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Fear not: I like to think of myself as a holiday shopper extraordinaire, and have become an expert at spotting a holiday deal from a mile away. I — and my Toy Insider team of elves — know play and are professionals when it comes to spotting the best deals. I’m letting you in on a few of my most coveted shopping secrets so that you can lock in the best deals of the holiday season this year.
To steer clear from holiday shopping stress, be sure to follow these tips below.
- Know before you go: Make sure you look up the MSRPs for toys before you start shopping. On toyinsider.com, we list MSRPs for every item that is featured in our Holiday Gift Guide. If something seems overpriced, a quick search online will go a long way in your shopping savings!
- Check your junk mail: Yes, you read that right. Promotional emails usually clog up your inbox and go unread, or land straight in your spam folder. While that works to your advantage during the year, Black Friday is the exception. Retailers will send out emails with deals all weekend long, so make sure your inbox is open and ready!
- Do sweat the small stuff: Tax, shipping costs, and layaway and service fees can add up, so while you may THINK that you are getting a good deal, that may not actually be the case.
- Make a list, check it twice: Have a game plan before you go shopping. Help kids create holiday wish lists so parents, grandparents and all other gift givers can use it as their holy grail throughout the holiday season. On toyinsider.com, kids can personalize their own wish lists to help make this process even easier!
- Avoid third-party resellers: Unauthorized third-party resellers on sites like eBay, Amazon and Walmart.com often hike up the price of sought-after toys. It’s better to buy directly from the retailer, because they have to adhere to MSRPs.
- Get social: Social media platforms — like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — can be the fastest way to find special deals and discounts. Stay connected all weekend long so you don’t miss out!
Top Toy Black Friday Deals:
TODAY editors, writers and experts take care to recommend items we really like and hope you’ll enjoy! Just so you know, TODAY does have affiliate relationships. So, while every product is independently selected, if you buy something through our links, we may get a small share of the revenue.
Paw Patrol Zoomer Interactive Pup by Spin Master, $44 (normally $70), Amazon
Paw Patrol Zoomer Skye is an interactive pup that talks, moves on her own, and responds to touch and movement. Skye comes c with a Pup Pack and wings, and kids can press her head to make her say catchphrases and sounds. She barks, wiggles, dances, and more!
Air Hogs High Speed Race Car, $65 (normally $100), Amazon
Featuring FPV (first person view), this vehicle puts kids right in the driver's seat. Experience the race from behind the wheel as the view from the dashboard is streamed directly into the headset. With LED light features and strong treads, this RC vehicle is able to tackle both indoor and outdoor roads
Just Play Safari Surprise Amber Tiger Plus, $23 (normally X), Amazon
The surprise within this toy lies in the number of baby cubs - each mom comes with a different number of cubs hidden within her belly. How many will you get? The leopard and cheetah versions will also be 40 - 50 percent off on Black Friday.
3Doodler Create Pen Sets, $80 (normally $100), Amazon
This 3-D printing pen brings art to life. The set comes with more than 75 plastic colors in flexy, matte, gloss, clear, glow and sparkle materials, plus accessories for all kinds of users. With this Black Friday deal, get 20 percent off all pen sets through Nov. 27, while supplies last.
Kraken’s Revenge Roller Coaster Building Set, $30 (normally $50), Amazon
All hands on deck! Kids can build the motorized coaster and then watch it zip through the twists and turns to avoid the Kraken. The coaster stands more than 2.5 feet tall and features more than 550 K’NEX pieces. This deal runs until Nov. 27, while supplies last.
Mattel Power Wheels Boomerang, $250 (normally $400), Toys "R" Us
Put the pedal to the medal. This kid-controlled power drift travels up to 5 miles per hour and is designed to drive on all kinds of surfaces, including grass and rough terrain. The three-position adjustable seat holds one rider and features a seat belt, and has high sides for added safety. On Black Friday ONLY, you'll save $150 in-store, while supplies last.
Step2 Happy Home Cottage & Grill, $100 (normally $190), Toys "R" Us
The play set features a charming design with a realistic stone and wood finish. The doors and shutters open and the interior kitchen includes a seat, a fireplace, a wall clock, a pay phone, shelves, a table and a faucet. This sale happens in-store and online Thursday, Nov. 23 through Saturday, Nov. 25, or Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST on Toysrus.com, while supplies last.
Magformers Power Vehicle Set, $90 (normally $200), Toys "R" Us
Click, connect, and create up to 21 working vehicles. The new Power Engine block lets kids make moving buses, bulldozers, off-road cars and more. The set is compatible with all Magformers shapes and accessories. With this deal, you'll get over 50 percent off in-store and online Thursday, Nov. 23 through Saturday, Nov. 25, or Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST on Toysrus.com, while supplies last.
Shopkins Shoppies Skyanna’s Jet Playset, $20 (normally $45), Walmart
Kids can go on jet-setting adventures with this Shoppies jet that features an overhead compartment for luggage, seats and rolling wheels. The jet includes an exclusive Skyanna Shoppies doll and three exclusive Shopkins characters: Fizzy Soda, Lynn Flight Meal and Captain Zoom. This deal starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday in stores and online at 12:01 a.m. Friday through Nov. 24, while supplies last.
Crayola Kids@Work 115-Piece Crayon Tube, $20 (normally $37), Toys "R" Us
This larger-than-life, 3-foot-tall crayon tube is perfect for first-time builders. The crayon tube holds various sturdy and stackable building blocks in bright Crayola colors. Once playtime is over, the pieces can be easily stored inside the tube. Save over 40 percent in-store at Toys “R” Us and online Thursday, Nov. 23 through Saturday, Nov. 25, or Wednesday at 9 p.m. EST on Toysrus.com, while supplies last.
PJ Masks Adventure Playland with 120 Balls, $20 (normally $40), Walmart
ASK ABOUT PRICE
This inflatable ball pit features a ball toss roof and an interactive side play panel. Traditionally sold with 20 balls, this set comes with 120 balls with a mesh storage bag. This deal starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday in stores, and at 12:01 a.m. Friday online through Nov. 24, while supplies last.
Neon Cruzer Light Up Wheeled Skateboard, $36 (originally $60), Amazon
Cruise around in style with this skateboard, featuring ultra-bright LED wheels that are visible through its transparent deck. This skateboard is easy to control and is motion-powered, so it requires no batteries. This item, along with the Neon Viper scooter, the Neon Kart and the Neon flash scooter from Yvolution will be 30 percent to 50 percent off starting Nov. 24.
Droid Inventor Kit, $80 (normally $100), Amazon
Kids can create their own custom Droid and bring it to life! Using the littleBits electronic blocks and the free Droid Inventor app, they’ll teach their R2 Unit new tricks and take it on more than 16 missions. Kids can level-up their inventor expertise and reconfigure their Droid to give it new skills, or design any Droid they can dream up. Kids can even control it in Drive Mode, Self-Navigation, Force Mode and more.
Personalized Rainbow Jewelry Set, $10 (Black Friday exclusive!), Walmart
Trendsetters can create more than 200 personalized pieces of jewelry, including pom and tassel accessories, emoticon jewelry, choker necklaces and friendship bracelets. The instruction booklet includes different tips and techniques. This sale starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday in stores, and at 12:01 a.m. Friday online through Nov. 24, while supplies last.
Glowing Art Studio, $10 (Black Friday exclusive!), Walmart
Create endless hours of colorful creativity. The art studio includes more than 70 pieces with glow-in-the-dark scratch art, spiral art, stickers and more. Kids can test out different tools, including watercolors, paints, markers and gel pens. This sale starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday in stores, and at 12:01 a.m. Friday online through Nov. 24, while supplies last.
Flip Zee Girls Trolls & Precious, $10 (normally $20), Walmart
Loveable, huggable, and stylish, the Flip Zee Girls come in the new Troll & Precious style. Each Flip Zee Girl is two dolls in one, and features colorful, wacky hair, a beautiful dress and a fun personality. This sale starts at 6 p.m. on Thursday in stores, and at 12:01 a.m. Friday online through Nov. 24, while supplies last.
StikBot Studio Pro, $16 (normally $25), Target
The stop-motion animation studio includes a green screen so that kids can make their own videos. Stikbots are easy-to-pose figures with suction cup hands and feet that stick to any surface. This sale starts in stores at Target and online when doors open at 6 p.m. on Nov. 23 and lasts through Nov. 25, while supplies last.
This is also $13 on Amazon.
GearZooz Roll & Roar Animal Train, BOGO 50 percent off ($30 each), Target
Kids can create their own train by mixing and matching the 15 included gears, and then they can put the Smart Gear animals on the pegs to learn more about each one. Little ones can press the buttons to listen to different instruments and answer kid-friendly questions, and then pull the string or push the train to see the gears spin and move together. On Black Friday, buy one, get one 50 percent off all toys from VTech and LeapFrog (lower-priced toy will be 50 percent off) in stores and online through Nov. 25, while supplies last.
LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition, BOGO 50 percent off ($90 each), Target
This kid-friendly tablet comes with appropriate, on-board learning content, featuring more than 20 learning games that explore a range of subjects and skills, as well as a free trial of the LeapFrog Academy. The LeapSearch web browser lets kids safely surf the web, and the parental controls allow parents to add Android apps as their kids advance. On Black Friday, buy one, get one 50 percent off all toys from VTech & LeapFrog (lower-priced toy will be 50 percent off) in stores and online through Nov. 25, while supplies last.
For more Black Friday deals check out our post on the best Black Friday deals 2017. For more toy deals, go to Amazon where you can get 40 percent off select toys from Barbie, Fisher-Price, Hot Wheels and more.