The teen years are almost here, but not quite. Twelve year old boys are physically and mentally progressing away from childhood and into young adulthood, but they still need the guidance and tools parents provide in order to thrive. The best gifts and toys for 12 year old boys acknowledge their growing desire for an independent identity as well as their need for healthy opportunities to socialize. Looking for a special pick? Take a peek at our top choices.

The Winners

#1

TerraScout Nerf N-Strike Elite Blaster

Best Overall

NERF guns have had a place in the childhood of many an 11 year old boy, but this pick has a unique twist. The TerraScout Nerf N-Strike Elite Blaster is a remote-controlled drone, featuring a camera that allows kids to take photos and videos of their battle. It’s a toy that seriously elevates the NERF battle experience, featuring 18 rapid-fire N-Strike darts. It can perform remarkable 360 rotations and can travel at speeds of up to 215 feet per minute. The LCD screen offers a live video feed, which comes in handy when targets aren’t in their line of sight. An SD card, which isn’t included, is required to record videos and take pics with this exciting drone.

Developmental & Play Insights TerraScout Nerf N-Strike Elite Blaster

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#2

Razor MX350 Dirt Motocross Bike

Upgrade Choice

Everyone remembers receiving that one childhood present that made their day, week, month and year. The Razor MX350 Dirt Motocross Bike might just be that legendary gift. There’s no pedaling here, as riders travel at speeds up to 15 mph on the durable motorized bike. Boys who love watching motocross and racing will be ecstatic to receive this pick, which has a blue and silver body with a flashy lightning bolt design. It’s a good single speed learning bike for young users with a hand-operated rear brake that’s simple to operate.

Developmental & Play Insights Sport Squad FX Table Top Foosbal

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#3

Legit Sports Giant Tumbling Timbers

Outdoor games that get a group together to have fun and make memories are surefire winners for 12 year old boys. Legit Sports Giant Tumbling Timbers takes the premise of classic tabletop game Jenga and translates it into a life-size towering version that’s totally safe outside and fun for all ages. It requires coordination and logic, but it’s a game that people of all ages can enjoy, so it’s perfect to pull out at a family get-together – even grandparents can get in on the action here. Kids can challenge others or practice by themselves, improving focus and steadiness as they play.

Developmental & Play Insights Giant Tumbling Timbers

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#4

RDX Kids Boxing 2FT Punching Bag

Regular physical activity that gets their heart pumping helps kids lead healthy lives and learn to love staying fit. A punching bag is a great target for their extra energy, and boys who enjoy fighting-centric sports will be excited to take a few swings and try the real thing out for themselves. Around 12, hormonal changes can trigger aggressive feelings and behaviors. Kids who struggle to cope with them may find healthy release by using their punching bag, finding that this form of exercise helps them to return to a calm state. This RDX Kids Boxing 2FT Punching Bag comes with gloves and a chain for hanging, and it arrives unfilled, so parents can choose and alternate the filling to alter the bag’s density as needed.

Developmental & Play Insights RDX Kids Boxing 2FT Punching Bag

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#5

Hosim 1:10 Scale High Speed RC Truck

Sports toys aren’t the only picks that encourage kids to enjoy the great outdoors. RC vehicles can make great companions on their exploratory endeavors, especially when they’re rugged picks that handle multiple terrains well. The Hosim 1:10 Scale High Speed RC Truck scale truck model from Hosim has an independent quad suspension, a shockproof body, and anti-jamming capabilities that prevent issues when friends are using RC toys together. Battery changes are frustration free thanks to a newly designed chamber that removes with only one push. This pick can flip, drift and handle sharp turns easily thanks to 4-channel motion and two powerful independent motors.

Developmental & Play Insights Hosim 1:10 Scale High Speed RC Truck

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#6

LEGO Star Wars Wing Fighter Building Kit

Star Wars and LEGO have a rich history of combining their franchises in a way fans love. Resistance pilot Poe Dameron is one of the most famous characters to emerge from the iconic movie series’ latest trilogy. The duty-bound hero is often seen flying his X-Wing Fighter ship, which kids can construct with this 717 piece LEGO Star Wars Wing Fighter Building Kit. It’s satisfyingly complex to assemble, but LEGO makes instructions clear and frustration free, so it’s great for 12 year old abilities. The X-Wing Fighter has spring loaded shooters and retractable landing gear. The realistic opening cockpit has room for one of the 3 enclosed mini figures, which include Poe, an X-Wing pilot and a ground crew members as well as a tiny version of popular astromech droid BB-8.

Developmental & Play Insights LEGO Star Wars Wing Fighter Building Kit

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#7

Pica Toys Wooden Solar RC Car

Opportunities to build and create are important for kids around age 12, as results-oriented projects help them to improve their focusing ability and self confidence. They’ll see the power of nature firsthand while assembling the Pica Toys Wooden Solar RC Car, which is constructed from untreated organic wood and uses a solar cell battery for movement. There’s no chemical batteries here, making it a great opportunity to illustrate alternative energy in action. They’ll satisfy both scientific curiosity and the desire for hands-on projects with this pick, which is both educational and entertaining.

Developmental & Play Insights Pica Toys Wooden Solar RC Car

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#8

SNAPTAIN S5C Drone

Drones are quickly becoming one of the most sought-after pieces of camera tech. They give users the ability to capture HD images and video from previously unimaginable vantage points. The SNAPTAIN S5C Drone features voice and gesture control, and is beginner friendly thanks to a one-button launch that’s virtually mistake-proof. It can transmit video from distances up to 80 meters, and altitude hold keeps flight steady when they’re trying to grab the perfect shot. It’s best used with an iPhone or iPad device, which isn’t included, and the Snaptain Era app. The app lets users control the drone, edit footage, and upload their creations.

Developmental & Play Insights SNAPTAIN S5C Drone

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#9

LEGO Star Wars Homing Spider Droid

The latest Star Wars movies have created a whole new generation of fans who are eager to be introduced to the franchise’s massive universe.  With the Star Wars Homing Spider Droid LEGO continues to capture the spirit of the series with detailed, articulated models that give kids a chance to use focus and logic while building a figure they’ll be proud to display. The model’s head rotates, and the lower gun can be posed and elevated. A flick missile crowns the enemy droid, ready to attack at any moment. The 295 piece set features Stass Allie, a Jedi, a soldier and a Clone Trooper as well as two miniature Super Battle Droids for them to take on.

Developmental & Play Insights LEGO Technic WHACK! Building Kit

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#10

Cheerwing RC Racing Boat

When the sun’s out, kids are ready to hit the water. In many cases, that means leaving toys like RC on the shore. Cheerwing RC Racing Boat won’t let them conquer the high seas, but it does feature speeds up to 15 mph, a self-righting hull design for automatic recovery from capsizes, and a smart transmitter that alerts users when the unit’s battery is low. It can be used inside or out in still water. The toy is small and easy to transport, so it’s a good pick for bringing along on a trip to the pool or the lake. RCs are a pick that are consistently fun, and they sneak in the benefit of sharpening users’ hand-eye coordination.

Developmental & Play Insights LEGO San Francisco Building Kit 

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#11

Sphero 2.0: Robot Ball

Robotic toys offer kids the opportunity to both play and learn. Sphero 2.0: Robot Ball can be used to play games with friends or solo. He’s an app-powered bot, so an iOS device is needed to control him, which isn’t included. He can follow paths that kids draw on the device screen, roll at speeds up to 7′ per second, and be a part of more than 30 games and activities provided by the Sphero app. He holds up to interaction with pets, and is waterproof at depths up to 15′. Sphero is hackable and programmable, giving kids the opportunity to experiment with new skills in a fun way.

Developmental & Play Insights Sphero 2.0: Robot Ball

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#12

Big Joe Lumin SmartMax Fabric Chair

Around age 12, kids start to be more particular about their personal space. They’re less likely to want people in their room uninvited, and they’re starting to find ways to express their personal style. A comfortable chair to relax in that adds a fun stylistic touch to their bedroom is a pick a lot of 12 year old boys can appreciate. The Big Joe Lumin SmartMax Fabric Chair is a traditional beanbag, but it’s stain and water resistant and holds up to roughhousing and childhood play. When the beans go flat, parents can replace them with a refill set made at Big Joe’s Zero Landfill Certified facility.

Developmental & Play Insights Maisto R/C Rock Crawler

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#13

Nerf N-Strike Hyperfire Blaster

NERF’s place in the childhoods of many kids is well deserved, as they make toys that get kids off the couch, into the yard and having a blast. The Nerf N-Strike Hyperfire blaster has the honor of being the fastest-firing blaster in the line. It has a 25 dart drum, and it can fire up to an impressive 90 feet. When batteries are fresh, the blaster can launch five darts per second, giving any kid a competitive advantage in battle. The blue and orange blaster looks and feels awesome in action, and they’ll be psyched to get friends in on a game.

Developmental & Play Insights Nerf N-Strike Hyperfire

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#14

Spikeball 3 Ball Kit

Volleyball nets are cool to have, but they also encroach on backyard space in a big way. The Spikeball 3 Ball Kit is a unique backyard game that takes the premise of volleyball and consolidates it into an elastic net that’s suspended a few inches from the ground. Players spike the spikeball into the net, and from there, they have three “touches” of the ball to get it to hit the net again. If they fail, control of the ball switches to the other team. It’s a unique game that’s easy to learn and fun to play, and it offers them an opportunity to sharpen their hand-eye coordination.

Developmental & Play Insights Spikeball 3 Ball Kit

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

#15

ThinkFun Laser Chess

Chess is a game that takes time and dedication to learn, which can be a great way to help 12 year olds focus and set goals. ThinkFun puts an illuminated spin on the respected logic game with this Laser Chess set, which uses Deflector and Defender pieces to protect the King. At the end of each turn, a player triggers a laser light beam that travels across the board using mirrors. If any pieces are illuminated on a non-reflective surface, they’re out of play. When one player is able to illuminate another’s king, they win. The instructions are easy to understand, and it’s a fantastic pick for encouraging critical thinking and long-term strategy building.

Developmental & Play Insights ThinkFun Laser Chess

Entertainment
Educational
Physical
Cognitive
Social

How to Pick the Perfect Gift for A-12-year-old Boy

Consider Their Developmental Stage

Toys and games that are fun, age-appropriate and safe make the best gift picks. One way to be relatively sure you’re choosing good gifts for 12 year old boys is to stick with picks that are developmentally suitable. At 12, boys are learning to express themselves. They’re beginning to establish – and become protective of – an identity that’s separate from parents. They’re likely to lean away from traditional play and things they view as childish.

Friendship and socialization are both very important to 12 year old boys, so frequent opportunities to hang with friends are beneficial. Sports teams at school are starting to get a little more serious as kids move toward junior high and high school, so if he’s not involved and wants to be, it’s a good time to get on board. Providing gear, equipment and dedicated practice space are all awesome gifts for sporty boys.

At 12, kids are more likely to be tackling serious subjects in school. There are plenty of educational games and toys that can help kids who need assistance with 6th and 7th grade subjects like algebra, geometry, biology and chemistry. They’re good picks for learning assistance, because kids are entertained without feeling overwhelmed.

Entertainment vs. Education

The desire to be independent from parents is at an all time high for 12 year old boys, and providing healthy, active socialization through toys, games and sports during their downtime is one way to channel their energy into something positive. It’s not a time to focus hard on learning toys unless that’s what they’re into or they’re in need of some extra help.

They’re learning a lot at school right now, but their minds are also growing quickly. Providing unstructured safe opportunities for socialization gives him time to decompress, be himself and strengthen the friendships that are so important to his growing character. There are lots of toys and games that can add awesome bonding opportunities to that mix.

Physical vs. Cognitive vs. Social

In order to stay healthy and happy, kids should keep moving. 12 year olds are entering the early stages of puberty, which may mean they’re alternating between energy spikes and unprompted naps. Keep their developing habits positive by giving them frequent opportunities to play outside and providing games and toys that call for a few players. NERF gun battles and outdoor party sports games are a great reason to host an afternoon barbecue or summer slumber party.

They’re retaining a lot of new information at school right now, tackling subjects that are notoriously tricky. It’s more important to give them opportunities to unwind now. Kids who want educational toys won’t be shy about letting you know, and they can be great picks for learners who need some subject-specific knowledge boosts. Building sets are a great way to get them thinking critically and creatively without feeling overwhelmed by info.

Forming strong bonds means a lot to 12 year old boys, especially when it comes to their crew. The instinct toward brotherly love starts early, and boys are particularly loyal and sincere in their friendships with one another at this important developmental stage. Social games and toys give kids an opportunity to connect, sometimes with the added benefit of age-appropriate learning or physical activity.

Physical vs. Cognitive vs. Social

Digital toys, apps and gifts can be big hits with 12 year olds, and they’re at the right age to learn key rules – that use is a privilege that can be revoked, and that limitations exist for a reason. Learning to use these devices is part of life, and starting good habits early is beneficial. Monitoring their use, actively using parental controls and talking to your kids honestly about their use of digital toys and communication devices helps to keep them safe and responsible.

There are lots of manual toys that are fun for 12 year olds, and bikes, scooters and sports equipment are all favorites of athletic kids. If they’re couch potatoes, outdoor toys that call for friends are likely to get them outside. Board and card games are good rainy day picks that offer social and cognitive boosts, and building sets get them thinking logically while they’re creating something cool.

Wrapping Up

Twelve year olds mature quickly, but he still needs you to provide some of the tools he requires to learn and grow successfully. Often, that means chances to socialize, get physical activity and express himself creatively. When you understand his interests and what activities and games will benefit him the most, you’re armed with the knowledge you need to make a memorable gift pick.

Quick Decision

TerraScout Nerf N-Strike Elite Blaster – Best Overall
It’s a toy that seriously elevates the NERF battle experience, featuring 18 rapid-fire N-Strike darts.

Razor MX350 Dirt Motocross Bike – Upgrade Choice
Boys who love watching motocross and racing will be ecstatic to receive this pick, which has a blue and silver body with a flashy lightning bolt design.

Legit Sports Giant Tumbling Timbers – Best Budget Buy
Outdoor games that get a group together to have fun and make memories are surefire with out best budget buy pick.

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Gary B.

Gary B.

Gary is a father of two, self-identified RC fanboy, and part-time guitar plucker. When he's not racing his collection of remote-controlled vehicles or strumming away, we bend his arm and get him to write with precision and expertise on a range of mechanical and electrical toys.

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