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10 hot toys for under $20

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Shopping for toys this holiday season doesn’t have to be a budget buster. With toymakers adjusting to Americans’ more frugal shopping habits, this season the price of fun isn’t as high as in the past, says Chris Byrne, content director of

“A lot of toys are less expensive this year, so a lot of what we’re considering the hot toys of the year are really under $20,” says Byrne.

And kids don’t understand what the toy costs. Ever wonder why kids often take the toy out of the box, then leave the toy and play with the box? It comes down to a factor toy experts call “play value.” This value can come from a toy’s ability to be played with in a number of different ways, interact with other toys a child might have or foster play among a group of kids, says Byrne.

“Kids, at the end of the day, don’t know how much money has been spent on them if the toy has a lot of play value,” says Byrne.

“It doesn’t matter how well-made a toy is if a kid only plays with it once,” says Cliff Annicelli, editor in chief of toy trade magazine Playthings. “What’s most valued is a toy that they’re going to want to play with over and over again.”