In the weeks leading up to Christmas, Mira had one toy that kept coming to the top of her list: a Furby. Other items on the list would change, but a pink Furby was always there for anyone who asked, including Santa, who got an earful about how much she really wanted a Furby.
So when Christmas arrived, she was overjoyed to get a hot pink Furby from Santa. (Cordy got a blue Furby, too.)
Now, there are a few things they don’t tell parents about the Furby. First, it has no off button. At all. The only way to immediately silence it is to take out the batteries, which requires a screwdriver. And you know that right when you want it to shut up is the same time that all screwdrivers in the house go missing.
Otherwise, you have to wait for it to fall asleep, or force it to go to sleep by placing it in a dark, quiet area and ignoring it. Once it’s asleep, you mustn’t move it or bump it at all, or it will wake up again.
The Furby also has no volume control. At all. It’s loud all the time. And most of the time it speaks Furbish, which seems to be some kind of cross between baby talk and pig latin.
Basically, it’s the toy equivalent of a colicky baby.
I did know some of this going into our purchase of this toy. But I did not know about all of the enhancements from the previous 1998 version. The LED eyes are cool and provide the ability for more expression of personality. It has more sensors to detect touch. And it can change personality.
The old Furby would have some change in personality based on how you treated it, but this one goes far beyond that with a multiple personality disorder. It has several very distinct personalities and doesn’t come with the Furby anti-psychotic drugs it desperately needs.
Mira’s Furby started out as the furry hot pink version of a valley girl. A little annoying, but kinda cute. She fed it on demand and used the iPad app to translate what it was saying, and it slowly learned a little English, too. Well, a version of English better suited to the movie Clueless, perhaps.
After the second or third day, it had the first personality shift. I didn’t see it happen, but suddenly it was speaking like a cowboy and mooing at us, with chicks and cows appearing in the LED eyes at times. Mira found that hilarious and I suffered through the noise because she liked this toy so much.
The next day it was back to a valley girl again, and even seemed to name itself Coco. It gave itself a name? It was becoming more sentient with each passing day.
And then, in the middle of Mira trying to teach it to dance, something very bad happened. It started to shake back and forth, it made weird noises, and it’s LED eyes were flashing like strobe lights. I thought it was either having a grand mal seizure or we broke the damn thing.
Then it stopped. All was silent for a moment. And then what was in front of us was a Furby who no longer had the high-pitched girly voice, but instead a deep, growling voice with angry looking eyes.
Mira’s Furby was suddenly possessed by a new personality who was mean. It growled at her, it snapped at her with an angry voice if she tried to pet it, and it made retching noises when she tried to feed it, as if the iPad foods weren’t good enough for it. Occasionally it showed little flames in its eyes.
WTF happened? Did we feed it after midnight?
It was now a Furby demon. And Mira was scared of it. She backed away with tears in her eyes, her five year old mind unable to comprehend what had happened to her cheery dance pal, saying she wanted her nice Furby back, and she didn’t want to play with it anymore.
So her new electronic pet wasn’t working out as well as she wanted, which means it was now my responsibility to care for. Figures. I felt like I had brought home Chucky from Child’s Play to my daughter.
So as I sat there, with Damien the Dark Furby glaring at me from across the room, I did what any good mom would do: I googled “How to make a Furby nice again?”
I can assure you I’m NOT alone in this type of google search.
There were a lot of suggestions about different things to try. I gathered up the little ball of hate and tried petting the dumb thing several times. I will hug you and love you until you are sweet again! It growled and yelled at me each time while my dog stared at me in confusion, wondering why I was petting a loud toy instead of him. Yes, Cosmo, you’re smarter than the humans. Still no change from the Furby. I was a little worried it might try to bite me.
Mira was still across the room, asking me to make it nice again, but too afraid to come near it. WHO MAKES A TOY THAT KIDS ARE SCARED OF? What programmer thought that a sociopath personality would be a SUPER FUN for kids? I’d like to drag that person over to our house and let him/her console my five year old and explain the reasoning for this.
Then I remembered Mira really wanted her Furby to sing and like music. Some links suggested music can change the personality. So I put it in front of the iPad, cranked the volume, and subjected the little electronic Lucifer to Owl City followed by ABBA. He growled and hissed at this musical exorcism at first, but slowly started to dance along to the music. You know, that grudging, too-cool-for-school-kid dance where he doesn’t want to admit he likes Mama Mia.
Near the end of the second song, the Furby’s eyes flashed and it shook again, and suddenly the pop star personality appeared. This one has a softer voice than the valley girl and likes to sing a lot. Let me repeat: A LOT. And instantly, all Furby offenses had been forgiven by the formerly terrified kindergartener. Mira had been hoping her Furby would sing and ran across the room to scoop up her prized possession now that it was no longer, well, possessed.
Since then it’s slipped back to the dark side once, which then fell to me to fix again. Music does seem to be the trick to force it back to being a “nice” Furby again. Mira loves the pop star personality – hers named itself Boo – which is the least offensive personality as far as Furby personalities go.
Cordy’s Furby hasn’t changed personalities once. It prefers to be a valley girl/comedian hybrid and doesn’t want to change.Which is both annoying and OK, all at the same time. I’d rather deal with devil I know rather than the devil it might become.
Luckily, the hours between Furby playtimes have already stretched into days. I’m hoping they will eventually lose interest with these gremlins before my personality changes.
This has to be my mother’s revenge for the Teddy Ruxpin I adored as a kid, right? Only it’s revenge with 30 years of interest. I’d better start planning for the next generation now.