Most are familiar with the urban legend of the Furby in the drawer.
Whether it was the children’s feeling of torment after looking into the strangely eerie eyes of the domestic robot, or the desperate last resort of parents who just couldn’t take more gibberish screaming, the owl-like mechanical toy from the late ‘90s would frequently end up stuffed in a bedroom drawer as an attempt to muffle its constant verbal hyperactivity.
To add gasoline to grim ghost story, many reported that their beloved childhood toy would continue talking even after its batteries were removed.
With children Furby enthusiasts growing up and eventually interacting more and more with one another, such ghost stories began circulating on various message boards.
And so, after a couple of decades, those carrying the distant memory of their cute and cuddly companion contemplating mechanical murder against them would find comfort in the crowd of people who had experienced the same bizarre feeling. Mutual trauma would turn into shared healing and banter, with the haunting shadows of Furby past quickly slipping away.
Enter Longfurby, and the infernal hellfire of the fuzzy family fiend reawakens.
The Longfurby, originally created by Aloe Lavender, has stretched-out skeletons and fascinatingly grotesque anatomical features (such as human hands and feet) attached to their newly acquired flesh. One of the most popular Longfurb families on the internet is associated with Bobby Diddle, a 27-year-old artist from downtown Cincinnati.
Haunted by the possible answers to questions such as what these creatures represent, I (virtually) sat down with Diddle to get an in-depth look.
As Bobby sits in a dimly-lit room, a colorful league of Longfurbs nests on the floor next to them. Resembling a wheel or a dark donut, Olie, a special gem in the Furb family, hangs from the arm of his mother. As Diddle adjusts the marvellous maroon feather shawl wrapped around their neck, we begin talking about how their unique creatures came to be.
“When I was 7, I was super into Furbies. I was one of those kids who were obsessed with them. I have a really weird family portrait that proves it.”
“One day, I saw this drawing of a long Furby eating a hot dog and I just had to make that real.”, Bobby details. “So, I looked into it and I made one, which was a hot mess. But I kept growing and making more until I started to get better each time. That was in 2018, when I wanted to become sort of a travel blogger, and I started taking them with me everywhere.”
When asked about some of their greatest Longfurb travel memories, Bobby recalls the time they traveled to the island of Fiji: “I had one of the OG ones with me, Fibonacci.”
As described on the Longfurbs website, Fibonacci is a “hot-tempered damsel with a penchant for the finer things in life.” She has the extended torso of an overgrown ferret, a fuzzy, hot pink mohawk and facial hair of the same color. She was also the first Longfurb to sport a pair of arms and hands.
“I had her around my neck at the airport as a neck pillow. When I took her through TSA, this big guy picked her up, turned to his friend, and started beating him with her. Then he turned to me and asked:
‘You got drugs in this thing?’”
On the anatomy of a Longfurby, Bobby explains just how far the fuzzy branches of the freaky family tree extend: “There are so many different types. Aside from the ones with the long bodies, there is one that’s a loaf of bread. There is SexyFurby69, who looks like a smoking hot man, and so much more beyond that. It goes crazy beyond that.”
“I think about all the different shapes I want to turn them into.”, Bobby opens up about the design process.
“There was one that was supposed to be a star. I was going to release him for Christmas, but I kept messing things up and stepped away from it.”
“People don’t really know, but there are tons that I started to make and discarded at one point. I have a bunch of Furby corpses all over my house.”
Aside from products of creative trial and error, there is Walter Sullivan.
“Cunning, calculated, and neurotic, think of Walter like a more adorable Chucky.”, his biography reads.
Resembling his brother Olie, he is also shaped like a large donut, yet the only sweet side of him is his Fruity Loops addiction.
Walter was influenced by one of Bobby’s recurring sleep paralysis episodes between 2006 and 2017:
“Every night at 3. 23 AM, the Moon projected this huge beam of light into my room. Every time that happened, I would see a man wearing a top hat, standing in my hallway, walking down the stairs. At one point, I created this guy and named him Walter, whom I felt like resonated with the essence of that character.”
Inspiration-wise, Bobby’s home also plays a strong part in them birthing the fuzzy hell children:
“My mom was a personal assistant of a very rich jewelry maker. And by rich, I mean she had original Pablo Picasso and Van Gogh paintings rich. When she died recently, we got to go through all of her stuff. Now I have a bunch of really weird dementia art hanging on my walls.”
On what the feedback to the Longfurbies has been like, Diddle states:
“Some people find [the Longfurbies] funny. Some think it’s nightmare fuel.”
“I took the three of them to IKEA early on. When I got to the end part, I stuck them in all these different carts around the store and took a wide shot of them. At one point, this mom comes around, joking and saying things like ‘What is happening’ and ‘I feel like I’m in a cult.’”
Other times, feedback was not as light-hearted. “When I was working at a hotel, I had an encounter with a total Karen.”, they revealed.
“This woman was acting very entitled, so I just checked her in and avoided interacting with her for the rest of the day. When she came back down, I was working on a Furby and didn’t greet her. I found out later that she had went online and written a negative review, saying that I avoided talking to her because I was working on a ‘scary purple teddy bear’. After that, I stopped bringing the Furbs to work for a while.”
And while most initially do not know how to react to them, a large number have grown to love the beasts. Bobby went on to garner more than 25,000 followers on their Instagram account, where they regularly post campy photoshoots and edits of the beloved Longfurby cult.
And even though most of the attention can be measured in the viral photos and articles on the web, some often express their love for Longfurbies in the outside world as well.
“The second-highest percentage of my followers are from Cincinnati, so I get to see a lot of them.”, Diddle explains, then goes on to mention how they were spotted multiple times at events such as Comic-Con, and even at underground drag shows where the Furbs would fiercely make it rain on the local queens.
In the summer of 2019, a meet up took place as a mission to bring the community together, with food, drinks, merchandise, and other forms of entertainment keeping dedicated Furby enthusiasts connected.
“I think what matters, in the end, is that there are tons of people who love and respect them. When I used to do commission, it was a special feeling to see [the Furbs] out in the world, enjoying themselves in new homes.”
“It was like sending your kids off to college, in a way.”
On what making Lonfurbies feels like to them, Bobby describes: “It’s soothing. Like I’m making a long sock. You can just sit on the porch and sew one.”, they add, and laugh when I claim how making a Longfurby is essentially a more captivating grandma activity: “That’s what I try to tell people.”
Bobby’s latest creation, an Italian plague doctor Furby named Giorgio can now be admired on the Furbs’ social media profiles.
“The summoning was a success”, the new Instagram post reads.
When asked about the plans for the next offspring in the ever-growing dynasty of the freaky Furby family tree, Bobby revealed how they were interested in recreating the Midsommar May Queen, dressed to kill in a fabulous flower dress, a crown, and magnificent golden locks.
As for new types of projects, a possible horror short in the vein of It Follows is currently up in the air – centered around a single, freakishly long Furby stalking the main character. To those ‘90s kids who are still mourning the innocence of their childhoods – you better have your therapists on retainer!
Addressing artists whom are debating whether to share such eyebrow-raising work with the public or not, Mother Furby had an important piece of advice to share:
“Don’t listen to what anyone has to say. Art should be self-fulfilling. As long as what you are creating is making you feel good, you should never be afraid to put it out there.”