Cashing in on nostalgia: the Furby is back with a new look, more features

USA TODAY 23.06.2023 17:54:08 Mary Walrath-Holdridge, USA TODAY
The new Furby available on Amazon in color coral

Kids of the late '90s and early aughts will surely recognize toy giant Hasbro's latest toy release - bulbous blinking eyes, a flapping yellow beak, a mess of fur and a voice box preloaded with gibberish.

That's right, the Furby has returned.  

Hasbro announced the news in a statement Thursday, teasing a "new generation" of the iconic toy that took U.S. consumers by storm at its initial 1998 release. Now, 25 years later and after a seven-year break from producing anything Furby-related, the company is cashing in on Millennial and Gen-Z nostalgia, though arguably with slightly less creepy models.

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While this is not the first Furby revival, it may be the biggest redesign. The newest version of the animatronic creature is smaller, more colorful, and perhaps cuter.

The refreshed Furby comes in colors purple and coral and boasts a more whimsical appearance. It comes loaded with more features than the original, including 600 phrases, five voice activated modes and a variety of lights and dance moves.

The toy is now available on Amazon for $69.99 and will become available in stores and at other major retailers on July 15. It is yet to be seen if the craze that drove parents to purchase 1.8 million Furbies in the final months of 1998 and, ultimately, 40 million within three years, can be replicated.

"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, Hasbro fashion & preschool. 

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While Hasbro describes Furby as a "BFF" who offers the "gift of friendship," tidbits in the product's Amazon description hint at controversies of the past. In all capital letters, one bullet point reads "DOES NOT CONNECT TO THE INTERNET (BUT DOES SHUT OFF)", alluding to infamous moments in Furby history that sparked not only parent complaints, but action from government agencies.

Perhaps the most infamous feature of the original Furby was its lack of off switch, which quickly proved an infuriating problem thanks to the toy's light, touch, movement and sound activation. Original Furby fans likely recall incidences of their electronic friend coming to life seemingly out of nowhere, waking up to talk endless gibberish in the middle of the night and refusing to quiet down until its batteries were removed.

Furby's infrared technology was also cutting edge at the time, so much so that it gave birth endless rumors about its capabilities. From claims it could teach kids swear words to whispers it could launch spaceships, the "creepy" plaything was eventually banned from the premises of NSA, the Pentagon and Norfolk Naval Shipyard, thanks to a myth that it could record and repeat words and conversations and later speculation it could connect to different digital networks. While the rumor mill surrounding Furby never fully settled down, the misconceptions were all disproven. It turns out Furby isn't quite that smart after all.

All the uproar aside, Furby is a toy that isn't easily forgotten, for better or worse; at least this Furby promises to be less annoying and less uncanny than the older iterations. Long live '90s nostalgia.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Cashing in on nostalgia: the Furby is back with a new look, more features

vendredi 23 juin 2023 20:54:08 Categories:

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