The Revenge of the Furby

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The original Furby was loved by millions, fiddled with by hackers, and even banned from several US security agencies. Now the intriguing little robot is plotting world domination again, this time with upgrades!

Furbies scare me.

When it first came out in 1998, it was a toy unlike anything anyone had ever seen. In fact, it was more than just a toy; it was a domestic robot launched in an age before the Internet was a household necessity. It could learn and show emotion, it could talk back in its own language (and learn yours), it can grow its own personality, and it looks at you with those eyes...

The Revenge of the Furby

Oh gawd, those eyes.

Now, 14 years later, Hasbro has gone and given the little furry gremlin a whole new facelift, new fur and a serious tweak in the noggin. And when I heard about the revamped Furby earlier this year, I was thinking to myself, “What have they done?”

For starters, it has updated movement. When previously all it could do was hop around stiffly, tweak its ears, blink its eyes and look around (oh, those eyes...), the new Furby can now also crouch and dance. At the media launch there was an emphasis on how well it can do with the Gangnam style, but ultimately its choice of musical genre is really up to you.

The new Furby also interacts with an IOS app (an Android version will be coming soon) that allows you to translate what it says to you and offers a dictionary so you can learn Furbish yourself. The Furbish language itself is adopted from the original Furby, so classic Furby owners will find themselves right at home. The IOS app also has a variety of foods which you can feed your Furby with. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to feed it; it won’t die of starvation (yes, another point of concern; it won’t die).

The Revenge of the FurbyPlay with it, train it, or abuse it; the new Furby comes stock with its own accelerometer and sensors so it can “feel” when you’re petting it, tickling it, pulling its tail or shaking it upside down; however, I have yet to try if it realises I am throwing it off my bed in fear.

But the most striking update to the new Furby is its eyes. Hasbro has replaced the rolling plastic
pupils of doom with much more expressive LED eyes that expresses its true feelings with easy-to-understand graphics: hearts for when it’s happy, fire when it’s “fed” something spicy through the IOS app, and when it’s time to go to bed, it closes its eyes and sleeps till the next morning.

You might want to keep the packaging for your new Furby. As with its older cousin, the jumpy little chap doesn’t have an on-off switch, so the only two ways to turn it off is to either remove its batteries, or put it in a dark place so it knows it’s time to sleep (or scheme of new ways to take over the world other than through retail domination).

Also like its older cousin, the new Furby also talks with other Furbies. Unlike its older cousin, which communicates with other classic Fubies via an infra-red port between its eyes, the new Furby is sound-activated, so the other Furbies will need to speak up a little, as do you if you want to engage in any meaningful conversation.

Little furballs this intelligent don’t come cheap though; each Furby retails for $119.90. You can ask your Furby why it’s so expensive when it learns to talk a little more. It might actually tell you.

There will be six colours to choose from (white, black, yellow, orange, blue, purple), with the range to be bumped up to ten at year-end. Pre-orders will be available between 30 August to 9 September 2012 at all Toys’R’Us outlets, and pre-orders will come with a an exclusive Furby free gift and goodie bag.

Official launch of the new Furby range is set at 16 September, after which it will be made available at all Toys’R’Us outlets and all major department stores. Toys’R’Us VivoCity will also be hosting a Furby launch event with a day of fun-filled activities.

I’m just hoping that the Furbies aren’t plotting a full-scale Furby attack that day.

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Written by

Winston Tay