Back in 1998, the idea of “intelligent” toys was a rather novel concept. It was just at the turn of the millenium when the technology first made it to America, and Furby, the first successful version of its kind, dominated toy sales that year and continued through the year 2000.
Before Furby, toys that “interacted” with its owners were practically nonexistent, at least in this form. The idea of a toy learning English from people who played with it captured many kids’ imaginations, which is why if you were a kid or parent in the late ’90s you almost definitely had one in your household – and if not, you knew someone who did.
Anyone who owned a Furby know how cool they were to play with. They all started out speaking entirely their own language, “Furbish”, as they gradually learned English phrases from you as you spoke to it. The toy let kids feel like they had a child (or just a new friend) of their own that they could teach words and phrases.
Oh, and of course they were cute and cuddly. That definitely helped its sales.
The look and feel of the Furby, combined with its high-tech concept, made it an immediate best-seller in the late ’90s and caused extreme stress for parents nationwide as they scrambled to grab one for their kids who needed one for Christmas.
There are now many different kinds of “domestic robot” toys out there, but Furby was the first one to be mass-produced with great success in the United States. And you probably agree because you probably had one!
Furby hasn’t gone away, either. In 2012 Hasbro released a brand new series of the toy for a whole new generation of kids. Probably not as impressive as it was 15 years ago, but still a fun toy for kids anyway.
Did you own (or have to buy your kid) a Furby at some point in the late ’90s? Share your memories (or shopping nightmares) in the comments!
BONUS: Here’s a throwback – an original Furby commercial from 1998!
SEE ALSO: Top 5 Prom Songs of the 90s