I’ve been looking out for another toy like Furby.
Not friends of Furby or other toys in the Furby franchise, but another interactive toy that shares certain similarities with Furby.
So, during my research on this topic, a lot of robotic dogs showed up. A robotic dog just doesn’t work for me. No offence to robotic dogs, I’m sure they have their place in the toy world… but to resemble a toy similar to Furby, I am looking for a few key elements to match up.
The toy needs to be cute. Ok, cuteness is certainly subjective. Personally, I have find some pretty ugly toys in the past, (I used to own a cabbage patch doll Ok!?!?!). So, there may be some give on this. But a Robotic Dog? Is that cute on any level? For me, it doesn’t fit the bill. (Please comment below if you disagree, perhaps I could be persuaded otherwise, but my experience with robotic dogs is limited).
- The toy needs to be nurtured and cared for. One of the most endearing aspects to Furby is that you get attached to them. Many kids really get attached to their Furbies and treat them like a real pet; ok, so maybe they occasionally treat furby badly to change their personality, but with the Furby app you can feed Furby delicious treats and nurse him back to health and so on. Care and nurture seem to play a key role.
- The toy needs to mimic learning ability or reveal new features over time. Another key feature to Furby is his ability to develop over time. Furby’s language changes over time, as he gradually speaks more English over time. This feature in a toy is fairly unique and I’d be looking for something similar in a toy that resembles Furby.
- The Toy needs to be interactive. This is possibly one of the most important features. By a machine behaving as though they are responding emotionally to us and need us, we are inherently wired to respond to that on an emotional level – we can get attached to that machine, even when we’re 100% sure that the thing we are caring for is not alive. Children, (and adults) can get attached to objects whether they’re interactive or not, but I feel the reason there was such a Furby craze in the first place boils down to this one important feature at the core. Combine that feature with a super cute exterior and you’re on to a winner.
One interesting toy I came across was called PARO. He’s an adorable baby white seal that comes to life when you say his name and responds to being stroked, he makes incredibly cute seal noises, (I certainly remember thinking baby white seals must be one of the cutest creatures in the world), he opens his adorable big dark eyes to you call his name…and the best bit is, PARO was created in Japan as a form of animal therapy for patients in hospitals, notably for dementia patients, which I think is an incredibly heart warming idea.
Some journalists seem to have taken the view that it’s wrong to give emotional support or therapy to such patients via a robot or machine.
Personally, I think this is taking the wrong angle. PARO isn’t a robotic person who is taking on a role that a person could do, he’s a robotic pet. The calming effect that being around animals can have is long established…. I think the logistics of trying to get a baby white seal into a care home is somewhat unrealistic!! PARO is not taking on the job that a person could do, he is providing additional support and therapy to people in need and who cannot access real pets in the environment. Unfortunately the price tag of this creature is a little on the high side for many family budgets. (Prices vary, but they seem priced at around $5000 whoa…).
More affordable along the robotic Pet line, there is some hope with FurReal friends. There is a whole range of these interactive pet toys, from a monkey, to a dragon, to a panda and more. There is an extensive selection of FurReal friends to choose from, to the point that I imagine kids wanting more than one and although some could be classed as unisex, they certainly seem to have mainly targeted girls, (*grumble*).
I interacted with the Fur Real pet dog a few days ago in a toy shop, (a FurReal friends pug to be precise!) and my youngest son fell in love with it. It’s now on his Christmas list. The little pug jumps up and barks when you give him a wave or stoke his head, he sits when you stroke his back.
He is an incredibly cute little dog and is certainly interactive and fun to play with, but he doesn’t develop over time like Furby or have the range of interaction that Furby provides. Still, the Furreal pug is certainly a decent toy!
However, far more sophisticated is the newest edition to the FurReal friends franchise. A Unicorn called “StarLily!”. StarLily has her own IOS app, so in this sense the toy has taken it to the next level of game play, much like Furby.
StarLily Unicorn has a whole catalogue of moves: her wings flutter, her horn flashes different colours. She sits, she stands, she lays down, she moves to music and she responds to your voice and touch.
Clearly this particular FurReal Friends pet is aimed at girls. This is a shame, as this is the most interactive toy that FurReal pets have in the range and it could have been quite easily adapted to be a unisex toy. If my youngest son wasn’t worried about being picked on for wanting a “girls toy,” I’m sure he’d have loved it, (he is six).
Like Furby, StarLily develops the more you interact with her. She has over 100 different sound and movement responses and some are unlocked over time. Her horn changes colour – when her horn is green, she’s hungry. You can feed her with a sugar berry, (it looks like a strawberry and comes included with the toy).
Despite the pink, purple and general glitter and sparkly obvious features, (not all girls love pink Hasbro! just’sayin) the Unicorn toy looks pretty awesome.
Starlily also meets all of my Furby-like toy matching criteria! 1. She’s cute, 2. She needs to be nurtured 3. She develops over time and 4. She is interactive.
I find it frustrating that I can’t report on something that is both equally as cute and sophisticated but also aimed at boys.
Well, There is Xeno….
Not that cute is he?… (Sorry Xeno). But honestly, a big glob of snot hanging from his nose and the rubbery bristles may make him a classic “gross out” toy, but it’s just way too predictable for my liking and does not reach the technological heights of this new StarLily Unicorn toy.
Xeno responds to how you play with him, like Furby. Xeno has recognisable emotions too. you can also overfeed him and he burps and farts and dances. Unlike Furby, there are also mini games you can play with him, BUT, in my opinion, Xeno’s appearance and overall personality just don’t have the appeal of Furby.
Xeno loses out on the critical cute and loveable factor, so he doesn’t make my list.
So, in my over all search so far, I feel that the new StarLily toy certainly matches the Furby criteria more than any other toy on the market right now.
Do you agree? Leave me a comment below!