Yes, Christmas is drawing closer and I’ve decided to take a break from my regular gaming reviews to help out you guys who have little people to keep happy, this coming festive period. So here is a review on one of this years predicted hottest toys, the Furby Connect. Back during my uni days, we had a house Furby, owned by one of my housemates, and I had fond memories of that cheerful mechanical critter. That was one of the old gang which while it seemed pretty high tech at the time, pales in comparison to the modern re-launched Furby with their LED eyes and Bluetooth connectivity. Yes Furbys have evolved with the times and, to be fair, so have their price tag… But just look at those cute little eyes!

The Furby Connect is a very animated critter. I hadn’t even managed to screw the battery compartment closed before it started wriggling and flapping its big ears. But it is very cute and has a pretty large vocabulary of over 1000 different phrases. As with previous generations, the Furby will start speaking mainly in Furbish, and gradually learns English as it’s played with, but it uses enough English straight off the bat to communicate what it wants, even for six year olds. If you want to impress your child with your Furbish then you can even download a dictionary here. In fact, it talks so much that you’ll likely be wanting to shutting it up quickly, at some point, so this generation comes with a handy sleep mask which will put the Furby to sleep. Ah, silence is golden!

The selling point of this new Furby is that it’s designed to connect with a companion app, Furby Connect World. This is basically a far more sophisticated version of the old Tamagotchi. You hatch baby Furbys, or Furblings as they are officially called. They then need to be looked after including feeding, cleaning and caring for them when they’re sick. They all live in a Furbling village which you can repair and upgrade as you hatch more Furblings.

With nearly 80 different types of Furblings to hatch, it has a clear pokemon style collection aspect to it. The Furby connect will connect to the app by Bluetooth and reacts to what happens in the app and yell appropriate things. Unfortunately, the app is quite repetitive and the Furby’s reactions to it are as well, making it quickly annoying for adults, at least in my experience. But children seem to love it, so if you’re planning to buy one for your kid just make sure you purchase some ear plugs at the same time.

I’m not convinced with all that goes on in the app. I find being asked to help a Furby go to the toilet in the app a little… well… gross and unnecessary. But this is coming from an individual who has decided never to get a dog because I absolutely refuse to follow any living being around picking up its faeces. All you have to do in the app is hold the Furby and flush the toilet, so I guess it’s not so bad. Perhaps it gives six year olds extra confidence in being able to help the Furby do something they needed help with when they were toddlers. However, I’m really not sure that encouraging the use of a washing machine to clean a Furbling is such a great idea. I worry that it might lead to children thinking it’s fine to do the same thing to their pet cat… So if you download the app for your child then I would suggest keeping an eye on any family pets, just in case.

The app can be played standalone and is free to download, so you don’t need a Furby Connect to play. But the app is glitchy and crashes a lot, and I have a top of the range phone, a Galaxy S7. If you do have a Furby Connect then it can also glitch out to the point that your Furby will no longer connect to the app. I had this myself only one day after getting the toy. To fix the glitch you have to reset the Furby and delete and then reinstall the app which also wipes all your game progress. Now this was a minor annoyance for me. I’ve had plenty of practice in dealing with the disappointment of lost and corrupted game  saves over my years of gaming *Cough…Ubisoft*.

When I think of this happening to a six or eight year old, who has been lovingly caring for their Furblings only for them to vanish when you’re forced to reset their app, then I feel this could be potentially heart breaking. But there seems little interest from the developer in fixing the glitch. My current workaround, which seems  to be working thus far, is too make sure that if you have a Furby Connect to connect it to the app every time you play, as it glitched for me after I’d been playing the app standalone for a period of time on the train. To date, it’s not glitched this way for me since.

Through the app you can also interact directly with your Furby, by feeding it with the food cannon and helping it with other tasks. For doing this the Furby will occasionally give birth to an egg for you which, unlike the ones you collect from the Furblings, will hatch straight away. The app is cute and very child friendly and the graphics are quite good, bright and cartoony. Without a doubt it will keep most kids entertained while the noise from the Furby will drive their parents quickly insane, but that’s the way it’s meant to be will all good children’s toys right?

The recommended retail price of a Furby Connect is £99.99 which I don’t advise parents to fork out. However, it is currently on sale in Argos and many other retailers for a more reasonable £49.99 which I think is better value for money. The LED animated eyes and Bluetooth connectivity have understandably pushed up the price tag. It’s also worth noting that the toy still runs on AA batteries which considering the two power hungry LED screens, won’t last long with intense play. It doesn’t help that the brightness of the LED eyes is set very high, as well. This is toy that is screaming out for an inbuilt rechargeable battery, but that would obviously push the cost up still higher. As it is, I suggest investing in some rechargeable batteries and a charger otherwise feeding your high tech critter might soon bankrupt you, even more than the child…