Many of us are familiar with having an eccentric family. Bobby Diddle, a Cincinnati-native, is no exception. Her family consists of a spoiled princess, a drunk, a hippie, a black sheep and an idiot. But something sets her family apart from the rest of ours: they’re 3 feet tall, fuzzy and don’t blink.
They’re Furbies — aka small, fuzzy, owl-like robotic creatures that were all the rage when Tiger Electronics first released the toy in 1998. With their ability to pick up human language, they’ve been mystifying us ever since. But Diddle’s crew aren’t your run-of-the-mill Furbies.
A 25-year-old artist who now lives in Covington, Diddle is the mother of “Long Furbs,” an amalgamation of ’90s throwback culture and modern fabric art. Their day-to-day adventures are documented on Instagram via @longfurbs.
“It gives me an outlet to constantly create something new,” she says. “Without them, I’d never leave the house.”
Scroll through their profile, which has amassed over 16,800 followers, and you’ll see them hanging out at several Greater Cincinnati destinations: Washington Park; Tokyo Kitty; the Newport Aquarium; Jungle Jim’s; Bakersfield OTR.
After creating the account in September 2018, she gained 100 followers the first month. Then 1,000 the second month. Now she averages about 2,000 new followers monthly.
“I never expected it to be this popular,” Diddle says. “Nostalgia for the ’90s is such a big thing right now.”
But why Furbies?
Diddle has loved Furbies since they were first released. As a kid, she took hers everywhere she went.
“There’s a family picture from when I was 7,” she says. “Everyone in the picture is looking real serious and then there’s me holding my Furby in front of my face.”
These hometown celebrities are not the first of their kind. Long Furbs are part of a larger Furby community, specifically a subgenre known as “Odd Body Furbies.” Search the hashtag “customfurby” on Instagram and you’ll come across thousands of results, such as Furby Fuzz (@original.long.furby) — the first person to make a Long Furby — and one of Diddle’s personal favorites, Sexy Furby (@sexyfurb69), a life-size doll with the face of a Furby that you really just have to see for yourself.
“The Furby community is the most loving and caring and weird community you could ever find,” Diddle says.
It takes three days for Diddle to hand sew a Long Furb. She skins the Furbies completely and uses only the original face — a process she calls “longifying.” Currently, there are five Long Furbs, each with their own personality.
The pink one is Fibonacci, described as a spoiled, rich, Paris Hilton type. Dionysus, a green Long Furb, is a doctor, but also a drunk. Calypso loves all things water, is an Aquarius, a pescatarian and, fittingly, is blue. Frank, the village idiot, is orange. The newest member of the family is Ollie; shaped like a black circle, he loves NASCAR and Synth Pop.
On occasion, Diddle will make one to sell. Most recently, a dalmatian Furby named Speck fetched more than $300 on eBay. In total, Diddle has sold seven Long Furbs.
When Diddle sells a Long Furb, she says it feels akin to sending a kid off to college. She asks the buyers to send her pictures. She mails them postcards.
“Once you buy a Furby from me,” Diddle says, “you’re joining a family.”
Coming soon are donut and centaur Furbies. If you want to get into the community yourself, Diddle is hosting a Long Furbs party at the Northside Distillery on July 21. There will be a T-shirt release, limited-edition prints, stickers and buttons, as well as an opportunity for fans to snap selfies with her long bois (one of her nicknames for her Long Furbs).
Diddle eventually wants to publish a book of her photos, hold pop-up shops across the country and create videos.
“I don’t have enough arms,” Diddle says. “I need an assistant.”
Thankfully, Diddle has her boyfriend, Nate Edwards, to help out. The two met on the dating app Bumble, where she told him point blank: “You have to be OK with this. This Furby train ain’t stopping anytime soon.”
Nate says he thought the Long Furbs were “terrifying at first,” but later came to love them. He now prides himself on being their chauffeur. In particular, he’s quite partial to Ollie. Before leaving the house, Diddle will ask Edwards, “Do you have your son?”
Just another addition to this odd, blended, furry family.
Follow the adventure of Bobby Diddle’s Long Furbs on Instagram @longfurbs.