As many of you reading this already know, finding great gifts for boys can be difficult, especially if they’re in their teenage years. Teenage boys are a finicky bunch, and finding the right gift for 12-year-olds can cause the worst of headaches. Luckily, Heavy is here to help you find the best gifts for boys, especially those in their teenage years.
So, what exactly makes me qualified to give you advice on what gifts to buy? Well, I have over 8 years of retail store management experience in a big box retail setting, with an emphasis on both toys, electronics, and video games at some point in my career. I also attend many of the yearly trade shows (like NYC’s Toy Fair, Comic Cons, E3, and PAX) each and every year. I also like to ensure that I get plenty of hands-on time with various toys, video games, and electronics that might be of interest for this very reason: crafting massive toy/gift lists for the holiday shopping season. What’s more, and this one is possibly the most important, I’m a big kid at heart — most of the things I recommend in the list below I have a personal passion for.
So, without further delay, here are this year’s top 25 best gifts for 12-year-old boys:
1. Xbox One S
Microsoft simply wasn’t able to keep up with Sony in the video games market, due to many gamers believing that the launch version of the Xbox One was inferior to the PS4. Now, the tides have turned, and Microsoft has greatly improved the original console with the Xbox One S. Not only is it much smaller, quieter, lighter, and slightly faster than its predecessor, it also boasts the ability to play 4K content. Thanks to their new console, Microsoft has seen an impressive boost to their video game division, selling more consoles in both August and September than Sony. I’m not saying it’s a better console than the PS4 Pro that will hit the market soon, but it’s certainly a much more formidable opponent than the 2013 edition of the Xbox One. For more info, you can check out my Xbox One S review.
2. Akai MPD318 Drum Pad Controller
If he has shown interest in any sort of electronic or hip hop music, now’s the time to swoop in and fuel that interest with musical instruments. And for those genres of music, the AKAI Professional MPD218 Drum Pad Controller is a great entry-level instrument that has a small learning curve and comes with everything they need to start making cool music. This basic drumpad controller has 16 thick backlit MPC pads (with 3 separate banks for 48 total assignable pads), and it has 6 control knobs (18 knobs via 3 banks). It’s USB powered, so they don’t need any extra plugs or anything like that with it. The included software is super easy to use, and it comes with numerous sounds. There are other sounds widely available for purchase and download, and it’s a scalable musical tool that can be his only instrument or a part of his growing arsenal.
Price: $99.00 (50 percent off MSRP)
3. Walking Dead Zombie Inside Mug
Of course, this one is more age sensitive than any other item on this list, but if they’re big fans of The Walking Dead — and, basically, what 12 year old boy isn’t at this point — then this super cool Walking Dead Zombie Inside Mug makes for one of the best gifts for boys. It is a well-crafted ceramic mug with a zombie protruding out of the center, so as they’re drinking their beverages, the zombie reveals more of itself.
4. Skyrocket Mebo
Kids of all ages love robots, and controlling their own remote remotely is seriously cool. Whether they’re in the same room or they’re on the other side of the world, owners are able to control the Skyrocket Mebo from their phone. It has 6 all-terrain wheels and intuitive steering that makes it easy to control, and it streams 720p high definition video to your phone or tablet. Users can even speak through Mebo with using the microphone on their devices, communicating with others in the same room as the robot. Don’t worry, though — there’s no assembly required, and it’s pretty much ready right out of the box. It’s one of our favorite new toys for boys this holiday season.
Price: $120.96 (19 percent off MSRP)
5. Zuru X-Shot Bug Attack
One of the best gifts for boys sitting near the 8-12 year old range is the Zuru X-Shot Bug Attack Gun Combo, which comes with a shotgun-esque toy weapon and a 6-shot revolver. It comes with five Creepeez that can be thrown against the wall so that they become a moving target, and they’re fun to shoot down off of the wall. It comes with 24 foam darts, so it’s ready to go right out of the package. Hunting bugs has never been so cool.
6. Sky Viper Hover Racer Drone
I’ve always thought that the flying drones hobby meshed perfectly with the gaming world. With the Sky Viper Hover Racer, you’ll see that more clearly. It’s a racing game you use your drone and phone to play, picking up checkpoints around the track with up to three other drones. It also has Auto Flight technology, including Auto Launch, Hover, and Land features — features currently unheard of at the $100 price point. It also comes with an intuitive controller that feels familiar to gamers, and it has its own holder for their smartphone.
7. PlayStation VR
Virtual reality gaming is all the rage this year, and it’s all being fueled by the release of the PlayStation VR, the cheapest VR option for gamers. The PS VR requires a PS4, PlayStation camera, and two PlayStation motion controllers, so the $399.99 pricepoint isn’t exactly what you’d have to pay for one. However, even if you had to purchase the $499.99 bundle, you’re still paying much less for a VR gaming experience than you would if you bought an Oculus or HTC VIVE. The PS VR is going to be on a lot of these best gifts for boys lists around the web because of the low barriers to entry and the fact that it’s also the newest. What’s more, it’s getting solid reviews from the top gaming sites in the business like IGN. Many of the new video games this week are PS VR games, and the one we’re most looking forward to owning is RIGS.
Among the new wave of Star Wars toys is a Black Series K-2SO, a collector-grade quality action figure that serves as a replica of K-2SO from the upcoming Star Wars: Rogue One. The details on this cool-looking droid are incredible, and standing at 6-inches, he’ll tower over many other Star Wars figures. If they’re looking forward to Rogue One, the Black Series K-2SO figure makes for one of the best gifts for boys this year, thanks to its high build quality and attention to detail.
9. Funko Pops
Regardless of what sort of pop culture they’re into — whether it be nerdy movies, TV shows, sci-fi, fantasy, or even books — there is a Funko Pop figure out there for them. These have blown up in popularity since last year, and now they’re more popular than ever. Since they start at as low as $4.99, it’s a great idea to build a sort of gift basket containing numerous Funko Pops that you think they’ll love.
Price: Starting at $4.99
10. Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo is not the same device it was at launch. Now, it has so much more functionality that it’s almost hard to not recommend buying it. I find that there are many uses for it for ages 8+, including homework help, sports score updates, music, and more. It’s entirely controlled by their voice, and it’s always getting smarter with new features being added. One recommendation if you do choose to buy them this: make sure your credit card isn’t hooked up to the Dominos app.
11. ASUS ROG G752VS Gaming Laptop
If you’re looking to really get them something they’ll go crazy for, check out the new ASUS ROG G752VS Gaming Laptop, which is currently considered one of the best gaming laptops on the market right now. Inside, you’ll find a NVIDIA GTX 1070 8GB graphics card, overlcocked Intel core i7-6820HK, 32GB DDR4 RAM, and a full HD 17.3″ G-SYNC display. What’s all that mean? It’ll run all of the latest games on the highest settings possible without any hiccups, and thanks to its ROG 3D mobile vapor cooling chamber, it’ll remain cool while playing.
12. Acer Predator 24″ Gaming Monitor
Of course, if they already have a great gaming desktop, one of the most underrated PC upgrades has to be the monitor. One of the best gaming monitors on the market is the Acer Predator XB241H 24-Inch G-Sync display, with has full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution and a 1ms response time. It has a refresh rate that can be overclocked to 180Hz, meaning their games will look incredibly smooth. If they play PC games like League of Legends, Call of Duty, CS:Go or the upcoming Battlefield 1, a gaming monitor with a great response rate and resolution is a major upgrade.
13. NERF Zombie Strike Brainsaw Blaster
Nerf guns are always a popular choice come the holiday season, and this year, NERF has quite a few new awesome toys for
us them to play with. One of our favorite new Nerf toys is this Zombie Strike Brainsaw Blaster, which has a Gears of War-esque vibe. It has a spinning saw blade and comes with 8 foam darts. It also has a top handle that really gives it a cool feel, making the person holding it feel unstoppable.
14. UDI U845 UFO Drone
There are drones, and then there are drones shaped like cool UFOs. The UDI U845 is a UFO-shaped drone that comes with a HD camera. It’s incredibly fun to fly and easy to control, thanks to its gaming-esque controller. It has a flight time of ~9 minutes, with an easily replaceable battery. Because of its ease of use and simplistic controls, the UDI U845 UFO Drone is one of the best beginner drones available.
Price: $69.99 (42 percent off MSRP)
15. Xbox Elite Controller
When the Xbox Elite controller was initially announced, I audibly scoffed at the idea of spending $150.00 for a controller. But then, I got my hands on it, and it truly is the best video game controller ever made, and well worth the price. It’s great for FPS players especially, thanks to its hair trigger locks that allows players to fire faster. It also has interchangeable paddles and rubberized diamond grip for reduced sweaty hands. The weight of the Elite controller is probably its most impressive feature, though, as it feels like you’re actually holding something that won’t break.
16. LEGO Batman Clock
LEGO Batman is one of the best superhero to LEGO conversions we’ve seen yet, as the character’s normally dark tone is the exact opposite of what you typically seen in the LEGO world. So, when LEGO Batman came along in the LEGO Movie last year, his one-liners were absolutely perfect. This year, one of the best Batman toys we’ve seen is the LEGO Kids’ DC Superheroes Batman Mini-Figure Alarm Clock, which makes for the perfect addition to any Batman fan’s collection.
Price: $17.99 (20 percent off MSRP)
17. Triple Eight Helmet
Getting your kids to wear helmets is a big chore, and it’s mostly because kids think they’re too cool to wear helmets. But what if their helmet actually looked pretty cool? Check out these Triple Eight helmets. There are plenty of designs available, including the Baja Teal Rubber (shown in the picture above), Carbon Rubber (a gray and green combination), Rasta Yellow Rubber (Green, Yellow and Red), and more.
Price: $27.97 (36 percent off MSRP)
18. Pugg Soccer Goals
For the active kid, or if you’re trying to get your boys active and outside, check out these Pugg Soccer Goals — spring up soccer goals that fold down to a much more manageable and portable size. They’re great for impromptu games at the park or in the front yard, and they’re easy to setup and take-down.
19. Samsung Galaxy Tab E
While we fully support what the Amazon Kindle Fire for kids has to offer, we understand that it shouldn’t be considered one of the best gifts for 12 year olds because they’re geared towards younger children. But, we also understand that you probably don’t want to spend $400 on a high-end iPad or Android tablet. Somewhere along the middle sits the Samsung Galaxy Tab E, which still sports impressive specs, despite its $200 price tag. It has an 800 x 1280 pixel display, 1.5GB RAM, a Qualcomm 1.2GHz processor, and a 9.6-inch screen. It’s one of the most highly-rated ~$200 tablets on the market, and its long-lasting battery is great for Netflix marathons and surfing the web.
Price: $199.99 (13 percent off MSRP)
20. HP Split X2
The HP Split X2 is one of the most underrated laptops on the market right now. Not only does it function as both a windows tablet and a windows 10 laptop, but it is highly portable at just 13.3″ and a weight of just 1.4 pounds. What’s more, it has a slim profile so it easily fits in a backpack or laptop bag. It comes with 4GB DDR3 RAM and a 500GB hard drive. Personally, I use mine for business on the go and to read the week’s new comics while watching Netflix once in awhile. It even runs games that are less graphics intensive like Hearthstone and World of Warcraft. It has many uses, and the fact that it’s both a tablet and a laptop makes it an incredible tool.
21. Beats by Dr. Dre In-Ear Buds
A good set of ear buds is important, especially at this prime age when they’re still developing their musical tastes, which is why the Beats by Dr. Dre in-ear buds are one of the best gifts for 12 year old boys. Despite the fact that they aren’t necessarily “new” for 2016, the Beats by Dre earbuds continue to be a top-notch option for sub $50 earbuds. They not only look great, but they also provide high-quality sound and great bass response; their music will sound incredible.
22. Apple Watch Sport
Apple Watches have always been a hard-sell for me, but I realize there are many out there who love all things Apple. The new Apple Watch Sport not only looks great, but it also has 8GB of storage and a long-lasting battery. Wearers can receive and make calls, dictate text messages and send to their friends, and browse through plenty of apps. Of course, it also tracks fitness activity that they can sync to their iPhone.
22. Amazon Prime
There are so many reasons to pick up an Amazon Prime subscription, and it makes a great gift especially if they’re into reading, watching movies and TV, and listening to music. Amazon Prime subscribers have a seemingly endless supply of books and magazines to read, movies and TV shows to watch, and all access to Amazon Prime music, which is loaded with great music.
23. Comixology Unlimited Subscription
Unfortunately, the one thing Amazon Prime doesn’t have is comic books, and if they’re into reading comics, Comixology Unlimited is a great gift for them. With an Android or iOS device, they’ll have access to a massive library of great comic books, new and old, from the biggest publishers in the industry, including DC, Marvel, Image, IDW, and more. So whether they’re into Batman or The Walking Dead or Attack on Titan, they’ll be pleasantly suprised with a neverending stream of comic books to read.
24. Anker SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker
Anker’s SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker is one of the best on the market, which is why it comes in at a 4.6 out of 5.0 star review rating on Amazon from over 2,100 reviewers. It has superior sound quality, with less than 1% total harmonic distortion which means that their music will be incredibly clear even at max volume. The SoundCore Bluetooth Speaker has a great 24-hour battery life, which will last through nearly 500 songs without needing a recharge. It connects to various devices using Bluetooth 4.0, and it will automatically reconnect to the most recent device used.
Price: $35.99 (55 percent off MSRP)
25. Arbor Timeless Longboard Complete (Walnut)
A good longboard is super hard to come by, as cheap versions tend to break easily. With a longboard, you truly get what you pay for. The Arbor Timeless Longboard is a highly rated board that comes in at 46″, and it comes with quality wheels, bearings, and trucks. Longboards are the “in” thing this year, with longboard culture spreading like wildfire. He’ll look super cool while secretly having fun while he’s riding it, which is why we’ve included it on this list of the best gifts for 12 year old boys in 2016.