Furby is back! (Nooooooo!)

This morning I got this cheery PR pitch in my email inbox:

and I was at that moment very glad that my four-year-old daughter was not looking over my shoulder; if she had been, her bloodcurdling scream would most likely have punctured my eardrum.

Every child has that one thing of which they are irrationally and totally terrified. Growing up, my little brother was so afraid of Don Music from Sesame Street that he’d have to hide behind the couch whenever he saw Kermit the Frog come out in his trench coat.

My brother couldn’t sleep at night for visions of Don Music banging his head on the piano.

My oldest child, Connor, had twin demons which haunted him as a wee lad:

…the “Ababa No-Man,” aka “Bumble,” from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

…and the Grumpy Old Troll from Dora the Explorer, an incubus so terrifying that 3-year-old Connor could never watch Dora at all, lest the Troll suddenly appear and demand viewers solve one of his cranky riddles.

For four-year-old Maggie, the terrifying summation of every evil her subconscious has yet to process is the Furby– an old-school Furby which I received in 1998 as a Christmas present from the lovely and generous Rhea Perlman.

I was doing a play with Rhea in December 1998, and that year, the Furby Madness was at its peak. She procured one for each of her six fellow cast members, at what I’m sure was an outrageous black-market price. Once the play was over, along with my Furby fascination, I stuck it in a cabinet– until Seamus’s 5th birthday, almost three years ago. Seamus was deep into his stuffed animal phase at the time, and when I came across my dusty Furby I changed its batteries, discovered with delight that it worked just fine, and presented it on Seamus’s birthday, certain he would love it.

He did. His 18-month-old sister did not.

“WEE HOW!” the Furby yelled, eyes alight. “FAA DEE POH!”  Maggie started to scream, right there with the presents and the birthday cake, and would not be comforted until the Furby was taken far, far out of sight. As in, stuffed in a shopping bag and stuck on a shelf.

That day almost three years ago should have been the end of Maggie’s Furby Terror, save for one important factor:

The Furby has no off switch.

I’m not talking about the all-new Furby; I cannot speak to its magic. But the old-school Furby has no off switch, cause see, it’s not a toy! It’s real! 

And so the only way to get it to stop chattering is to cover its eyes until it sings a lullaby to itself and begins to snore. Then you quickly stick it in a cabinet or something, somewhere nice and dark. This works very well until someone opens said cabinet, and Furby jerks his eyes open with a sixty-decibel “HEE! HIIII! LIIIIKKKE!”

Maggie: scream. run from room.

Seamus: Oh yeah! My Furby! I love him!

Repeat ad nauseam.

Maggie has actually gotten more terrified of Furby with each passing year. It got so bad this summer that she couldn’t enter any room unaccompanied lest Furby bellow her a sudden and cheery “LOBA! TOOKY!” “It’s his voice, Mommy,” she tells me, visibly shaking, when I point out for the umpteenth time that the Furby is immobile. “His squeaky voice.”

And so Maggie and I made a secret plan: we put Furby in a cardboard box. We taped it shut (she watched, I did the dirty work). I hid Furby in a seldom-used closet. “If Seamus doesn’t ask for Furby in the next two weeks,” I told her, “Furby will go in the garbage. And we won’t tell. And we will never, ever, ever see Furby again.” She nodded, eyes teary, biting her lip.

Those two weeks are nearly up. Now, today, news that FURBY is BACK. This time, its eyes (see above) are pixilated and truly weird-looking. This time, it has FEET that MOVE (just from side to side, but still). And he’s just as perky as ever: “Furby’s really hyper,” one child explains warily, on their promotional video. This time, Furby has a PR firm. He’ll be everywhere. He’ll be unstoppable.

Here’s hoping he has an off switch this time.

What is/was your child irrationally and completely afraid of?


{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Annie Caffee July 17, 2012 at 2:37 am

GREMLINS! and what’s sad is that I connected the puff balls with the Furbies ; -;


amywlsn July 24, 2012 at 2:32 am

old school. thanks for pointing out the similarity though, I’ll definitely keep that off my daughter’s netflix queue


Leigh Ann July 17, 2012 at 1:28 pm

At just under 2, one of my twins was terrified if Princess Fiona from Shrek. Not ogre Fiona, but actual Fiona. So weird. I think it started with the scene where she sings and the bird explodes. I had to skip that part for the longest time!


amywlsn July 24, 2012 at 2:32 am

Love it. Cameron Diaz’s voice, perhaps?


Courtney July 17, 2012 at 8:37 pm

Here in Milwaukee, the Racing Sausages are big at Milwaukee Brewers games. It’s a long story. Basically, 5 huge costumed things come out and run around Miller Park – a hot dog, a Polish sausage, a Chorizo, etc. It’s pretty entertaining. People pick one to win, and there’s a race during every single home game. Anyway, I held a fundraiser last year for work at Miller Park, and the sausages came to my event. They are VERY large costumes, probably over 7 feet tall. My daughter was 2 and a half at the time….she…flipped….the….f….out! I mean, major major pee-in-pants, scrambling up my shoulder as I held her, tears streaming down face, flip out! It actually terrified ME that she was so terrified by them! She has since seen them on tv, and she says they are bad and scary. Um, the event is coming up next week, and she wants to go. The sausages will be there, so I am gently preparing her every day for this! She now says she isn’t scared anymore. We shall see!!!


amywlsn July 24, 2012 at 2:31 am

LOL. Several giant sausages. Let us know how she does. I know that scramble up the shoulder thing!


sharisim July 18, 2012 at 12:33 am

That was hilarious. My son is very wary of the VeggieTales, which makes me sad because I actually like them. Unlike Furby, who freaks me out almost as much as he does your daughter.


amywlsn July 24, 2012 at 2:31 am

the Lord-loving Veggie Tales? Lots of vegetable fear in our children. judging by these comments. we should address that.


Missy @ Wonder, Friend July 19, 2012 at 7:32 pm

H is terrified of Cruella De Vil’s goons in 101 Dalmations, so much so that we had to turn of the movie and he will not consider watching it again. Ever.

Maggie always makes me smile. I cannot blame her for being weirded out by Furby’s voice. I find it creepy that you have to put Furby to sleep, rather than turn it off. All toys need off switches.


amywlsn July 24, 2012 at 2:30 am

ok Cruella de Vil animated? or Glenn Close? Cause Glenny was pretty terrifying. Although it is a kids’ movie. I feel like they’d never have a villain like her in the movie if they wrote it now- but she had to be in the remake, since she was in the original. 


Lneumannca July 23, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Well, I don’t blame Maggie for being afraid of Furby – toys need off-switches!

When my daughter was younger (2-4 yrs), we took her to the Toronto Vegetarian Festival (we’re veg and thought it would be fun for her). All was fine until she a giant walking carrot came over and tried to say hello! Much screaming and crying ensued and every year we went she would ask if the big carrot would be there.
Fortunately she grew out of it – and sometimes even eats carrots! LOL!


amywlsn July 24, 2012 at 2:28 am

I’m with you Lneumannca. I fervently hope the all-new Furby can be made to all-new STFU.
Love the walking carrot! Honestly it does sound a little scary.


Erin July 24, 2012 at 3:02 am

Incubus, ha. I can’t speak for my kids, but I am scared shitless of Caillou. That kid ain’t right.


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