I was looking through the Wal-Mart ad last Saturday and noticed something on the front page I haven't seen available in stores for years, the Furby. And it was almost twice the price of what I spent on one 12 years ago when it first came out.
Heck, the Furby even made the Toys R Us "hot toy" list. A far cry from a toy that ended up on Goodwill and thrift store shelves in the early part of the 2000s.
This past Wednesday, customers were able to reserve the 50 "hot toys" on the list. I wonder how many people will put a Furby on reserve. Especially one that retails at $59.99.
But this is an update of the 1998 version apparently.
At the time the original Furby hit the toy store shelves, I was working at Montgomery Ward. And like most people at the time, I was intrigued with it. A furry, goofy little toy that spoke its own language, with a few words of English thrown in - good morning, yum and play. Furbish includes such words as oh-too-mah (ask), boo-tay (change) and koo-bah (shake). By the way, there's a Furbish dictionary on the Furby website at www.furby.com (just what one needs). In its three-year run, more than 40 million units were sold. Apparently new Furbies were released in 2005 (wasn't aware of that), which had voice recognition and more complex facial movements.
I remember that we were going to have quite a bit of them to sell on Black Thursday 1998, and employees were able to reserve one of them as well. I figured, "what the heck, it's just $29.99." I had elaborate plans, which included teaching the little furry robot how to speak some words of French.
That never happened.
For one thing, I was 26 years old, far too old to remain interested in the toy. I'll admit that I had a virtual pet, a Tamagotchi, that I took care of for awhile. But that went to the wayside as well. Actually, I think the batteries died, and I just didn't bother to replace them. It kind of got tedious feeding and cleaning up after a virtual cat. Especially when you're supposed to be waiting on customers (I tended to my pet when it was slow).
So back to the Furby. I guess the one I have can be considered "retro," as it was part of the first generation. It currently doesn't have any batteries in it. It's not as hip and happening as the updated version that has more expressive LCD eyes, a wider range of motions and its own iOS app. But to me, it still looks like the one I have.