When I seen the topic for your post I nodded my head, and said "heck ya" so I figured I'd pop in and give my say on it too.
I agree entirely about the huge price and how crazy it is. I mean, why? you know?
I dont get it, and i dont in fact know why, but it sure does suck. Them things are pretty cool too. lol
When I was in the stores looking for one, I gave up shortly after I started, went to Menards, bought some board for 15 bucks, some carpet for another 10 bucks. Had nails and hammers at home, and built one myself. You can even go to like a craft store, and get some string and balls of something, you'll find lots of stuff. Hammer & nails work perfect, and my cat loved it for years. Untill it got kind of old, and I threw it out, Like everything does.
So I made another one. Very easy. Just make sure you nail the nails down real real good, so your kitty doesnt get hurt. It's actually kind of fun.
Just thought Id give my input.