, and change direction when obstacles get in the way.
The kit contains detailed instructions and requires no special tools to build it besides a Phillips head screwdriver. But make sure you have an AA battery ready to power it.
I recently purchased this robot toy for my young grandson, and he was able to assemble it quickly with minimal effort. While the concept is interesting, it may not be challenging enough for more advanced children. The robot is mechanically driven and lacks sensors, making it more akin to a wind-up toy than an educational tool. Some users reported missing parts, such as the top cover or shield, which could lead to exposed wires.
Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon
Best Lego Set
Boys — young and old — love their Legos. This is a collectible model of the Kessel Run Millenium Falcon, which appeared in “Solo: A Star Wars Movie.” It comes with six figures, including Han Solo, Chewbacca, and a DD-BD Droid.
The detailed interior of this piece features a cargo area, a compartment for missile storage, and more. It has 1414 pieces to keep your tween busy and measures 4 inches by 18 inches by 11 inches when complete.
After assembling this LEGO set over a few evenings, I was impressed by the intricate details and movable pieces that make it an incredible display piece. The interior of the ship is well-designed and even includes a missile launcher feature that my son thoroughly enjoys. Although the model is a bit cramped in some areas and not ideal for constant play due to pieces potentially falling off, it remains a fantastic addition to any Star Wars collection.
Sports and Outdoors
A 12-year-old might be getting more adept at a chosen sport. They may even be exploring several options. Or maybe they’re spending too much time indoors in front of a screen. It’s always a good idea to choose gifts that will get them off their backsides and out in the fresh air, and they’ll thank you for it later.
Nerf Lazer Tag
Best Battle Toy
We love that this laser gun creates Nerf battles without any extra protective clothing or need for clean-up. And our boys love that they don’t have to hunt for missing darts. This laser tag set includes two guns, so you don’t have to purchase an extra to play with a friend.
It’s still realistic, as the gun recoils when fired, makes laser shooting noises, and has a magazine reload. The laser tags vibrate when you’re hit and can be set for 10 or 25 hits before you have to leave the battle. Ensure you have a jumbo pack of batteries, as each gun requires six AAs.
Great laser tag set for epic Nerf battles without the need for protective gear or messy clean-ups. My kids and I enjoy playing together without having to search for lost darts afterward. This set comes with two guns, offering a realistic experience with recoiling action, laser shooting sounds, and magazine reloading. The laser tags vibrate when hit and can be set for 10 or 25 hits before elimination. Just make sure to stock up on batteries, as each gun requires six AA batteries.
4M Water Rocket Kit
Best Rocket Kit
Is your 12-year-old boy the more studious type? This water rocket kit could be great for getting him outdoors. All you need to add is a bicycle pump; everything else is in the kit.
Build your own rocket from a recycled soda bottle and launch it up to 90 feet in the air. This is a good gift for moms or dads to engage with their children, as adult supervision is advised for kids under 14.
This bottle rocket set is a blast for kids and adults alike, providing hours of entertainment. The set comes with all the necessary components, making assembly easy and straightforward. Once we figured out how to properly secure the rubber cork, our rockets soared 200-300 feet in the air! It’s worth noting that you can use any 1-liter bottle for this project, and even customize the rocket’s appearance by attaching additional bottle pieces. The only downside was the durability of the plastic fins, as they tended to break after a few launches, but the company’s responsive customer service and willingness to provide replacement parts made up for this minor issue.
Retrospec Zed Bamboo Longboard Skateboard
Skateboarding is an excellent way for a 12-year-old boy to let off some steam. They don’t want a kid version anymore and would appreciate a cool-looking longboard.
These artisan boards are made in the USA, with five designs to choose from. All will give a smooth ride with shock-absorbent polyurethane wheels. It’s also stable, making it suitable for beginners.
If you’re looking for a first longboard, this one is a fantastic choice. As a roller skater, I appreciated the ability to adjust the trucks to fit my individual style, although I did need to upgrade the bearings for a smoother ride. The board’s design holds my feet securely, making it easy to carve, and it’s not too heavy. For beginners or advanced skaters alike, these big soft wheels provide great grip in tight turns and overall, the board offers good quality at an affordable price.
Kan Jam Ultimate Disc Game
Test Your Throwing Skills
This new take on the game of frisbee is great outdoor fun. It comes with a flying disc, custom-designed by Kan Jam, and two portable can-shaped goals. Full instructions on how to play are included.
The object of the game is to get the frisbee in the can, either directly or deflected. The points you score depend on where you hit the can or if it goes in. We like that the cans are collapsible, so you can take this game when you go camping, tailgating, to the park, or to the beach.
I recently purchased this Kan Jam set and it has quickly become a favorite at my summer gatherings. The bag that comes with the set makes it super convenient to transport to the beach or other outdoor events. This game requires strategy and teamwork, making it a fun and engaging addition to our BBQs. The only downside I’ve experienced is that the frisbee seems a bit fragile, so I had to buy a sturdier one to keep the game going.
Water Balloons by Bunch O Balloons
Fine Weather Water Play
Kids love playing with water and balloons, so why not combine the two on a hot summer day? These rapid-fill balloons are self-sealing, making them fast and easy to prepare. Once they’re filled, start your water wars in the backyard.
The only downside is that you might get a few duds. But with over 265 balloons in the pack, that isn’t a deal breaker. Oh, and you need to clean up afterward — something else to keep kids active?
Love how these water balloons are perfect for keeping the little ones entertained, especially on hot summer days. I found that they’re easy to fill and attach to the hose, allowing kids to join in the fun without much adult assistance. While some balloons may not fill up or pop, the majority provide tons of fun, allowing for exciting water battles among friends and family. Just remember to clean up the little pieces after the fun is over to keep the yard safe and tidy.
Flybold Slackline Training Line Kit
Best for Stunt Performers
This kit is something completely different. It has 57 feet of 2-inch wide webbing you wrap around two trees. It also has tree protectors to ensure the trees aren’t damaged and a ratchet to tighten the webbing.
After setup, use the webbing to balance your way across the line. Once your boy is confident enough, it’s time to start learning tricks. This is an ideal gift for the budding acrobat or tightrope walker. It will be great fun to see who can balance the longest and walk the furthest.
My experience with this slackline has been quite enjoyable and it has provided a fun physical activity for the whole family. The setup process was simple and the included instructions were helpful, especially for someone new to slacklining like myself. I appreciate that it comes with tree protectors, which are easy to use and important for preserving the trees. The training line is a great addition, as it gives my kids confidence while they practice their balance.
Lifetime Portable Basketball System
Best Gift for Basketball Lovers
Shooting hoops is a great way to exercise and spend some time outdoors. This adjustable basketball hoop has a durable 44-inch backboard and a telescopic mechanism that adjusts the stand from 7.5 feet to 10 feet. You can fill the base with water or sand to stabilize it.
The steel hoop rim is weather-resistant, so there’s no need to pack it away to prevent rust.
Whether your boy practices alone or one-on-one with dad or a friend, this hoop will last for years. We like that the company offers a 5-year warranty.
I’ve been enjoying shooting hoops with this adjustable basketball hoop, which features a sturdy 44-inch backboard and a telescopic mechanism that allows height adjustment from 7 to 10 feet. The weather-resistant steel hoop rim and the option to fill the base with water or sand for stability ensure its durability for long-term use. I appreciate that this hoop can be used for solo practice or playing with friends and family. The inclusion of a 5-year warranty from the company is a reassuring bonus.
Educational and STEM Gifts
Inspire your 12-year-old boy to learn new things while having fun. There are so many great gifts available that teach kids about how things work. They can get creative and learn how to code a robot, build a working electronic circuit, or carry out science experiments.
Ravensburger GraviTrax Marble Run
Our Top STEM Choice
This set explores the laws of physics as your kids build their own marble run. There are 18 construction elements and 100 pieces included.
Create curves, freefalls, junctions, and canyons as gravity, kinetics, and magnetism help the marble reach its goal.
Our boys love the add-on kits for this set. There’s also an app that lets kids design, save blueprints, and test their own tracks.
This marble run set is incredibly engaging and different from others on the market. The hexagonal grid and steel ball bearings make for a unique and entertaining experience, although the pieces not locking together can be a bit frustrating at times. Despite being made from plastic and cardboard, the overall design is sturdy and provides hours of fun for both kids and adults.
Bose SoundLink Color II Speaker
Best Portable Speaker
It seems that every child loves melody at some point in their life. This Bluetooth speaker is a good steal for your preteen as they explore a variety of music genres. Access the free app on any mobile device to open up ways to connect and switch between devices.
The speaker will connect to any Bluetooth device.
My Bose Soundlink Color II speaker initially impressed me with its rich, clean sound and rugged design. However, after two years, the battery stopped charging, and I struggled to revive it, despite trying multiple charging methods and a driver update. Nonetheless, after some persistent button pushing, I managed to bring it back to life, and the sound quality remains as fantastic as when I first bought it.
Snap Circuits Lights Electronics Kit
Best Electronics Set
This kit contains everything necessary to complete 175 different electronics projects using over 55 snap-on pieces. The pieces are all numbered and color-coded for easy identification, and there’s no soldering required. Make a propeller glow in the dark, an infrared receiver, a strobe light with changing patterns, and more.
We like that the projects are arranged to grow harder as your child grasps the principles of electronic devices.
This educational kit has provided hours of engaging fun for children ages 7-11, with some supervision required for the younger ones. As a mechanical engineer, I found the circuit-building process to be simplified and visually appealing with the diagrams and instructions included. The kit offers a range of projects that vary in complexity, allowing for off-script experimentation and fostering creativity. However, some basic electrical concepts may not be clearly explained, and it could be helpful to start with a more basic kit. Despite some packaging issues, the overall experience with this product has been positive, and it serves as a safe and enjoyable way for kids to learn about electricity and circuitry.
Brain Quest Grade 7
Cards With a Difference
For some old-school memories, the questions and answers in this game are curriculum-based and fast-paced. It makes it fun to learn the things they need to know in the 7th grade. With questions about math, trivia, and much more, kids will be racking their brains for the answers.
Just be warned, you might not know all the answers — but don’t let the kids find out.
I recently purchased this deck of Brain Quest cards for my incoming 7th grader to maintain their academic skills during the summer break. The variety of questions keeps them engaged and sometimes even stumps me. The construction is durable enough for repeated use, and I appreciate that the answers are on the next card, eliminating the need to flip back and forth. However, the inconsistency in question difficulty is noticeable, with some being too easy or too difficult for the intended age group. Despite this, these cards have been a valuable addition to our family’s learning resources and have sparked interesting conversations.
Thames and Kosmos Chemistry Set
Boys love experiments, and this kit lets them participate on their own. It comes with lots of equipment necessary for the entire scientific discovery.
The enclosed manual details over 28 experiments, covering the procedures and rationale of every activity. Your teen will enjoy learning while having fun. There are some simple chemical elements you might need to add for some experiments. Parental supervision may be required, depending on your child’s abilities and maturity.
My experience with this chemistry set has been a fun way to engage in science projects with my child on rainy days. While it includes clear instructions and safety goggles for various experiments, more vials would have been a great addition as they take time to air dry between projects. Keep in mind that you’ll need to supply several household items for the experiments, and it may require some extra store trips. Moreover, parents should read the instruction manual and purchase additional required items, such as denatured alcohol and a 9-volt battery, beforehand to ensure a smooth experience for their kids.
Sphero Mini App-Controlled Robot Ball
Best Coding Gift for 12-Year-Old Boys
Introduce your child to the world of coding with this fun robot. The Shero mini app lets your boy control the robot with a joystick, slingshot, or facial recognition. The robot reacts to frowns, smiles, and head tilts, among other expressions.
This mini robot ball is both fun and educational, offering a variety of driving modes and games for users of all ages. It performs well on different surfaces, including carpets, and is surprisingly fast and durable despite its small size. The accompanying app allows for coding and customization, making it an excellent tool for game developers and robotics enthusiasts. While it may not appeal to everyone, it has proven to be an entertaining and engaging toy for both children and pets.
Bottleboom 13-in-1 Solar Power Robot
Best Multi-Design Robot Kit
This electronics kit is great for creating 13 different robot inventions for kids. Its best feature is that it is powered by alternative energy, so you don’t need to buy batteries or charge it. These robots can work on both land and water.
We love how this inexpensive kit inspires kids to become inventive by making their own robots and reassembling them.
This STEM robot toy might seem thoughtful at first glance, but it does require a lot of patience and time to assemble. I found that the small parts and intricate assembly can be a bit complicated for younger kids, so they might need adult help to complete the build. Once completed, the solar panel requires direct sunlight or a bright light bulb to function properly, which can be a bit of a challenge. Despite the difficulties, it was an enjoyable learning experience for both kids and parents, though I wouldn’t recommend it for those with limited patience.
The Best of the Rest
There are so many different gifts that can appeal to a 12-year-old boy, whether it’s a football kit just like the one used by their favorite team, or a gimmicky gift like some razor wheels. These are our top alternative gift choices.
Klutz Star Wars Folded Flyers
Best Papercraft Gift for Boys
Paper planes are great fun, and these Star Wars planes are no exception. Make them fly through the cosmos of your bedroom or backyard. The kit includes 40 sheets of custom-designed paper, tape, and six display stands.
The easy-to-follow instructional book will help your 12-year-old fold his planes.
For someone who loves Star Wars and paper airplanes, these Star Wars Folded Flyers offer a unique and enjoyable crafting experience. I found the instructions to be a bit unclear at times, but working on these designs with my kids allowed us to bond and problem-solve together. While the aerodynamics of the planes may not be perfect, they still provide hours of fun and creative play for kids and adults alike.
Riddell NFL Football Helmet Playoff Tracker
Best Gift for NFL Fans
For the junior football fan in your life, this set of 32 NFL replica team helmets will let them track each team’s standings and playoffs. The set comes with two backing boards to help them do this.
Each helmet has the team name on either side and measures approximately 1.5 inches high. Simply place the helmets in the order of their standings and switch them around as the season progresses. Your boy can use the helmets to track the current standings or to make his own predictions.
This product is NFL licensed.
I’m impressed by the quality and detail of these 32 NFL replica team helmets, perfect for any junior football fan. As a hands-on learning tool, they can track each team’s standings and playoffs using the two included backing boards. The helmets, measuring approximately 1.5 inches high, have team names on both sides, making it easy to identify and arrange them according to the season’s progression. My child loves using the helmets to make predictions and stay engaged with the NFL season.
Spin Master Games Perplexus Beast
Most Addictive Maze Game
Perplexus creates some awesome 3D maze puzzles. This original 100-obstacle labyrinth requires you to navigate its track and pathways to master the maze. Several challenges will meet you on your way.
While this game is easy to play, it will have your 12-year-old twisting and turning to defeat and destroy the beast. Play it again and again to beat your previous time.
Love how this toy engages both children and adults alike, making it a delightful addition to our family’s collection. My grandson and I spent quality time learning to navigate the intricate tracks, which provided a stimulating challenge without being excessively difficult. This toy has proven to be a calming and entertaining alternative to screen time, helping develop hand-eye coordination in the process. The three starting positions serve as checkpoints, ensuring that a dropped marble doesn’t completely derail the fun. This captivating and enjoyable toy keeps everyone entertained, although be warned – it can be tough to put down!
Hover-1 Chrome 2.0 Hoverboard
This is no ordinary hoverboard. As well as having a top cruising speed of just over 7 miles per hour, it also plays music and has LED lights. Bluetooth connection lets you play your favorite tunes through the speakers while you coast.
Choose from several color options for the perfect fit for your boy.
I’ve been using this hoverboard for a while now, and while my kids absolutely love it, I’ve noticed a few drawbacks. The lights and ease of use are great, but the durability leaves something to be desired – parts broke off after a few bumps in the house. Additionally, the battery life seems to vary between different colors of the same model, which can be frustrating when my kids want to ride together.
Activ Life LED Bike Wheel Lights
Best for Bike Safety
These cool LED lights will enhance your 12-year-old’s bike while keeping him safe. As he ages, he’ll undoubtedly be out later in the evenings, returning when daylight is fading — so you want him to be visible.
This set comprises 2 LED lights, complete with zip ties and batteries. It’s enough for one bike wheel up to 29 inches or one bike frame. There are 12+ colors to choose from, so you can order more than one set and customize your kid’s bike.
These bike wheel lights are a fantastic addition to my cycling gear, providing extra visibility during both day and night rides. They were a bit challenging to install, but once in place, they have made me feel much safer on the road. The lights are bright, colorful, and have even earned me some compliments from fellow riders. Although the battery life could be better, overall, I am very happy with this purchase and the increased visibility it provides.
RC Stunt Car By Threeking
Cars and Soccer
Any preteen would be enticed by how this car can perform amazing stunts. It can roll, spin, flip, and dance. It travels at speeds of up to 7.5 miles per hour.
This highly addictive toy can travel on many terrains with its skid-resistant, shock-absorbent tires. And it runs for up to half an hour between charges. To charge, use the included USB cable. However, you’ll have to purchase two AA batteries to operate the remote.
Best toy I’ve bought in a while! As soon as I charged the car and put batteries in the remote control, it came to life and raced around, flipping and contorting as expected. My 5-year-old grandson couldn’t get enough of it, and even the adults wanted to join in on the fun. The only downside was that the two-prong wall plug wasn’t included, so I had to purchase one separately to complete the gift.
Mojang Minecraft Game
Minecraft is a downloadable app, compatible with many devices, and is one of the most popular phenomena in the world of tweens. Your child will learn to build, create, and survive in the Minecraft world. This game helps kids learn real-life skills and encourages them to be creative.
The only problem you might have is stopping them from playing or talking about Minecraft — it certainly seems to be addictive. It’s worth noting that kids under 13 need parental permission to play, though many find it suitable for much younger children.
This Minecraft app has been a hit among tweens, offering endless opportunities to build, create, and explore a virtual world. I’ve witnessed firsthand how it helps kids develop real-life skills and sparks their imagination, though it can be quite addictive. While it requires parental permission for those under 13, many find it suitable for younger children as well.
How to Choose a Gift for a 12-Year-Old Boy
It’s that awkward age of adolescence. One minute a 12-year-old behaves like the child you’ve always known, and the next, it seems they’ve turned into a mini-adult.
Their interests are ever-changing, and their independence grows daily. One thing is guaranteed: they still enjoy receiving gifts, even if they’re hesitant to show their excitement. But what sort of gifts should you buy?
We’ve learned that it’s best to look for things that enhance skills in their chosen sports activities or encourage them to engage with friends. After all, playing with siblings or mom and dad is no longer seen as cool. That being said, there are times when they’ll still want family interaction.
Boys of this age are more concerned with what their peers think, so they might want the latest gadgets or trending gifts. While these are constantly changing, the classics, like Lego and video games, are still cool.
Twelve-year-olds like to be challenged. They can now apply logic and problem-solving skills to situations. We like age-appropriate gifts that engage developing brains and keep them interested. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) gifts will help them in school while still being fun (1) .