How terrible is a Furby for the parents?
January 20, 2015 9:51 PM   Subscribe

Smallest child is being outright bribed into potty training, and the ultimate prize she now wants is a Furby. She has been asking for a robot of her own for a while and if it gets her out of diapers, we're thrilled. The online reviews are all super positive but don't cover my main questions, especially is there an alternative animatronic doll under $100 for a child?

Also: 1. Is it huggable or stiff?
2. Can the volume be adjusted?
3. Can we do without the installed app?
4. Do you deeply regret allowing a Furby into the house - we've got a no-battery powered toys rule, so this would be our first robot toy other than RC vehicles.

Smallest plays with toys in the 3-5 year range now.
posted by viggorlijah to Shopping (17 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. I haven't held one in a great many years, but they're like a thin layer of fabric around a hard plastic shell. Here's a photo, it's kind of terrifying.

2. Nope, sorry.

3. Their product listings on Amazon and others indicate the app is optional.

4. After Furbys' (Furbies'?) 1998-2000 peak, many childhood friends who owned them found them annoying, let alone their parents.
posted by JauntyFedora at 11:49 PM on January 20, 2015 [3 favorites]

My 9-year old ended up begging me to take the nasty thing away and hide it somewhere. I was happy to.
posted by bleston hamilton station at 12:51 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

We have two of them from Christmas 2013. Specifically, the Furby Boom models.

1. They're kinda huggable, but as JauntyFedora noted, they're not super cuddly.
2. No. There's no off switch either. They can be made to go to sleep, but will wake up if touched or jostled.
3. The app is optional but is also how you name the thing. You might want to have the app handy to occasionally manage the beast.
4. I don't regret bringing them in, but they're also not being played with that much. Silence helps. :-)

Something else to keep in mind - at least with the ones we have - is that their personalities will change depending on how they're played with. My younger daughter's has gotten angry a few times, which results in having to be nice to it for a few days to get it back to 'excited girl' personality.
posted by neilbert at 4:01 AM on January 21, 2015

1. Not huggable at all. As JauntyFedora notes, they're a fuzzy exterior around a hard shell.

2. No. And they are LOUD.

3. Optional, but IMO Furbies are even stupider w/o the app.

4. I'm the child in this scenario, but hopefully you'll still find my input helpful. My parents begrudgingly got me a Furby when I was a kid at my request. I lost interest in it relatively quickly. (This was in the late 90s, and my biggest complaint was that it wasn't as "trainable" as it was purported to be. Maybe the technology is better now?) My parents absolutely despised it once I had it in the house. I was also quite a bit older than your child sounds, which might affect interest in the toy too.

HOWEVER, it led to years of practical jokes and laughing. Eventually mine was permanently angry (neilbert alludes to this phenomenon) and would basically Furby-yell at you whenever you walked by. My parents loved to hide it under my bed long after I'd stopped playing with it; when I'd walk by, it would scare the crap out of me. (I was a highschooler when we finally put the Furby out of its misery...every time we got rid of it, it would turn up months or years later, just asking to be used to torment someone.)

tl;dr - Furbies suck but eventually your child will know this too and then hilarity might ensue. Buy one.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:12 AM on January 21, 2015 [15 favorites]

Oh, and the lack of an Off switch is important. I vividly remember putting mine in my toy chest when I was getting tired of it, only to hear its bitter Furby squawking two rooms over.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 4:14 AM on January 21, 2015

Nattie's 2011 Shelby story may be of interest. I don't think I could do it.
posted by Glinn at 5:27 AM on January 21, 2015 [4 favorites]

I don't know anything about Furby. Just coming in to say we got a dash robot for Christmas. It's pretty awesome. Can be played with several ways - driven like a Rc car and programmed via an iPad.Link here.
posted by JacksonandFinch at 5:37 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

It doesn't seem difficult to add volume and power controls.
posted by exogenous at 6:04 AM on January 21, 2015

My girls begged for a Furby for a year and a half before they saved up enough money to buy one, on sale, all on their own. After a few days they hated it. After a week, it flat out creeped them out. Then it became a game of putting the stupid thing away and everyone yelling, don't open the closet, you'll wake it! It is not soft and cuddly. It is creepy, annoying, and expensive.

There are these really cute FurReal pets that they love. They have a collection of them. They are cute and soft-ish. Between $10 and $15. They crawl around on their own and are a huge hit with guests of all ages.
posted by myselfasme at 6:07 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

It's sort of obnoxious but the novelty wore off pretty fast and now it lives in a corner of the closet. Honestly I think that if she hadn't gotten one as a gift, she would have begged for one longer than it took for her to get over actually having one.

It would be well worth enduring if it resulted in potty training success, in my opinion (qualifications: potty trained two children, have a Furby).
posted by padraigin at 6:17 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

I get the bribing thing, but if there is one rule I would not break as a parent (3 kids in their late late teens) is the no batteries or talking toys rule. Any other rule, I would violate for expediency, but not the no batteries and no talking toys rule. Why? My daughter's Furby. It shall never be spoken of again.
posted by 724A at 6:39 AM on January 21, 2015

If she wants a robot, a Furby will not live up to expectations. We were given one last year, and it varies between annoying (when it is in a good mood and randomly chirping in a corner) and creepy (when it's angry, which seems to happen randomly, it resembles Chucky). I really dislike it. My husband has tried using the app, the damn thing is still creepy and reacts in unpredictable ways.

Robots just aren't at the stage where they can interact properly with you. I really wanted one of these, but turns out that even the $30000 version is not quite as cool as the videos suggest (the robot is pre-programmed and isn't actually reacting spontaneously). The $40 version is basically a re-skinned dancing flower.

How about a pet? That would cover the "cute" and "interactive" angles, plus maybe teach responsibility. Guinea pigs and hamsters are perfect for this sort of thing.
posted by tinkletown at 6:52 AM on January 21, 2015 [1 favorite]

There was a thread on Metaquotes over on livejournal which outlines exactly what happened when a woman bought her three-year-old a Furby - she overheard it showing its Furby around the bathroom, and thought it was cute until she heard her child singing out "Go potty!" and then the splash as the Furby fell into the toilet. So, maybe not such a good idea.

Then again, the responses from people talking about the hijinks that ensued when their own Furbys and other animatronic toys (talking Elmos, Teddy Ruxpins, etc.) started failing are HYSTERICAL.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:04 AM on January 21, 2015 [2 favorites]

4. Do you deeply regret allowing a Furby into the house - we've got a no-battery powered toys rule, so this would be our first robot toy other than RC vehicles.

I'm 30, and won a Furby baby in an internet contest when I was 12. My mom still has it. We both have an odd sort of affection for talking and electronic animals--she's got a few mechanical birds and hamsters and such, too.

I think that cute, talking robots teach children important lessons about empathy and consciousness. The Furby isn't alive, because it has no brain. But do you really want to be the person to throw it in a garbage bag and drop it off at the Salvation Army, all alone, while it cries in the dark? Why not? What makes it different than a cat? How do you know? What is a mind? How is a simple computer different than a meat brain? Is it okay to be a jerk to Furby? How about to an insect? Where's the line?

In about a decade, you can follow this up by watching Stephen Spielberg's AI, and smallest can cry because she was so cruel to that damned toy.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:06 AM on January 21, 2015 [8 favorites]

The online reviews are all super positive but don't cover my main questions, especially is there an alternative animatronic doll under $100 for a child?

Yes. But expect to find huge dumps right in the middle of your kitchen table if you promise a Furby, and deliver a Durby or whatever knockoff.

MY suggestion is to take out all batteries before delivering the boring Furby.
posted by hal_c_on at 10:45 AM on January 21, 2015

this is.. kind of similar. my sister got one for her friend's very young child who loves it. I think.. all age ranges for toys are pretty transmutable, so you know your child best.

It's cute though, and not nearly as annoying as furbies (I've had a few, the first round when I was younger and they were first popular, and then my mom got me one for christmas as a hilarious joke last year :P it really is VERY annoying, for the record. but me and my sister both loved them when we were young and loved annoying things.)
posted by euphoria066 at 2:13 PM on January 21, 2015

In the dictionary next to the word annoying is a picture of a Furby.
posted by Splunge at 3:20 PM on January 21, 2015

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