Furby

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Furby
This is the current Furby.
The current Furby model. (2012–present) Depicted is the Voodoo Purple version.
Type Electronic toy
Inventor David Hampton
Company Tiger Electronics
(1998-2001)
Hasbro
(2005-2007, 2012-present)
Country  United States
Availability 1998–2001, 2005–2007, 2012–present
Slogan Let's Have Fun
(1998–2005)
Your Emoto-Tronic Friend
(2005–2012)
A mind of its own
(2012–present)
Official website

A Furby (plural Furbys or Furbies) is an electronic robotic toy resembling a hamster or owl-like creature which went through a period of being a "must-have" toy following its launch in the holiday season of 1998, with continual sales until 2000. Over 40 million Furbies were sold during the three years of its original production, with 1.8 million sold in 1998, and 14 million in 1999. Its speaking capabilities were translated into 24 languages.

Furbies were the first successful attempt to produce and sell a domestically-aimed robot. A newly purchased Furby starts out speaking entirely Furbish, the unique language that all Furbies use, but is programmed to start using English words and phrases in place of Furbish over time. This process is intended to resemble the process of learning English.[1] In 2005, new Furbies were released, with voice-recognition and more complex facial movements, and many other changes and improvements. The Emoto-Tronic Furbies (Furby, Furby Baby, and Funky Furby) continued to be sold until late 2007, when these toys became extremely rare.[2] An updated Furby is being sold as of September 2012 for the holiday season.

History

Initial creation

Dave Hampton and Caleb Chung spent nine months creating the Furby (in addition to nine months spent designing the toy). After two attempts at licensing the concept, they invited fellow toy and game inventor Richard C. Levy to join their efforts to sell Furby. Levy brought Furby to Tiger Electronics and Tiger's Roger Shiffman bought the rights to it. Furby's first public appearance was at the American International Toy Fair in 1998.[3][4][5][6]

Furby toy from McDonalds

Furbies originally retailed for about US$35,[7] and upon release, they sold extremely well. Catapulting demand during the 1998 Christmas period drove the resale price over $100, and sometimes as high as several hundred dollars. Furbies sold for over $300 in newspapers and in auctions. Nicknames were given to them, and sellers assigned rarity values to them. Some people continue to call their Furbies by the terms "wedding Furby", "tuxedo Furby", "snowball Furby", "biker Furby", among others. All, of course, were dubbed rare by sellers, because they were so hard to find at the time. In a sure display of the demand for the toy, some sellers scammed people out of a great sum of money, without even having first given them a Furby. Parental battles, arguments, and fights increased rapidly as supplies dwindled, and when retail supplies ran out, parents turned to the Internet, where Furbies could be purchased for two, three, or more multiples of their retail price. During one 12-month period, a total of 27 million Furby toys were sold.[8]

2005 revival

2005 saw the reintroduction of Furby with the release of the new Emoto-Tronic Furby.

2012 revival

On April 12, 2012, it was announced that Hasbro will be making a new line of Furbies, which was released in September 2012.[9] As of December 2012 there are sixteen colors. They are teal, white, black, purple, tangerine-tango, yellow, aqua, navy blue, plum, pink, pink/teal, orange/blue, black/pink, blue/yellow, teal/purple, gray/teal.[10] Furbies were one of the eleven toys named top toys for Christmas 2013 by the Toy Retailers Association at the DreamToys Convention where they unveil their predictions for most popular holiday toys annually.[11]

Furby types

Classic Furbies

The main reason for their popularity[citation needed] was because of apparent "intelligence", reflected in their ability to develop language skills.

Furbies can communicate with one another via an infrared port located between their eyes. Furbies start out speaking entirely Furbish, a language with short words, simple syllables, and various other sounds. They are programmed, however, to speak less and less Furbish and more and more English as they "grow".

There was a common misconception that they repeated words that were said around them. This belief most likely stemmed from the fact that it is possible to have the Furby say certain pre-programmed words or phrases more often by petting it whenever it said these words. As a result of this myth, several intelligence agencies banned them from their offices.[12]

A simple electric motor and a system of cams and gears close the Furby's eyes and mouth, raise its ears, and lift it off the ground in a faux display of mobility.

The originals are still popular with many hackers as they can be dissected and made to do interesting things. In particular, their advanced audio capabilities and various sensory interfaces make them popular with the circuit bending community.[13][14]

Other Furbies

Furby Babies

In 1999, the Furby Babies line was introduced. Furby Babies are smaller than the original, have higher voices, and cannot dance, but they switch to speaking English more quickly. They also have an extended vocabulary and different "Easter eggs" and "games" built into them. Furby babies come in 24 different colors. All have white eyelashes and one of six different eyecolors.

Furby Friends

Novel Furbies were also released, including an interactive Furby-like "Gizmo", from the film Gremlins, a Furby-like "Interactive Yoda" based on the Star Wars character, and a Furby-like "Interactive E.T." from the movie of the same name. Another "friend of Furby", called "Shelby", is similar to Furby, but looks like a clam, has vast improvements in memory, and has a different personality; it was released in 2001 and can communicate with the original Furbies and Furby Babies. They also have sensors that can sense loud sounds, can sense being upside down (they say things like "Shiver me timbers" and "Walk the plank" when you leave them upside-down for an extended period of time), and they laugh when you "tickle" them (their antennae – or "tennies", as they like to call them). They also purr when you "pet" them. You can feed them by sticking your finger in their mouth. Similarly, Shelbies do not have their own names, unlike the classic Furbies. Shelbies are also capable of knowing if it is talking to a Furby or another Shelby, saying phrases such as "Where's Furby?"—though they cannot differentiate between a Furby and a Furby Baby—they just assume it is a Furby. In addition to English, Shelbies also know some Furbish words and also have their own unique language called Shelbish.

Emoto-Tronic Furbies

This Furby was released in August 2005. Larger than the previous version, the new Furbies have been upgraded with a more emotional face and a voice recognition system, enabling them to communicate with humans. Unlike the Furbies originally released, just one order is necessary to make them 'sleep', and they have an on/off switch. They can communicate with other Emoto-tronic Furbies, though to a lesser extent than the communication between original Furbies, and they cannot themselves communicate with the original Furbies nor Funky Furbies. They also lack light sensors and basic motion sensors and do not respond to loud sounds as the originals do. These Furbies, according to the story they come packed with, are from Furby Island.

Emoto-Tronic Furby Babies

In 2006, a new version of Furby baby was released, with most notable features being the new look and a more "baby-ish" appearance in contrast to the Emoto-Tronic Furby adult. They also have considerably fewer features than the "adult" Furby, with a very limited vocabulary and a lower level of interactivity. Another notable feature of the 2006 Emoto-Tronic Baby Furby is the movable "legs" which unfurl when Furby baby is awake. Although they were a European exclusive, they were sold in the US via the Hasbro Toy Shop website.

Emoto-Tronic Funky Furbies

The Funky Furbies were released in August 2006 outside the United States. They are limited to two color combinations (pink & yellow and purple & green) so far, and they can sing three new songs and dance. They can be taught dance routines and remember them.

2012 Furbies

A new Furby was released in the fall of 2012. It has more expressive LCD eyes, a wider range of motions, its own iOS and Android app, and the ability to adapt its personality in reaction to user behavior.[15] The on-off switch is replaced with a reset button; the Furby turns itself off after one minute of inactivity.

Furby Party Rockers

Furby's smaller friends launched March 2013 and unlike their full-sized Furby companions, which grow and learn through human interaction, each Party Rocker is born with its own unique personality, making ready to interact with its owner straight from the box. There are four Furby Party Rockers, called Twitby, Fussby, Scoffby and Loveby.[16]

Furby Boom

In summer of 2013, about a year after the Furby 2012 came out, a new Furby was released with new different colors and new Personalities. It has a brand new iOS app, called Furby BOOM, with many new features.

Security concerns

Furbies were banned from the National Security Agency of the United States due to concerns that they may be used to record and repeat classified information.[17]

Furbish-English phrases

Furbish is the Furbies' language, with simple syllables, short words, and various sounds. A newly purchased Furby starts out speaking entirely Furbish. Over time, the Furby gradually replaces Furbish words and phrases with English.

  • wee-tah-kah-loo-loo: Tell me a joke.
  • wee-tah-kah-wee-loo: Tell me a story.
  • wee-tee-kah-wah-tee: Sing me a song.
  • u-nye-loo-lay-doo?: Do you want to play?
  • u-nye-ay-tay-doo?: Are you hungry?
  • u-nye-boh-doo?: How are you?
  • u-nye-way-loh-nee-way: Go to sleep now.
  • u-nye-noh-lah: Show me a dance.

Furbies may say these Furbish words:

  • doo?: What? (Furbies say this when called)
  • doo-dah: Yes. (Furbies say this in response to a command before doing it.)
  • boo: No. (Furbies say this when they do not want to carry out a command.)
  • yoo?: Why will you not play with me today? (This usually means the Furby is upset.)

Furby Island

A 45-minute TV special, Furby Island, was produced in 2005. It features a young girl, Maddie, her brother, and their explorer parents, who travel the world looking for rare plants and animals. When Maddie tries to find a lizard, they discover Furby Island. They keep the Furbies from being captured by Doctor Conquest.

References

  1. ^ Encounters with Kismet and Cog: Children Respond to Relational Artifacts, MIT, 2004-09-30, retrieved 2009-04-20 
  2. ^ Books, Awful. "Furby : Awful Library Books". Yes. Awful Library Books. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  3. ^ David Banks (2002-06-18). "Furby Co-Inventor Richard Levy". NPR. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  4. ^ "Inventor of the Week: Archive". Web.mit.edu. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  5. ^ Sloane, Julie (2002-07-01). "Game Theories The man who made the Furby fly explains how he comes up with his ideas. - July 1, 2002". Money.cnn.com. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ "New toy an interactive fur ball". CNN. 1998-10-05. Retrieved 2007-07-13. 
  8. ^ Collecting, Furbys. "Furbys & Furby Collecting". Yes. Word CollectorsNet. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  9. ^ "Furby's Coming Back! Five Things to Know About This Iconic Toy". E! Online. 2012-04-12. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  10. ^ Hasbro, Electronics. "Furby". Yes. Hasbro. Retrieved 9 December 2012. 
  11. ^ "Top Toys for Christmas 2013". 
  12. ^ "Furby a threat to national security?". CNN. 1999-01-13. Archived from the original on 2006-08-28. Retrieved 2006-12-18. 
  13. ^ Circuit-bent Furby on YouTube
  14. ^ Kevin Rees. "Furby Bending Tutorial". Circuit-Bent.Net. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  15. ^ 8/24/12 12:00pm 8/24/12 12:00pm. "The New Furby Review: Absolute Horror". Gizmodo.com. Retrieved 2013-04-30. 
  16. ^ "Furby Party Rockers". Furby Party Rockers. Retrieved 2013-06-05. 
  17. ^ "Furby toy or Furby spy?". BBC. 13 January 1999. Retrieved 8 July 2012. 

External links