Toy crazes come, and toy crazes go, but some toys that started out as a craze stand the test of time. Furby is one of those toys.
In today's high-tech society, it’s hard to imagine a toy market that isn’t dominated by sophisticated electronics, but when Furby was first launched back in 1998 it was a game-changer, offering a completely new way for children to interact with toys.
Pre-programmed to speak ‘Furbish’ and gradually learn English through human interaction, Furby started a trend for interactive, robotic toys that continues to be a hugely popular toy category today.
As technology has evolved, so has Furby, with new breeds such as Furby Babies, Furby Friends, Furby Party Rockers and Furby Boom all proving just as popular as the original ball of fur.
Furby Connect is the latest breed of Furby, and as his name suggests, he now connects and interacts with other technology. We’ve been trying Furby out to see just what he can do.
Getting to know Furby
Furby Connect looks very like previous generations of Furby; a fluffy ball with big, expressive eyes (now LCD!), a fluffy tail and waggly ears.
This Furby doesn't have a mane but instead has a light-up, colour changing antenna.
He (I'll use the male pronoun for grammatical ease, but Furby is really a quite genderless) comes in a choice of four colours: Teal, Blue, Pink or Purple and you can play with him pretty much straight out of the box. All you have to do is put in four AA batteries and then away you go.
Furby Connect is very lively, bobbing about on his feet, wiggling his ears, opening and closing his beak as he speaks, and even eating if you put your finger in his mouth and press gently on his tongue.
He's also cheeky, and I mean really cheeky, which makes for lots of giggles. Our Furby breaks wind...a lot. As I'm writing, he just offered to play music if I squeezed him. I obliged and the result was a little tune that he didn't produce with his beak!
You can interact with Furby in lots of different ways. Shake him, talk to him, tickle him, wiggle his antenna, or pull gently on his antenna or tail. Every action elicits a response and that makes him great fun for the kids.
As per the previous generations, this Furby too has his own language (Furbish) but uses quite a lot of real words too, so it's quite easy to get the gist of what Furby is saying.
And if his chatter is getting a bit much for you, he rather handily comes with an eye mask which, when affixed, sends him to sleep almost immediately. Alternatively, just leave him in a still quiet room for a few minutes - easier said that done during the day, but it does mean that he won't wake your kids up in the night if they leave him on the side without his eye mask.
The Furby Connect World app
All of Furby's interactive features make him great to play with in his own right, but with Furby Connect, there's a whole extra layer of play realised through your smartphone or tablet.
Furby Connect is Bluetooth enabled, meaning that it can to your tablet or smartphone device via the free Furby Connect World app (on iOS or Android or Kindle). If you’re not sure whether your phone or tablet is supported you can find a full list of devices at http://www.hasbro.com/en-us/brands/furby/apps.
Getting him connected was really easy, which is great as the kids were yanking at my sleeves, impatient to get started. Directions on the app take you through the process step by step and before you know it, you're on your way.
You can name your Furby Connect and watch it learn its name, feed it with virtual food via a food cannon (be warned: it won’t like everything!), play games with it, put it to bed, help him lay eggs, and even take it to the toilet - this is where the interaction between the toy and the app gets really funny. Each Furby is unique, and able to switch between a range of moods, including happy, excited, scared and sad.
Furby really reacts to what's happening in the app, it feels very relevant and natural. And as he gets excited about what's happening on screen, so too do the kids!
There is a really good range of interactive functions to play with, including a virtual movie theatre, where you can help your Furby learn songs and phrases by watching videos. Miss J was so happy when our Furby toy started singing. She's already getting rather attached to him.
The content regularly changes in the movie theatre, so there’s often something new to discover. When Furby’s antenna glows, there’s new content available in the app. It's actually quite a lot to learn, so I know the kids won't be getting bored with him any time soon.
Furblings (virtual baby Furbys) are a big part of the app. There are over 60 different Furblings to hatch and take care of - you can even build a virtual Furbling village. The more you play with the app, the more Furbling you earn. The aim is to collect them all, and level the Furblings up to reveal their hidden characteristics. They are very cute, and looking after them can be a bit (very) addictive.
The app also keeps Furby updated, bringing in new content from across the internet that he then learns to interact with. There are in-app purchases, but you don't have to access the additional features that way - you can instead unlock additional in-game items by earning rewards through play.
All in all, while you can play with Furby without the app, I think it’s fair to say that it hugely enhances the toy’s play value.
Furby Connect is lots of fun to play with, and brings a classic toy bang up-to-date for today’s tech-savvy kids.
Yes, it's quite an investment at almost £100 - if we were considering buying him for Christmas, for example, he would definitely be the 'big' present of the year - but with the flexibility to play with or without the app, plus the continuously updated content to interact with, there’s lots of adventures to be had with this little guy, and that adds up to a lot of play value. I can see him being a firm favourite with my kids for a long time.
This is a commissioned post for Hasbro.
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