If you're buying a drone for a kid — or really anyone who has never owned or flown a drone before — there are a few considerations you want to keep in mind: cost, size, range, and durability. If you're buying for a young one, you'll definitely want to keep the first three down, but that will invariably also affect the drone's durability as well. Crashing is part of the learning process, so all of our options include built-in blade guards. These are what you'd consider toy drones, but they're super fun to fly.
Downright fun to fly
EACHINE E10 Mini Quadcopter
The EACHINE E10 Mini Quadcopter is a perfect little drone for kids, featuring a simple, kid-size controller and everything your kid needs to practice drone flying. Despite its small size, this drone includes some impressive features, including one-button 360-degree rolls and a return home function built into the directional control stick.
Multiple colors available
Potensic Mini Drone
This pocket-sized drone is basically the definition of a kid drone at just under 2 inches across. It comes ready to fly out of the box, with a USB cable for charging and a simple kid-friendly controller. You'll get about five minutes of flight on a fully-charged battery, with just over 50 feet of range from the controller.
UFO 3000 LED drone
The UFL 3000 LED Drone keeps your blades fully protected with a bumper that includes bright LEDs. Two batteries ship with this drone, with flight times averaging around seven minutes on a full charge.
DJI on the inside
Tello Quadcopter Drone
If the Tello quadcopter looks closer to what you'd expect from a DJI drone, you'll be happy to know that it's actually built on DJI's flight tech. It also features a 5MP camera that can shoot 720p video. It's a palm-sized drone that really delivers.
No controller required
Force1 Scoot XL LED Hand Drone
This UFO-inspired drone is far from a traditional drone, but it's an ideal option for kids. To launch the drone, you simply toss it in the air and it comes to life with bright LEDs and hovers in the air. The on-board motion sensors let you control the drone by waving your hands next to it, making this one of the easiest drones to control with no remote control required.
Cue the Imperial March
Propel Star Wars drones
These cool Star Wars drones are so damn cool and collectible. Not only do they look great on display or flying through the air, but you can also battle up to 12 at once for epic space battles complete with sound effects. There are three styles to hunt down: Luke's X-Wing (linked below), Vader's Tie Fighter, and a speeder bike from Return of the Jedi.
Durability is key when buying someone's first drone
Take this bit of personal wisdom to heart: never go "all-out" when buying someone their first drone, especially if they're still a kid. Drones are incredibly easy to crash when you're just starting. While the most expensive models usually have crash-avoidance technologies, they're still susceptible to taking damage or simply flying off into the sunset. It's best to start small and cheap until your little pilot is confident enough to move onto something a bit more substantial.
The great news is that mini-drones offer great fun in an affordable package, and are designed to bounce off of walls with flexible plastic blade guards. Smaller drones are especially fun to fly indoors, as the blade guards keep the propellers safe from damage — and also protect the things the drone might crash into. My favorite micro drone is the EACHINE E10 for its compact size and zippy flight performance. For a unique drone experience that's safe and fun for kids of all ages, I'd recommend the Force1 Scoot XL which instantly takes flight with a light toss into the air and lets everyone take control of the drone using just their hands.
Lastly, if you can track them down, the Propel Star Wars drones are fantastic drones in their own right but especially if you're a Star Wars fan. They've been around for a couple of years now, so you should be able to find them for well under $100, although stock quantities seem to be low on these highly collectible drones.
Please note that these drones are all recommended for ages 14 and up. Looking for more substantial drones? Check out our article on the best drones under $300 or the best camera drones if price is no object.