The holiday toy books have arrived, marking that special time of year when the kids grab a crayon, a pen or even mom’s lipstick to circle and ooh and ahh over all of the toys they’d like.
“Ooh, I want this. Oh, and this. Oh yeah, baby,” could be heard from our living room as our son started formulating his wish list — from three toy books.
Lucky for us, he circled about 998 items, so we have a variety to choose from.
There are some fun new toys out this year, as well as a resurgence of classics such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and My Little Pony. All of these were popular when I was a kid. It’s crazy.
Disney’s newest addition in girl world is Sofia the First, a common little girl who becomes a princess when her mom marries the king. There are a variety of toys surrounding this character. For example, Talking Sofia Doll and Animal Friends Play Set feature a doll that interacts with the animal friends. It was least expensive at Target and Walmart — costing about $33 — Wednesday when I recorded prices.
Disney’s Planes also yielded some new toys, such as Pilot Pals R/C Tilt and Fly Dusty Crop-
Hopper, with the lowest price at Kmart for $33.99.
Doc McStuffins remains popular. This year, Kmart and Toys R Us are carrying a checkup center for imaginary play. The Toys R Us version is the least expensive at $64.99.
The makers of Lalaloopsy brought out Workshop Double Packs, which allow kids to create one-of-a-kind dolls with mix-and-match heads, fashion and accessories. The price is right around $20 at most places.
There’s a new line of teenage character dolls called Ever After High Royals and Rebels, which are the next generation of fairy tale characters. For example, Apple White is the daughter of Snow White. You get the idea. Dolls are running at about $19.99 each right now.
Lego has tons of cool sets in a variety of themes such as Star Wars, Ninjago, City, Monster Fighters, Chima and Friends. The big one this year is Legends of Chima — The Lion Chi Temple. It’ll cost you close to a hundred bucks.
An alternative to the Lego brand if you’re strapped for cash is Kre-o. It has themes such as Cityville Invasion, Angry Birds, Star Trek and G.I. Joe. The Cityville Invasion sets cost between $24.96 and $34.96 at Walmart.
“Skylanders SWAP Force” is popular among gamers. It’s a video game that’s played along with toy figures that interact through a “Portal of Power.” Figures are placed on the portal, and that figure shows up in the game. “SWAP Force” allows characters to be mixed and matched. Starter packs are on sale at Target for $69.99. It’s available for Wii, Wii U, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Nintendo 3DS.
I went out last week to scope out some of the popular toys to compare prices and to see which stores are carrying what. I put it together in a list, organized by group, that can be found with this column.
Once you know what you want, the question is, when will we find the best deals on toys? Experts at DealNews.com, a website dedicated to tracking sales, say we can save up to 37 percent if we wait until December to buy toys, and that Black Friday probably won’t see steep toy discounts.
In my opinion, if you see a toy that you know your kid wants, and the price is right, snag it. Some stores offer price adjustments if it goes on sale within a certain time period after you make the purchase.
Also, keep in mind that many stores match prices. If you’re at Target, for example, and you see something that is a little less at Walmart, tell the cashier when you go to the checkout counter. A store employee told me they have iPads there to look up products online if customer do not have print ads with them.
Another option is layaway. Some stores have incentives. For example, at Kmart, you’ll get an additional 5 percent off of layaway purchases made by Nov. 24.
Look for buy-one-get-one deals or incentives for immediate purchases as well. At Toys R Us, I saw a promotion where you get a $10 gift card with a $40 Disney movie purchase. That’s 10 bucks you can get something else with, or you can give the gift card as a present.
Another thing to think about when making purchases is value versus price. What I mean is, how long will your child enjoy the toy? Things like the LeapPad Ultra, Nintendo 3-Ds and Lego sets have a larger price tag. But they are things the kids can use for a few years. So it doesn’t feel as bad to spend the money.