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Furby toys ‘turn nasty, seedy and inappropriate’

Hasbro say the toy is designed to display more than one personality. Picture: Robert Perry

Hasbro say the toy is designed to display more than one personality. Picture: Robert Perry

  • by JANE BRADLEY
 

IT was one of the most coveted gifts of the festive period and turned up under thousands of Christmas trees last year.

But now parents have hit out at popular must-have toy the Furby Boom after it emerged that some of the creatures have developed “inappropriate” second personalities which have upset their children.

The Furby, an electronic robotic toy which requires children to talk to and stroke it, as well as feed and put it to sleep, was a major hit when makers Hasbro relaunched the 1990s classic last year. The cute creation made it into the toy hit lists for Christmas 2013.

But parents have told how the initially sweet, usually childlike creatures, which chat to their young owners, can suddenly morph into a “slightly seedy” male voice which shouts insults and “inappropriate” phrases.

Businesswoman Lisa Mennie from Glasgow was sent the £60 toy from her parents as a Christmas present for her daughter Zoe, four.

“It has two personalities,” she said. “One is a nice, sweet, little girl baby Furby and then, without warning, it suddenly turns into what Zoe calls ‘that big fat man’ which talks in a gruff American male voice and burps and farts.

“She is quite a robust little girl and usually isn’t too concerned about anything, but this has started to bother her a little bit.

“It says things like, ‘Oh baby’ in a seedy man’s voice, which I don’t think is appropriate for a child and, on one occasion, it told her it didn’t like her, which really upset her.”

Ms Mennie turned to the internet to find a solution to the problem and discovered that other parents suffering similar problems had posted instructions on how to reset the toy.

This involved turning it upside down, pushing in its tongue and pulling its tail. “That worked for a while, but suddenly it will switch back to the male personality,” said Ms Mennie.

“I have to keep resetting it, but now Zoe is wary of it. She doesn’t know when it will suddenly become the evil Furby.”

She added: “It’s a shame, because if this goes on, she is going to push it to one side and not want to play with it any more, which is not what you want from a toy that costs so much.”

A spokeswoman for Hasbro said that the toy was designed to have more than one personality, switching to a less friendly version if the child does not show it enough attention.

But parents argued that the toy changed to a “nasty” personality despite being lavished with attention by their children.

“Our daughter had already been doting on the thing. What more could it want?” asked one parent online.

Tina Woolnough, spokeswoman for the National Parent Forum of Scotland, warned that the “nasty” Furby could encourage bad behaviour in children. We don’t want electronic toys presenting antisocial behaviour to youngsters,” she said. It could be quite influential. The toy manufacturers need to think about what behaviour they are modelling and the effect it could have on children, either by them copying it or the stress in the fact they can do nothing about it.”

 

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