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.
- 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 & 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
Best Toys & Gifts for 12-Year-Old Boys of 2023
Here are some great gift and toy ideas for 12-year-old boys.
Technology and Electronics
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Games and Toys
Melissa & 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 & Doug company.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sports and Outdoors
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Educational and STEM Gifts
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.
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.
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.
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.
Thames & 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.
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.
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.
The Best of the Rest
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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-absorbant 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.
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.
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).