Next to a step dad, we’d say finding great gifts for tweens is probably the hardest thing to do every year. We consider ourselves seasoned shoppers, and the most trying presents to have to buy are the gifts we have to buy for the 9-12 year old crowd.
Buying gifts for tweens does come with its own special subset of rules that you should keep in mind. First, don’t buy them anything you wouldn’t have played with at that age. Secondly, and most importantly, make sure you don’t buy them something that’s aimed at the younger crowd; sure, Fingerlings are on just about every list of 2017’s best toys, but they’re aimed at a younger age than the tween crowd. That would be the biggest mistake you could make, and it would lead to a disappointing holiday for your inbetweener.
Third, stay away from clothes and opt for gift cards instead (you can find many gift card options here). Sure, you might love the cashmere sweater look, and I’m sure it looks nice on your kid, but they’re incredibly picky at this age, and if you want to avoid that disappointment, pick them up a gift card to their favorite store (one you know they’d actually wear stuff from).
If you’re in the same boat, we’ve come to help you find the best toys for the tween in your life. Whether they’re into music, video games, tech, or fun games to play with their friends, the list below is filled with great ideas to get that name crossed off of your list this year.
Here are the top 12 best toys for tweens in 2018:
1. Hearing Things Game
One of the best new toys of 2017 comes from Hasbro, who is obviously no stranger to family games. This year, the major toy company has introduced quite a few great additions, but our personal favorite has to be Hearing Things.
The Hearing Things games basically tasks players to read lips, and the resulting fun is unmatched. Players will take turns wearing a speech-cancelling pair of electronic headphones, and it comes with 150 cards and 600 phrases total. The phrases are appropriate for the age, too, with things like “The baked potato burned her tongue”, “Pigeons like to cuddle”, and “I’ll take it to go” as some examples.
The Hearing Things game is an uproarious game that works especially well for groups of four or more.
It’s a game that is absolutely perfect for tweens to play with their friends at sleepovers and hangout sessions. It’s recommended age is 12 and up, but there’s some give and take there, for sure.
Price: $14.88 (26 percent off MSRP)
2. Dropmix Music Gaming System
Making tunes has never been easier with the DropMix Music Gaming System, also from Hasbro. It’s a fast-paced music mixing game that lets players create unique and unexpected song mixes. There are 3 modes: Freestyle, Clash, and Party.
Here’s how it works: it comes with 60 DropMix cards that feature music from the top artists and most popular songs that tweens love. Players will use a smartphone/tablet app to play the game. Players will then drop different DropMix cards onto the DropMix board, with each card activating a single track (vocals, guitar parts, leads, synths, drums, etc). With each card dropped into the mix, the resulting music becomes thicker and richer with sound, until the result is a unique song. There are also more Playlist Packs available containing more DropMix cards for them to expand their game in the future.
Price: $74.99 (25 percent off MSRP)
3. Nintendo Switch
I can’t recommend the Nintendo Switch enough as a gift option this year, and everything about the Nintendo Switch speaks to tweeners. First, and foremost, it has great games that are perfect for the age group, including two of the best games of 2017, Super Mario Odyssey and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. There are also other great games for Nintendo’s newest console, including Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Ultimate Edition, and NBA Playgrounds.
Secondly, the Nintendo Switch can be used on a television or as a handheld gaming console. Meaning, if you have to drag your tween to the store or to run errands with you, they can bring the Switch along and keep themselves occupied.
Finally, it comes in at a price point that’s better than the rest of the video game consoles on the market. It’s $299 right now (and we’re expecting to see it for $249 on Black Friday if we’re lucky), and that’s a pretty good entry point for a brand new video game console.
4. Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt
One of the best Nerf guns of 2017 is from their Zombie Strike line, and we’ve had a lot of fun playing with our Nerf Zombie Strike Deadbolt in our office Nerf battles here at Heavy. It’s especially great for those Walking Dead-watching, Daryl Dixon-loving tweens.
Each arrow is loaded individually, and then primed with a lever and fired when ready. After firing a shot, they’ll do it all over again, reloading as necessary. It’s a super unique Nerf gun, and it offers some of the most fun we’ve had in a long time.
Price: $35.99 (28 percent off MSRP)
5. Air Hogs FPV High Speed Race Car
FPV drones are all the rage in 2017, but Air Hogs keeps things grounded with their FPV High Speed Race Car. It puts your tween behind the wheel, allowing them to see exactly what their car sees through the included headset. It’s one of the faster toy store RC cars you’ll find, hitting speeds over 35 mph with ease. (Note: Air Hogs’ claim of 160mph on the Amazon listing is referring to scale speed, not actual speed).
While there are better, high-end FPV solutions out there, this one is perfect for the price and is a great low-end option for those without an unlimited budget.
Price: $68.42 (32 percent off MSRP)
6. House of Boing Game
House of Boing is a great new game that’s great for 2 to 4 players, ages 10 and up. It’s a game that plays like a kid-friendly version of beer pong, but with a much more competitive twist (and, obviously, without any alcohol). Basically, your tweens will be tasked with bouncing balls out of their room of balls, requiring them to bounce each ball and make it into the house. The first person to clear their room of balls wins the game.
But that’s just the basics, and there are actually 10 games included in just this one package, with each game adding a wrinkle or two into the original game. For example, Long Boing requires shots to be from a certain spot far away from the house.
7. Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 (Switch, PS4, Xbox One)
Lego video games are always a safe bet when it comes to gifts for this age group, and luckily, LEGO has a brand new video game out involving superheroes (double whammy). It’s Lego Marvel Superheroes 2, and it’s a great game that’s available on Nintendo Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. Join your favorite Marvel heroes and villains from various different eras and timelines as they go head-to-head in an all-new original adventure that brilliantly mixes Marvel’s cool superheroes with the Lego brand of comedy.
The sequel to the original game adds more heroes and has a new story, and it has much less begs than the original.
8. Razor Hovertrax 2.0 Hoverboard
You may remember those hoverboards being super popular two years ago. However, that ended quickly, as there were numerous reports of them exploding and being cheaply made.
Now, in 2017, well-known scooter brand Razor has crafted the best one we’ve seen yet with the Razor Hovertrax 2.0 Hoverboard, the world’s smartest self-balancing electric scooter.
It has a cruising speed of 8+ mph, and it uses 360-watts to push it to that speed for up to 60 minutes. Weight limit is 220 pounds. It uses a quick charger as well, so charging doesn’t take a decade like it does with most kid’s ride-ons.
The refined 2.0 version adds a cool blue LED light bar, fender bumpers, an LED battery power indicator, and two riding modes (one for training and one for normal use).
Price: $298 (35 percent off MSRP)
9. SoundMoovz Musical Bandz
Kids love to make music, and it’s for that reason that we’ve included yet another music-themed kids toy. This time, it’s SoundMoovz Musical Bandz by Cra-Z-Art. The only thing I can say is “where were THESE when I was a kid?”
These motion activated wristbands play music while your kids move. So, for example, they can make it so that stomping their feet plays a kick drum, pounding their hand makes a snare drum sound, and so much more. There are over 400 sounds to choose from, all of which are controlled by a free app on their smartphone or tablet. They can also team up with their siblings or friends to make jam sessions.
SoundMoovz are a great way to get your kids dancing and active, especially on rainy days when they can’t be outside.
Price: $49.99 (26 percent off MSRP)
10. Anki Cozmo
You’ve probably already seen numerous commercials for the Anki Cozmo robot on TV, and it’s going to be one of the most sought-after toys of 2017. It’s a small robot that’s loaded with personality, and the more that your kids hang out with it, the more it evolves and adapts to your child.
It comes with Code Lab, which is a great way to teach your kids the basics of coding. He’s made of super durable plastic, and he’s incredibly easy to learn how to use. It’s Cozmo’s expressions that set him apart from other similar robot toys — they’re hilarious!
11. K’NEX Thrill Rides Web Weaver Roller Coaster Building Set
K’NEX is another well-known toy brand that has some cool new stuff for tweens this year. Our pick is the K’NEX Thrill Rides Web Weaver Roller Coaster Building Set, which comes with over 430 parts and pieces for kids to tinker with. The track glows in the dark, and it uses an air-powered motorized coaster car (requires batteries). It comes with instructions that are super easy to follow, and they’ll teach kids how to make an incredibly awesome roller coaster. Kids love the thrill of building, and that’s why this is one of the best building toys on the market.
Price: $41.99 (48 percent off MSRP)
12. Lightseekers Starter Pack
The toys-to-life genre hasn’t exactly taken off like we think it should, with things like Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions not quite capturing what we’re looking for. But Lightseekers comes super close, as it’s the most versatile by far.
It’s great to have a physical toy for the character you’re playing, and even better that the toy will respond to in-game actions with lights and rumbling. You can attach the included Nitro Hammer and it’ll instantly appear in the game, adding a new ability as well.
Right now, there are just two characters available, Mari and Tyrax, but we have confirmation from their makers that there will be more characters and accessories sold in the near future.
Not only does a Lightseekers Starter Pack come with a cool-looking toy that translates into a video game world, but it also comes with a fun card game. And, each card delivers augmented reality effects, rewards, and new in-game abilities when they’re scanned.
It’s not on consoles, which is a bit of a surprise to me, but it’s available for iOS and Android (as well as the Amazon Kindle).
Price: $52.49 (25 percent off MSRP)
Heavy, Inc. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by linking to Amazon. Our product recommendations are guided solely by our editors. We have no relationship with manufacturers.
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