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Last Year's Toys "R" Us Fab 15 List Demonstrates the Best Time to Buy Toys

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By , dealnews Media Editor

A few weeks ago, the children of the world let out a collective shout of "Awesome!" when this year's Toys "R" Us Fabulous 15 list was announced. At the same time, parents looked into their wallets and let out an exasperated, "They cost HOW MUCH?!"

Well, fear not penny-wise parents, that's why dealnews is here. We step in, hold your hand, smooth your hair, make soothing "shush"-ing noises, and tell you that everything will be all right; you won't have to break the bank this holiday season. And these are not just empty words — we have data on our side!

We went through our records from last year, and besides finding out that we have a serious lack of restraint when it comes to our egg nog budget, we turned up some interesting info about the price trends for last year's Fabulous 15 list — and by extension, new toys for the holidays in general.

Bypass Black Friday, Collect up to 52% in Savings

You may be tempted to buy the season's hottest toys sooner rather than later — maybe even during a Black Friday sale — but don't!

All of the deal data we have on these "Fabulous" toys tells a similar tale: To get the best price, wait until the last possible moment to make your purchase; on the whole, not even Black Friday — the hottest of all shopping days — can beat this technique.

Last year nearly all of the toys hit price lows during the third week in December. We saw Bigfoot the Monster drop 40% in price, the LeapFrog Leapster Explorer dropped 31%, and Pillow Pets dropped 52%. Those are some significant savings.

Wait for it ... Wait for it ...

Really, wait! Wait as long as you can stand ... then wait just a bit more than that. Hold off on your purchase until you're either about to pass out from the stress of disappointing a child or until it's just not physically possible to have the toy delivered to you in time to get it hastily wrapped and thrown under the tree. Deal-hunting is not for the weak! To get the best deals, you're going to have to sweat a little! This is the price we all pay for getting lowest-ever prices! (Except for, you know, the price that we pay for the item, of course.)

Now, we realize that for some people paying slightly more than lowest-of-season price is OK, if it means peace of mind during an already stressful time of year. In that case, we can relax the window of opportunity a tad and say: The 14-day range before Christmas is the best time to get a sizeable deal on toys for the holiday season. Purchase one of the Fabulous 15 — or any "new release" — some time in this period, and you're likely getting a really good deal.

Sing-a-ma-jigs Ruin Everything

One caveat we'd like to mention: Sing-a-ma-jigs were the biggest outlier in our data set. They actually went up in price during the same week when all the other toys dropped, which just proves that these little dolls are annoying in every way, whether it be the aesthetic, auditory, or deal-finding sense.

It's also possible that since the toys were so cheap to begin with (a list price of $15), retailers came to their senses knowing that they would fly off the shelves, discount or not. It's Economics 101: Supply and demand ... or guns and butter ... or something.

The Moral of the Story

In the coming weeks, there will be temptation to pull the trigger early. (What's that bin of colorful boxes at the in-store Black Friday sale? Avoid it!) Wait patiently until the 14-day window before Christmas, when toys of the season are likely to be at their lowest.

If you already have a thorough list from your child, consider setting up an email alert for the toy of your kid's choice to learn immediately when it goes on sale. (Also keep an eye on our daily toy deals as we approach that window.) Because if Tickle Me Elmo, Zhu Zhu Pets, et al have taught us anything at dealnews, it's that occasionally there is a toy so hot, the deal will sell faster than a fire sale on iPads.

Photo credits top to bottom: Toys.com, Kt Ann via Flickr, and Rescu.com.au


Jeff Somogyi is the dealnews Media Editor. He has a talent for finding patterns in data. Read more thoughts from his beautiful mind on Twitter @dzheough or his blog. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.
Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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2 comments
wtrmlnlabs
None of this fits my year last year.  My best deals were black Friday or earlier for EVERYTHING.  I was watching all December still since I could return things if I found a better price.  And the Paper Jamz also went up in price.  I bought 2 in October for $15 and by late December when mother in law decided she wanted to get one for someone they were up to $25.  Do as you wish, but I certainly would not rely on this article to be true for everything...not even most things...
afmahon
I agree, Jeff. Waiting and watching is hard, but a worthy discipline. I am using ShopAdvisor to put your advice into practice. I am waiting on some Halloween purchases too. Lots of price drops a week ago, but almost no movement this past week. I wrote about it here => ttp://www.evoqu.com/blog/?p=382[. I don't know if I have the nerve to hold off on last-minute Halloween stuff -- could be time to buy.  Do you examine halloween deal trends too? -- Andrew
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