The Best Toys for 12-Year-Old Boys – 2020 Gifts Ideas
Buying gifts for 12 year olds isn’t always easy. What are the best toys for 12 year old boys? From about 10 to 13 years, children are busy trying out new things and getting an idea of where their interests lie. If you know the child, it’s much easier to buy things that are relevant to his interests. If he’s your son, figuring out what his passions are shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
Even if you don’t know, you can always ask some of his friends or other family members – discreetly, of course; you don’t want to tip him off that you plan on buying a gift.
So, what are the best toys for 12 year old boys? Here are some gift ideas.
- Super Cool LED Bike Lights
- Craft Boy Catapult Wars
- Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set
- EpochAir Remote Control Car
- Safety Dart Set
- NSG Jr. Boxing Set
- Lifetime Adjustable Basketball System
- The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
- Holy Stone HS210 Mini Drone
- Robot Toys RC Robot
- Straw Construction Set
- Kids Explorer Kit
- LIGHT Electronics Exploration Kit
- Speed Cubes
- LED Hover Soccer Ball
- Razor MX400 Dirt Rocket
- 3D Coloring Puzzle Set
- Car Mechanic Simulator
- A 12 Year Old’s Development: What Should You Expect?
- What Kinds of Toys Do 12-Year-Olds Like?
- What About Toy Safety for 12-Year-Olds?
Super Cool LED Bike Lights
This is a useful, fun, and the perfect gift for the right child. Your child gets to have a flashy bike, and you get the comfort of knowing drivers can see him more easily.
- Multiple colors
- Excellent safety feature
- Can be hard to attach
If the child has a bicycle, safety is of paramount concern and goes beyond just wearing a helmet. The bike needs to be visible. Luckily, these LED bike lights accomplish that purpose while giving the bike an undeniably recognizable look that your child is sure to love.
The LEDs come in your choice of several colors, making it easy for the boy to customize the LED to match the bike’s color. Whether he wants blue, green, red, yellow, or another color, all options are available.
Craft Boy Catapult Wars
It’s like a mix between Lincoln Logs, Game of Thrones, and Minecraft.
- Simple, intuitive construction
- Introduces the concept of projectile motion
- Glue takes a long time to set
Catapult Wars lets your 12-year-old boy channel his inner medieval side by crafting this miniaturized siege weapon, engaging in strategic battles with his friends. The catapults are easy to set up, just by following the included instructions. They aren’t excessively powerful so that they can be safely played with inside and outside.
As for ammunition, the catapults use bean bags, which do little to no damage. The only downside is you’ll need to let the glue dry for about a day before playing with the toy.
Darice 80-Piece Deluxe Art Set
This kit works great for both beginner and advanced artists: the most basic colored pencils are included, as are more advanced media like watercolor paints.
- Encourages artistic experimenting
- Suitable for multiple mediums
- Small parts can get lost
Nourish your 12-year-old’s artistic side by getting him this deluxe art set. It has 80 pieces including everything from colored pencils to acrylic paints and watercolor paints. Erasers, H-B pencils, and other materials come with the kit as well, allowing the child to experiment with different media. The case latches shut for easy portability and storage, so you don’t have to worry about any of the pieces being lost.
Even if your child’s starting out on his artistic journey, it still has enough tools to get him started. The wooden case looks great on its own, giving a sense of seriousness to the endeavor of creating art.
EpochAir Remote Control Car
This EpochAir RC car makes a nice starter gift for the RC enthusiast in your family.
- Easy to use
- Sturdy materials
- Not super exciting to look at
Flying RC drones might be the new craze among teens and adults alike, but you have to drive before you can fly. This car has three separate functions; it can drive on the floor like a normal car, and it has a vacuum seal that lets it drive on sheer walls for a short period. This means it can do tricks and traverse surfaces it otherwise wouldn’t.
If your child tried his hand with RC cars in the past and had them break, you need not worry. The EpochAir is made of ABS plastics that have more crash resistance and overall toughness. Crashing with an RC car is pretty much a certainty, so it’s important that it be able to withstand the forces involved.
Safety Dart Set
This game can improve hand-eye coordination, concentration, and teamwork when playing with friends in a casual two-on-two tournament.
- Safe to play with indoors
- Promotes hand-eye coordination
- Dart tips can get bent
Darts are always a fun pastime. What’s not so fun is errant darts making holes in the wallpaper. This safety dartboard can remedy that by using plastic darts and a stippled board. The darts ideally go into the holes in the board.
The board itself is laid out just like a standard dartboard, with rings for double and triple points, a bullseye, and the numbered parts for single points.
It’s easy to set up; all you need is a stud and a nail from which to hang the board.
NSG Jr. Boxing Set
Whether this is a gift to promote fitness, boxing skill, or simply a way to vent aggression, this boxing set works well for young boys of all stripes.
- Easy to set up
- Easy on child’s knuckles because the bag is air-filled
- Not meant for indoor use
The preteen years are a time of increased emotions, especially aggression. A good toy for 12-year-olds is this NSG Jr. Boxing Set. It allows him to take out his frustrations in a healthy, constructive manner without damaging property.
The boxing set has a speed bag attached to a base. The base, when filled with sand or water, provides enough weight and force to withstand even the heaviest punches your child can unleash upon the bag. It’s best to set the bag up outdoors on grass or concrete.
The adjustable stand makes it easy to collapse and move the punching bag stand anywhere you want, and the bag itself is simply air-inflated with an included pump.
Lifetime Adjustable Basketball System
Nothing gets the blood pumping for preteen boys like a friendly game of hoops.
- Easy to set up
- Adjustable height
- Not as sturdy as an in-ground basketball goal
The pole telescopes, making the basketball goal able to change height between 7.5 and 10 feet. It’s perfect for practicing those long shots, or if your boy aspires to be like Mike, slam dunks. The backboard and rim are both made of polystyrene material, which is durable and can hold its own against the weather.
Just like the punching bag, this basketball goal comes with a base that you fill with water, sand, or other heavy material to keep it from moving unless you want it to. If you want to switch locations, simply drain the base, move the goal, and refill it.
Want to give your teen guitarist a fun practice tool? Set him up with Rocksmith, a premier software package by Ubisoft.
- Excellent tool for learning to play music
- Multiple songs to start
- Limited song selection at first, more unlocked through DLC
As soon as you put the disc in and connect your guitar, you start learning songs from classic artists of the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Over 50 songs come prepackaged with the disc, and more are available as downloadable content (DLC).
The software works with electric guitar, electric bass, or acoustic guitar with a USB-enabled mic. All you need is a ¼-inch input jack on the guitar, which most electrics have. Rocksmith has been used by many people as a tool for teaching guitar. Even by just learning the songs without any of the practice exercises on the CD, musical skill will likely improve.
The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited
If your preteen is a fan of massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), The Elder Scrolls Online is a good starting point.
- Immersive gaming experience
- Opportunity for online socializing and playing with friends
- Regular content updates
- Mature themes
If your preteen is a fan of massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), The Elder Scrolls Online is a good starting point for someone wanting a non-subscription-based MMO. Unlike World of Warcraft, ESO is buy-to-play, meaning you only have to buy the initial game disc. The game itself is set on the continent of Tamriel, where players can create their character from the ground up and participate in a wide range of activities from crafting to combat to trading items.
The game is extremely active on all consoles and receives regular DLC updates. The newest update, Summerset, will allow players to visit a new region and unlock new crafting skills. The game has mature themes but set in a clear fantasy medium.
Holy Stone HS210 Mini Drone
Even amateur pilots can make the drone flip, spin and soar. The drone also lands automatically.
- Durable drones and controller
- Easy operation with auto hovering and landing
- Includes three batteries
- Relatively short flying times
Take to the skies with this fun mini-drone from Holy Stone. The set includes three mini quadcopters, three battery packs and a controller. The mini drones are durable, easy to fly and safe for pre-teens.
The three batteries provide a total flight time of 21 minutes. An auto-hovering feature keeps the drone at a level height with the push of a button. Additionally, a Headless Mode means you can fly the drone in any direction, even if you can’t see what direction it’s facing.
Plus, they’re fun to fly! Even amateur pilots can make the drone flip, spin and soar. The drone also lands automatically. It provides all the fun of a full-size drone but in an easy-to-fly, kid-friendly package.
Robot Toys RC Robot
This toy for the technically-inclined children teaches basic programming.
- Teaches basic programming
- Easy to learn how to use
- Not as durable for rough children
Children love technology, and toy manufacturers have taken notice. This programmable RC robot from KINGSDRAGON uses gesture controls and a programmable remote control to teach kids how to use modern technology. With the ability to save up to 50 instructions, it’s also capable of performing some incredibly complex tasks.
This product is particularly good for children who want to learn how to use technology when they play. Robotics isn’t for every child, so be sure to ask your 12 year old if they’re interested in these kinds of products before you get one. Consider showing them a video of programmable robots and setting aside specific times to use this toy.
Straw Construction Set
Straw construction sets support creativity and teach engineering skills.
- Effectively infinite variety of possible shapes
- Comes with enough straws to make large designs
- Prone to breaking under too much force
- Can be messy
ZoZoplay’s Straw Construction Set is a toy for creative, engineering-focused children who enjoy stacking, building, and otherwise bringing their ideas to life. If they enjoy video games like Minecraft, they may particularly enjoy the ability to create blocks and other shapes in the physical world.
This set comes with 800 bendable plastic straws and assorted connectors. Together, these are capable of letting children build almost anything they can imagine, though you may want to buy a second pack if your kid seems like they’re going to break a lot of straws or they want to build something particularly large.
For added educational value, you can build particularly-complex structures over time.
Kids Explorer Kit
This kid-focused adventure set comes with working survival tools.
- Comes with working survival equipment, including compass and whistle
- Lightweight and easy for children to carry
- The insect focus is not as appealing for kids who don’t like bugs
Even with modern technology like GPS, survival skills are a particularly valuable trait for children of any age. You never know when they’ll need to find their way back to civilization, and this exploration kit comes with all of the tools you need to teach outdoor exploration and survival skills.
This toy works especially well with parental involvement. Instead of simply giving them the bag and telling them to go play, consider creating orienteering exercises and teaching them how to use each tool. By slowly increasing the difficulty, they’ll learn how to use each tool and respond well during emergencies.
LIGHT Electronics Exploration Kit
This light-up electronics-focused toy works with smartphones to teach kids about circuits.
- Integrates with smartphones to keep kids excited about technology
- Helps children learn about circuits and other STEM concepts
- More technical than most toys
- May bore boys who aren’t into STEM
Snap Circuits’ LIGHT kit is the modern version of older electronics-building toys. Thick plastic parts make it durable enough to withstand roughhousing, while the integration of smartphones to light up when playing music provides a hook to keep kids’ attention.
This toy is particularly good for boys who enjoy building things and want to learn more about how their technology works. It’s also useful for introducing complex STEM topics. If your kid is interested, this could be the spark they need to pursue a long, productive career.
Snap Circuits sells other versions of this product, including more-complex ones that can teach further skills as your kid continues growing.
While not limited to cubes, this set of 5 products teaches increasingly-complex motor and processing skills.
- Comes in multiple, increasingly-complex designs to keep challenging kids
- Durable enough to withstand extended use
- Requires your participation to randomize the blocks between uses
- Not appropriate for boys who don’t like puzzles
ROXENDA’s 5-pack of speed cubes is ideal for teaching hand-eye coordination and rapid image processing using increasingly-complex shapes. Each cube has a strategy that makes solving them easy, and gradually discovering thi is the real value of these toys. For competitive children, you can also randomize the shapes and time your kids on how fast they complete it.
Speed cubes are especially useful for boys who want to fidget a lot or need to hold something to stay occupied. Many young boys are used to interacting with electronics when bored, so speed cubes (or, more accurately, speed shapes) offer a non-electronic alternative that can encourage additional brain development.
If you want to look good, master each of these before you show them to your child. Your ability to effortlessly solve them quickly proves it can be done and may help inspire your child.
LED Hover Soccer Ball
This foam-edged soccer ball is great for indoor fun.
- Thick foam edge protects feet and furniture
- Usable under various lighting conditions
- Heavily affected by home and furniture layout
- Mainly an indoor product
Toyk’s indoor LED hover soccer ball is an electronic toy that sucks in air from a top vent and expels it from the bottom, allowing it to hover slightly off the ground and glide smoothly over different types of flooring. This is particularly helpful when your home has different areas like carpeting and tile that could slow down other products.
Multicolored LED lights make this product bright enough to use even when it’s dark out, so the fun doesn’t have to end too early. However, the real value is the thick foam edge that protects furniture and feet alike.
Razor MX400 Dirt Rocket
This quiet but surprisingly powerful motorized bike is great for kids who love racing.
- Thick wheels and a sturdy body make this a safe motorized bike for kids
- Lasts up to 30 minutes per charge
- Significantly more expensive than most other toys
- Rider can fall and get hurt
If you’re looking for a premium toy, it’s hard to get much better than a motorized bike like Razor’s MX400 Dirt Rocket. This bike can get speeds of up to 14 miles per hour and lasts for up to thirty minutes on each charge. Thick, knobby tires give extra grip on dirt and other surfaces to help boys stay safe while they’re riding.
This bike works best on areas with flat surfaces or low inclines. If you live in a steeper area, consider getting a more powerful bike instead.
3D Coloring Puzzle Set
This set of five puzzles features a non-repetitive design that helps stimulate creativity.
- The non-repetitive pattern helps keep kids actively engages with color each piece
- Ideal for artistic boys, as well as those who enjoy assembling things
- Not reusable, though the puzzles can be used as toys once assembled
For artistic children, 3D coloring puzzles offer a combination of experiences that are hard to duplicate with other toys. This set of five puzzles starts with a non-repetitive coloring process designed to keep children engaged. Rather than quickly filling in large areas, they must focus on small details and change colors regularly.
After coloring the pieces, their next job is to assemble each of the puzzle pieces into a completed form. This multi-stage process is great for establishing individuality, and the fact that each puzzle is usable as a toy afterward provides some long-term value.
Car Mechanic Simulator
This in-depth video game can teach children about car parts and prepare them for working on real cars later in life.
- The robust simulation includes more than 1000 parts for different vehicles
- Includes random missions to test kids’ learning and creativity
- Requires a platform
- Less action-oriented than racing games
Car Mechanic Simulator is an outstanding video game for kids who like cars, racing, and related topics. With dozens of vehicle models and an in-depth repair system, this game is also great for boys who have an interest in mechanics and general engineering topics.
This game is available for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One consoles, both sold separately. If you don’t have one of these consoles and want to save money, both have been on the market long enough that you can probably find a used console in good condition for a comparatively low price.
This kid-friendly game focuses on exploration and resource management.
- Open-ended exploration and terrain-changing tools support creativity and exploration
- Playable over the internet with friends
- Less action than some boys prefer
Astroneer is a child-friendly game similar to Minecraft, where the player can traverse expansive worlds and reshape the terrain however they see fit. This allows for limitless customization and creativity. Meanwhile, the ability to play with friends means that children can interact with each other even if they’re not in close proximity, helping them socialize better while playing games.
For added fun, try setting challenges for your kid once they’re used to the basic controls and functions of the game. For example, you can ask them to build a castle or a dinosaur, then evaluate the results. Having objectives is particularly useful for teaching your kid to apply their creativity and critical thinking skills.
A 12 Year Old’s Development: What Should You Expect?
By the time a boy reaches twelve years old, he’s most likely in the grip of puberty with all that entails. The boy’s voice has deepened, and his muscles have started to develop more than they ever have. He’s also starting to undergo growth spurts, gaining a couple of inches a year or even faster.
All the physical changes that come with puberty are second to the emotional changes. A twelve-year-old boy starts to grow more rebellious and adventurous. This can happen as early as eleven years, but twelve is when the real preteen development starts to show itself. Boys of this age are eager to prove themselves as adults and likely want to shed all the associations with their childhood.
You can expect a twelve-year-old to attempt to be more independent from his family, focusing instead on hanging out with friends.
It’s at this general age that boys will want to start abandoning their old toys and replace them with newer, ‘cooler’ toys that they believe will be a status symbol among their friends. Electronic gadgets, more advanced sports equipment, and games are all good ideas for gifts 12 year olds.
When giving a toy to a twelve-year-old boy, figure out what his interests are. Late childhood is a time during which the child’s basic interests and personality start to emerge. The child likely begins to discover passions and hobbies that persist beyond fleeting fancies.
What Kinds of Toys Do 12-Year-Olds Like?
Children’s interests can vary greatly and even change from time to time, but at the age of twelve, the child is just starting to form his identity. If you know where the child’s interests lie, it can be a simple matter of buying the perfect gift that pertains to that interest, like art kits for the budding artist or sports equipment for the aspiring athlete.
Even if you’re getting a gift for a nephew or grandson you see infrequently, there are a few standbys you can almost always rely on
Video games, provided they’re age appropriate, are good. Many boys get a thrill out of competitive online games like sports titles, racing games or first-person shooters. This last group you should be careful with; as would be expected for an FPS, they feature graphic content that the boy’s parents may not condone.
Sports paraphernalia work well too. Pre-teen boys often find camaraderie in sports and relish the chance to get to practice. Any protective equipment like helmets or gloves gives the boy the protection he needs to play to his fullest.
For musicians, try a music-based video game like Rocksmith, which plays similarly to Guitar Hero and Rock Band with the bonus of actually teaching proper guitar techniques. You could also get a music editing program for the tech-savvy songwriter.
Programs like Audacity and Frooty Loops provide excellent composition and editing utilities. Similarly, artists might enjoy a new pencil set or a graphics editing program like Photoshop.
What About Toy Safety for 12-Year-Olds?
By the time a boy reaches the tween years, he should have gained a basic measure of how to behave safely with a variety of objects. This is either through parental or scholastic education, or simply experience the consequences of unsafe use.
You don’t have to worry about the boy, for example, touching a live electrical circuit that he knows to be live. Still, it’s best to avoid providing gift ideas that expose the child to dangerous elements like live electricity, flames, or chemicals without first making sure he knows the basics of safe handling.
Following from this sentiment, Airsoft toy guns and paintball guns are popular among boys because they can engage in outdoor competitive play. Pellet guns and paintball guns may not be ‘real’ weapons, but they can still cause serious injury when misused.
This is a good opportunity to instruct your child in the basics of firearm safety such as keeping the finger off the trigger until ready to shoot, keeping safety engaged until ready to fire, confirming the target and what’s around it, and never pointing the weapon at anything he doesn’t intend to shoot.
As far as video games, there’s still controversy about whether violent games affect children’s behavior. Although twelve-year-olds have reached the stage at which they can distinguish fiction from reality, some studies show a possible link between violent games and aggression.
If you notice that your child has aggressive tendencies, it may not be a good idea to give him a copy of Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty.
Remember that the gift you give your twelve-year-old in 2020 is a reflection of how well you know and pay attention to the child. By having regular conversations with him and getting to know how he spends his free time, you can form a lasting bond.