Flavoradios Become More Flavorful
BY PHIL MacARTHUR
Flavoradios have a delicious sound enhanced, of course, by their many colors. Phil MacArthur can be relied on to bring us up to date on what new colors are surfacing in the marketplace. (Editor)
It's been a long wait since June 2002 when the first Flavoradio article graced these pages. Since then three more "flavors" have surfaced bringing the total to eleven, probably setting a record for the largest color variety of any radio ever made. The photo of all eleven sets in Figure 1, and on this month's cover, shows what I believe is the world's only complete set of Flavoradios. I think this claim may be true, since I have made it on "my eBay" and at radio shows for several years, and no one has come forth to dispute it. (On the other hand, maybe no one really cares.)
Several of the colors never appeared in domestic Radioshack catalogs and some may have been for export only. I've been monitoring Flavoradio appearances on eBay now for about 10 years (I need to get a life), and no other colors have appeared.
In the original article, I wrote that plum (grape) and chocolate appeared to be quite scarce, but since then, a half dozen of those have sold for around $20 each. However, all white models or those with white backs are actually very scarce, and I own the only examples of those that have ever shown their faces.
Figure 1. Phil MacArthur's collection of eleven Realistic Flavoradios.
Black or gray models of this case design (which would have completed the RETMA color code) have never appeared. Maybe we'll just have to haul out a roller and a can of KemTone and finish the job. The eleven colors are: vanilla, strawberries & cream, peaches & cream, hot fudge sundae, chocolate, strawberry, orange, lemon, avocado, blueberry, and plum.
It would be tempting to mix and match fronts and backs but we're trying to keep our hobby historically accurate (bring on the polygraph machine). If anyone reading this article has Canadian or European copies of Radioshack catalogs showing the two-tones or whites, please e-mail me.
All colors of Flavoradios carried the same model number, 12-166, from 1972 through 1985, although it became 12-166A when the sixth transistor was added in the 1980s.
The Model 12-166, also holds the record for the longest radio production run at 15 years (1972 - 1987). The examples shown in the picture are all the earliest production runs made in Korea, but those made later in Hong Kong and the Philippines look identical.
I have noticed that running "Flavoradio" through Google gets several hundred hits. It also seems to have become a metaphor for low fidelity, as in, "After the dog ate my woofers, the stereo sounded like my sister's Flavoradio." (No respect.) And, I wonder if the case design with its window dial and vertical grille bars was inspired by the Westinghouse Little Gem, the "refrigerator" radio.
I still see one or two Flavoradios each week on eBay, but almost never at flea markets, garage sales or in stores. It could be that these were so cheap ($4.99 - $6.99) and unremarkable that when the battery ran down or when one just quit, it was tossed in the waste can.
Even so, they usually sell on eBay for $5 to $15, so it's not too late to start your very own collection. Then you can anxiously await the next Antique Radio Classified Flavoradio update, along with all the other dedicated Flavoradio collectors (both of us).
After 25 years of teaching in Key West, Florida, Phil MacArthur and his wife June happily retired and returned to the "four seasons" Northeast. ("And while we were gone, you guys invented the snow blower.") They collect Zenith radios and Flavoradios (who knows why).