We review the Furby Connect. What happens when you take a well-loved children's toy and connect it to the Internet of Things? Fun happens, that's what!
Furby Connect Review
Value for Money
Furby's back and he's gone digital!
The connectivity works well but at the end of the day this is classic Furby
Furby is 18 years old this year and the Furby Connect could be said to mark the coming of age for Hasbro’s quirky, cuddly toy.
Like his predecessors, Furby Connect looks like a cross between an owl and a gremlin and speaks enthusiastically, if a little indistinctly, in a mixture of English and ‘Furbish’.
The longer you play with Furby, the more things he will say, which makes it seem he is ‘learning’ to speak. The subject matter is generally variations on a familiar theme: Furby is hungry, Furby wants a cuddle, Furby breaks wind, Furby wants to sing and dance.
Sometimes Furby will mix and match things, such as when he lets rip a melodic series of parps and then exclaims joyously: “Jazz Fart!”
So what makes the Furby Connect different from his predecessors? The clue is in the name, this Furby is Bluetooth-enabled and can be paired with your iOS or Android smartphone and tablet. (When Furby successfully pairs with a device – initiated by wiggling his antenna, naturally – he shouts “Yay! Connected!” Many Bluetooth veterans will know the feeling).
Dragging Furby into the Internet of Things achieves 2 main results: the first is that he can download new songs and phrases to top up the 1,000 he comes loaded with. Or add new animations to appear in his LED eyes. Secondly, Furby can play along with the specially made Furby Connect World game.
This game is aimed squarely at pre-school kids and revolves around hatching and nurturing a variety of mini-Furbies called Furblings. These come in a range of colours, shapes and sizes and the purpose of the game is to collect as many as you can then and feed and care for them. Furblets are like little tamagotchi, they need nursing when they’re sick, tickling when they’re sad, feeding when they’re hungry.
Items such as pizza, hairdryers and cold medicine appear periodically through the game, which makes ample use of your device’s touchscreen to manipulate things.
The game is simple and engaging enough – the graphics in particular are colourful and extremely well animated. But what takes it to another level is the way the real life Furby interacts with the virtual gameplay. He will shout encouragement and dance from the sidelines – “Sweet Mother of Furb!” and “We’re good, we’re good. Awwwww yeah!” are a couple of typical chants.
And some of the games actually require you to squeeze and shake Furby to play. For instance, there’s the Food Cannon which shoots scoff into Furby’s gob which then ‘arrives’ in Furby’s eyes. Sometimes you may have to help Furby remove something stuck in his beak – which he’ll then cough up all over your device’s screen. Uggh.
Even more disgusting – or brilliant, if you’re a kid of any age – is when Furby’s had too much to eat: what goes in has to come out. So you navigate to a toilet in the game worldand then hold the real life Furby over the screen, squeeze his belly and…
Well you can guess what happens next. See the screen below if you need any more insight.
Such scatological detail makes Furby Connect and its associated game genuine catknip for kids and a guilty pleasure for more juvenile grown ups. It all helps give the Furby Connect a real personality – so much so that I became quite attached to having Furby on my desk as I worked on this review. Every so often he’ll demand a cuddle, sing some gibberish or take a catnap – a bit like myself. (When Furby nods off he gives several exaggerated yawns followed by a brief cacophony of snores. Highly entertaining).
The build quality of Furby is good – he’s satisfyingly robust and has a heft to him that suggests he’ll last a long time. And although he doesn’t actually move from one place to another – the illusion of movement is convincingly created through his changing posture and waving ears.
One major niggle however is the fact that the toy doesn’t come with the required 3xAA batteries needed to make him come alive. And even if you have the said batteries to hand, you’ll still need a mini cross-head screwdriver to open the battery cover. This could cause major aggravation on Christmas morning if you’re not prepared.
All in all, Furby Connect easily confounded my expectations. I was anticipating some digital gimmicks tacked on to an established toy to justify the 3-figure price tag.
What I found was a well designed and engineered product that was both genuinely funny and really good company. The virtual world and the real life toy mesh extremely well together, but Furby is still a cracking companion when there is no device connected to him. He even does a convincingly wooden Arnie impression when he powers down: “I’ll be back,” he intones.
Furby most certainly is back. And he’s better than ever.