Top 10 Toys under $25 this Holiday Season

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  • Affordable toys for tough times Times may not be as bad as they were at the outset of the recent recession, but parents' pockets still aren't jingling all the way to buy a $70 Elmo doll, and toymakers are taking notice.

    With U.S. consumers still hurting, toymakers are adjusting by offering a plethora of less-than-$25 toys for gift givers still watching their budgets, says Chris Byrne, content director for TimeToPlayMag.com.

    "You're seeing a resistance to the Elmos and Mickeys and those very expensive toys," Byrne says.

    But while parents may be looking for value, don't expect toy retailers to cut prices too much ahead of the holidays, Byrne says.

    "Using the toys as a loss leader or a traffic driver is not working so much anymore because people have their budget, and when they spend their budget, they stop shopping," Byrne says.

    Here are 10 toys fit for your holiday budget.

  • Redakai Manufacturer: Spin Master

    Ages: 6 and up

    Price: Starting at $6.99

    Based on the popular cartoon, Redakai cards will be a popular option for elementary and middle school kids this year, Byrne says.

    "You can be in (the game) for $6.99," he says. "It'll probably grow, and it'll build over time. If a kid gets something and they like it, Mom and Dad can invest more."

    Byrne says the cards remind him of another trading-card game that became a hot property a few years back.

    "We used to joke about Pokemon cards being the $2,000 purchase made $2.99 at a time," Byrne says. "It satisfies the need to give a gift, to give them something that's hot and not break the bank."

  • Monster High Dead Tired Dolls Manufacturer: Mattel

    Ages: 6-12

    Price: $11.99

    A macabre twist on typical Barbie-esque fashion dolls, Monster High gives girls fashionable dolls with an interesting back story at a price parents can afford, Byrne says.

    "You can certainly buy more of them and get up there, but you can be in the franchise for (less than) $20," he says.

    The dolls come with a few accessories, including a doll stand for display.

  • Squinkies Manufacturer: Blip Toys

    Ages: 4 and up

    Price: $12.99

    Appearing on this list for the second time, the small vinyl figurines known as Squinkies are part of a growing trend toward small, collectible toys, Byrne says.

    "It's not very much money, but it's a collectible. It really does level the playing field with the social currency among kids because they can feel they're involved in a hot property," he says.

    Other small collectible toy series include Ickee Stickeez by Zing Toys, The Trash Pack by Moose Toys and Gogo's Crazy Bones by Jonic Distribution.

    Toys such as these make great stocking stuffers and provide lots of fun for the price, says Pamela Brill, editor-at-large for Playthings Magazine.

    "There's a lot to be done with them," says Brill. "(Kids) like to bring them to school; they like to attach them to their backpacks. Then they can also set them up and play their own little games at home."

  • Zhu-Fari Pets Manufacturer: Cepia LLC

    Ages: 4 and up

    Price: $9.99 and up

    A cousin to the ZhuZhu Pets that took the toy world by storm a few years ago, these furry, motorized figurines are decorated to look like zoo animals. Like other ZhuZhu Pets, Zhu-Fari toys can be played with on flat surfaces or run on a series of separately sold tracks.

    Byrne says ZhuZhu Pets' appeal has endured because they can be purchased in affordable chunks.

    With the Zhu-Fari pets retailing for less than $10 and their equipment often for less than $20, it allows different gift givers to contribute a few pieces each to create a play experience for children that's enriched by each addition to their collection.

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