Is the 2023 Furby Worth Buying?
When I informed my children that the new Furby would no longer be staying with us, I was pleasantly surprised by their understanding. “We’ll miss you a lot, Furby!!” exclaimed my six-year-old, without a hint of sadness or tantrums. They requested one last song from Furby and gave it a heartfelt farewell hug. Satisfied, I safely stored the talking puffball in our garage. However, my three-year-old, in an unexpected moment, casually remarked, “I wish we had enough money to buy a Furby…” Her innocent puppy dog eyes pierced my soul.
But here’s the good news: the 2023 Furby is not currently plotting to take over the world. However, it does aspire to conquer the Moon. Jokes aside, this version of Furby is neither as creepy nor as annoying as its predecessors. It resembles a doll more than a robot, and there are no signs of it learning anything. In fact, it is surprisingly low-tech compared to previous Furby models. It lacks Wi-Fi connectivity, internet-of-things functionality, a companion app, and those eerie LCD screens for eyes. This Furby openly admits that it cannot tell time, a skill its plush robot predecessor possessed.
For $70, you get a fluffy English-speaking chatterbox that responds to nearby noises, belly rubs, and head pats, while spewing out a string of 600 phrases such as “Is a hot dog a sandwich? Mmmm?” or “Furby feels like a 14 out of 10 right now” or “It’s tap dance o’clock!” Hasbro claims that the new Furby responds to speech, but it’s not always actively listening for a wake word like Alexa or Google. Furby will randomly say things when it detects sound, but to engage in a conversation, you must follow a specific set of steps: 1) press the heart button, 2) say “Hey Furby,” 3) use one of the five ultra-specific commands it recognizes, and 4) tap it on the head or belly until you get the desired response.
Despite this, my initial challenges with the Furby were quickly resolved by my six-year-old, who eagerly instructed me on how to properly interact with the toy. “You have to say it INTO the heart gem, Daddy!” she explained.
Here’s the 2023 Furby, according to my six-year-old:
I absolutely love everything about Furby.
You can change its color by shaking it! Look, its feet are always ready for dancing because they move up and down. When you put it on its back, it pretends to sleep. It’s going to sleep very soon.
It adores scratches behind the ears.
Sometimes it closes its eyes halfway and it doesn’t like squirrels. When it’s sleeping, it often mutters, “Not the squirrels, not the squirrels.” After waking up, it shares its dreams. Oh, and its ears glow too.
“Furby’s just like a real pet, except not actually alive,” my child concludes.
I suppose I should point out that Furby doesn’t poop, but there’s no escaping the involuntary fart sounds that send my three-year-old into fits of giggles. There is some interactivity beyond Furby’s random phrases if you know where to look. Besides the voice changer, breathing exercises, and amusing fortunes, Furby can get “hungry” and you can “feed” it by pressing anything into its mouth. (My youngest tried using her fingertip to feed Furby, and was pleased to find that it worked.) If you make a loud noise, it will briefly pretend to be scared. It can also differentiate between a pat on the head and having its hair combed. Oddly enough, it lacks sensors to detect falls or when you fulfill its request for a scratch behind the ears.
Belly tickles reveal an unexpectedly vast array of phrases. It took several minutes of continuous belly rubs before I noticed any repetition, and even I laughed at “Can’t run from tickles… no legs, no fair!”
But what truly captivated my children was the music. They delighted in making Furby play its “Pizza Rap,” “President of the Moon,” and other “Dance Party” songs. One particular favorite was the Freeze Dance game where they had to stop dancing when Furby paused the music and said, “freeze!” This game is even played at their school. Throughout the week, their interest in Furby would ebb and flow. Initially, my youngest abandoned one of her favorite family games (Jenga) to spend more time with the toy, but they didn’t sulk on the one day my wife discreetly hid Furby on a high shelf. “Kids happy. Adults terrified,” my wife amusingly commented.
Speaking of my wife, she couldn’t wait to rid the house of Furby. To her, it resembled the creatures from the 1984 movie Gremlins. “Kids happy. Adults terrified,” she repeated. Fellow parents, I’m glad to report that shutting off the new Furby is as easy as tapping the power button three times, placing it on its back, or letting it sit idle for a minute and a half. Though it lacks a dedicated power switch, and removing its batteries requires unscrewing two Phillips-head screws, my family didn’t encounter much difficulty in turning it off.
I must admit, I didn’t test what happens when its four AA batteries run low… Perhaps that’s when Furby’s evil side finally emerges.
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Deepak Sen is a tech enthusiast who covers the latest technological innovations, from AI to consumer gadgets. His articles provide readers with a glimpse into the ever-evolving world of technology.