Were you able to see the similarities between the Gizmo Furby and Gizmo from Gremlins?
As with other items like clothes and shoes, children had their own version of “it” toys-the ones they begged for their parents to buy, wished upon a star, or wrote to Santa Claus asking for the toy (usually followed by promises of being nice and not being naughty anymore).
In 1998, the toy topping children’s wish list was indeed the Furby, an electronic pet from Hasbro company Tiger Electronics. The toy sold millions that year! It was a favorite among children that it was still a massive bestseller in the 2000s.
Furbies look like a fluffy cross between a small teddy bear and an owl. They have huge ears and feet. Furbies are colorful and lovable, so parents tend to get them substitutes for real pets. They allow kids to take care of them without the mess and maintenance of an actual living pet.
How the Gizmo Furby was born…
Despite the fact that the Furby line pioneered similar domestic robot toys, there was something distinctly familiar about the little furries. Consumers quickly realized that Furbies looked a lot like Gizmo from Joe Dante’s Gremlins, and Hasbro found themselves possibly facing legal trouble when Warner Bros. approached them.
The case was a lawsuit waiting to happen; luckily, in favor of the toy-makers, Warner Bros continued to honor their good relationship with Hasbro and instead collaborated with them in 1999, releasing a special Furby directly modeled after Gizmo. This collaboration proved to be such a hit as more than 250,000 pieces of Gizmo the Furby were sold in stores worldwide and into the hands of eager Gremlin fans and wannabe pet owners.
This release did confirm that the Furby’s resemblance to Gizmo was more than just a coincidence and had conspiracy theories nodding their heads in agreement. Adding arms and legs, along with changing the color, was all that was necessary to transform the robotic pet into what was instantly recognizable as a Gizmo toy, and most consumers were unaware of what happened behind the scenes that resulted in the controversial toy’s development.
Back in 2015, Joe Dante himself addressed the controversy in a Reddit Ask-Me-Anything session, where he confirmed the Gizmo Furby origin story when asked what he thought of the toy line from the late 1990s.
The Limited Edition Furby was advertised through a fun commercial (below), which mimicked the scene from Gremlins where Rand Peltzer acquires Gizmo. Despite the small screen advertisement describing the guidelines of owning a gremlin, the toy responds to the same stimuli as traditional Furbies, able to communicate when pressed on the chest and interact with other Furbies.
Gizmo Furbys are somewhat rare these days due to their limited availability, but a search on eBay at any given time will reveal a handful of the toys-up for grabs for the right price. As of this writing, mint-in-box figures sell for $200 upwards, whereas loose unboxed figures go for around $50. In any case, Gremlins fans were delighted with the toy, which is bound to become an unforgettable artifact of horror history.
Many other Gremlins artifacts were collected by fans and collectors alike, but Gizmo Furby is the most sought after from all the Gremlin toys over the years. Not only is the toy popular among children (being first released as an electronic pet rather than an alien species,) Gizmo being the perfect Mogwai also brings us the sweet, lovable character we cherished from the movie. Aside from his adorable nature, Gizmo is also a kickass creature that can handle the rest of the vicious, troublesome Mogwais (that was accidentally spawned from him!).