There was a lot to consider. Should the toys be true-to-life in shades of brown and black, or bright and bold?
And "the fur of the monkey was crucial," says Davin Sufer, the chief technology officer of WowWee. "Should it be a tuft at the top? Is it a Mohawk? How large or small?" he says they asked.
Months were spent on engineering, working to fit sophisticated technology into a toy the size of a child's hand at a price point parents could afford.
"Just the touch interaction for example, that is very similar to the touch interface you have in your smart phone," Sufer says. "The idea of being able to touch a screen and hit a button, [it's] similar technology to activate touch in our Fingerlings."
Fingerlings also have a microphone to sense sound, paired with software that filters out background noise, so they know to react to signals like clapping or the blowing of a kiss.
They have one motion sensor that knows when you're rocking or shaking the Fingerling, and another can tell the Fingerling's orientation to put it to sleep. Still different mechanics make the eyes move.
The team paid attention to every detail. For example, they gave the sloth Fingerling, an exclusive product for Walmart, a slower motor in its head and slower sound effects to make him seem more lazy.
The software, designs, circuits and animations for Fingerlings are all proprietary to WowWee, Sufer says, and were built from scratch for the toy.
And at an affordable price point. "We worked hard to hit the $14.99," Sufer says. (According to The New York Times, the toy was originally intended to be sold for $20, but Walmart — known for price cutting— negotiated the price lower.)
"From start to finish, it probably took almost nine to 12 months," Sufer says.