The Furby: Creepy and in demand

Various versions of a new Furby, produced by U.S. toy giant Hasbro and distributed by Japanese toy maker Tomy, are displayed at a press preview in Tokyo on Sept. 4, 2012. The Furby is back this holiday season, and it's as strange and coveted as it was in 1998.

In 1998 a new kind of toy hit the market. It was called the Furby, and it did everything from sleep to talk smack in its own language: Furbish.

The Furby was a smash hit, tens of millions of them sold over the next few years. This year toymaker Hasbro had a brainstorm: bring the Furby back. Already the toy has been a hit this holiday season.

"You start to project or see autonomous behavior, and then you're not sure if it's alive or not," says Furby co-creator Caleb Chung. "And so it becomes creepy."

Making an emotional connection with kids is what's important to designing a toy that can span generations. Chung doesn't seem to mind if adults aren't enamored by the Furby's mystique, after all they made him some serious cash.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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