By Sam Parker
Children of the ‘90s believe they bade an eternal farewell to the gibberish-speaking furry ball with blinking eyes and a mechanical beak. Furby, the robotic, must-have toy known for its ability to speak its own language of Furbish, was a huge success after its initial launch in 1998, but after three years in the toy aisle, it had lost its appeal. Or so it seemed. Now, almost 15 years later, toy manufacturer Hasbro has reintroduced a new generation of Furby—which will be available Sept 16.—and this time, it has a mind of its own.
Furbish: The Furby Can Learn More Phrases than its Predecessor
After selling more than 40 million pieces worldwide in the first three years of the original Furby’s production, Hasbro hopes to recreate a global phenomenon with its new furry line, according to Kelsey Tarczanin, account coordinator at Litzky Public Relations, said. The new Furby is technologically savvy. It can develop its own unique personality based on the way its owner interacts with it. Because it can now communicate six times the amount of phrases in Furbish and English, the Furby’s IQ is quite high.
Now with Distinct Personalities and Expressive Eyes
“Furby develops a distinct personality based on the way kids play with it,” Tarczanin said. “Through a combination of interactive programming and robotic engineering, Hasbro has created a ‘magical’ creature with ‘a mind of its own.’ Feed it, speak to it, tickle it or play music for it—the personality of each Furby is shaped by these experiences. Play nicely with Furby and it may develop a sweet personality, or pull, shake and turn Furby upside down and a mischievous demeanor may evolve.”
With two glowing LED eyes, a Furby can communicate with children through the display of hundreds of different icons. For example, if your Furby wishes to tell you that it loves music, music notes will appear on its eyes. Just like its older siblings, Furby will still have eyelids, but they will serve a limited purpose, only opening and closing when Furby is waking up or when it is ready for bed.
“Furby now lets kids know how it feels through a series of animations displayed in its expressive LED eyes,” Tarczanin said. “The more kids play with Furby, the more Furby changes. From hip hop to pop, pizza or sushi, each Furby reacts differently depending on its personality.”
Furby will request specific actions of its owner when it wants to be fed, petted or tickled. However, one doesn’t have to feed it in order for it to survive. Without food, though, one should expect Furby will become irritated or cranky, Hasbro warns. The toy does not come with an off switch either, so children cannot simply escape Furby’s needs, but when it grows bored, it will simply doze off.
The new Furby comes with the ability to detect beats as well, allowing it to dance and sing along with you to your favorite songs.
Furby will also have the ability to correspond with an iOS mobile application. By downloading the free app to your iPhone, iPad or iPod, you can virtually feed Furby, create a customized sandwich for your Furby while visiting a deli, access a Furbish to English dictionary and use a Furbish to English translator.
“Using the Furby app, children can virtually feed their Furby by sliding the food items off of the screen toward Furby,” Tarczanin said. “Feed it a hot pepper from the Furby app and you may see fire in Furby’s eyes. Furby can even release a satisfied burp after a big meal.”
Similar to the ‘90s model, the new Furby will slowly learn the English language as children increasingly speak to it and play with it. Furby will also recognize when its furry friends are nearby. According to Hasbro, Furby has the ability to strike up a friendly conversation with another Furby, either in English or Furbish, and the pair can sing songs together. However, if you have programmed your Furby to be mean or angry, the toy manufacturer warns it may not get along with others.
Cost, Colors and Where to Buy
Furby is will be available in six different colors, ranging from white and red to teal. By the end of the year when the holidays arrive, four new colors, navy blue, green, plum and pink, will become available. The toy will require four “AA” batteries for operation, though these will not be included in Furby’s packaging. Each toy will cost $54.
The new generation of Furby will be available at most major toy retailers including Kmart, Target, Toys R Us and Wal-Mart. Interested customers can pre-order Furby online at those stores’ websites or at HasbroToyShop.com. The mobile app will become available in the Apple App Store on the same day as the toy’s launch.
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