’90s Nightmare

Every decade has its secret shame, an inexplicably popular trend that haunts people years later. Realistically, it is only a matter of time before rompers and neon skinny jeans become the next fashion faux pas.

But toy trends can be even worse. In the ‘70s, pet rocks became the must-have toy. Naturally, I have to wonder what shameful trend surfaced in the ‘90s. Honestly, I believe the answer is one we all can agree on: Furby.

Released in 1998, this deranged robotic guinea pig-owl hybrid mysteriously captivated Americans and became the must-have holiday toy. New Furbys begin speaking Furbish and gradually speak more English as they “mature.” Furbish consists of combined elementary syllables and sounds like a baby talking with its mouth full. Mature Furbys never quite speak grammatically correct English and often sound less eloquent than the average toddler. Tiger Electronics, the maker of Furbys, even perpetuates Furbys’ grammatical inaccuracies by insisting that the plural of “Furby” is “Furbys.”
Many people, myself included, mistakenly believed Furbys had an eerie ability to mimic words spoken to them. The nature of a Furby’s programming does not enable Furby to actually imitate or intelligently respond to people. Yet we all have heard creepy stories about Furbys with suspect behavior. For instance, after a vivid Furby nightmare, my best friend awoke to her own Furby crooning, “Dreams do come true.” Terribly disturbed, she threw her Furby out her window, hoping the two-story fall would destroy it. However, the maniacal beast miraculously survived with no noticeable defects. Afterward, like most disturbed and disillusioned Furby owners, she banished her Furby to collect dust in the closet indefinitely.

The disdain toward Furbys fueled the formation of a community dedicated to disassembling and hacking Furbys. A general Google search of “Furby” yields a website complete with directions on how to perform a Furby “autopsy.” Careful skinning of Furbys leaves the fur and inner robotics in tact. Thus, a Furby coroner can then tinker with the Furby’s electronics, or if he or she feels especially creative, can dye the Furby’s fur. The recommended dye is RIT powdered dye. Furbys’ synthetic fur does not absorb dye well — the resulting color after dyeing is a lighter shade than the package indicates. But why stop at fur dying? I am sure Furby would be feeling pretty after a quick application of mascara on its luscious eyelashes. Judicious eye shadow application would complement Furby’s fur or eyelashes. Add a couple of piercings to Furby’s unadorned ears, and Furby is ready for a night on the town.

The prices collectable Furbys catch now are relatively low compared to other popular collectable toys. Sold for approximately thirty dollars in the ‘90s, non-limited edition Furbys in their original packaging now sell for only forty dollars. Considering the rate of inflation, Furbys have not caught on as a collectable item. In light of all the Furby horror stories, I believe toy collectors’ indifference toward Furbys is probably for the best. I think we all have learned that the only place for Furbys is a dark, locked closet.


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