Furby to speak Japanese

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TOKYO--A Japanese speaking version of the saccharine-sweet, talking toy Furby will hit store shelves in Japan by the end of May, according to Tomy Co., the Japanese company that will market the electronic toy.

The top toy of the Christmas season in the U.S. will carry a price tag of $33 in Japan and Tomy expects to sell one million units by March 2000. The Japanese version will mark the first time that the Furby purrs words in a tongue other than English, a Tomy spokeswoman says.

"An English speaking Furby would do very well with sales in Japan, especially among people in their 20s, 30s and 40s," says spokeswoman Shigemi Sugaya. "The Japanese version will be greatly appreciated by children."

Tomy acquired exclusive rights to market Furby in Japan from Tiger Electronics and its parent company, Hasbro Inc.

English-speaking Furby toys have come to Japan via private imports and there was a small test marketing period by Tomy involving English-speaking toys at the end of February, Ms. Sugaya says.

The "Nihongo" Furby marketing news comes days before Tomy is to make its debut on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The toy maker will be listed on the second section of the bourse on March 15.

Copyright March 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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