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Furby is back, and weirder than ever


Furby, "the first gigapet you can pet" will be back in stores just in time to create an inflated demand during this holiday shopping season, but it's not exactly the electronic toy you remember.  

Tech blog Engadget got a hands-on with the Hasbro reboot, describing the descendant to the toy Tiger Electronics introduced in 1998 as "up-to-date for a generation growing up with smartphones and tablets, with revamped aesthetics, new innards and an appetite for Apple's iPad." And yes, for those of you who found Furby creepy 14 years ago, you won't be disappointed. 

Day-glo in color, instead of the myriad of "natural" coats Furby originally fashioned, this new version bears less of a resemblance to the plucky Mogwai of "Gremlins" fame, and its once plushy feet and ears are now a hard blue plastic. (There will be six colors available at launch, but all-in-all, an aesthetic downgrade if you ask me.) 

Especially unfortunate are the eyes. The big plastic blinkers are now represented by two lidded LCDs that show a range of dot matrix pupil sizes, to show moods. The eyes can also flash graphic designs such as rainbows and peace signs. (How is that not creepy?)

As with the original Furby, this reboot also comes fluent in "Furbish," and "learns" English as it evolves, features body sensors that react to tickling, and offers a series of reactions and moods when it interacts with humans. The big upgrade for the 21st century includes a free Furby app available from the Apple App Store, which allows you to virtually "feed" your Furby (this Furby "chews" as well as burps!) and look up words in a Furbish-to-English dictionary.

New Furby will retail for $60, and is scheduled to ship in October. (Classic Furby — still popular among circuit benders who continue to hack the little monster in interesting ways — sold for $35.)

Helen A.S. Popkin goes blah blah blah about the Internet. Tell her to get a real job on Twitter and/or Facebook. Also, Google+.  

Furby 2012:

Classic Furby: