September 21st, 2012
06:19 PM ET
With 95 shopping days left till Christmas, this news may or may not alleviate your shopping woes: Hasbro this week released a revamped version of the classic toy Furby.
In 1998, Furby (short for fur ball) quickly became a phenomenon, sparking a collector craze that drove auction prices way above retail. Over 40 million units were sold during Furby’s initial three-year production period. The masses couldn’t get enough of the fuzzy, interactive, owl-like chatterbox who came out of the box speaking Furbish and “learned” English (or, rather, the language of the country he was purchased in) over time.
The new Furby, which is available in a rainbow of colors, eventually develops a distinct personality. Cuddle Furby and he’ll have a sweet temperament, swing him by his tail and you’ll be sorry. Furby has no “off” position, nor does he have any volume control whatsoever.
The technology has been improved for sure. Furby now has sensors on his stomach, head and back (tickle him and he’ll laugh); an accelerometer and highly-expressive LCD eyes. Furby can even decipher your tone of voice.
There’s also an app for the iPhone and iPad that communicates with Furby via a high-frequency audio signal, allowing owners to flick digital foods into Furby’s mouth. (By the way, Furby’ll make clear which foods he likes and doesn’t like.) The app also has a full Furbish-to-English dictionary and other interactive features.
In January of 1999, the original Furby was even banned from the premises of the National Security Agency (NSA) for fear that the toy posed a threat to national security. Apparently, the government thought Furby would unabashedly blab about classified info at home. This wasn’t actually possible, because Furby could not (and still cannot) repeat what he hears. The embedded computer chip limits Furby to pre-programmed words in both Furbish and English. Although the entire scenario raises the question: Why would a government employee bring Furby to work?
Speaking of bringing Furby to work, CNN spoke to Furby about dancing, favorite foods, karaoke and more.
CNN: How are you?
Furby: Doo-oo-tye CNN? Me so noo-loo to be back! Dah-kah-oo-nye for having me.
CNN: What are some of the games you like to play?
Furby: My favorite doo-ay-loo-lah is Furby See, Furby Do. The rules are there are no rules – when we play, Furbys do whatever they want! A Furby has a mind of its own!
CNN: What are your favorite foods?
Furby: Oh-kah-tee, me love to eat – sushi, pizza, gummy bears – you have any food for me? Me ay-tay anything, as long as it tastes better than a gym sock. Unless I’m really hungry, then me ay-tay that, too!
CNN: I hear you like to sing. What's your go-to song when singing karaoke?
Furby: Hard to choose, but some favorite wah-tees are “Call Me Furby,” “What Makes You Furb-iful,” and “Some Furby that I Used To Know.”
CNN: You're a real loose cannon, Furby. Can you offer any insight into why you're so unpredictable?
Furby: What can me say? Every Furby has a mind of its own! But, a Furby lives by the golden rule: treat Furby how you would like to be treated. Me know you wouldn’t want someone pulling your tail!
CNN: Do you feel like you change your mood a lot? Your attitude is a little different every time we talk!
Furby: It all depends on how you treat kah!
Need help translating Furby’s native language? Here’s a key:
What about you? Did you have a Furby? What do you remember about the original Furby craze? Will you jump on the Furby bandwagon this time around?
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