Clowns of the Circuit
Novelty radios date back to the 1920’s, when a crystal receiver was marketed in the shape of a book and another as Felix the cat. When Walt Disney produced Mickey Mouse it wasn’t long after that Mickey Mouse radios appeared and have been made ever since in many designs.
Emerson Radio brought out a Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs radio for children when Disney made his film of the same name.
When plastic molding was cheaply available the design and variation in novelty radios took off. Since the 1970’s vast hordes of novelty radios have been produced.
The design of the majority made no attempt to integrate the radio controls into the design.
The radio clown above, although quite cute, has no connection between the figure and the radio.
Many such novelties were made. Some were promotional objects to advertise a company. Batteries, beer and soft drink cans etc. etc. have all been molded with a radio inside and two independent controls brought out on the side.
If one collected all these then the collection would amount to a few thousand radios!
I decided to limit my own collection to mainly those where
The novelty radio design integrated the controls or loudspeaker into the object in some manner. This is more challenging to the designer, and for me, more satisfying to collect. I also collect those with an attractive ,well designed appearance or of an historic nature.
IF you wish to have good quality in your radio reproduction then novelty radios are not for you. The loudspeakers are mostly very small and incapable of any quality.
If this ice cream novelty radio
gives you the shivers or this moving lips radio leaves you speechless then maybe collecting novelty radios is not for you.
When I started to collect novelty radios in the 1970’s they were all manually tuned analogue receivers.
This entailed the use of tuning capacitors etc which although very small, did place a limit on the minimum size that the radio could be made.
Now that scanning radios have been invented, the tuning capacitor etc is no longer required.
Even the novelty radio now has this new scanning facility and so can be made very small. Put into a biro pen, complete with loudspeaker in some cases !
Now the USB port is used on the PC for USB novelties. What next I wonder?
I do now collect what I consider to be the best designed scanning examples on the market, and include a selection from my collection.
So let’s get this novelty show on the road with .....
One or more for the road!
This Radio Luxembourg van is part of the Corgitronics
series of electronic vehicles. This van has a built in radio. The volume control and battery are underneath.
A nice design is the rear opening van doors which reveal the tuning knob. The van’s body is die cast metal..
All vans need a battery so here is a rather nice
AC Delco battery with a
The terminals, as on most novelty batteries, are the volume and tuning.
Four speed gearbox too !
Gear change positions are
left is reset, right side is scanning. Volume increase push gear lever forward and to reduce pull it to the rear. Rather elegant design
A spare tyre where two of the hub nuts are the volume and tuning .
Has a good tread too so should pass the MOT test !
A scanning version is also available at your local
Here is the classic icon motoring novelty radio.
Michelin man ,introduced in 1894 at the Lyon, French exhibition by the Michelin brothers. it is one of the world’s oldest trade marks.
Good simple outline makes spider man attractive with controls neatly positioned in the base.. Batman too.
There are many radios with a built in clock. Here is a typical example..
Standard radio controls at the bottom with tuning dial..
This second example was marketed by Sunglass Hut, a watch and sunglass company based in Birmingham, UK.
Wonderful integrated design. The top black and silver knobs are volume and tuning !
The second hand is not! It’s the tuning dial for the radio.
BBC’s Dr. Who Cyberman is equally well designed with cleverly hidden controls. Blue Lights flash etc.
Champion sparking plug.
HT connection is volume and electrode base is tuning. Neat design.
Oil filter promotional radio for CAV. I include this as I was once an apprentice at their works in Acton, London.