Netflix Needs to Put This Idaho Invented Toy On ‘The Toys That Made Us’
Looking for something to add to your binge watch list now that you've finished Tiger King and all three seasons of Ozark? If you're a sucker for old toys, you need to add this to check this series out.
It's 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. It wasn't until Season 3 that they really dove into some of the toys I grew up with like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers. I'm not sure when Season 4 will be out, but there are some other toys from my past that I'd love to see on the show: 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.