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Big toy books a big rip-off for parents?

Before you jump on these deals, wait for the Black Friday ads to come out.

By Karen Datko Oct 25, 2010 5:06PM

This post comes from Melinda Fulmer of MSN Money.


The giant holiday toy catalogs of three of the nation's largest toy sellers -- Toys R Us, Kmart and Wal-Mart -- have been leaked, and they push a huge number of "discounts."

These thick full-color displays of kiddie eye candy, released every year, are meant to get kids drooling over page after page of toys they didn't even know they wanted.  But are they a sweet deal for parents?


Not really, says Michael Brim, operator of the Black Friday deal site


"Generally the Black Friday sales will have better prices," he says. "These are more to drum up interest in kids and get them asking parents for those gifts for Christmas."


Indeed, some of the items in these catalogs cost more during the sales (which start on Halloween for Kmart and Toys R Us, and Nov. 7 for Wal-Mart) than they do right now.


Here are a few examples from Brim's site:

  • 24-inch boy's Mongoose XR-75 dual-suspension bike: Wal-Mart sale price, $124; current price, $109.
  • Fisher-Price Thomas Return From Misty Island: Wal-Mart sale price, $39.97; current price, $37.97.
  • LEGO Star Wars Emperor Palpatine's Shuttle: Toys R Us sale price, $59.99; current price, $48.74.

However, these catalogs do offer at least some discounts on a much broader range of playthings than the hotter Black Friday deals. And if you loathe Black Friday crowds and won't elbow your way past other parents to get a $5 discount, there might be a few things in here for you, as long as you remember to do a little online comparison shopping first.


But if parents really want to save the most money, Brim says, they should make their list and sit tight for a week or two -- until most of the major retailers have leaked their actual Black Friday ads to deal sites. Compare what the toy catalogs offer now with the discounts coming in just a few weeks, then make your decision about when and where to buy. (These toy catalog sales will last until most of the Black Friday ads are out.)


However, if you see something that looks like a good deal now, it can't hurt to buy it, as long as the store has a good return policy.


"If your gut says buy it, buy it and sit on it until something better comes along," Brim says.


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