Furby Reincarnates Into It's Most Amazing Version Yet -Discover Furby's Legacy / Evolution 1998-2012

by Jerrico_Usher

Furby History, Types, Models, Hacks, and More! The new Furby moves into the stratosphere- it's digitally amazing, does so much more, and is a "gang" of fun.

Many people loved and hated the Furby in the late 90's but today's Furby is nothing like the original- well it is like it, but it is as if the "baby" Furby is now a full fledged adolescent! There are so many cool features and models (new and old) you may not have even heard of that I want to tell you about here. I've included videos to show you these bad boys/girls in action.

The first video below demonstrates just how amazing it is now. The eyes are animated like the front of an iPod or more closely like the old school Tamagotchi. It dances more accurately to music and looks more "alive" doing it. It's like the Furby went from analog to digital to interactive and its evolved into an amazingly cute and friendly (and mean if your mean to it) toy. But be warned- It has multiple personality disorders... It can become a bit like Chucky when you yell at it (but still looks cute getting mad atcha).



What Is This Furby Thing Anyway?



In this article I will review ALL of the Furby models' and unique versions I could find from inception to the current model. If you want to get a bunch of different ones for Christmas, I pulled in some of the most unique and cool models on Amazon (and to show you how cool they are I added tons of videos on all of them in action even videos to show you how to "evoke" the various personalities). I hope you enjoy my review of The Furby 1998-2012.

My central point here is to discuss the legacy models as compared to the 2012 version. I want to evolve you through the various derivatives and their variations.  I'm grabbing a few from 2005 and 1998 myself along with the latest model this Christmas- but I won't be waiting in line.


Why Get The New 2012 Furby Extraordinaire? Just Watch The Video and click the furby above...


The "Furby" or Fuzzy urban Robot that Bee-bops In Yiddish ( made that up) is the worlds first attempt at a commercially viable robotic toy. It was a raging success and laid the foundation for evolution of the Furby species. It seems they are replicating like bunnies and with so many models and types available- an entire Furby civilization is breeding from innovation!

In the old days to get one of these you had to claw your way through a crowd they did, after all, come out in 1998 when the internet was still a hatch-ling. Today you don't even have to leave the house anymore to get the latest gadget- the internet changed everything. You can order it online and in any color. If one site has no purple ones you can find 1,000 more that may. 

The first model in 1998 was perceived to have much more artificial intelligence than it actually did. The irony is the 2012 version actually has a lot of what we thought the '98 model had. It's not futuristic A.I.(artificial intelligence) yet, but it's pretty amazing none the less.

It does show us that the Furby Gods paid attention to the popularity and word of mouth about what made Furby so cool and found a way to  make it happen.  

Take a look at the video below to blow your mind!


Full Review Of Features (visually) and APP Right From The Furby's Mouth (Hasbro)


The Truth About Furby's Intelligence



What promoted the insane demand for Furby's wasn't so much it's cuteness. Some thought it was adorable others thought it was a demon owl from hell.

You either like this thing or you don't. I tend to like it most of the time but am grateful sometimes for that off button- something not available in the '98 models! 

People thought these things were like real AI perfected robots (yea for under 100.00? I think not) that could learn, grow, and even one day have a conversation with them about why their girlfriend thinks they're so amazing, or give them advice like Apple's "Siri". I can see a Siri type interface and a Furby mating- possibly a Furby running off an App that does more than just translate but rather can Google search (Google Furby?)- why not!?

The reality, however, is that on the "chip" powering this bad boy (or girl) in 1998 is a form of interactive programming like a basic interactive website that can learn and store preferences or even just events happening on the page. It's not so "obvious" how to befriend this cute trible (star trek reference) as it has a bit of dynamic programming inside. It has in 2012 6 times the memory of the original model.

One of the cool things about the 2012 model is the programming is based on human social interactions and since we're all different, act different, and react different, each Furby experience and "evolution" will happen differently which is what gives it it's uniqueness.

I think of it like a video game- fixed parameters and rules- boxed in artificial intelligence with interaction- but it's the players that make the game do amazing and cleaver things.

Like a video game with a memory stick- the Furby has a memory of it's interactions and it's future interactions  are actually triggered/programmed reaction events based on the Furby's past. Not a bad idea right?

It's down right cool when you add the latest technologies to give it even more power- personalities that change and morph as you own it!


The Classic Furby (1998 Models)



The 1998 models were neat. They had an IR (inferred) sensor that was (possibly) used to beam from one Furby to another, information, or maybe it's only real use was to sense when another Furby or person is around i.e. turning on the lights always "woke" them up.

The '98 model had buggy eyes that some people didn't like or that creeped them out. Some kids were even scared of them.

In the latest model the "wake up/sleepy" algorithm is much improved. When you wake one of these up they actually look tired, it's uncanny! (the 2005 models were also improved over '98's). I really enjoyed the look of the first model the most. The 2005 versions were cute but lacked true unique character like the robot gremlin concept. Ironically my favorite aesthetic version is the 2005 Emotronics Adult Furby. Favorite functional version is 2012 (duh), and for nostalgia the original 1998.


2012 Siri vs. 1998 Furby!

Pointing a laser pointer or remote control at the Furby (1998 models) would cause it to do funny things- this was a hiccup but none the less added cool value to the pet robot (that looks like an owl).

It also lent us knowledge that the IR sensor was likely just beaming a generic IR beam not information.

They sold tens of millions of these in the 90's and the updated version in 2005 was just as popular. 

This new one for 2012 is just brilliant though- it's a full rebuild of how it operates, functions, and acts. 

IR Sensor No Longer Responds To IR Remotes, Laser Pointers, Etc...

  • The IR sensor is now specific to the Furby  your remotes and laser pointers will no longer work. My guess is this is to protect the integrity of the programming so your Furby "appears" to evolve.
  • The laser pointers may have caused "illegal operation" errors in the Furby making it act erratic and not progress (like a retarded Furby)... don't know for sure- that's a guess.


The Next Evolution From The 1998 Model Is The 2005 Models



In 2005 a little over 7 years after the first Furby hit the shelf, the Furby was re-imagined into a new popular toy called the New Furby. This was twice as cute (or if you didn't like the first Furby it's all cute) as it's predecessor and even if you didn't turn it on it's a wonderful center piece to any shelf. Not long after that (2006) the furby started an explosion of models, types, and even unique looks like a Yoda version, and hundreds of color combinations- definitely not boring! This model in my opinion is the cutest of the bunch. The 2012 model is adorable but not as cute as 2005 emo versions.

Below the videos and on the right of the next paragraph is a section of (currently being sold on Amazon) 2005 models (all I could find). I'm seriously considering getting one of every type out there for my god daughters! 

Below are some videos of the various 2005 models and types...



Furby Derivatives

2005 Exploded With Variations!


The Furby has many derivatives of its original design. Some are less high tech and others are more high tech (like the 2012 models).  Some of the derivatives were:

Furby  Babies:

(notice the spoon)

 This was the first derivative. It was smaller than the 1998 Furby but had many of the same features. They learned English faster but they don’t dance, just move the beak and possibly the ears.


Furby Friends

These were special edition Furby’s like the Yoda version and E.T. Versions (even some that looked like the Gremlins from the movie).

Star Wars Furby’s are likely to make a huge comeback this year with the sale of Lucas Films to Disney!

(see the Yoda Furby video above)


2005 Furby On TV (and refusing to be exploited! haha)

Emotronic Furbies :

These were a cuter and slightly bigger version of the Furby that came out around 2005.

They are not so much motion driven as they are “expressive” in the face. 

In 2005 the latest innovation that boosted the Furby to great heights was the introduction of actual voice recognition.

In the 1998 models it was all automated, you just thought you were interacting.

It was only really listening to the “ambient” sounds around it and reacting at random- the 2005 and above models actually interact with you.

The 2012 model interacts more precisely and is life like in its expressions! That model even has translation websites and Apps!

Emotronic Furby Babies:  

This is the same as the bigger Emotronic Furby but much smaller and it's behaviors are less intense and more baby like. The video on the right below shows just how amazing they can be. This video shows an interaction that feels natural and even emotional. The Furby's in 2005 were very life-like in their movements and mannerisms. They really got that right.

Emotronic Furby Baby

Emotronic Funky Furby:

In 2006 the funky Furby came out. These enhanced versions of the original adult Emotronic model replace the missing features from the original versions:

It can dance and even learn dance routines to boot!


Furby 2012

It's Alive... Alive!!!


The 2012 version of the Furby is as close to "alive" as the Furby's ever been! It has the animation power of an iPod screen and some pretty cute animation sequences to play with.

This version isn't as dumb as the 1998 models (as in it's wiser). It can detect how your interacting i.e. if your yelling it turns evil, if you pet it lovingly and are gentle, it will be a gentle loving creature. If you sing to it or play music, it's pupils turn into music notes and it sings back- even dances for you!

Below you can see this in all it's might as it PERFECTLY dances to Gangnam Style, one of the world's most popular songs and a rockin' beat the Furby loves! Take a look:

worthy of listing video twice :)

Is The Furby Educational?

Many of the new features of the 2012 Furby are social in nature. The Furby comes with several personalities this round and it actually understands you this time. If you treat the Furby bad it will actually develop a negative personality, jerking movements, and an attitude problem. If you take care of it, are gentle with it, don't yell at it, it will be the cute cuddly Furby you know and love but with more personality!

This video below illustrates this (someone tested it over time):

The "educational" part comes in when you think about it in terms of teaching kids to take care of something and the toy actually offering honest feedback about the way the child plays with it. If he/she treats it nicely and nurtures it, the Furby reflects appreciation and it's cuddly side comes out to flatter them. If they are rough/careless with it, treat it badly, don't nurture it (pet it once in a while), yell or speak loudly at it, and so on, their are triggers in it's programming that launch it's darker/meaner side.

The Furby is likened to an interactive mirror of a sort which may teach children the value of being nice, taking good care of their toys, and offer them an exciting interactive toy companion that is reactive as well as proactive. This is a form of a feedback toy that teaches kids cause and effect in a fun way. Most toys take abuse and the only sign that what the child is doing to it is wrong is when it breaks or stops working. There is no feedback system to guide the child on most toys but this one has a brilliant one built into an entertaining toy.

Is it educational or not?

That's going to be relative to each child and is a perspective call. The overall consensus is that if they speak kindly to it and handle it gently you get the lovable and cuddly (and purring) side- if you handle it roughly or yell at it (or use negative words) it becomes "Evil Furby".



Cute N Cuddly Factor



This is also a personal call but as cuddly toys go this one is adorable and soft.

The 2005 Emotronic Furbies are the cutest ones of all in my opinion.

They are very furry, a lot like a teddy bear or stuffed animal.

They have a more stuffed animal feel and you don't need it to be "active" (batteries in them or animated) to enjoy them. Many enjoy them just as stagnant toys sitting on shelves or quiet toys.


Furby Hacking!

In this digital age and generation Y on the forefront- it’s no secret that kids and adults alike love to hack into their electronic toys- especially robotic and computerized concepts like the Furby and Wii.  Hackers love that they can take advantage of the robotic eyes, ears, and motion sensors as well as the advanced speech sensors. You can even hack in and turn Furby’s voice into a synthesizer so you can talk like a Furby!

Imagine the fun you could have blending/synergizing the wii sensor and software, an AI program like Siri, biofeedback technology (like the force trainer or Mindflex), and a Furby with the circuit board hacked! Your Furby could become a digital "Mini-me"!


Some Great Ideas For Innovative Types

Rebuilding Your Furby "Guts" and eyeballs into a new toy! (what 2012 digital toy wouldn't get hacked in this age of curiosity and electronics?)

Below Are Some Great Videos I Found On The New Furby!

Enjoy- comments are welcome and appreciated!

Updated: 02/06/2013, Jerrico_Usher
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Jerrico_Usher on 12/13/2012

furbies rock!

Jerrico_Usher on 12/13/2012

me too!!! @ about 100.00 a pop (50 on eBay), I think I'll collect one at a time till I have the full set (at least one of each era not every one out there)

katiem2 on 12/13/2012

In fact I just tweeted this to, facebook liked, Pinterest furby,and tweeted as this furby thing is to good not to share. I love that darn bunnie furby. I'm dreaming of furbies now.

katiem2 on 12/13/2012

I must confess after reading all the amazing and intriguing history of furby I also want one of each individual furby make and model...

Jerrico_Usher on 12/10/2012

I want one of the 2005 models, I'm considering buying one of each model cause they're so neat :) but they are almost 100.00 each regardless of model or year, but I'm sure someone has them on eBay :) as for the uggs I'll give her the money and let her pick a pair out...

katiem2 on 12/10/2012

Ug... Uggs no furby. lol those darn Ugs. My daughters have finally gotten over them and moved on.. I was thinking she wanted one of the older model furbies. My bad.

Jerrico_Usher on 12/07/2012

I know what one she wants, she wants the blue one... the other one I don't think wants a furby (she wants uggs)

katiem2 on 12/07/2012

Have you found that furby for your daughter yet?

Jerrico_Usher on 12/07/2012

I'm getting them for several people myself, I have a feeling our cats are going to have some spontaneous sparring matches in the middle of the night if we don't turn 'em off :) I want the white one myself... let that sucker sit on the desk and wake up when I doze off... just wish I cold program it to tell me to drink water, stop slouching, and to ask me how much money I earned that day (to motivate me not to have "um nothing?" for an answer)....

teddletonmr on 12/07/2012

What a great review of the furby history. Very interesting and really cool that they''ve either made a come back or been around in the foreground rising and dropping in popularity. I see furby is no doubt the big toy to have this holiday season.

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