Spoiler: Neither of them are very good.
I’m just kidding!
Truthfully, the Dollar Tree is one of my favorite discount stores of all time, right alongside Five Below. I like the layout, it smells normal, it’s nice and clean, and you really can find some treasures there both licensed and not. Toy collecting aside, they also carry Wet and Wild makeup, which is my absolute favorite budget line. Their eye shadow pigments are wonderful and their lipsticks are great colors and excellent quality. I’ve purchased tubes of $10 lipstick that didn’t do what Wet and Wild’s $1-$3 tubes do for me.
I wish I was quite as successful in the toy aisle, but alas, a girl can dream.
In their last wave of toys, the Dollar Tree had this neat line of Nickelodeon miniatures. I was lucky enough to receive both Ren and Stimpy from a Toy Wizards reader (thanks, Rob!) because my local Dollar Trees didn’t have them.
But yeesh, there sure were a lot of Hey Arnolds left over.
In my town, there is a Dollar Tree and a 99 Cents Only store literally a parking lot over from each other. So, I thought to myself, let’s play a game. Let’s go into both stores and see which one has a more interesting toy aisle. And based on what we see in these two stores, we’d let Toy Wizards readers vote for the better aisle. Will the Dollar Tree reign supreme? Or is there magic hiding in that 99 Cents Only store?
The outcome relies on you.
And my own crappy opinions, of course.
First up, The Dollar Tree:
Walking into the aisle at the Dollar Tree, I was immediately greeted by One Punch Man blind boxes. And while I am not into One Punch Man personally, 13-14 year old me would have been crying because of this very fact.
Anime merchandise. At the Dollar Store. Do you know how crazy that notion would have been in the late 90s? The last time I saw something anime related at a dollar store was when bootleg Planet Girl dolls were lurking around (and of course I was too stupid to buy one, missed connections!) and the time I found an officially licensed Sailor Moon nightlight that was installed upside down. They were all put together wrong and therefore could not plug in with the Sailor Moon casing still on it.
That is 100% a true story, One Punch Man blind boxes!
Moving forward, I saw WWE figures, similar to the ones available at Five Below, but in 6″ form.
Continuing onward, I saw shelf space for DC related goodies:
Which then of course segued into the rise of the robots. No one in particular, of course. Just…robots.
This little cutie pie came home with me.
Air Force and Military toys took purchase upon the Dollar Tree shelves as well:
As did the random assortment of wacky-wall-walking Ninja Friends:
Then of course, what sort of fun would we have if we didn’t make time to take a vacation:
But no trip to a Dollar Tree would be complete without bootleg ponies:
Puzzles out the schnitzel:
And the world’s best garbage toy supreme…slime:
Whooo! Was that an adventure or what?! But we’re not done– because remember, minutes later, we took ourselves out of that Dollar Tree and headed on over to…
The 99 Cents Only Store
It smelled like absolute garbage in here and the floor was a little crusty.
Look, I’m not trying to be a biased brat here; how can one discover treasure and take over the world if they walk in with a junk attitude?
Exactly– they can’t!
I’m not quite sure how, but the 99 Cents Only store was far busier than the Dollar Tree next door. Must be that purple and green time machine 90s decor luring everyone in. But in all fairness, it was at the 99 Cents Only store that I found those Planet Girls dolls of the past and the licensed (broken) Sailor Moon nightlight referenced above. At one point in our history, this store was all we had, save for a few random dollar stores in malls and the skeevy part of town. That is, until Dollar Trees started popping up around 2010-ish.
With that, there’s a very interesting shift that’s occurred in 99 Cents Only’s toy aisle. Check this picture out– this was the very first toy I saw.
A licensed Power Rangers toy for a dollar? Did the powers that be finally understand that the 2017 Power Rangers movie was so bad that there was truly no market left for their toys? Had the price fallen so low that something out there was about to get me to purchase my very first Power Rangers movie toy?!
Nope– check this out. Let’s take a closer look.
99 Cents Only toys no longer cost 99 cents. Not exclusively, at least.
Thus, there are a few Hasbro and Mattel discount toys here, the same ones that you can find at Ross, Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and other outlet shops. But imagine the scenario when a family on a tight budget shows up to 99 Cents Only and wants to buy their child a toy? They go up to the aisle and…these things cost as much as $8.
Maybe it’s just me…but something about this isn’t sitting right.
Among the selection, we have Rapunzel:
Some Star Wars dudes:
A licensed table that might have a tea set in it.
Some Thomas and Peppa play mats:
An Overwatch mystery poster:
A wall of Hot Wheels:
A $6 cardboard storage box for said Hot Wheels:
Zak Storm. Just…Zak Storm.
This dude who looks how I feel:
These dolls who totally don’t look like Pod People:
Live-Action Belle, who makes an appearance at every discount store:
And…*gulp* Kinetic Sand:
Darkness, my old friend.
We meet again.
Now– what do you think, Toy Wizard readers?! Which discount toy aisle is the undisputed winner? Are you Team Dollar Tree? Or Team 99 Cents Only? Or do you love/hate the toys at both?!
Give Toy Wizards your thoughts in the comments and get the conversation going!