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27 Best Toys and Gifts for 12-Year-Old Boys

Updated 18 November 2020

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If you’ve ever tried to buy gifts for 12-year-old boys, you know it’s not as simple as it sounds. At 12, boys are trapped in that awkward age between childhood and teenage years — they’re in limbo between fun and carefree playtime and the pressure to keep up with the latest middle-school trends.

With that in mind, choosing the perfect gift can be stressful for parents and loved ones. To help you win your favorite 12-year-old boy’s elusive approval, we’ve sorted through the many options and found the best gifts on the market. Our recommendations are based on recent reviews from real parents — our research method weeds out fake reviews to ensure that we’re only selecting the best toys out there.

1Prism Synapse Dual-line Parafoil Kite

This parafoil kite takes kite-flying to the next level; the dual-line design makes it easy for beginners to perform stunts and trick flying. The brilliant color is easy to spot against bright or cloudy skies, streamlining the learning process. With the included kite, lines, instructions, and storage bag, you have everything you need to master this thrilling sport.

What we love

  • Perfect for beginners thanks to the high aspect ratio that boosts stability
  • Made from high-quality fabric and designed to resist damage and breaking

We dont like this as much

  • Beginners may struggle with 60ft cord

2NERF Fortnite AR-L Elite Dart Blaster

This NERF AR-L Elite blaster brings the fun of Fortnite off of the screen and into real life. With its motorized design, this blaster releases up to 10 darts in sequence to ensure exciting, fast-paced play. Two sights flip up from the body to improve aim and coordination, and the 20 included darts make for fast reloading of the clip.

What we love

  • Has an acceleration button that increases motor priming speed
  • Darts are performance-tested foam, so they fly farther

We dont like this as much

  • Requires 4 AA batteries to operate that are not included

3LEGO Minecraft The Dungeon

This LEGO set enables kids to build their own version of a dungeon from the popular Minecraft video game. The 219 included pieces create an age-appropriate challenge for 12-year-olds. Miniature zombies and a Steve figure are included, and the set is designed to combine with other Minecraft LEGO collections to create a full realization of the digital world.

What we love

  • Perfect for encouraging imaginative play
  • Spawner and secret wall gives kids more to explore

We dont like this as much

  • Lego pieces may unclasp as time passes

4 Zing Stikbots

Zing Stikbots gives kids the power to create their own stop-action movies. Each of the five colorful figurines features a body with multiple adjustable joints, opening up a wide range of posing possibilities. The free Stikbot Studios app captures still images of the figurines and animates them for easy, fun film-making.

What we love

  • Comes with strong suction cups that fasten to most flat surfaces
  • Animal and human figurines enable creative storytelling

We dont like this as much

  • The Stikbot Studios app can take some time and patience to master

5The Dangerous Book for Boys

The Dangerous Book for Boys encourages kids to step away from the screen and have fun in the real world. It covers a wide range of fun projects and useful skills, including building a treehouse, making crystals, and learning naval flag codes. This version has been rewritten for an American audience, using language and topics that are familiar to kids in the U.S.

What we love

  • Offers a nice mix of indoor and outdoor projects
  • Encourages boys to embrace virtues such as kindness and patience

We dont like this as much

  • Some projects, including building the treehouse and bow and arrow set, require parental supervision

6NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Junior Metal Detector

Turn every outing into a treasure hunt with the junior metal detector that uses a dual-coil design to find metal objects. The lightweight, kid-sized frame is easy to hold, and the telescoping arm adjusts to suit a growing child. Rely on the instructional guide to increase the chance of finding coins, jewelry, and more.

What we love

  • Coil is waterproof for near-water searching
  • Lightweight frame and padded strap reduce the risk of arm fatigue or discomfort

We dont like this as much

  • The telescoping section of the wand feels less sturdy when fully extended

7Melissa & Doug Suspend Family Game

The Suspend Family Game is a balancing game that improves hand-eye coordination and encourages interaction among a maximum of four players. As the game progresses, players must think strategically to place their rod without upsetting the structure. The set comes with everything that’s needed for play, including 24 game rods, a base, and a die.

What we love

  • Fun for both older kids and adults, so it’s a great family activity
  • Requires players to think strategically, building critical cognitive skills

We dont like this as much

  • It can take some time for players to get the hang of the game

8Stream Machine DB-1500 Double Barrel Water Launcher

This double-barrel launcher shoots two streams of water at once, ensuring maximum soaking during a water fight. The long barrels are designed to help kids improve their aim, and the simple pump handle fills the reservoirs quickly. Each launcher is injection-molded using impregnated polymers to ensure durability and rich, vibrant colors.

What we love

  • Durable plastic body is tough enough for intense water fights
  • High capacity allows kids to shoot for longer before stopping to refill

We dont like this as much

  • It can be difficult to drain the barrels completely, which leads to longer drying times.

9LABISTS Raspberry Pi Camera Module

The Raspberry Pi camera module gives kids everything they need to build, program, and operate their own camera. This module works in combination with a Raspberry Pi board, which is sold separately; kids learn to write the programming to control the camera functions and adjust the quality of the image. Each set includes a clear case to prevent damage to the camera components from water and debris.

What we love

  • Software programs available for download to write code to create custom camera actions such as motion-sensing
  • Decent image quality for both still images and video footage.

We dont like this as much

  • The camera is only suited to shoot photos in lighted areas; it’s not designed for use at night.

10Magic the Gathering Cards

This set of Magic the Gathering cards help players build a deck for the popular fantasy role-playing game. Each box comes with 1,000 cards, including 15 foils, 15 mythic rares, three uncommon planeswalkers, and one planeswalker that’s either mythic or rare. The set provides a broad mix of characters, so kids can discover new spells and creatures to bring life to every game.

What we love

  • Great for beginners and more experienced players alike
  • Contains extra cards to reduce the risk of duplication

We dont like this as much

  • Don’t have control over the type of the cards you’re getting

11Dominion Big Box II Board Game

This Big Box II board game comes with two different strategy games: the second edition of Dominion and the second edition of Dominion: Intrigue. With the included extra base cards, kids can play alone or with groups of up to six people. The rules and the text on the cards have been updated, so they’re easier for younger players to follow.

What we love

  • Compatible with any Dominion expansion pack
  • Offers enough variation that they’re fun to play over and over again

We dont like this as much

  • Not ideal for on-the-go fun as the box is large and a bit bulky

12Ideal Magic Spectacular Magic Suitcase

Encourage a budding magician with this suitcase from Ideal; it’s packed with everything that’s necessary to perform 100 different tricks, plus a wand and a hat for the full visual effect. Pull out the drawer, and the durable suitcase transforms into a table. Along with the included instructional booklets, this set comes with links to online videos to speed up the learning process.

What we love

  • Easy for young magicians to learn yet still impressive to amaze audience
  • Plenty of variety to keep kids engaged

We dont like this as much

  • Some of the included components aren’t designed for long-term use

13Activ Life Kid's Flying Rings

Encourage energetic outdoor play with this set of flying rings from Activ Life. Designed with a center hole, these rings are easy to throw and catch. Each ring weighs 1.2 ounces, so it’s comfortable to hold and unlikely to cause injury. This pack comes with two rings, each measuring 9-5/8 inches across.

What we love

  • Rings are easy to toss up to 30 feet and up to 80ft on clear days
  • Are safe and pain-free to catch

We dont like this as much

  • Light material makes it susceptible to damage over time

14Hit Run Steal Portable Pop Up Soccer Goals

Set up a playing field anywhere with these pop-up soccer goals from Hit Run Steal. Made with a metal frame and lightweight fabric net, they’re tough enough to stand up to high-speed kicks. This set comes with two goals; choose from 4-foot or 6-foot heights. You’ll also get ground stakes to keep the nets in place, as well as a carrying bag for safe transportation.

What we love

  • The goals are surprisingly strong and can handle rough play
  • Setup and storage are both easy and quick

We dont like this as much

  • Strap that connects the goal to the ground stake can be a tripping hazard

15SPESXFUN Remote-Controlled Car

The SPESXFUN RC car is a 1/16-scale replica of a racing drift buggy. It’s built for speed and durability; its ABS body and metal frame hold up to heavy-duty driving, and the shockproof springs are built for jumps. Two included battery packs deliver up to 60 minutes of continuous play, and the infrared controller offers precise steering.

What we love

  • Oversized tires keep the car from spinning out in the dirt or mud.
  • Has a top speed of 15 miles per hour

We dont like this as much

  • No way to control driving speed

16R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid

This R2-D2 droid is part robot toy and part learning tool. It pairs with the Sphero app, so kids can learn and execute basic programming actions to control its movements using a smartphone. The LED lights bring a realistic glow, and the integrated speaker recreates R2-D2’s legendary sounds. Use the Bluetooth connection to operate the robot over a 100-foot range.

What we love

  • Multiple programming options encourage kids in STEM skill development
  • When kids watch a Star Wars movie, the R2-D2 robot watches along and reacts to crucial plot points

We dont like this as much

  • Robot works on carpet, but it doesn’t perform as well as it does on hard flooring

17Nintendo Switch Lite

The Nintendo Switch Lite is a handheld gaming device that’s compact and light enough for portable play. The built-in buttons and toggle switches allow kids to play without external controllers. This model is 8.2 inches long and 3.6 inches high and comes in turquoise, yellow, coral, or grey.

What we love

  • Can be paired with external Joy-Cons just like the original Switch
  • Compatible with all Switch games

We dont like this as much

  • Can't be used as a home console, unlike the original Switch

18Airfix Supermarine Spitfire MkIa Starter Gift Set

This airplane kit from Airfix includes a 1:72 scale model of a Supermarine Spitfire Mk.la fighter plane, which was a key player in the Battle of Britain. Each kit comes with the supplies to assemble and decorate the plane, including poly cement, paints, and a paintbrush. With its simple design, this is an ideal set for beginning builders.

What we love

  • Shaping is accurate and well-designed resembling the actual aircraft
  • Offers a blend of challenge and time that allows kids to feel capable and accomplished

We dont like this as much

  • Some parts may be slightly misshapen, so you may need to sand them slightly to achieve a perfect fit

19Star Trek Next Generation Bluetooth Communicator Badge

This Star Trek communicator badge connects to a phone using Bluetooth — once paired, the integrated speaker can play music or broadcast a phone call. The badge is also compatible with voice assistants including Siri and Google Assistants, so kids can use it to send hands-free texts. Star Trek-inspired sound effects recreate the classic chirps from the popular TV show.

What we love

  • Magnetic connector is super-strong so badge stays in place during play
  • Officially licensed, so the colors and shape are exactly the same as the devices worn on Star Trek Next Generation

We dont like this as much

  • Battery isn’t long-lasting, so the badge may need frequent charging

20Arcade Pro Scooter

Designed for trick riding, the Arcade Pro Scooter helps kids perform safe, fun stunts. Fabricated with stamped forks and a solid deck, this toy stays stable under intense pressure and high impact levels. Parents love the smooth bearings, which create a silent ride. This model stands 38.5 inches tall, weighs 7.5 pounds, and holds up to 220 pounds. A stand is included for easy storage.

What we love

  • Perfect for beginners who are prone to crashes
  • Durable design is built to last for years

We dont like this as much

  • Assembling the scooter can be tricky, particularly when it comes to tightening the handlebars

21LIEAGLE Hoverboard

The LIEAGLE hoverboard is a motorized riding toy; kids balance on the deck and use the two-wheeled base to travel in any direction. This model is made for beginners — the textured treads prevent slipping, and the self-balancing design keeps riders upright. Built-in Bluetooth speakers and LED lights make every ride more fun.

What we love

  • Materials are high-quality, so this hoverboard is made to last
  • Has a short learning curve to keep kids engaged

We dont like this as much

  • Wheels are a bit harder to control on pavement, grass, and other uneven surfaces

22Q9 Remote-Controlled Drone

This drone uses a simple remote controller to fly high in the air. Four round propeller units perform flips and in-air rotations, and the included battery packs run for 18 minutes of continuous flight. Integrated LED lights add a flash of color that’s fun for nighttime flying. Choose from multiple flying modes and three speeds.

What we love

  • Relatively quiet and unlikely to disturb neighbors
  • Propellers feature a built-in guard for safe indoor and outdoor flying

We dont like this as much

  • Isn’t intended to withstand extreme conditions or multiple crashes.

23PAXCESS Electronic Drum Set

Encourage a budding drummer with this electronic drum set. With seven different pads accented in neon green, kids can create sound ranging from snare drums to hi-hat symbols for a complete musical experience. This set comes with drum sticks, a USB charging cable, and two foot pedals to add the bass drum into the mix. Play using the built-in speaker or plug in a pair of headphones for quiet practice.

What we love

  • The pad rolls up for easier storage
  • Features an adjustable volume level to suit a range of indoor and outdoor space

We dont like this as much

  • Response time is slightly slow, but beginning players are unlikely to notice

24Let’s Start Coding Code Piano

Delight kids who love music and computer programming with this eight-key code piano. Using simple, beginner-friendly commands, players can create electronic music through the integrated speaker. The included instructions provide easy-to-follow steps for more than 10 projects, and the included carrying case keeps the circuit board safe.

What we love

  • Debugger makes it easier for young coders to spot errors
  • Challenging yet fun, particularly for beginners

We dont like this as much

  • Isn't compatible with phones or tablets — it requires a desktop or laptop computer that’s connected to the internet

25KidGenio V9 Engine and Traffic Kit

With more than 300 parts, this challenging kit teaches kids how to build their own V8 engine. In the process, they learn STEM skills and discover exactly how an internal combustion engine works. This model uses a motor rather than gasoline, making it a safe option for inside play. Built-in sounds and lights complete the engine experience.

What we love

  • Instructions are clear and easy for young builders to follow
  • Parts look realistic and introduce kids to the parts of an engine

We dont like this as much

  • Requires three AA batteries to work that are not included

26SoundBot Wireless Smart Speaker Beanie

For 12-year-old boys who love music, this SoundBot speaker hat is a convenient solution. It’s made with built-in Bluetooth speakers, so it connects wirelessly to a phone and streams music directly into the ears. A built-in mic allows kids to make calls or send hands-free texts. The knit hat is one-size-fits-all; select from multiple colors.

What we love

  • Looks like a typical beanie, so it can be worn as an accessory even without music
  • Hands-free design makes it suitable for listening to during any activity

We dont like this as much

  • Sound quality is acceptable but not as immersive as traditional headphones

27Magneto Mini Cruiser Skateboard

The Magneto is a short board —at just 27.5 inches long, it’s made for everyday riding and easy carrying. Double kick tails allow riders to do basic tricks, including ollies and mannies. Rely on the sand-grit top to prevent slipping, and trust the Canadian maple deck to provide strength and durability.

What we love

  • Wheels and trucks are made from high-quality materials for a responsive feel
  • Classic, simple artwork that suits all types of styles

We dont like this as much

  • Board is built for beginners, so the bearings aren’t designed to stand up to intense riding