Every so often a toy craze grips the world with millions rushing to snap up the latest in thing and the shop shelves becoming empty by Christmas. I have lived through several of these episodes with some being more understandable than others. I totally got the Rubik’s Cube. After all it was small, cheap and fascinating. I never did master the thing but I spend a great deal of time trying and at least you could put it down and forget about it which is more than can be said for the original Furby.
Furbies were the big craze of 1998 and were undoubtedly inventions of the devil! They were small fury toys which resembled a possessed owl and supposedly had the ability to learn a language. Their personalities allegedly developed according to how they were treated which sounds great except that there was one very major problem – you couldn’t turn them off. Once there was a Furby in your life it was like being haunted. There was no getting away from these things and it wasn’t only children
who had them.
One of my colleagues at work inexplicably decided to invest in a Furby and to bring it to work. The demonic creature sat on the edge of his desk and just wouldn’t shut up. I was becoming sick and tired of the stupid noise when I was trying to work and finally lost all reason when an important phone call to a major client was interrupted by the Furby piping up from the next desk. My client was curious as to what was going on and I tried to gloss over the subject but was forced to cut the call short. I demanded that my colleague remove the animal from the building but he refused. I then lost it completely and tried to strangle the Furby but it just would not die so I opened the window and through the creature out into the car park. My colleague looked at me in horror as I celebrated the demise of the invader.
I wasn’t the only one who didn’t want a Furby at work. The National Security Agency (NSA) in America suspected that the toys could be used for spying and banned them from the organization. They felt that if the creatures could pick up a language then they could also learn and repeat classified information. They were actually wrong about this as the toys did not really learn a language. They were pre-programmed with a limited vocabulary and to progressively introduce it in place of the Furbish that they all spoke at the outset. They may not have had the potential to spy but they were really, really annoying!
The Furby fell out of favor by 2000. A new version was introduced in 2005 but didn’t last long. Now a more sophisticated Furby has been launched. Technology had moved on and this version of the toy is much more complex and mercifully has rest function which turns the creature off when necessary. Sadly it would appear that its ability to develop a personality according to how it is treated has led to extreme character changes which some kids have found too scary!
I won’t be buying a Furby even if I could turn it off. There is something unpleasant about these Fury friends that I find disconcerting. I grew up with Lego, wooden jigsaw puzzles and dolls and I never wanted to throw those out of the window. A Furby would have kept me awake at night and probably still would!