Buying things for 'tweens can be difficult. The MindWare Gearjits: Gumball Machine Marble Coaster ($39.95) might be the perfect gift for that time in a child's life when toys seem too young, yet they're not ready for car keys.
If you've got a child who, perhaps, grew up on Legos but now finds them too easy or too much a reminder of when they were "kids", this building set offers hours of model building with a great payoff at the end: an intricate marble maze crafted out of wood! Removing the laser-cut pieces takes time and care, and the well-drawn instructions require painstaking attention to detail. There is a bit of tension as the set comes together: Will it really work? Will the pieces break? But the set is well-crafted and when finished the builder might just give herself a pat on the back for all the work that went into bringing it to fruition. The set is marked 12 & up. It requires fine motor skills and patience.