The Best Subscription Boxes for Boys of 2020

Boxes of fun for your little ones

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Our Top Picks

While it’s true that all kids love to play, read, explore, and create, there are certain activities that tend to hold the attention of boys just a teensy bit more than girls. When it comes to video games, engineering, and superheroes, boys and girls are both welcome, but boys seem to naturally gravitate to things that let them get their hands dirty—literally and figuratively.

If you have one or more boys at home, then you know: Boys always need to be doing something. They want to race, they want to tinker, they want to leap off the top bunk onto a beanbag chair and hope for the best. They want to roar and wrestle and turn sticks into swords. They want to take things apart and put them back together again (including your refrigerator if you’re not paying attention).

Failing to keep a boy busy will make you feel like you’re living with a human torpedo of destruction, but how do you fill this insatiable need for stimulation? A subscription box is a great place to start. They are ideal for the boy in your life, so you can give him one opportunity after another to exercise his mental and physical prowess—and yes, get his hands plenty dirty. Here are the top subscription boxes for boys.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Tinker Crate

Tinker Crate

Tinker Crate

Part of the outstanding Kiwi Crate line of subscription boxes for kids, Tinker Crate is a hands-on STEM exploration kit made with kids ages 9 to 14 in mind. Each month, a new box is mailed to you with literally everything your kid needs to build an awesome project from scratch: trebuchets, walking robots, pendulums, spin art, mechanical claws. If your kid thinks it’s “totally cool,” Tinker Crate can show them how to make it.

In each kit, your child receives all the materials he needs (no searching around your junk drawers for screws or washers), detailed but super kid-friendly instructions, a link to an online video tutorial in case you need extra help, and a related copy of Tinker Zine, the company's magazine stuffed with expanded information and facts about that month’s topic of learning, as well as additional project ideas. The boxes are fully designed with kids in mind, meaning everything is constructed—and explained—in a way that makes it possible for your tween-age boy to assemble and test out his work completely solo.

Despite how much you get in the box and the possibilities for exploration, the Tinker Crate is also one of the most affordable options on the list. Crates start at roughly $17 per month, with recurring subscription plans offered for three, six, and 12 months at a time. Kiwi Crate frequently runs discount promotions and offers coupons to new and existing customers, which can often lower the price even more.

Best Budget: Bitsbox

Bitsbox

Bitsbox

Teaching kids how to design unique, customized computer programs and apps is a valuable skill, but it’s also kind of a new trend, so there isn’t an endless supply of activities out there to keep coding-crazy boys happy. With a Bitsbox subscription, though, you do have an endless supply of coding activities for your kid. And, if you choose their digital subscription, it can even be extra budget-friendly.

Every month, you’ll get a new set of app-based projects for your son to work on, covering everything from variables to arrays to motion loops. The projects range in difficulty, so your child can start easy and work his way up from there, and the kits include a grown-up guide to make assisting your child even easier. Still, Bitsbox knows that kids are the audience here, so they make sure to use simple, easy-to-understand directions that allow kids to build their coding knowledge from the ground up.

You’ll need an internet connection for this subscription so your child can access the Bitsbox coding website and share or use its custom apps on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. But you don’t need anything else, and the digital option, which lets you receive all your monthly projects via PDF for only about $17, makes this a great budget-friendly choice for the 6- to 12-year-old boy in your life.

Best for Science: Club SciKidz

Club SciKidz

Club SciKidz

Got a future Einstein or Bill Nye on your hands? The subscription box from Club SciKidz is a little scientist’s dream, loaded with enough goodies to get them building their own science lab—and running experiments—right in your own home.

Each kit comes with STEM-based projects and experiments, easy-to-follow instructions and all the necessary materials, lab-quality supplies, and a bunch of fun supplementals like jokes, crafts, secret formulas, and science fiction stories. Whether your son is into the solar system, fossils, zoology, or forensic science, there’s a box for him. And, as he continues receiving his subscriptions, he’ll be able to keep adding to his collection of quality lab equipment.

Your first Club SciKidz package is the Welcome Box, which includes a bunch of cool experiments along with what you need to get started, like safety glasses, a lab notebook, and a magnifying lens. After that, you’ll get boxes curated around specific themes or scientific challenges, like Grossology and Electromagnetism. Month-to-month subscriptions of the SciKidz box cost roughly $40, with the monthly price dropping slightly when you sign up for recurring three-, six-, or 12-month subscriptions.

Best for Explorers: Think Outside

Think Outside

Think Outside

The benefits of outdoor play are clear: Kids who spend generous amounts of time outside are not only healthier, they have better executive functioning skills. Whether your son already spends half his day in the backyard or you want to encourage him to get out there more often, the Think Outside box—with its outdoor gear, family challenges, and skill-building potential—is a great place to start.

In your first introductory kit, your child will get an Initiation Box, which includes a backpack filled with hands-on activities and gear to help you start exploring. After that, the boxes are designed with the seasons in mind; in summer, for example, you’ll get gear and activities to keep you cool in the blazing heat, while spring seasons might deliver rain gear and water investigation challenges. Meanwhile, each box also aims to teach your child an outdoor skill or concept, like fire-starting, navigation, and stargazing.

What we love about the Think Outside box is that not only does it help your son get outside more, it encourages your whole family to spend time in nature. Many of the activities and challenges work better with more than one person, plus you can take advantage of subscription discounts when enrolling siblings (or, if you just want your kids to share a subscription, you can order an extra backpack with your Initiation Box). In terms of pricing, a monthly subscription is about $40 per month, and you can also enroll quarterly or yearly.

Best for Superhero Fans: Superpower Academy

Superpower Academy

Superpower Academy

Don’t let the superhero theme of this subscription box trick you into thinking only serious DC or Marvel fans could appreciate it. Superpower Academy digs down deeper into what it means to be a superhero—by sending your child a box full of confidence-building activities every month.

With the goal of helping your child become more resilient and creative, Superpower Academy packs its boxes with STEM projects to encourage kids’ innovative sides, comics, and fiction stories to enhance their literacy, and social learning challenges to grow their emotional intelligence. Since everything is superhero-themed, kids won’t even realize they’re developing important life skills as they (figuratively) leap tall buildings in a single bound.

If you have a child who loves superheroes but needs help growing their own set of “superpowers” (like identifying feelings, tackling new things, and showing empathy), this is the perfect box to make practicing those skills fun. Month-to-month subscriptions are roughly $33; there are also three-, six-, and 12-month prepay options a variety of discounts.

Best for Comic Book Lovers: Comic Crate

Comic Crate

Comic Crate

Comic books often get a bad rep, even though there are just as many complex characters, plots, and themes in them as there are in traditional novels. Boys, in particular, are often drawn to comics, and then discouraged from reading them, since they’re “not real books.”

Well, forget that. You can absolutely foster a love of reading in your son with comic books, and the makers of Comic Crate want to help you do just that. Run by comic book shop owners from Sacramento, Comic Crate will send your child six full-dsize comics each month based on your rating selection.

The rating system is the most important element of choosing a Comic Crate, so here’s how it breaks down: There is a G+ option perfect for young readers, with comics like Star Wars Adventures and My Little Pony; a PG+ option for slightly older readers who can handle more advanced themes, language, and artwork but nothing profane or explicit (like Batman and Fantastic Four); and a Teen+ option, which still keeps things relatively “clean,” but may sometimes have profanity or more mature themes (think Wolverine and Justice League).

Pricing for all of the crates starts at roughly $30 per month, with three-, six-, and 12-month plans as well.

Best for Nintendo Gamers: Mario’s Mystery Block

Mario’s Mystery Block

Mario’s Mystery Block

It doesn’t matter if your son’s favorite video game is Super Mario’s World, The Legend of Zelda, or old-school Donkey Kong, he’ll love a subscription to Mario’s Mystery Block, a monthly delivery of licensed Nintendo merch including tees, hats, toys, collectible coins, and other gaming goodies.

Featuring anywhere from three to six hand-picked items in every shipment, the Mystery Block sends around $35 worth of official Nintendo gear to subscribers every 30 days. One month, your items may be Mario themed, and the next month it could be all about Luigi (or Link, Yoshi, or the vintage Nintendo 64 system).

You choose a subscription box plan based on your T-shirt size, ranging from adult XX-Large all the way down to youth X-Small; you may not get a tee every month, but when you do, you can be sure it will fit. You’ll also get the option to request gender-specific or gender-neutral items in your Mystery Block. Month-to-month plans cost roughly $25, with slight discounts offered for prepaying upfront in three-, six-, or 12-month intervals.

How We Chose the Best Subscription Boxes for Boys

Initially, we looked at the quality of the items provided in subscription boxes. There are dozens and dozens of subscription boxes for kids out there, but some of them lean pretty heavily on items like stickers, candies, and tchotchkes. There’s nothing wrong with that, but boys often have short attention spans. All of the boxes here send more open-ended fare, inviting boys to build, explore, and imagine to their hearts’ content.

Kid-friendly instructions were also a draw for us. We’re not saying you won’t have to lend a helping hand here and there, but we made sure to choose subscriptions designed for kids, not their parents. We also looked at cost: Subscription boxes are an investment, but they don’t have to break the bank month after month.

Tinker Crate earned our best overall title for its cool, project-based kits and kid-friendly instructions, while Bitsbox earned our best budget spot for the option of receiving digital projects via PDF for only $17 per month. And we loved how Think Outside made a box that will help your kids go outside more, and also encourage the whole family to spend time in nature.

What Are Subscription Boxes?

Signing up for a subscription box is kind of like joining a fan club—you pay a monthly fee to be a member, and the makers of the subscription box automatically send you a selection of hand-picked items, many of which are curated around a single theme or concept each month.

There are subscription boxes for nearly every kind of person: bakers and chefs, fashionistas, Disney fans, gamers, foodies, artists, readers and writers, Potter-heads, and lovers of really any collectible item, whether its baseball cards or scented candles. All ages are represented across the world of subscription boxes, too. Basically, if you love something there’s probably a subscription box for it.

Is There a Benefit to Ordering a Subscription Box Versus Individual Items?

Aside from the convenience (and total joy) of having cool stuff hand-selected and sent automatically to your mailbox every month, there are other benefits to signing up for a subscription box.

  • Packaged together, you often spend less money to receive a monthly subscription delivery than if you tried to purchase the same or similar items individually.
  • With some boxes, the items sent out in monthly deliveries aren’t available outside of the subscription—which means you get access to things you might not have otherwise.
  • Subscription boxes make fantastic gifts, even if you only choose to order one box and not commit to a recurring delivery. If you know a child who loves Star Wars or Pokemon but you have no idea what individual items to buy, a single-purchase subscription box does all the work for you.

How Often Will I Receive One?

Most subscription boxes send out a new selection of goodies every 30 days, but some are bimonthly or quarterly, depending on how much stock there is to choose from and how accessible items are to be shipped out.

You can usually sign up for month-to-month plans (on a pay-as-you-go system) or prepay for several months at a time (usually for three, six, or 12 months). In most cases, you can cancel a subscription at any time, even if you’ve prepaid, without being charged—the benefit to prepaying is that subscription companies usually discount your per-box price when you commit to buying a few months’ worth of boxes at a time.

How Much Do Subscription Boxes for Boys Cost?

Some subscription boxes are around $10 or $12 per month, while others can be as expensive as roughly $100 per month. The average cost is between about $25 and $40 per month. How much you will need to spend depends on what type of box you’re subscribing to, how high-value or in-demand the items shipped out are, and which plan you choose (some boxes have basic or standard plans at the lowest tier of their price range and then expand from there to luxury plans).

You also have to consider shipping costs; many boxes include shipping or offer it for free as part of your membership, but others will charge anywhere from approximately $5 to $8 per month to send you your goodies. The cost may also be higher if your box is shipping internationally.

What Is Included in Each Subscription Box for Boys?

Again, it really depends on the specific subscription you sign up for. We’ve never seen a box send less than three items; most aim for anywhere from four to seven, though some boxes may have deluxe plans that send you as many as 10 items.

Before signing up for a subscription box, familiarize yourself with the products typically sent in each one. While you may not be able to find out specifics, a good company should tell you how many products to expect, the types of products available (apparel versus collectibles and edibles, for example), and where the products come from (such as if they are licensed items or made by local artisans). 

Activity kits should come with most, if not all, of the materials you need to complete the given project. Other kits should specify how many items will be delivered or what the overall value of your items will be each month. If your box sends more high-value items, you may receive fewer items total than if your box focuses on lower-value items (like novelty candies or trading cards).

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  1. Harvard Health Publishing. "6 reasons children need to play outside."