Furby, the bug-eyed, gibberish-talking ’90s toy phenomenon, has been revived — again
Jun 22, 2023, 10:30 AM | Updated: 12:14 pm
New York (CNN) — Loveable or creepy? Depends on who you ask.
Furby, the ’90s toy phenomenon that divided kids and parents into opposing camps when it first hit stores and quickly became a craze, is making yet another comeback.
Furby-maker Hasbro said Thursday it is reintroducing the bug-eyed, gibberish-talking furball. The latest iteration of the animatronic toy launched on Amazon Thursday and rolls into stores nationwide on July 15 after a nearly 10-year gap.
The new Furby — which is priced at $70 and comes in purple and coral — is much like the original but somewhat cuter. It is interactive and responds to hugs, pats on the head and tickles. You can also pretend to feed it a tiny pizza.
It’s still noisy, speaks gibberish and dances. The toy has five voice activated modes, more than 600 phrases, jokes and songs and built-in lights and sounds.
Hasbro said Furby’s comeback marks the iconic toy’s milestone anniversary.
“For the brand’s 25th anniversary, we wanted to ignite the same excitement for this new generation by harnessing Furby’s power of nostalgia while giving Gen Alpha everything they crave,” said Kristin McKay, vice president and general manager with Hasbro (fashion & preschool), in a statement. Gen Alpha is anyone born from 2010 to now.
Hasbro first introduced Furby in 1998.
The original Furby — to the horror of parents and its youngest fans — didn’t have an off switch, putting kids and grownups completely at its mercy, day or night, when it would randomly “wake up” from a silent slumber and start talking. (The only way to silence it completely was to remove the batteries)
It wasn’t surprising then that the furry toy creature likely found itself mercilessly thrown to the back of closets. Still, Hasbro said it sold more than 40 million Furby toys globally in the first three years after they launched.
In 2016, Hasbro launched Furby Connect, a version of the toy that incorporated Bluetooth for content upgrades via an app and an off button.
Furby’s latest comeback isn’t entirely surprising, said Jim Silver, a toy industry expert and CEO of Toys, Tots, Pets & More, an industry review website.
“Furby came out 25 years ago. Kids playing with it were six to eight years old at the time and are in their early 30s now. They’re the perfect demographic to target as parents with young kids who would remember Furby and want to introduce it to their kids,” said Silver.
Also, Silver said the reemergence of classic toys is part of a continuing industry trend as other toymakers strive to appeal to nostalgia among Millennials with young kids.
“There’s a saying in the toy industry that what’s old is new again,” he said. Transformers, Ninja Turtles, and Barney are among classic properties that toymakers are bringing back.
Whether or not Furby will ignite the same mania it did back in 1998 remains to be seen. “Replicating a craze is hard” said Silver.
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