I thought I was in the clear. When I informed my children that the new Furby would no longer be staying at our house, they seemed to understand. “We’ll miss you a lot, Furby!” my six-year-old exclaimed, but there were no cries or tantrums. They asked if Furby could play one more song and gave it a farewell hug. Satisfied, I happily stored the talking toy deep in the garage. However, a day later, my three-year-old made a surprising comment: “I wish we had enough money to buy a Furby…” she said, her eyes pleading with me. Here’s the good news: I can confirm that the 2023 Furby is no longer plotting to take over the world. But that’s only because Furby wants to conquer the Moon first. In all seriousness, the 2023 Furby is not as creepy or annoying as its predecessors. It’s more like a doll than a robot now, and I haven’t noticed any signs of it learning. Honestly, it’s the least high-tech Furby has ever been, lacking Wi-Fi connectivity, internet-of-things functionality, a companion app, and eerie LCD screens for eyes. This Furby even explicitly states that it cannot tell time, a capability its plush robot predecessor had. Instead, for your $70, you get a fluffy, English-speaking chatterbox that reacts to nearby noises, belly rubs, and head pats while spouting off a string of 600 phrases. However, the new Furby doesn’t constantly listen for a wake word like Alexa or Google. It will say random things when it detects sound, but if you want a specific response, you have to press the heart button, say “Hey Furby,” use one of the five specific commands it recognizes, and tap it on the head or belly until you get the desired result. This wasn’t always a plus for my six-year-old, who complained that sometimes the heart button didn’t work. However, she soon taught me how to correctly use the toy, instructing me to speak into the heart gem. According to her review, she loves everything about Furby.
The toy can change color when shaken, its feet move up and down, and it even pretends to sleep when placed on its back. It enjoys scratches behind the ears, sometimes closes its eyes halfway, and dislikes squirrels. It talks about dreams after waking up, and its ears also glow. “Furby’s just like a real pet, except not actually alive,” she concludes. I should mention that it also doesn’t poop, but my three-year-old finds the unprompted fart sounds amusing. There are additional interactive features beyond Furby’s random phrases. It has a voice changer, breathing exercises, and offers inane fortunes. It can “eat” anything pressed into its mouth if it gets “hungry.” It also reacts to loud sounds by acting scared. It can differentiate between a pat on the head and combing its hair, but strangely, there are no sensors to detect falls or when it requests a scratch behind the ears. Ticking its belly elicits a surprising number of phrases before repetition occurs. Both of my kids loved making Furby play its songs, particularly the “Pizza Rap” and “President of the Moon.” They also enjoyed the Freeze Dance game, where they have to stop dancing when Furby pauses the music and says freeze. However, their interest in the toy fluctuated throughout the week. While my wife couldn’t wait to get rid of it as it reminded her of the movie “Gremlins,” it’s relatively easy to turn off by tapping the power button three times, placing it on its back, or allowing it to sit idle for a minute and a half. Though there isn’t a dedicated power switch, removing the batteries only requires unscrewing two Phillips-head screws. Thankfully, the family didn’t encounter much trouble when trying to shut it down. I must admit, I didn’t test what happens when Furby’s four AA batteries run low… perhaps that’s when its evil side emerges.