The Idaho Invented Toy Netflix MUST Feature on The Toys That Made Us
What are YOU watching on TV this summer?
In my opinion, Summer TV options are pretty limited. With the exception of The Bachelorette (guilty pleasure) and America's Got Talent, most summer run shows are complete trash. That's a statement I'm fairly confident in after I wasted an hour of my life watching ABC's series premiere of The Proposal on Monday night. If you didn't have a chance to watch it, it's set up a little like the Dating Game where a mystery suitor is hidden behind a curtain. They march ten potential mates out in what could easily be mistaken for a beauty pageant where the mystery suitor asks them questions "to get to know them" and whittles them down to two finalists through a series of rounds. That's when they trot the suitor out to meet their potential husband or wife face to face. In the final round, the contestants proclaim their love for a complete stranger in an attempt to win an actual marriage proposal. As one of the women was standing there saying the one thing in her life that was missing was someone like the guy she just met, I was yelling at my TV "You don't even know him! You met 60 minutes ago! This isn't going to last!" Sure enough, that's the one he proposed to. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. I can't believe I spent time watching that.
In attempt to rebuild some brain cells, my fiance and I turned on Netflix. That's when I noticed a documentary series called The Toys that Made Us. I LOVE old toys, so this seemed like it was right up my alley! Each episode, they look at the history of some of the most popular toys of all time (like Barbie, Star Wars, LEGOs.) It's fascinating to see where the concepts for them came from and how they went on to be a huge hit with kids and collectors. There are some toys from my past that I'd love to see on that show like Beanie Babies, Tamogotchi/Giga Pets and of course one of Idaho's most important creations ever... ::drum roll::
The Furby! Yes, Furby is the one toy that Netflix NEEDS to feature on this series! Depending on who you are, Furby was one of the coolest or creepiest toys of the late 1990s and it was co-created by Boise inventor, Caleb Chung. From the stories we've heard, Chung's wife got fed up with his creativity being all over the place. He would crank out a toy design a week, but also enjoyed acting and miming. She told him that he needed to harness his energy and focus on getting one great idea off the ground. That's when he and his former co-worker at Mattel, Dave Hampton, decided to go check out the American International Toy Fair for some inspiration.
The year they went, the hottest upcoming toy on the market was the Tamagotchi. You remember those right? They were the little computerized creatures that you could nurture and watch grow up if you cared for them the right way. The undeniably awesome toy gave way to similar toys like Gigapets and Digimon. But according to Bustle, Hampton and Chung found one major flaw with the Tamagotchi...it was a pet that you couldn't pet. That's why they decided to make a creature that would not only be your buddy, but you could physically touch it it too.
Chung got to work on the design and Furby was officially introduced to the world in 1998 at the FAO Schwarz flagship story in New York City. Within a week, 35,000 of them were on backorder for the 1998 Holiday season. They sold 1.8 million before the year was over. 14 million flew off the shelf in 1999.
Chung's spoken at some business breakfasts around the Treasure Valley over the years and isn't shy about inventing the Furby. From what we understand he still has the original prototype (then named Furball) and his entire notebook of sketches that lead to the first mass produced Furby. We'd love to see those on an episode of The Toys That Made Us and hear the story about how the other Furby products like the Furby Babies, Shelby and Furby Boom came to be!
And yes, for the record...that first Furby photo is just part of the small army of Furbies and Furby Babies I owned as a kid. My dad still has them all.