In 1998, Tiger Electronics released what would become the first truly successful robot toy. Furby was an instant hit, selling more than a million units during its holiday launch, and going on to sell tens of millions more. It reached true pop-culture status when it was parodied in a Christmas 1999 episode of The Simpsons, in which Bart receives a “Funzo” doll that seeks to eliminate the competition by destroying his other toys. A recent press release from Hasbro, which has manufactured the toy since 2005, describes the latest version of the iconic (and to many, creepy) toy, set for release this fall.
The new Furby Connect is described as an “interactive companion full of personality.” Multiple sensors react to sound and touch, and it can speak more than 1,000 phrases. Its eyes are actually LCD screens, allowing it to express its mood through different colors and animations.
The Furby’s motions have been updated to appear more natural, and with its built-in clock, it knows when to ask for breakfast or a snack.
“Furby Connect has been enhanced with technology that’s new to the toy industry,” said Jim Silver, CEO and editor-in-chief of TTPM.com, a leading product review site for toys, tots, pets, and more. “Through a wireless connection that refreshes Furby Connect with new content, kids will be getting a new play experience with updates, enhancing play value and keeping the fun going.”
The Furby Connect World app syncs to the toy via Bluetooth to update it with new content. Within the app, Furby parents can care for their pet, play games and sing songs together, raise virtual “Furblings,” and watch video clips.
“Every time we evolve the FURBY brand, we want to introduce kids to a new way to play,” said Kenny Davis, senior director of global marketing for Hasbro. “And kids and FURBY fans alike told us they wanted a creature they could interact with in more ways, so we have created the technology infrastructure for Furby Connect with that in mind.”
Furby Connect’s LED antenna lights up when new video content is available. The toy will guide users to view the content and react to what’s happening on the screen. Hasbro is partnering with the Kidz Bop franchise and Jukin Media to curate child-friendly music and videos , as well as provide regular updates.
Furby Connect is available for pre-order on Amazon.com and is set for a fall release. The Furby Connect World App will be available for download on July 7 at the Amazon Appstore, App Store, and Google Play. It will be compatible with select Fire tablets, iOS, and Android devices.