1957 Knickerbocker, Electric Toy Vibraphone in Original Box

1957 Knickerbocker, Electric Toy Vibraphone in Original Box

This is one of those rare times in which the packaging materials are more exciting to look at than the actual toy. The Vibraphone is essentially a hard plastic xylophone with polished, flat metal bars accompanied by a plastic song book holder and two wooden sticks with rubber balls on the end.

On the other hand the Vibraphone's packaging "presentation" infers that it's a rich, finely tuned instrument of impeccable quality. It comes set in its own die cut display box. 

It rests in a gray and peach colored, triangular shaped hollow base (box), which is raised on one end to show off the toy. Musical notes were printed along the front skirt and sides. The name of the toy was printed in a classic style against a flowing multicolored background on a large die cut header card. Shades of blue and white plus a colored music scale infers that "hey, this something special". The card folds down to fit inside its box. 

The toy resting in the display box fits completely into its red, white, and blue shipping box. "Handle with care" and an "educational music toy" advertise its importance. A "note" for the merchandiser indicating that a full color display is inside the box was printed on the back. Actually the toy was sold sealed inside this box. It wasn't so much a note for the retailer, as it was a reaffirmation of excellence to the consumer.

This toy occupies a "niche" of its own. To explain further, Knickerbocker produced a series of battery operated musical toys during the 1950's which they advertised heavily on radio and television. Rather than promote them in the super competitive toy market the company chose instead to sell them as true musical instruments. Notice that in the first photo the company's original 1957 retail price was a whopping $9.95! The tag is still all there. That would approximately be easily over $100 by today's standards. 

....and what would the 1957 consumer get for their hard earned dough? The selling point was that the toy was "electrified". As the company described it "its motor-driven vibrato produces a tone of tantalizing distinction. It has the rich musical voice of a large expensive concert instrument".

In actuality the battery driven motor rotates a metal rod which runs horizontally underneath each flat metal bar. The rod threads through eight small rotating plastic disks about the size of a nickel. A single disk was fixed below the center of each bar. A slight reverberation was produced whenever a bar was struck because the base is hollow. The amount of reverberation depended on the position of the disc. 

That's it! Not really rocket science and not much different from a simple toy xylophone which would have sold for less than 50¢. In the history of American toy manufacturing the Vibraphone definitely has a niche unlike no other. 

Size: Toy 14" x 7½" x2". Display box: 15" x 8¾" x 13". Shipping box 16" x 9"  5½".

Sold: Nov. 2007

Price Sold: $ 110


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Subject: 1957 Knickerbocker, Electric Toy Vibraphone in Original Box

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