With budgets getting tighter, what's a TF geek to do?
One recommendation, if you have a little patience, like to gamble, and don't mind holes in your collection, is to check out your local liquidation chains like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross. Usually these stores are populated by middle-aged women looking to buy last year's fashions for cheap, but these outlets also usually have a toy aisle (I recommend bringing either a relative's kid with you or at least a female friend so you don't look totally creepy). Occasionally, even a Five Below will get a wave or two of Bots and Cons.
For instance, in my last toy run I picked up...
Universe Warpath for $7.99 (retails at $14.99; Marshalls)
A TRU Cyberverse exclusive battle pack for $19.99 (retails at $39.99, TJ Maxx)
Cyberverse Transformers Crossover Star Wars Obi-wan, Anakin, and General Grievous for $4.99 each (retail at $9.99 each; Marshalls)
Human Alliance Whirl and Sparkplug for $4.50 (retails at $9.99; Marshall's)
Universe Sky Shadow for $7.99 (retails at $14.99; Marshalls)
You won't find the latest Transformers toys at these stores, but you can often find items that never made it to the shelves (if stores have a lot of pegwarmers, later shipments sometimes end up going straight to outlets). What is certain, however, is that any figures you find there will be cheaper than retail at primary chains like TRU, Target, or Walmart.