LITHIA - A Lithia family says a cuddly, programmable Elmo doll revealed its dark side yesterday after fresh batteries were installed.
Instead of singing songs or reciting the favorite color of its 2-year-old owner, James Bowman, the doll started making death threats, the family says.
With a squeeze of its fuzzy belly, the Sesame Street character now says, in a sing-song voice, "Kill James." "It's not something that really you would think would ever come out of a toy," said Melissa Bowman, James' mother. "But once I heard, I was just kind of distraught."
The Elmo Knows Your Name doll, which connects to a computer to learn certain phases and names, recently ran out of battery power, Bowman said.
About an hour after she put new ones in, "I noticed exactly what it was saying," Bowman said. "And my son was repeating exactly what it was saying."
Bowman said Elmo is James' favorite character. James even has Elmo slippers, but the malfunctioning, death-threat-spouting Elmo Knows Your Name doll is now being kept away from her son, Bowman said.
"This is his absolute favorite toy," she said. "So we've been going through a lot of hassle because he's trying to climb up the counter and up the closets to get it."
Fisher-Price, the toy company that manufactures the dolls, said it will issue the Bowmans a voucher for a replacement doll. The company said it will examine James' model for the source of the problem and check whether other Elmos are experiencing the same malfunction.