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Parents were warned today to prepare for a Furby invasion this Christmas. Yes, that furry mechanical friend, which resembles a malevolent hamster crossed with a chimp, has had its first makeover in six years. Makers Tiger Electronics aren't giving anything away, just this image of the next generation friend called Taboo. Whether the company can keep the spoilers away from this newfangled Internet age - and whether the toy will cause the same check-out chaos as it did in 1998, when online shops like Amazon were still building their brands in the UK, is up for debate. Until then, the Furby world is ready to speculate. Toy expert Peter Jenkinson of www.toyology.com said: 'The image suggests that the moving facial parts have been entirely replaced by an LCD screen. 'This will prompt lots of talk, not all of it intelligible, on Furby forums.' Other experts are predicting WiFi connectivity, allowing Furbys to livestream children's video content and interact with other friends' Furbys online. The original, which sold 40million in three years, is a collector's item. When it first went on sale for around £24 in 1998, it was in such short supply that it could be resold for as much as three times that.
The Furby's appeal was attributed to its ability to learn English. It started off speaking a form of gibberish, called Furbish, which could be deciphered with the help of a dictionary that came with it.
But over time, the Furby could be trained to start replacing key phrases with English, making it an adorable part of the family - for the children at least. Other interactive features were induced by patting its back, which made it purr. You fed it by sticking your finger in its mouth which produced an endearing: 'Yuuuuummm!'