Approximately 40 young "delegates-in-training" assembled at One United Nations Plaza today to herald the arrival at toy stores of the new FURBY by Hasbro, Inc.'s (NYSE: HAS) Tiger Electronics.
The plush, interactive toy made history when it initially launched during the 1998 holiday season, sparking phenomenal demand and a legendary buying frenzy. The new FURBY is more technologically advanced, allowing for enhanced interaction through voice recognition. In addition, the toy is larger than before, and has a fully flexible beak, expressive eyes, and movable ears and eyebrows that allow the toy to communicate through expressions. And, as a nod to Mom requests, the new FURBY now has an off switch so the chatterbox toy won't break into song or story-telling mode during the middle of the night!
"FURBY became a historic best-seller and a cultural phenomenon when it hit the market in 1998," said toy and children's lifestyle expert Chris Byrne, who attended the event. "The new, evolved FURBY is so much more advanced than the original. In fact, thanks to technology and innovation, FURBY delivers a richer, more engaging play experience while maintaining all the elements that made the original version one of the significant toys of the 20th century. Given all this, the new FURBY certainly has the earmarks of one of the best-selling toys of 2005."
FURBY, one of the best-selling toys ever with 40 million pieces sold globally, returns from hibernation this month as an all-new creature driven by Hasbro's new EMOTO-TRONICS, the ultimate combination of advanced robotic technology, puppetry and realistic lifelike reactions and movements. Advanced voice recognition allows FURBY to react based on how a child interacts with it, adding a new level of technological sophistication. Now, the FURBY creature can "listen" and respond based on his "mood."
"Technology enabled us to make the original FURBY have personality," said Brian Goldner, Hasbro's Toy Group president. "Today's FURBY is more vibrant and humorous because technology has advanced so much. Through cutting-edge innovation, FURBY is even more magical than the original because it can actually hear and react to what a child is saying."
During the UN Plaza event, the children received some of the first new FURBY toys available, learned how to speak 'Furbish' (the native language of FURBY), and were ceremoniously awarded medals designating them as official FURBY ambassadors of goodwill. The children attending the event represented languages (other than Furbish) spoken by FURBY in versions that will be sold outside the U.S. beginning next month, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Japanese.
John Henry Jorgensen -- who is believed to be the world's greatest linguist, and is fluent in 18 languages and "conversational" in another ten -- tutored the children on how to speak Furbish, providing the instruction to the children in their native tongues. By the end of the event, which was held here at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel, children who spoke Japanese could communicate with kids who spoke German by using Furbish, Hasbro's "international language of fun."
"It's so cool...I can speak another language!" said Nikki Brady, 9 years old, from Peekskill, NY, who attended the event. "And FURBY is so cute and fun to play with. I love it when he tells knock-knock jokes because he makes me laugh."
FURBY is currently hitting store shelves in the U.S. with four different fur combinations, including grey and pink, all-white, black and white, and cream and brown, with additional fur combinations due out later this year. FURBY will also come with a variety of eye colors, including various shades of brown, blue and green. The new toy has an approximate retail price of $39.99. Kids and consumers can learn more about the return of FURBY by visiting www.hasbro.com/furby.
Hasbro (NYSE: HAS) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its PLAYSKOOL, TONKA, MILTON BRADLEY, PARKER BROTHERS, TIGER and WIZARDS OF THE COAST brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.