Have you heard about Furby? The demand for this year’s hottest Christmas toy makes last year’s Tickle Me Elmo frenzy pale in comparison.
So, for those of you without kids under age12, a Furby is Tiger Electronics, Ltd’s cuddly stand-alone animatronic pet. It speaks in its own language (called “Furbish”), but is able to learn to incorporate English into its vocabulary. Equipped with hidden sensors, Furbys not only react to the environment around them. They also communicate with other Furbys around them via infrared sensors. Keeping Furby affordable was a major goal of Tiger Toys — Furbys retail for about $30.
What appears to be a relatively small supply paired with an unbelievably huge consumer demand has resulted in a frenzy like no other seen before. Read the newsgroups (alt.toys.furbys for example), and you’ll find story after story of desperate Furby-seekers who have lined up hours in advance outside major retailers on the rumored “shipment arrival dates.”
Hundreds of would-be Furby buyers have been setting their alarm clocks early, only to be shut out when the few Furbys that did arrive at the store were sold out within minutes. One incredible newsgroup story talked about a store clerk unlocking the door and literally tossing a measly 12 Furbys into a crowd numbering in the hundreds.
And guess what? The online world doesn’t seem to be handling the supply and demand of Furbys much better than the brick and mortar world. Let’s take a look at the state of the Furby Union online….
The Big Boys
Power and size aren’t everything, it seems. FAO Schwarz, which hosted the official Furby launch, sold out of Furbys back in late October. ToysRUs simply refers buyers to the physical stores (note to parents: good luck!), eToys received far fewer Furbys than the number it requested, and thus decided to simply give away one Furby a day between now and Christmas. No sign of Furbys on QVC, Service Merchandise, or KMart Online.
Wal-mart at one time apparently had some Furbys available for sale online. But according to Furby fanatics, Wal-Mart located a specific number of Furbys online each day, at different times, and in different locations within its online toy store. Through the rumor mill alone, Wal-Mart is probably generating thousands of Furby-searching visitors on a daily basis.
The Littl(er) Fish Apparently Fingerhut, Andy’s Garage, and EBWorld did have some Furbys available at one point, but now they’re long gone. Of course, there are hundreds of horrifically scary home pages and shop-at-your-own-risk “companies” selling Furbys at massively marked up prices — ranging from $39.99 to hundreds of dollars per furball. One word of advice: Don’t bother to look for the eTRUST logo on these sites!
There’s a buyer somewhere in Northern New Jersey who apparently had a vision — perhaps a visit from a Furbish-speaking angel. Cybershop’s new Egift site had the incredibly astute foresight to buy many thousands of Furbys early in the year.
There IS a slight catch though. Egift is selling Furbys -in stock, ready to ship — for $147.95 each. Okay, so you DO receive a 25 percent discount at checkout. Well, that certainly makes the price a little more palatable isn’t free enterprise somethin’?
We The People
The power of the people reigns supreme, baby! Don’t ask me how, but somehow gazillions of real people have gotten their two hands on Furbys. Maybe they are Wal-Mart employees, or the guys on the shipping docks. So will their kids, at least, be having conversations with those cute little furballs on Christmas morning?
Well not exactly. Their parents will be counting their cash. Their parents are making an absolute killing on auction sites like eBay, Yahoo Auctions and Auction Universe.
Currently as I write, there are 5,576 Furby auctions in progress on eBay. A peek at an auction that just ended shows a winning bid of $122.50. There’s money to be made in them thar Furbys, folks!
Stop The Madness
Will this insane madness ever stop? Some sources claim that huge shipments will glut the marketplace with Furbys sometime before Christmas. Others predict that even if additional Furbys frolic onto store shelves, the demand will continue to greatly exceed the supply because: a) many people are not yet aware of Furbys (they either live in Iceland, or their kids are hopelessly out of touch), and b) adults are buying Furbys not only for their kids but for themselves. Is it an investment or are those Furbys just so darned cute?!
I recently had the opportunity to ask a Furby what it thought of this whole Furby fiasco. It simply burped loudly at me and said, “Boring!”