Furby: The Toy Phenom Of '98; Tiger Genetically Engineers A New Creature, But Also Crafts A New Culture From Scratch

VERNON HILLS, ILL. (Sept. 16) BUSINESS WIRE -Sept. 16, 1998--After creating a buzz with its debut at this year's Toy Fair, Furby is gearing up to hit store shelves early October.

"Furby could be the first of an entire race of artificially intelligent 'special feature plush' toys," according to Wired Magazine (September, '98).

Furby, Tiger Electronics, Ltd's cuddly standalone animatronic pet, interacts with the environment through sight, touch, hearing and physical orientation. Each animated electronic plush toy is unique, intelligent and equipped with a singular personality and name. Furby can move and dance. Other motion includes eyes that open and close, ears that wiggle and a mouth that moves when speaking. Furby has its own language, "Furbish," but learns to speak English through positive reinforcement. Furbys communicate with each other via infrared signals, and can teach each other tricks and songs. They can also catch one another's colds. The electronics are fully integrated into each pet; no additional equipment or computer is required. Approximate retail price is $30.

Insert batteries and Furby is ready for play. When turned on for the first time, Furby will say his name. This name will be different from all other Furbys. Although Furby will initially speak only Furbish, as with any intelligent being in a New World, he will begin to "learn" English and be able to communicate using English words. Furby has a vocabulary of nearly 200 Furbish and English words and sounds. In all, Furby is able to "say" more than 800 phrases. Ultimately, Furby will use both Furbish and English to communicate.

Furby is sensitive to his environment and will react to stimuli like any pet. If he is scared or excited, his eyes will pop open and his ears will shoot up. If he is happy and content, his eyes will open and close slowly and his ears will wiggle gently. Furby will also seem to adapt to his environment such that he will not respond to any particular stimulus the same way twice.

"Toys like Furby, which exhibit rudimentary artificial intelligence, integrate themselves even more tightly with a child's life - speaking a secret language, playing games, seeking praise. The technology is increasingly invisible; no instruction manual is necessary, and children can have what they most desire: the perfect friend, loyal and unconditionally loving," states Wired.

Tiger Electronics, Ltd., a division of Hasbro, Inc., is the leading manufacturer of innovative electronic toys and games for the whole family. Tiger's core products and brands include: Lazer Tag, game.com.pocket pro portable video gaming system, Talkboy sound novelty toys, and a complete line of electronic family games such as Brain Shift, Brain Warp and Who Done It? Tiger is a leader in licensed electronic favorites, featuring such titles as Star Wars, Small Soldiers, Rugrats, Winnie the Pooh and many more.

Hasbro (ASE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of toys, games, interactive software, puzzles and infant products. Both internationally and in the U.S., its Playskool(R), Kenner(R), Tonka(R), OddzOn(R), Super Soaker(R), Milton Bradley(R), Parker Brothers(R), Tiger and Hasbro Interactive(TM) products, provide children and families with the highest quality and most recognizable toys and games in the world.