Thursday 14 January 1999

Put That Furby Straight To Bed

Ailing, failing Furbies cashing in their chips

Liam Shaw, Calgary Herald / Six-year-old Katelyn Shaw manages to crack a toothy smile in spite of the problems with her favourite Christmas toy, a Furby, which appears to be deceased.

Call the Furbycide detectives. There's been a death. The hottest toy of the 1998 Christmas season may be among the first victims of the millennium bug, as hundreds of kids wake up to find their coveted Furbies flatlined.

Emergency surgery with new batteries doesn't seem to save the furry little critters, either.

"We put new batteries in and it still didn't work," said 10-year-old Megan MacRobbie, whose Furby was eventually laid to rest back at Wal-Mart for a $40 refund. "I didn't want my mom to take it back, though."

First the incessant babble in Furbish disappeared, and the house was eerily quiet. Then his ears stopped moving, and eventually his eyes closed shut, said Barbara McKee, who gave a Furby to her six-year-old granddaughter Katelyn Shaw for Christmas.

"I want him to wake up and talk," Katelyn said, staring forlornly at her much-loved toy. "We tried new batteries from a store. We tried new ones from the camera, but it didn't work. I wanted him to stay alive."

Tiger Toys, the company that makes Furbies, has set up a 1-800 line to deal with calls about the flummoxed Furbies. A recording offers tips on emergency surgery and suggests fresh batteries, pressing the reset button and the tongue.

The Herald couldn't reach a Tiger Toys spokesperson Wednesday. Later, the hotline at 1-888-387-2901 said the mailbox was full.

Megan still remembers the funny sneeze of her Furby, and the way he woke her up so early in the morning, but he didn't make it through the Christmas holidays, she said.

"I was going to take it to school and share it, but now it doesn't work," said the Grade 5 student.

Several local toy stores said they'd only had a few returns of the toys, but most kids said they weren't willing to part with pal Furby, even if he's stopped playing games.

"I've heard from customers about how they're not working," said one toy store employee, "but we've only had a few come back."

Some distressed Furby owners have even begun to question their parenting skills.

"Maybe I neglected it . . ." conceded adult Furby owner Renee Murrin, whose toy didn't make it through more than a day of incessant chatting. "When I clapped it didn't do anything. They say if you touch it in certain spots it's supposed to react, but it just didn't."

"Mine slept all day, for like, 12 hours," said Megan, who speculated that maybe the toy needed more Furby friends to interact with.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. the State Department has banned Furbies in its offices, speculating that the furry toys could learn state secrets and repeat them later.

Need Help With Furby?

Try the Furby Web site:

Tiger Toys advises that if you are experiencing a problem with your Furby:

- Make sure you have fresh alkaline batteries.

- Press the reset on the bottom with a ballpoint pen.

- If still malfunctioning, hold Furby upside down while depressing the tongue switch and pressing reset at the same time.

If the problem persists, you can send Furby back to Tiger Electronics for repair following the instructions on the last page of the Furby manual or call the hotline at 1-888-387-2901.

Recreated at Mystic Fortress from the Herald to preserve and archive it.

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