Parents Flip Over 'Foul' Furby

Mary Ann and Steven Martin say the Furby Buddy toy they bought for their 1-year-old grandson at a Wal-Mart in Columbia, S.C., is obscene and offensive.

When they squeezed the “interactive toy,” what was supposed to sound like the phrase “hug me” sounded a lot more like a vulgar sexual come-on, they say.

“That is not ‘Hug me.’ I’m sorry,” Mrs. Martin, of Swansea, S.C., told the Chicago Tribune. She said she decided against giving the toy to her grandson and instead stuffed it in the back of a closet.

But it’s not the first time complaints have cropped up with the furry toy, which is different from the popular full-sized Furby.

Although the manufacturer maintains there was nothing offensive about it, in mid-June Wal-Mart stores pulled the Furby Buddy version from its shelves after getting complaints.

Parents had insisted a purple and yellow version of the toy uttered the “F-word” when its stomach was pressed, activating a chip that is supposed to warble a more cuddly command. As a result, Wal-Mart chains discontinued selling the stuffed animal.

Some of the purple and yellow Furby Buddies, however, apparently slipped past the grips of the employees at the Columbia store.

It’s All in the Enunciation

Tiger Electronics, the Vernon Hills, Ill.-based maker of Furby toys, says the toy is not saying anything offensive. “There is no inappropriate language associated with this toy,” said Tiger Electronics spokeswoman Lana Simon.

“We take customer complaints seriously. But the toy definitely says ‘Hug Me,’” added Simon. “It’s a problem with enunciation. There is no way that these toys were tampered with.”

The toy is largely out of circulation anyway, according to Simon. “It is out of production and had its shelf life,” she explained.

The chip-enhanced Furby Buddy hit store shelves late last year only for several months, and supplies for other versions of Furby Buddy are expected to run out soon, she added.

About a half-dozen other Furby Buddy versions exist in other color combinations, but they say something other than “Hug me” when squeezed. There have been no complaints about these.

As for the allegedly foul-mouthed Furby Buddies, “They were taken off the shelves early this summer,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Tom Williams. “I don’t know why it was still on the shelves in this particular store.”

Williams added that the product was taken off the shelves of Wal-Mart “because the enunciation was questionable.”