Ruth to the Rescue offers toy shopping strategies

Parents should head to stores with game plan if seeking hottest toys of season

DETROIT - If you think you can wait until Black Friday to start shopping for the hottest toys of the season, think again!

Some parents have learned that lesson the hard way.

"I had a tough time finding Tickle Me Elmo when she was younger. So, I'll never again!" said Michael Merchan, of Allen Park, as he shopped with his daughter this week.

When toys, such as Tickle Me Elmo, make the hot list, parents should come up with a game plan to get them before they're gone.

Hot toys of 2012

So, what are the "Hot Toys" of 2012? Each retailer comes up with a list, and we sorted through them. Some of the common items on those lists: a new improved Furby, Lego Friends products, Monster High merchandise, One Direction Dolls, and don't forget the high-tech gadgets, even for very small children.

"A lot of the kids are growing up with technology, and they're wanting the tablets, cell phones and computers at a very early age," Dev Shapiro of told Ruth to the Rescue.

Bagging those toys without breaking the bank

Shapiro says research is going to be your best friend when you're looking to make your children's holiday wishes come true, without breaking the bank. He says you should be scouring the sales papers and the internet now, earmarking products you're hoping to buy, and checking the prices. Then, you'll know when you see a good price.

After the research, you will be ready to get an early start, which many parents tell Ruth to the Rescue is a key to their success.

"I just believe in shopping earlier, that's when I get my best deals," said Yvonne Wright of Detroit.

Here are some of the other ideas we found:

*Use layaway programs. That way you can buy now, even if you don't have the cash.
*Use the Internet to stay informed. Check out the Facebook page or Twitter hashtag for certain products to see how other people are finding the best bargains.
*Timing is everything. One mommy blogger says if you can go shopping during on Fridays, that's when stores are freshly stocked for the weekend.
*Divide and Conquer: Share your toy list with good friends. If they spot the item at a good price, they can buy it for you, and you'll do the same for them.
*Make a Reservation: Some retailers allow you to make a reservation system, which allows you to reserve hot toys before the even hit store shelves.
*If you shop on, fill your shopping car with items, but don't buy them. We're told Amazon will send you alerts when the prices go down.

Some experts predict the hottest toys will be scarce by Dec. 1.

When the store shelves are bare, Dev Shapiro of recommends checking ebay for those hard to find items, but he cautions, you should keep an eye on price.

"I've seen items on eBay go for maybe five times more than the retail value," Shapiro told Ruth to the Rescue.

But, before you get carried away, remember parents have the veto power in the family. It's a power that Laura Cuevas of Detroit isn't afraid to use.

"I stick to my budget. It's gotta be under this much," she said. "If it's more than that, then you're not getting it."

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