Here's our collection of somewhat silly, slightly offbeat, and downright fun vintage turntable record players that are more high-style than hi-fi. Miniature portable hand-held units, colorful briefcase models, onboard flashing psychidelic disco lights...the emphasis here is on appearance, not audio quality, so check out these cool pics and see our videos of these amazing devices playing obscure and forgotten hits!
Handheld Portable Turntables
This Commodore Transistorized Micro Record Player model PH-333 measures only 5 3/8 inches x 4 1/4 inches x 2 inches. It was found in excellent condition with its original box and packaging, instruction sheet, 45rpm spindle adapter...even the original 9V battery from the "Fuji Electromechanical Company". As a matter of fact, the only thing missing from the box was the original pair of "C" batteries. A Japanese-made portable transistor unit, the original instruction sheet of the PH-333 reads "This voluminous, beautiful toned record player is the World's smallest and can be easily handled even by a small child". It is designed to play only 45rpm speed records and has an unusual design with a motor-driven idler wheel that actually turns the record instead of the turntable (which is really just a free-spinning plastic spindle). For storage, the tonearm locks into place and the cartridge / stylus fits safely in a little metal-coated compartment. The Commodore Micro Record Player is a rugged device and can be used and enjoyed without fear of breaking any delicate components. It was fully tested and works, though there are a couple of things worth mentioning regarding the engineering quality. First, playback is a bit inconsistent, sometimes it sounds draggy, other times its not very noticeable, sometimes it will skip, sometimes it won't. Second, do not expect the "beautiful toned" sound the manufacturer mentioned in the instructions, because it basically sounds like an old transistor radio. In any case, it has got to be one of the most fun and interesting conversation pieces we never knew existed, and we had a hard time giving this little beauty up. Turns out it was an extremely rare piece, and folks went absolutely wild over it (the Commodore now lives with a fanatical collector in the UK). Check out our video clip below of the Commodore PH-333 spinning an early White Stripes 7" single, and scroll down for more vintage turntables!
Portable Turntable Suitcase Models
This DeJay / Imperial model 100 vintage portable turntable is a classic kids' briefcase model, complete with faux denim jeans covering and a groovy and colorful Peter Max-inspired rainbow design inside the lid. The Imperial 100 portable turntable has an idler drive motor and is equipped with an onboard mono speaker. It was lubed and cleaned inside, we spent the afternoon thoroughly "testing" it with some of our favorite 45's, and the idler wheel and motor appear to be in great shape. It was used, and shows some minor wear and tear, as well as discolored age spots on the white platform and a few bubbles in the psychedelic rainbow picture, but overall still in excellent shape for a piece owned by a child in the '70s. Though it is a portable unit, like many briefcase models it is plug-in only and is not battery-powered. Overall, it still works and sounds great for what it is, and still looks pretty cute, too. The Imperial model 100 is a popular vintage portable turntable, probably due to the wild retro look, but they are often in very worn and well-loved condition. Scroll down for our video clip of this Imperial 100 playing an original 1960s Beverly's Records Jamaican pressing of "Rivers of Babylon" by The Melodians! Scroll Down for the Imperial Party Time psychedelic disco lighted turntable!
Flashing Light Motion Lamp Turntables
This totally groovy Imperial Party Time record player turntable is a floor-standing model with a built-in flashing psychedelic light show on the front. It has a festive red & white color scheme with a striped lid and measures 22"H x 12.5"W x 10.5"D. It was used, its age and poor storage has caused some cosmetic flaws. Some of the plastic parts have staining/yellowing, and the white cardboard turntable platform shows age spots. The red tolex vinyl fabric covering is wrinkling and separating from the cabinet around the base. Finally, there is some light fading on the lid. It still works as good as it did when it was new, but it was designed to be a kids' record player, so don't expect high-fidelity. This is a really fun item as-is, and its great for parties or listening to Christmas carols around the tree (speaking from experience!), but it would make an amazing restoration piece by covering the cabinet and painting the platform and plastic parts. Check out our video of the Party Time spinning a Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic...