After 14 years of hibernation, Furby has returned. This fall, Hasbro will be bringing back one of its most famous toys, this time with new technology (including an app connection) and a robust $60 price tag.
The new generation of Furby is supposedly more huggable, with touch sensors hidden by soft fur. It is also designed to be more expressive, with twitching rubbery ears backlit LCD eyes, complete with blinking mechanical eyelids, which can look around or even react to sounds picked up by the microphone concealed in the toy.
Don Cameron, a Hasbro engineer, cites novelty as an essential part of Furby’s appeal. He said, “You never know what Furby might do or say.” Cameron claims the new Furby can tell the difference between speaking tones, the sound made by another Furby or the sound of a song it can dance to. Through high frequency audio codes, Furby can even “talk” with your iPad or another Furby.
The major attraction of the Furby when it was first released in 1998 is that the five-inch robot learned and changed, like a real child. The downside, at least for parents, is that it talked the entire time. You could pull his tail or hang him from a chandelier, but it would only make the toy move on to the next stage of learning. With no mute button or off switch, the only way to silence the little furball was to leave the room, remove one of the batteries, or introduce it to a ball peen hammer.
Hopefully, the new version will learn a little more quickly how to enjoy some quiet time.